Lessons from Montana Time Off - How and When to Quit.
I’m on the screen porch at my mom’s house in Montana, we simply call it the Cabin, not very original I know. It is in a wooded area that is walking distance (even with a stand up paddleboard - SUP) from the shores of Flathead Lake.
The sun is shining, a young buck with small antlers passes by a few feet away, head bobbing a bit, feeling into the balance of this unexpected weight on his forehead. The antlers sprout and grow quickly on young bucks; I wonder if he gets a headache like a growing pain.
I can relate, as I catch myself absently rubbing my forehead.
This is an ideal setting for a sabbatical and family reunion, and I’ve enjoyed both to the fullest.
It is not so great for the workaday huzzah.
The internet is terrible, it reminds me of dial-up days. As I type this, I literally have to pause and wait for the words to spit out onto the screen. Having said that, the forest setting is gorgeous so I won’t complain.
I’m using my old beat up Samsung Chromebook, because my Pixelbook laptop died of heat exhaustion the last time I was in Mexico.
I ordered a new MacBook Air that arrives Friday.
Even though its an unexpected expense, it was a Hell Yes decision that I did not overthink. More about that in a second.
What did I do on my vacay?
I SUPed with my kids, fell into the rapids during whitewater rafting, hiked a mountain and ate Flathead cherries at the top, (cherries on top, get it??)
I pitched my new tent on this screen porch where I was awakened by hooting owls, curious deer, and finally, the morning sun.
I power washed this porch to rid it of a some bats and their poop. I smudged the space with sage and cast a spell to call in the aforementioned owls; we have not seen the bats since.
A neighbor lady remarked a few days later, “Have you heard the owls? They seem to be back.” True story.
Besides that fun foray into hocus pocus, here is what was different from other vacays:
I did not think about my business, my goals, or anything other than staying present with the fam during the recent ad-hoc reunion. I posted some stuff to social media for fun.
I did not let doubts about the future steal my present moment. I successfully mediated some of the inevitable family drama that comes up at times like this.
I had control of my emotions. I told myself, we will deal with tomorrow, manana.
And now, with the fam gone, its time.
In fact, step one is just deciding what gets to stay on the vine.
Its fall, y’all. Time to do some pruning.
Did the Covid19 phase-one experience cause you to let go of anything? Are there things you used to do that you have stopped doing, or want to quit?
Quitting is hard for achievement-oriented people, because most entry level motivational boilerplate tells you that quitting is bad. Quitters never win.
Wrong. Winners know when to quit.
How? They check their gut.
Giving up is weak. Letting projects linger until they die is weak. I’ve done this, so I know.
It feels gross and out of integrity.
Quitting like a winner is a proactive decision with closure and intention and not caring what others think, either way. It's you, moving on.
Quitting makes room for the new.
As someone who is insatiably curious, with a bias for action, I have quit to get back on track several times.
I had to learn how to do this. My childhood was great, but in my house “flaky” was not a compliment. Quitting meant you had failed, probably due to laziness. It was safer to just not start.
Over the past few years I had to recalibrate my gut - my intuition - to learn when and what to quit.
How do I know if I’m just tired that day, simply need a break and then try that one last thing before I quit?
This is what works for me, it's taken about 7 years to figure it out:
HOW TO KNOW WHAT TO QUIT:
- Get clear on what you do.
- Make a list of what you don’t do.
- Prune accordingly, based on a gut check exercise later in this post.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
It's no accident, I’m sure, that I’m also reading Tim Grover’s second book, Winning, right now. I am part of his mastermind DnD group.
One of the most powerful questions he ever asked in the DnD group seems simple, “What do you do?”
Maybe it is an easy answer for you.
It has not been simple for me because I spent most of my life allowing other peoples’ agendas define What I Do. Parents, teachers, spouse, bosses, even children.
Most women I know have done the same.
Here it is again:
What do you DO?
Would someone who doesn’t know you very well be able to accurately describe what you stand for based on learning about what you do?
If your actions line up 99% of the time with what you stand for, with your reason for being on the planet, congratulations!
If you feel a moment of uncertainty, you are not alone.
Here are some traps. I have fallen into each of them several times. I’m working my way out of a couple as we speak:
A: It will only take a minute.
We say yes and end up doing “small” things that are not aligned, or that we could delegate, rationalizing that it won't take up too much time.
Problem: This is managing time, and not very well at that. This is not managing focus. Someone who is managing focus knows that “quick’ task, which in reality always takes at least twice as long as we guesstimate, is a distraction. I have to steal that time from my focus. Sorry, no can do.
B. Trying to save the sh*tshow when the world has moved on.
We continue to do the bare minimum because we’ve invested time or money or both. Sunk costs are sunk - you don’t have to be. Don’t let them drag you down deeper. Its hard, but you cannot go back and recapture one second of time or much of the money you spent in the past. You can't do what you do with one thumb stuck in a dike hole propping up a dead city.
C: Hiding from your power.
We get scared of what we are capable of, put others first and give our power away.
I hid behind my kids when they were young because I didn’t trust my vision. I got approval for putting them and my husband first.
I have a draft post about true power couples, based on equality, financial parity and shared influence. A relationship between grownups, fully engaged and driven to get better everyday. Two people growing in personal power and success without the need for one to "support" the others progress at their own expense.
This is among the rarest things in human relationships, but I know it exists, because I’ve seen a few marriages like that.
D. Juggle and multitask to please others.
I was happy to see that Tim Grover has a section in Winning about being selfish, but I have to be selfish and point out that I’ve been talking about being radically selfish in women's groups for years.
It doesn’t mean being an egomaniac.
It does mean we set up ourselves for success, manage our focus and don’t apologize for it.
It means we release control and let people fight their own battles, mess up, try again - because that's how they learn and we don’t learn anything from being “right”.
We practice outside our comfort zone to grow more powerful and make a difference for others.
Mother Teresa is an example. What? The Saint of Calcutta?
There are accounts that she was not always nice. There are accusations that she liked to wield power.
That makes sense to me. You cannot accomplish what she did by being a doormat that says “welcome friends”. You also can’t do what she did without making some enemies.
Nope, I don’t do that.
So, how do you figure out What do you DO, and decide what to prune away?
You can start by making a list of what you don’t do.
You don’t have to explain. Does your gut say no? Then it's a no.
It can be anything from cleaning house (I don’t do that anymore) to flying coach (same, if at all possible), to certain kinds of clients you won't work with.
Don't expect others to applaud your list.
Do expect to be judged.
When that happens, contact me and we’ll do some IDGAF exercises together.
Quitting Time Pruning exercise:
Choose 1 hour or less.
Consciously assert control over your emotions by either meditation or movement. For me what's working now is a pilates flow, a hike, or paddleboarding.
Once I am calm and in control, I look at what is on my plate.
I do not look at new things to add, this is a clarifying exercise, not an expansion session.
What does my intuition say? Do I want this thing anymore?
If its a Hell Yes, than its a keeper!
If its not a Hell yes, then its a No.
Give yourself about 5 seconds to decide. If you start thinking…
Or, my personal favorite:
well it would be a hell yes, if only….
That’s a No.
Some things we have said Yes to in the past will become No’s. They may be harder to unravel than others.
Shutting down a business or relationship is not the same as cancelling a meeting.
For bigger decisions, it might make sense to give it some space for a bit if possible.
Focus on the smaller No’s that are easier to cut out. Focus on the Hell Yes’s!!
This creates room for the truth about what to do with the bigger No’s when its time.
Pruning takes skill and practice. You might cut yourself. You may end up lopping off a healthy vine. Let it be imperfect, but it's better than getting choked by the overgrowth of competing priorities and lost battles.
Its only after pruning that the new growth happens.
Speaking of new growth - I’ll be in Bacalar Mexico next week, chasing ghosts of the pirates and learning more about the Mayans. you can follow the fun on my IG account. I've also got pics from Flathead lake, too!
Love to all y’all
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