A few weeks ago I was tasked with a challenge that daunted me – I had to spend seven days almost completely alone. (I had RAI treatment for my Graves’ Disease. Read more about why, and the procedure here.) As an extrovert, and someone who has indirect contact with people absentmindedly daily, I thought this was going to be extremely difficult, which meant I needed to prepare. I got a whole bunch of snacks, a couple of new books I’ve had my eye on, and waited for what I thought might be one of the hardest week of my life. Let me tell you, I was COMPLETELY surprised.
It wasn’t awful or hard at all….I actually LOVED it. (I did have some health side effects that weren’t very fun, but it didn’t overshadow how much I enjoyed the week.)
In the midst of all the soul searching and badassery that was taking place over the course of the week, I was able to narrow down everything I was feeling to three incredible lessons:
- Say “No” More Often.
I found that by needing to say “no” to work and personal “obligations” out of necessity, I could focus on the things I actually wanted to focus on by being alone – both in my work life and my personal life.
I wanted to be able to say “no” to more, but didn’t know how. Enter, Tim Ferris. Tim is one of my all time favorites to look up to, between his podcast and books, he’s probably the person I learn from most about business.
I was reading his book, “Tribe of Mentors” and this concept really spoke to me about my problem.
“In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to?”
“My biggest shift came after listening to a successful CEO talk about his philosophy for hiring people. When his company grew and he ran out of time to interview people himself, he had his employees rate new candidates on a 1-10 scale. The only stipulation was they couldn’t choose 7. It immediately dawned on me how many invitations I was receiving that I would rate as a 7 – speeches, weddings, coffees, even dates. If I thought something was a 7, there was a good chance I felt obligated to do it. But if I have to decide between a 6 or an 8, it’s a lot easier to quickly determine whether or not I should even consider it.”- Kyle Maynard”
I almost immediately began implementing this strategy – saying “no” to coffee dates that although I enjoyed, weren’t moving the needle on revenue. Saying “no” to certain types of business by prioritizing proposals and new business opportunities for McLernon & Co.
This strategy quickly made me more confident about cancelling opportunities and obligations that I ranked a 1-7.
Almost as soon as I implemented this strategy, I started feeling SO much better. I was freeing up time to focus on revenue generating activities for the business, and personally I had more time to do what I actually wanted to do-bike, cook, read, start learning more about plants, learn Lightroom and blog!!
Then, my biggest realization of the week hit me.
- Everyone in Their 20s Should Live Alone Once.
With living with another person, I realized I was spending way too much time on things that I didn’t want to do. I *never* had the alone time I really wanted because of our teeny tiny apartment, and was responsible for two people, not just one.
Mid week, when I realized I was enjoying my alone time so much, I decided after the week was over that I’d move into my own apartment and leave my relationship so I could be unapologetically selfish, and single, for the first time in my 20s.
Everyone in their 20s should have the space to be unapologetically selfish. Click To Tweet
I found so much happiness in this difficult decision because I could now spend my time, energy and money however I wanted. I could even decorate my new studio the way I wanted, and I didn’t have to cater to the personal style of another person. If I wanted everything millennial pink, it could be millennial pink-unapologetically! If I wanted to spend $250 on plants, I could. I had the physical space to set up my desk again, which I wasn’t able to do when I lived with someone else.
This decision gave me so much freedom, and that freedom gave me the emotional space that I needed to find happiness.
This was probably one of the hardest lessons to learn – it was a sad (but extremely) important decision. That helped me learn lesson number 3.
- Owning it Has Huge ROIs!
Learning and implementing the first two lessons had huge results. Almost immediately after making these changes I noticed a difference in my demeanor.
Now, although these changes did made me feel quickly better, it wasn’t completely without bumps.
I felt awful for having to cancel a fun collaboration and a speaking event in Reno, meaning I wouldn’t get back any time soon.
A few prospect opportunities needed to be deprioritized, and I turned down immediate revenue opportunities because it wasn’t the right kind of revenue to grow our business. A few prospects shared their unsolicited opinions with me about those decisions, and let me know they weren’t loving it.
I was heartbroken to leave my relationship, even though I knew it was the right thing to do. It was sad to know that my hopes for this relationship were over, and that we weren’t going to be married in the next year like I thought we would.
Regardless of the bumps, every day I continue to become happier and more focused on what I need to do for myself to have success in my life.
The alone time that immediately came from these decisions allowed me to focus on revenue and my personal happiness – and the “returns” have been phenomenal.
For work, we had an $11,500 WEEK. ($35,000 has been our largest month so far.) We also had the biggest lead come through, and had time to work on a weekend campaign that required all-hands-on-deck to prove ourselves and win a much bigger opportunity. This month I’m also earning a salary that allows me to live comfortably.
In my personal life, I felt lighter, and happier than I’ve felt in a long time – like I finally shook the gray cloud that was above me. Everyday I spend more time on what I want to do – biking, tending to my plants, decorating and spending time with new friends. I have been dancing and laughing and being goofy – all things I haven’t done in a while.
So now what?
I’m spending so much more of my time alone and am fiercely defending my personal time in order to be happy. I continue to implement my learnings and ask myself hard questions about my life.
I strongly recommend that if you’re reading this and you can somehow kick people out of your life for a little bit – even if it’s just for a weekend- to focus on yourself, you should. If you’re in a place like I was; really stressed, frustrated, down I strongly recommend you challenging yourself to do it for a week. You won’t regret it.
I’ll keep updating you on my progress – follow along with me on my Instagram Stories for daily check-ins!