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The Fine Art of Pushing Yourself

I wanted to share a few “lessons learned” from The Zone Event, a business and online marketing conference I attended through HeartCore Business in Arizona the last week of September. It’s taken a little while for me to process everything and distill what I ultimately came away with.

The most important lesson is one that I’m always learning, and it has to do with balancing two seemingly disparate forces: pushing myself to grow (in business and in life) and taking exquisite care of myself.

My health has been great for a long time now, and after four years struggling with chronic fatigue (at the worst of which I was bedridden 8+ hours a day), I still don’t take it for granted.

Or maybe I do.

Because I do expect myself to perform at the absolute highest level, all the time.

Under normal circumstances, that’s usually a good thing. I’m very self-motivated and very driven.

Where it gets dicey is when I’m outside my comfort zone and away from the very things that fuel me to feel amazing … and I still expect myself to perform at the absolute highest level.

The first thing you need to know is that I don’t do well with time changes. The conference was in Phoenix, which doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time, so it was three hours behind Eastern time. Yet I basically stayed on Eastern time the whole five days – which means, in practical terms, that I woke up at 4am every single day. (7am Eastern time is actually sleeping in for me, so I suppose it could’ve been worse.)

The second thing you need to know is that I’m an introvert. While I love meeting new people, being social, and making connections, I charge up and fuel up by having time to myself.

The third thing you need to know is that I like to know what’s coming. I like to be mentally prepared. My mom once told me that when I was a toddler she had to tell me where we were going, what we were doing and who we would see at all times, or risk me having a complete meltdown. IF ONLY THINGS HAD CHANGED.

So imagine this: I arrive in Phoenix and am so anxious the first night that I hardly sleep at all. When we check in for the event, I look at the agenda and practically panic, because a) there are SIX scheduled sessions EVERY DAY and b) there is no information at all about what we’ll be learning in any one of these sessions. Then I see that there’s a planned Friday lunch for people in PACE Club (that’s me) – but they hadn’t announced it ahead of time, so I had made plans to meet one of my clients for lunch.

I had to make decisions every day – sometimes every hour – and where to push myself and where to take care of myself.

Here are some decisions I made that tried to balance the two:

  • I went to Whole Foods and bought healthy snacks. Having a stash of fruit, gluten-free crackers and Odwalla juices made everything else possible.
  • I balanced sitting with friends I knew (especially the first morning when my anxiety was very high) and sitting with new people.
  • My goal was to find at least 3 prospective clients, and I ultimately found 5. This became easier as the conference wore on and I felt more comfortable chatting people up. I made sure to get their information (as opposed to just giving out my business card) and follow up via email at the end of that same day.
  • I went to every single session, even when I was tired, except for one. The one that I skipped was on a day when I attended a strategy breakfast, so I still attended 6 sessions that day. I just could not physically keep going. That was definitely the right decision.
  • On the first day, Shanda taught us the concept of a “stand” – what you stand for, what the mission is of your life and business. She assigned us homework to record a two-minute Facebook Live sharing our stand. That night at 10pm I recorded my “stand” video in bed, in my pajamas. This was waaay outside of my comfort zone, but she had talked about the importance of being vulnerable and the importance of being a finisher, so I got it done. I finished the task; I put getting it done ahead of getting it perfect.
  • I had organized a night of drinks with people in PACE Club. I was completely exhausted and did NOT want to go out at all. But I had committed to going, so I did. I skipped the evening session that night, rested, and then went out. And I didn’t find a single person from my group at the bar! (It turned out there were two, but I missed them.) I discovered two ladies who had just joined PACE that day and had a lot of questions. I sat with them for twenty minutes, answered their questions, and then went to bed.
  • I took an extra day off after arriving home. I knew I would be beat up from all the travel, so I took an extra day off the day after I got home. THIS WAS SO NECESSARY. I actually did have a work call late that afternoon; in the future I would take a full day. If I don’t schedule myself time to recover and rest I just turn into a basket case.

Although the conference was very challenging, looking back I feel really happy with how I handled the challenge. A few things I would have done differently:

  • The last night, I had made reservations at a Mexican restaurant recommended by the hotel concierge. There weren’t many healthy options and that wasn’t ideal, given the strain my body was already under. In future I’d check the menu before making a reservation.
  • I would have done a short morning and evening yoga sequence to help me power up and wind down. I did work out a little bit but I wish I’d prioritized movement a little more.
  • I would have freaked out less about not sleeping well and just reminded myself that I still can function even without a lot of sleep; maybe not optimally, but it’s not a huge deal.

What are your best tips for balancing pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and taking exquisite care of yourself?



October 29, 2018

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