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  • Kelsea Koenreich

Finding Your Identity Outside of Your Business

One of the most interesting things about my work is helping people create something that they're not sure what to do with. 

The majority of women that come to me are seeking some sort of freedom, time freedom, more flexibility.They’re tired of overworking. Tired of feeling stressed. Tired of feeling overwhelmed. Their businesses have essentially taken over their lives. They know it's not sustainable. It's affecting them and their families. 

We set out on this quest to get them removed from the day to day. We reduce their hours, and restructure the business so it's more efficient and effective We make sure that the right team members are in the right roles to support where we are headed and that the back-end organization is clear.. 

One of the first things that I do with clients is build their CEO schedule. This is always a fun activity for us. We reduce their actual working hours. We remove weekend work, not working after kids go to bed, not working early mornings because we're taking care of ourselves instead. And it's a dream on paper. 

When it comes down to actually implementing it, I see one of two things happen. 

Either they will:

  1. Unconsciously start to create problems and chaos and move back into the default setting of “there's always work to do”.

  1. Began to refill those hours by finding more things to do because they are so uncomfortable and don’t know what else to do with their time.  which is pretty common when you’re first getting started. 

Today we're talking all about how to stop filling every inch of our time with work, how to do other things outside of work and how to embrace time freedom when you get there.

Navigating Guilt

How do I deal with the guilt of the inability to stay still? I think this is the hardest part for women. We always have a to-do list of a million things. While we can let go of some of the control of trying to complete that in whatever timeline we set, it still can carry a lot of mental weight. 

One of my clients mentioned that she struggled with being still because she felt so guilty about all the things that she could be doing in her business. This turned into a big topic of conversation. I want you to differentiate if you struggle with being still or if you have free time, you default to working.

I'm not great at being still, just being honest with you. And for a long time I was teetering back and forth between leaning into my productivity and leaning into stillness, learning how to rest. 

We’re all wired differently. There's people who need more sleep. There’s people who are fidgeters. There's part of it that's genetic and then there's learned behaviors. I am somebody who doesn’t feel guilty for being still,I am emotionally okay with being still and will happily make time to be still. But I love in my free time to do things that are adventurous, fun or exciting!

It's important for us to differentiate between rest, relaxation and stillness. If you are somebody who struggles with being still because you feel guilty, that is a learned behavior.

If you struggle with being still because you like to move and do things, that's different. And I don't want you to just tell yourself that you're somebody who just likes to do stuff all the time because you actually feel guilty, there is a difference. 

We want to assess the guilt because at the end of the day, rest, relaxation, stillness, doing things outside of work is really important for our sustainability of us as people, but also of our businesses. 

Why do you feel guilty for being still? It's most likely tied to the reward that we get for being productive. The more we do, the more we achieve, the better we are. It's performative, to be honest with you. It's based on what other people think about us and we really have. Start asking yourself,

What do I think about me? 

How do I feel about my life? 

Does my life feel good? 

So, if you feel guilty when you are still - recognize that rest is productive. We are charging our batteries, filling our cups and preparing for the next big leap. 

Finding Joy Beyond the Workday 

In my development of understanding the importance of doing things outside of my business for my overall fulfillment and well-being, I have found that I need to experiment. 

Recently, we went to Disney World and rode roller coasters with my big kids. It was a new level of fun that I hadn't felt in a long time. That was such a spark for me that showed me I was craving spontaneity and feeling like a kid again. 

When we're talking about doing things outside of our work, we have to be willing to be in the moment and be flexible and actually allow ourselves to feel the experience that we're in. So, to figure out what you might like doing with your time - you need to try new things!

Ride roller coasters with your kids. Highly recommend it. But if you can't ride roller coasters, there's plenty of other things that you can try. Head to a bookstore, book a fitness class, go make some pottery!

There are so many women I've coached that are running big successful businesses that are achieving their gold stars. But they feel like shit and their relationships are strained. The allowance for fun, play and being a human outside of work just isn’t there. 

Even if you love your work, there are also other things that you love that fulfill different parts of you – and you need to go on a quest to find time. And of course, you need the time to explore!

Creating Your Life Outside of Work

We need to do things outside of work to be fulfilled and happy. We know that when we have space outside of work that we're going to feel a pull towards work because there's always more to do. And we know that most times we will default to our factory setting that is working because that's what we know. 

Our work can easily become our identity. This is where things get a little bit dangerous because we need an identity outside of work. Being so wrapped up into our work, being the only part of us or the only thing that we know about ourselves is not good for our mental health. 

In order to do things outside of work, we first have to understand that we need to structure our businesses in a way that gives us the space and freedom and time outside of work to do other things and to be present. If you don't know how to do that, that's what I'm helping clients do first. 

Once you have that, you're going to need to make a plan for your stillness, for your off time. You're going to need to experiment with different types of things to rediscover who you are outside of your business. When you have built something that has required grit and hustling, you have set your brain to believe and see and have data to support that you need to be working a lot and that in your spare time you should be working because that is the most productive thing. 

We have to break that thought and that belief and show ourselves that when we have fun. When we are fulfilled, we are better leaders, better creators, and show up better in our business. In order to do that, we can't expect ourselves to have space in our schedule to have any sort of white space or allotted time away from work and not plan for something in that time, especially when we have new-found time freedom. 

When my clients and I design this schedule and they have this free time, a lot of them decide they're done working when the kids are done at school. I remember one of my clients asking me when we set her schedule, “Well, what do I do?”

And I said, “You tell me, what do you do?” 

Make a plan for what you do otherwise you're going to end up back in your office. I don't want you to expect yourself to thinkI need time freedom. I need to work less. Okay, I'm going to work less. I'm going to stop working at this time. I'm not going to work weekends anymore. And that's it, right? 

Because you won't. 

You honestly won't because you get such a dopamine hit when you check a box or do something productive for your work that you're going to be drawn back to that every time. So, I want you to make a plan for the time that you have off.

I want you to experiment and make a list of things that you can do when you have time to do them. You can put time blocks in your calendar as your fun list or your not work to do list or however you want to title it. I really encourage you to do this. 

Make this list of things that you could do. It could be a new coffee shop to try. A new restaurant. Or something bigger. 

Do you want to travel? 

Do you want to go on a date with your partner?

Do you want to try a painting class? 

There's all these things that we restrict ourselves from because we tell ourselves we don't have time, but the reality is that we're in control of our time and our schedules. We can alter those schedules to where our working hours allow us free space to create fulfillment and find out what fulfills us. 

I want you to actually make a list of things that you would like to try or experiment with, a bucket list, if you will. Anything can be on this list. Maybe it's something that you think you have no interest in. Maybe it's something that you tried before that you want to pick up again that you thought you didn't like. 

One of my clients started playing the violin again. There's so much outside of our businesses that if we foster can bring so much to our business. What we really have to think about is when you look back on your life, will you regret? How much you've worked. 

Another question to ask yourself is what if you had FOMO for things outside of work? A lot of times we're attracted to and pulled towards work because we have FOMO. We don't want to miss anything. But what if we had that same FOMO for the places we wanted to travel, the things that we wanted to see, the people that we wanted to be, the relationships we wanted to foster. What if we had FOMO for those things? What if we were afraid of missing our children's childhood?

I think if we're being honest about what guides us back to work, it's providing for our families. It's a necessary part of our lives, but also it becomes all that we know. If we're going to know something else, we have to put ourselves in opportunities to experiment and explore other things. And for a lot of people, it requires some bravery. 

It might feel silly. A few years ago, I went to a hip hop dance class and I will tell you guys this. I am very uncoordinated. Regardless of me being in fitness for a long time, being a competitor, all those things, I am not coordinated. 

I was in this dance class with like 18 year old kids. I looked like an idiot to be honest with you, but I tried it and I was like, I feel stupid. I am awful, but at least I tried. Doing something new does require a level of bravery, and we have to remember that other people don’t care about us nearly as much as we think they do.. Your work is something that you know, it's your business. You feel confident in it. Whereas trying new things feels scary.

But the growth that we get from experimenting with these things has a direct rollover into our leadership, into how we show up into our business, and to how we communicate with people. It's something that has to be a non-negotiable. You have to be able to experiment and explore and make time for things outside of your work.

Rediscovering You

Business can suck a lot of fun out of our lives. This was radically presented to me as I'm riding these roller coasters, my voice is hoarse from screaming with my kids. 

And I'm like, man, I feel so alive! That energy has just flowed into everything around me.

I encourage you to take this seriously and make this list, create a plan for when you have off time to do one of these things on your list and make it a priority. The fear is that if we do these things that it will take away from our business, but I can promise you that it only pours into it. 

Your identity is more than your business. Create the space, experiment, find out what is enjoyable to you. Remember that as moms and as entrepreneurs, we have two of the pathways that are easiest to lose our identities to. 

Before you were a mom, you were you. Before you owned your business, you were you. If you want your business to succeed long -term, you need to take care of you and have fun, fulfillment, rest, and joy. 

These are all things that we have to infuse and make sure that we have the structure in our business to support. I hope this is helpful for you. If you need help to create that time freedom, download the Freedom Framework today.

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