For the first time in my life, I'm not on the hustle.
Seriously. It took me 35 years to slow down.
All through school - from elementary through law school - all I did was bust my butt to succeed. Then I was a corporate lawyer, working 10-18 hour days and 6-7 day weeks. Then I spent two years working a minimum of 3 jobs at a time trying to figure out what the hell I really wanted to do with my life. Then I opened a brick-and-mortar business, and that's when the fun really got started! In all seriousness, that is when I finally felt like I'd found my true calling and in many ways the fun did finally begin. But, it also meant that I continued to operate at full throttle for another 4 years straight.
I fully admit, part of this is because of my tendency not to allow myself to enjoy the fruits of my labor. As soon as I accomplished one thing, I'd be on to the next. It's something I've recognized this about myself (with the help of some of my brilliant friends kindly pointing it out to me...more than once...) over the past few years and have been working to change. But old habits die hard.
I moved to Austin in March with every intention of diving straight into opening a second studio. In fact, I was in the middle of negotiating a lease for a beautiful space up until about two weeks before my move. The deal fell apart during my final days in DC, but I just took that as a sign that there was a better place waiting for me to come find it once I'd moved.
So I told myself I was going to take a mini-sabbatical. Focus on just being a student for a little while. Adjust to running my studio from halfway across the country. Enjoy life in Austin. Settle in, meet some new people, reconnect with old friends.
And I tried. Really, I did! But those first few weeks in Austin, I just couldn't help myself. Anytime I came across an available property that looked interesting, I asked my broker to arrange a tour. They just kept popping up in front of me, how could I resist? My first week in town I found out that a beloved yoga studio in my childhood neighborhood had just shuttered a month before my move. I had been in love with the building since I first set foot in it ten years ago - how could I not tour it? And fine, I gave into the temptation to cruise Craigslist for spaces more than once. That's how I found the gorgeous old limestone building across from my elementary school with the sweetly eccentric landlady. Oh man, I fell hard for that space.
Both of those spaces didn't work out for reasons I won't bore you with here.
And both times...I felt a sense of relief when I got the news.
If I was so in love with those spaces and so gung-ho about getting started on studio #2, why was I feeling RELIEVED that all of those spaces fell through??
Because once I started settling into a routine, connecting with my community, really feeling at home in Austin...something shifted. Something big. I no longer felt compelled to get started on my next thing. Instead, I was REALLY enjoying getting to just be a student again. Getting to focus on my personal life in a way I hadn't since opening the studio. And above all, resting. Recovering, really.
Because it wasn't until I got comfortable with my life in Austin and truly slowed down that I realized just how thoroughly I had burned myself out in DC. And just how badly I truly was in need of a sabbatical.
So what about opening Studio #2? Well, I also realized that I had been clinging to the familiar in order to ease the discomfort of transition (i.e. moving across the country after 10+ years in DC). And for me, "the familiar" was owning a yoga studio. It felt so good to tell people that this is my identity, this is what I do, and this is what I'm going to continue to do while I'm in Austin. Look, I've already gotten started working on it!
But once I got out of the uncomfortable transition phase and really started settling into life in Austin, I found that I didn't need to cling to my old familiar identity anymore. At first it was really weird telling people that I was just chillin' when they asked what I was doing in Austin. I felt compelled to have something concrete that I could give them in response. But before long I found myself really enjoying giving people that answer.
Meanwhile, the studio in DC is doing well. I mean really well. Leaving my studio - my baby, and the incredible community that has grown up around it - to move across the country in search of a happier personal life was difficult for a number of reasons. One of which was that the idea of moving so far away from my main (and currently, sole) stream of income was TERRIFYING. But I know that there are many, many business owners out there who don't live in the same city as their successful, profitable businesses. If they could figure out how to make it work, surely I could too, right?
And I was lucky enough to be leaving my baby in the hands of an incredible team. They are smart and talented and, most importantly of all, their love of and devotion to the studio is palpable. All I needed them to do was maintain the status quo after I moved. Keep things humming along as they already were. Between their smarts and their dedication, I felt good (albeit nervous) about my decision to leave.
But the studio's not just surviving. It's THRIVING. My team is KILLING it. (This is definitely the subject of a future post on the value of trusting a team rather than trying to DIY everything...stay tuned.)
So what does all this mean? That I've finally achieved the goal I've been working towards my whole life. I don't *have* to work hard anymore!
It took a little while to get used to that. And honestly, it still feels a little weird. There's a little voice in my head saying "it's not OK for you to taking it this easy for this long." But after a little practice, I've gotten pretty good at telling that voice to hush and enjoy the sunshine and sleep.
And I've opened eyes to the fact that I don't HAVE to do the same thing again if I don't want to. I'm at a crossroads. I have options. I've learned a lot about what I'm great at and what I'm not so great at, what I love about owning a studio and what I'm not so fond of. And I have the opportunity to take the time to craft a new chapter based on those lessons.
And so, in the tradition of the phoenix, out of the ashes of my burnout will rise a new version of me. Similar, recognizable, but stronger and wiser. But I've made my peace with the fact that it will take time, and as with most beginnings, will likely start out humble.
But, for the first time in my life...I'm in no rush to start the next thing. And damn does that feel good.