Unfashionable Wrist Braces & The Guilt of Feeling "Unproductive"
What scaling back can teach you about patience and priorities
“Is what’s on your wrists a fashion choice or did you hurt yourself?”
I laughed as a course creator asked me that during office hours last week. Unfortunately, it was the latter. For over two weeks now, I’ve been battling my first case of tendonitis. I suspect the compounding effect of not having a proper ergonomic setup and putting in excessive hours was the culprit—preventing me from doing much of anything lately.
Fortunately, I’ve made swift changes to both my setup and schedule. But it’s been a harsh reminder that solopreneurship isn’t all sunshine and roses. For all its freedom there’s a hefty cost of relying solely on yourself to execute. There are no sick days to cash or teammates to draft when you need to bench yourself (not that I used either one much in my employee days but it was comforting knowing they were there).
Being a business-of-one can be scary.
But these contemplative couple of weeks have taught me it can also be enlightening if you’re willing to be brutally honest with yourself. In my case, that’s meant two things:
Accepting what my “minimum viable” looks like each day—knowing it will vary from day to day until I’m fully recovered.
Accepting that I may let someone down if worst-case scenario I need to cancel an event or delay a deliverable—and choosing to be compassionate rather than berate myself over it.
The old me would’ve been wracked with anxiety leading up to each deadline about whether I could make good on my promise. Then, God forbid I had to cancel or delay, I would’ve agonized about how unprofessional I looked and the “irreversible” consequences of such.
Looking back, it seems dramatic given I’m a huge proponent of others prioritizing their health. So as my own boss, why wouldn’t I convey the same compassion toward myself?
It seems like two identities I struggle with. On the one hand, there’s the high performer in me who former managers have praised for “overdelivering no matter what the challenge.” And then on the other, there’s the nurturer in me who adapts easily to whatever comes her way. I don’t give that second identity enough recognition—let alone praise—considering it illuminates the way through my darkest hours. But it’s something I’m going to be better about going forward.
My question to you is, what identity have you been eclipsing and how might recognizing it help you better accept your circumstances?
A Minimum Viable Gem
Last Tuesday, my minimum viable work day entailed leading a Learning Lab for Butter—a platform that makes virtual collaboration “as smooth as butter.” I was excited about the event and ripped off my wrist braces to deliver it. It went great with plenty of attendee participation and good vibes from my co-pilot’s DJ set. I recommend checking out the platform if you run online events.
Here’s a summary of what I covered in my session on what most cohort-based courses get wrong about learning design:
You can watch the full recording here (time stamps are in the YouTube description):
Let me know if you have any follow-up questions and I’d be happy to answer them.
Now, as great as the session went, I was in pain for most of it and stopped working immediately after it. And while the old me would’ve tried to push through the pain and keep working until at least 5 pm, thankfully the wiser me realized that would make things worse. I immediately pictured this Monica meme and called it a (work) day:
There’s a FRIENDS reference for everything.
On a more serious note, I chose to be grateful for incorporating a great event into that day’s “minimum viable” workload and did my best to rest in service of expediting my recovery. In the meantime, I just have to be patient. And as a friend and mentor told me, “just enjoy some downtime.”
So that’s what I’m trying to do. And I’m going to think positive sentiments the same way I would if I were consoling a friend about feeling “unproductive” while they were on the mend. I hope you do the same next time you’re feeling anything less than your regular self. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about being your own boss, it’s take care of yourself. You can’t expect to take care of your business without prioritizing your health first.
My question to you is, are you prioritizing yourself and if not, what changes do you need to make?
Thanks for reading this week’s newsletter and have a wonder-full week,
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