No. 124

Begin Again

Workaholic mode has been destroying me

Last week, I took a sabbatical from work to reorganize, reimagine, reinvigorate myself and my work. I started my website development business in April 2013. The first few months were slow; in July I didn’t even make enough money to pay my rent. But by the autumn, I was picking up more projects and had a steady income that allowed me to breathe much easier than I did in those summer months. Since then, it feels like the business has grown exponentially and I found myself in full-fledged workaholic mode, working 12 to 14 hour days for 6 days every week. Living in that mode is unsustainable. It’s been destroying me.

It was time for a change

So on my sabbatical week, I asked myself what I wanted to change, what I wanted to do better, what help I needed. I redesigned my websites so they work better for me and reflected who I am now as a developer. I carved out a chunk of work to pass to a friend who will be helping me regularly. And most importantly, I decided what I need to bring (back) into my life.

And the beginning needed to be different

I’ve done this before: said I was going to start blogging regularly, but failed horribly, abandoning my blog just a few weeks later. I’ve done it with so many projects I wanted to work on, skills I wanted to learn, adventures I was trying to plan.

But sometimes you arrive at a point and you recognize that everything will be different. Because it has to be. Because if it isn’t, you won’t survive. Because it’s finally time to begin again. It’s a moment of rebirth.

Ditching lofty resolutions

I knew I couldn’t tackle change like I had in the past: by deciding I would change everything when I woke up the next morning. I had crazy goals: exercise every day, learn a new language, blog and use social media regularly, eat healthy… It was too overwhelming, and changing everything is hard to remember to do. Honestly, by trying to make drastic changes, I was setting myself up for failure. I knew it.

It’s like every New Year’s Resolution I broke in the past. New Year’s never had enough magic in it.

I attempted a lofty resolution again this summer: I wanted to reclaim my mornings (which were often taken over by emails and clients). My friend Erin and I discussed this at length, since she was in the same spot. I even made a list: at least 30 minutes of exercise followed by stretching, some journaling, meditation, and a leisurely breakfast. How often did I manage a morning like this? Only once. It was too much.

Hello, little changes that stick around

This time, change will be gradual. I’ve set small goals for myself, little actions I can take that will have big effects on my happiness. Write on my blog once a week. Pull my bow back 10 times every day. Walk for at least a half hour four times during the week, whether it’s at the gym or in nature. Meditate for 10 minutes. There’s a little list of joy that’s growing, a collection of changes that will be integrated slowly, with new ones added as others take hold. I’ve started with three changes this week, and this blog is one. (Note: A friend recommended irunurun, an app that helps keep you accountable.)

I’m sticking around, and I hope you will too.

Tell me yours

What three little changes will you start with?


About brandi

Brandi is a digital strategist, website developer, and founder of Alchemy+Aim, a company that helps entrepreneurs and business owners elevate their online presence and enhance their digital experience. Her academic background in theatre, philosophy and physics was the perfect foundation for launching her business, where she’s worked with Brené Brown, Laverne Cox, Judy Smith, and other notable thought leaders since 2013. She is an advocate for using technology in ways that humanize, connect and serve people as well as for asking deeper philosophical questions and teaching others to think more broadly about impact when they create, particularly in STEAM fields.

15 thoughts on “Begin Again

  1. Oh, Miss Brandi… I feel ya. I’m still struggling to find my equilibrium after all that’s been going on so I’m holding off on goal setting right now. But starting small seems like the best way to begin. Slow and steady wins the race, right? I’m sure *many* of us can relate to the scenario of goal setting that moves from “I want to shed 5 pounds” to “I’ll run a marathon every week” in the span of a few minutes. I think it’s the way that that kind of moment feels – that rush of enthusiasm is hard not to jump on. Sounds like you’re in a good space for a new start. And we’re here rooting for you! xoxo UB

    1. You always get me, Uncle B. I’m here to help you find that equilibrium if you ever need help. I’ve always found that helping others often shows us how we can best help ourselves. xo

  2. Oh that ever elusive balance that we all strive for! I think I am doomed to be without it but can never say that my life isn’t interesting and different as a result. I’m crossing my fingers that the little steps work for you and look forward to reading more about what you’ve been up to

  3. So happy to see this post from you, Brandi (and at the same time as mine, haha)! I’ve found that, at the beginning, it helps to have a to-do list sitting right next to you at your desk,staring you directly in the face. Plus, it just feels so darn good to cross things off a list! I started a daily walk in the woods every morning right after a light breakfast this past Sunday, picked blogging back up and the third needs to still be put firmly in place, ha!

      1. One of the few photos that isn’t mine. I realized that going forward, I need to obsess less, and if that means buying a photo here and there, so be it.

        So nice that we’re both getting back into the swing of things at the same time… xo

  4. So happy to see this!

    I found I had to stop making lists and plans and simply go for intentions and actions. I’m a bit nervous to write about the changes I have made and my goals because I seem to fail them just as soon as I write. Maybe that’s because writing is a little too cathartic for me? Hm.

    Three steps, though, I’m managing bit-by-bit, include: yoga (a few days a week). Art journaling on Mondays (and more). Not buying (and consequently eating) potato chips.

    And honestly? Those three changes already have me feeling better.

    1. Nice three! And lists aren’t for everyone. I get a little OCD around them, so I just have to set intentions verbally every day.

  5. I totally feel you on the overwhelming goals. I’ve also been trying to chomp on too much (blog included) and then beat myself up when I fail. I’m hoping that the new month/season gets me in gear to focus on the things that truly bring me joy, namely creating.

    I’ve just returned from Burning Man (well, am at the airport in LA waiting for a red eye flight back home) and can’t wait to see what shifts need to happen so I can truly live a life I want. I’ll be mindful not to add too much to the list and will start off with:

    1. Blog at least twice a week.
    2. Start my day with yoga and meditation for 30 minutes.
    3. Draw a quick daily doodle just for fun.

    1. Love the daily doodle idea! Sometimes it’s the super little things like that which end up making a difference. I feel like I should do something like that with poetry or writing…

  6. I’m so happy you’re constantly refocusing. I need to do that. And I’m so so sorry I never responded to your IM. I don’t know how to, but all I know is that it popped up and I don’t know where it went. I miss you!

  7. Yay! Happy to see a post from you Brandi! Congrats on all your website success! But yeah, there definitely needs to be balance. I’m glad to see you taking more time for yourself, in little ways. That’s the way to go. xo

  8. Oh, Brandi, we’ve missed you! I’m so glad you’ve been able to find some balance in life. It’s not easy to do. The idea of little gradual changes is something I’ve had to accept as well. We just want things to change so fast because we know what we want! But it’s impossible to maintain that. I’ve always told myself I want to write every day, even if it’s just a thought, a sentence, an idea for one of my stories, anything. And I haven’t been doing that. Also, walking more. I’ve been keeping up with yoga, but not walking. I need to do that at least 3 days a week. And I think I’ll take a leaf from your book and integrate the idea of reinventing myself more often. Constantly thinking along those lines is a good habit to form, no?

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