On the hamster wheel?Oct 26, 2023
My friend, you are not alone. Your rodent analogy speaks to the hearts of many and I think we can all relate to the feeling of moving but getting nowhere.
Some of us are born running, terrified to slow down and terrified to be caught.
What happens when we stop?
What if we can’t stop?
And so we pick up our feet and we try to outrun whatever fear we’d rather not turn to face.
Now, this is just a humble blog. We can’t get into the ins and outs of your deepest psyche. But across the years of being both a coach and an avid hamster owner, I know a few things about being on the wheel.
Hamsters featured heavily in my childhood home.
In succession we had Humbug, Harvey, Harriet and Betty and every single one of them was relegated to the bathroom overnight. Hamsters are nocturnal critters and I dare anyone to sleep through the relentless noise of a hamster exercising itself on a squeaky hamster wheel at 2am. So as I was tucked into bed each evening, the hamster cage was transferred into the bathroom where whichever iteration of hamster was free to party the night away.
I was much like a hamster for the first 35 years of my life (but more party party and less furry furry).
My relentless running got me nowhere. I kept turning my wheel in the dark, clueless and kinda pointless.
After a particularly brutal wake up call that involved me humiliating myself in front of everyone I knew before prompting vomiting in my own hair (story for another time) I decided the only way to stop the wheel from turning was to stop running.
I wanted to move forward so desperately but the only way I was going to do that was to take a moment and stand still. I needed to regroup, to ask some hard hitting questions and to have a curious (and compassionate) chat with myself.
Here’s what I discovered.
You’ve got to have a destination. The problem with hamsters is they have nowhere to go. You’re not a hamster. Set a goal. It doesn't need to be a big, massive 5 year plan. In fact it's probably better if you set short term, readily achievable intentions so you feel like you’re actually getting somewhere.
Pick anything, it almost doesn't matter what it is.
Do the couch to 5k (I am aware that that is actually running).
Start (and finish) a 6 week pottery course. Everyone needs a homemade wobbly mug. Everyone.
Join a choir and practice religiously until the concert.
Start something that has some kind of end point. Create. Complete.
You are responsible for the quality of your life. If the days are bleeding into one, rearrange your time.
“But Em, I have no time” I hear you cry.
Which brings me to my next point.
How are you spending your days? Be honest. Be objective.
I’m not about to push the whole “you have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyonce” sh*t because you know what? You don't.
Time is different when you're minted. You think Beyonce is cleaning her own sh*t out of her own toilet or hitting up Kmart for her kids Halloween costumes? No, she's not.
You and I are busy people but a different kind of busy to Beyonce. Let’s not draw comparisons to people who live incomparable lives.
But let’s also see if there’s a lesson to be learnt. Beyonce's success comes from being focused and intentional with her time. She prioritises the things that will actually make a difference. And even without mountains of moolah, we can do that too.
What really matters in your life? Where are you putting your focus on things that really don’t matter? Not just your time but your energy and money too.
I used to be so preoccupied about what other people thought of me that I had no energy left to consider what I thought of me! And so the wheel turned.
I was so concerned with looking a certain way that all my cash flowed towards proving my worth instead of living my worth. And so the wheel turned.
I spent so much time being busy because I thought that would make me valuable that I didn’t have anything left in the tank of value. And so the wheel turned.
Stop. Where are you miss-spending your time, money and energy?
There’s an identity shift that needs to happen.
When you decide that you are worthy of an adventurous life that fills you with joy and contentment, you make different decisions about how you spend your resources of time, money and energy.
When you empower yourself to make decisions from your soul instead of your fear, life changes.
Empowered women don’t do for the sake of doing. They are considered, intentional and purposeful.
They take stock regularly. They ask “am I happy?” often and they change what needs to be changed if they're not. They step outside the norm. They shake things up. They cultivate the confidence to move outside their comfort zone because that’s where life feels electric.
They simply refuse to be moved into a dark bathroom to go round and round in circles.
If you want to move forward, stop.
Examine where you’re at right now and course correct.
You’re not a hamster. You are wildly capable of changing what’s not working for you.
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