In Roman Krznaric’s How to Find Fulfilling Work, he says that the 3 things you need to find fulfilling work are freedom, flow, and meaning.
Autonomy and freedom are pretty much the same thing.
Mastery is an important component of flow.
Meaning and purpose are pretty much the same thing.
It looks like we’re on to something here.
Let’s start with autonomy/freedom.
Yes, it totally sucks to have no freedom. The biggest complaint employees have about their jobs is that they always have to do what they’re told, they have to do things in a specific way at a particular time. They have no room for creativity, no autonomy, no freedom. They can’t decide what they do and they can’t decide how or when they do it.
But it also sucks to have too much freedom.
Economists call it “The tyranny of choice.” Give people too many options, and they’ll panic and choose none of them.
Writers call it “The terror of the blank page.” Staring at that empty page, knowing you could write anything… but having no idea where to begin.
Unschoolers know it, too – if you don’t give children any guidance or direction at all, they may sit around and be bored instead, overwhelmed by too many choices.
It’s the reason so many entrepreneurs are suckered into step-by-step, paint-by-numbers “make money online” programs that claim to tell you exactly what to do. They’re overwhelmed with all the options and exhausted by decision fatigue, so they’re willing to believe that someone else can take all the decisions away from them.
The truth, though, is that an entrepreneur is a professional decision-maker. Systems and blueprints can help, as long as they leave room for creativity and your own unique touch.
But if you give away all your decision-making power, you’re no longer an entrepreneur, you’re an employee.
It’s hard to find the balance.
You want autonomy… but you’re terrified of the blank page.
You want to make the decisions… but you’re exhausted from decision fatigue.
You want more freedom… but not too much.
I hear you. It’s tough.
Oomph! There it is!
The thing that has helped me the most is to treat my decision-making ability (I call it “oomph”) as a precious resource, and to manage it just like I manage my other precious resources like time and money.
I have the most oomph first thing in the morning, so I put all my decision-making tasks at the beginning of my day, and all my other tasks in the afternoon.
Chocolate and vanilla
The first thing I do each day is plan my day, because planning takes oomph.
When planning, I separate my tasks into “chocolate” and “vanilla”. Chocolate requires oomph, vanilla doesn’t.
Oomph: Decision-making ability.
Chocolate: A task that requires oomph.
Vanilla: A task that doesn’t require oomph.
I do my chocolate tasks in the morning, when I have lots of oomph, and my vanilla tasks in the afternoon, when I’m often low on oomph.
Boss and employee
A reasonable person might call chocolate “Boss” and vanilla “Employee”. You put on your boss hat, make a bunch of decisions and queue up to-do items for your employee-self, then put on your employee hat and do them.
Boss: A task that requires oomph.
Employee: A task that doesn’t require oomph.
If that metaphor works better for you, go for it. I, being a thoroughly unreasonable person, find chocolate and vanilla far more delicious than hats.
Example chocolate tasks:
- Create an outline for this month’s Ice Cream Saturday teaching topic
- Reply to J’s invitation (this task is really hiding the task “Decide whether to say yes or no”)
- Plan the schedule for Peaceful Productivity launch and classes
Example vanilla tasks:
- Teach (once I’ve got an outline, teaching puts me in flow and doesn’t require oomph)
- Get to inbox zero (actually, only 80% of emails are vanilla, the rest require oomph)
- Record a Wild Crazy Meaningful Life podcast (deciding who to invite or deciding on the topic to cover is chocolate, but actually doing it is vanilla, so I separate those out)
- Do the audio processing for the latest podcast
- Pathfinding coaching (for some reason, this doesn’t require oomph. maybe because I’m in flow, being a conduit?)
Einstein’s Theory of Chocolativity
What’s chocolate or vanilla for you might be different than what’s chocolate or vanilla for me. A task that takes a lot of oomph for me might come easily and oomphlessly to you. What’s important is to know yourself and accept what’s true for you. Pretending that something is vanilla when it’s actually chocolate for you will only lead you to exhaustion.
Let’s talk about oomph, baby!
Do you struggle with decision fatigue? How do you manage your oomph? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
It’s a cloudy day in Philadelphia, 1976. Rocky Balboa sets his intention to become a champion. “Eye of the Tiger” begins to play, and we see months of punching things and running up steps condensed into a two-minute-long montage.
It’s Day 91 of the montage.
Rocky Balboa’s alarm clock goes off at the butt-crack of dawn.
“Shit,” he mutters, and rolls out of bed groggily. He eats a breakfast burrito, then drags himself over to the gym and punches some things.
“My legs feel like spaghetti,” he grumbles, but still he works up the motivation to go over to those steps and run up them for the 91st time.
Are you in the middle of a montage?
In real life, setting your intention doesn’t magically condense months of hard work into two minutes. And if you want a soundtrack, you have to create it yourself.
In real life, the middle of a montage can feel like a grind, or a slog, or like you’re running in a hamster wheel.
How to know if you’re in a montage or a hamster wheel
The difference between a hamster wheel and a montage is that in a montage, you’re going somewhere.
You’re working toward a goal, you’re building up a skill, you’re gathering the resources you need for your upcoming journey.
In a hamster wheel, you’re spending all your energy to run in place and go nowhere.
The trick is that Day 91 of the montage feels a lot like a hamster wheel.
Eye of the Tiger
That’s why it’s important to remind yourself of what you’re working toward – to taste your motivation.
Make your own inspirational soundtrack. Create a vision board. Add your “why” to the top of your daily to-do lists.
Whatever your Eye of the Tiger is, find it and remember it each day of your montage.
You’ll need that motivation to go the distance.
Look what the One Perfect Dollar students have created… and buy it for only $1!
30 days ago, the One Perfect Dollar 30-day challenge began. Today’s the day where the students share their offerings with the world. You are the world! (You may or may not be the children.)
And since the class is named “One Perfect Dollar,” that means you get to purchase these special products and services for the kind of ridiculously low price of $1.
The students get their first taste of selling something online, and you get a superbly good deal. Everybody wins!
We’ve got a wide variety of offerings, including:
- an original song
- an eBook on clutter clearing
- handmade jewelry
- and much, much more!
The sale lasts until this coming Monday, but some of these offerings are limited quantity (not everyone is willing to sell a hundred at the special sale price of $1) so take a look now at what’s on sale!
When you purchase, you’re buying directly from the seller – I don’t get anything except a warm fuzzy feeling. (I love my job.) This also means that the individual seller is responsible for delivering what you buy, and for any issues with the buying process or the product/service itself.
I’m so proud of what these amazing people have created. I hope you buy lots of things and they all bring you much joy!
You can browse all the offerings here:
And please share the link widely! This sale is open to the public!
First, shoutouts and gratitude to my Enneagram mentor Aine Ni Cheallaigh. She also wrote about how the Enneagram changed her life twice, and I totally ripped off her title. (; You can read all about her journey here.
This is a love story.
But it begins as a hate story.
For most of my childhood and the first half of my adult life, my #1 goal was to be successful. Successful in school, successful in my career, successful in money. After a couple of decades of this, the screaming of my heart finally became too loud to ignore.
I started following my heart – but it came at a high cost.
I hated the old me. I hated everything she stood for and everything she was obsessed with. I hated success. I hated money.
I knew that if I wanted to quit my day job, I needed to make money doing my heart’s work, but it felt like a necessary evil. I hated capitalism. I hated the system.
Then I learned about the Enneagram.
“Do you think you might be a Type 3? The Achiever?” asked Aine.
“No way,” I replied, palms out. “Threes are vain and deceitful and greedy. Donald Trump is a 3. Threes are obsessed with success and there’s no way I’m like that.”
“Let me tell you more about Threes,” Aine said. “Threes are here to teach us about value and glory. When Threes shine, they can inspire others like no other type.”
I nodded. “That actually sounds kind of awesome.”
“As children, Threes learned that love was conditional upon performance, and if they can access unconditional love, they can radiate that light and that love and beam it out to the world.”
“Yeah, that’s totally been my struggle. And I love the image of me filling up my own heart, then radiating love and light out into the world. I’d like to see myself that way. But what about the greediness and the success-obsession and the deceptiveness of the 3?”
“Those are traps that are easy for Threes to fall into when they look for love in the outside world instead of finding it inside their own heart.”
“Oh.” I paused. “I think I’m a Three.”
This is a love story.
Today, this hangs on my wall as a reminder:
Success lives in my heart.
I don’t need to impress others to be worthy of love – but I can be both radiant and in service.
I don’t need to make lots of money to be worthy of love – but if I do make lots of money with integrity, I embody heart-aligned power.
I am loved, and I am worthy of love, just as I am, right now.
I’m filling up my own heart.
And I’m beaming this love and light out to you, right now.
The Enneagram changed my life. Twice. Could it change yours, too?
Yes, twice! Stay tuned for the story of the second time!
(you can read this poem yourself and you can also listen to me read it)
every morning, my alarm goes off
hey pace get out of bed
hey pace shower
hey pace pajamas
hey pace Remembrance
every morning, my most important alarm goes off
“how do you want to feel today?”
and i say:
on my path
the tedious bullshit to-do item
i approach with rest and with music and with fullness
i feel wholehearted
the butterflies-in-my-stomach putting-myself-out-there
i step into my power
i feel radiant
the scattered tangled threads of the day
i weave into a tapestry of meaning
i feel i am on my path
a tiny little beautiful flower
i might have overlooked
but i notice
and i feel delight
because this morning my alarm asked me
“how do you want to feel today?”
and i said:
on my path
kyeli asks me for a favor
i grumble and execute it efficiently
i slow down because i remember
i look into her eyes
and i feel love
at the end of the day i look back
because this morning my alarm asked me
“how do you want to feel today?”
and i said:
on my path
If you’d like to discover your own core desired feelings (mine are, as you might have guessed, wholehearted, radiant, on my path, delight, love, and gratitude), come to my workshop! It’s about clarifying what you truly want in every area of your life, and using that powerful awareness to guide your choices from now on.
The other day, I was reading a book in which a woman was described as “businesslike.” I instantly knew what the author meant: cold, no-nonsense, efficient, and without kindness or empathy. I did a double-take.
Why does “businesslike” mean cold and heartless?
I started writing about this, but I got carried away by my passionate rant, and it turned into a manifesto.
Warm and Businesslike
I’m an entrepreneur. I do business. But I’m not cold. I’m not heartless. I care about my clients and customers. I want to do good in the world and make money.
There are a lot of businesspeople who are cold-hearted and greedy. It’s time to change that.
Let’s put the love back into business.
Just fill in the form below and you’ll receive the Warm and Businesslike manifesto immediately, plus you’ll get additional articles each week to help you bridge the practical and the profound.
I want to make more money, but it’s like I’ve got one foot on the brake and one foot on the accelerator.
I’m 35 years old.
My business isn’t growing as quickly as I had hoped. There are things I could do to make more money, but it’s like I’ve got one foot on the brake and one foot on the accelerator.
Why is my foot on the brake? Don’t I want to make more money?
As if in answer, my memory takes me back 20 years…
I’m 15 years old.
My friend Rob wants to buy something that costs $50. He doesn’t have the money, and he asks me if he can borrow $50.
I have the money. I like to save up, but there’s nothing urgent that I’m saving for. I want to help, and I want to be a good friend.
And I have no reason not to let him borrow it, so I would feel guilty and selfish if I said no.
Rob never paid me back.
At some point, I stopped bringing it up because I didn’t want to nag or cause drama.
I’ve been running this pattern for the past 20 years.
I’ve carried this lesson with me since that day:
If I have money, people will want me to give it to them.
I’ll feel guilty if I say no when charities come knocking at the door. I’ll feel guilty if I say no when a friend asks for a loan. I’ll feel guilty not paying for dinner if I have more money than the person I’m eating with.
Guilty, guilty, guilty. Where does this guilt come from?
Ah. It’s my old familiar frenemy: I must earn others’ love because I’m not inherently worthy of love.
Is that really true? Nope. I’m worthy of love, just as I am. I place my hand on my heart and I feel it.
Holding this feeling in my heart, I imagine a friend asking me for money.
I imagine myself saying no, compassionately but not wishy-washily.
I anchor this feeling into my heart. It feels like love, and that surprises me.
I bring this new feeling into my business. I raise my prices. It feels like love, and that surprises me… but it surprises me a little less this time.
And I don’t mind if you want me to give you my money. It’s cool. But money and I have other plans.
A conversation between Striving Pace and Enough Pace
I’m so close to my goal. I’m so close to success. I’ve got to keep striving. I’ll know I’m really good at what I do when I cross that green line. I’ll prove I’m worthy. Just a little further… just a little more…
Hold on a second, Striving Pace. Where did that green line come from, anyway? Why are you enough when you’re above that line and not enough when you’re below the line?
What counts as “success”?
That line is when I’m making more money than I’m spending. It’s how I’ll know that I’m a successful entrepreneur.
So, successful entrepreneurs make more money than they spend?
And if you’re not a successful entrepreneur, then you’re not enough, and therefore unworthy of love?
Got it in one!
Uh… we’ll come back to that. But first, do you think that making more money than you spend means that you’re good at business?
Well, sure! I would trust someone more as a businessperson if I knew that they were making more money than they spent, and I would feel a little dodgy about taking business advice from someone who was losing money.
Joe takes out a loan
What if Joe intentionally takes out a big business loan to grow his business, and he’s still paying it back?
Hmm, I don’t know. Maybe Joe doesn’t count as successful until he’s done paying back the loan.
Rosa moves to a bigger house
What if someone just has a lot of expenses? Like, Rosa was successful by your standard, and then she chose to move to a bigger house because she had a new baby. Her old house hasn’t sold yet, so she’s paying two mortgages, so she’s spending more money than she’s making. But she knows it will be fine soon because the house will sell and her business will keep growing. Rosa counted as successful by your definition before she moved… and choosing to move to a big house instantly made her unsuccessful?
Hmm… I guess so.
So you would take business advice from Rosa before she moved, but not after?
But she’s just as smart as she was last year when she lived in the small house. She’s even smarter this year, and she knows more.
Hmm. You have a point.
Let me bring it home. Remember that graph you showed me earlier, about how you were almost making enough money to count as successful by your standard, but not quite enough?
So close! Must… keep… striving…
Pace moves to a tiny one-room apartment
Rein it in, cowgirl. What would happen if you stayed the same – your knowledge, your skills, everything that makes you a good or bad entrepreneur… but you moved to a tiny, one-room apartment?
I… I would be above the green line! I would be successful! Kyeli, come over here! We’ve got to move right away! Can we get out of our lease?
(Kyeli interjects, “Oh gods, I’m not coming anywhere near this creepy-ass conversation with yourself. Let me know when you ‘two’ have worked it out.”)
Hold your horses, Striving Pace. We’re not going anywhere. I just want you to see something. If you did move to a tiny, one-room apartment, would you become any more skilled? Would you become any more knowledgeable? Would you become any more trustworthy? Would you become a better entrepreneur, a better teacher, or a better coach?
I would be… I would have exactly the same skills. I would be exactly the same person… just in a smaller apartment.
So do you think that maybe your “making more money than you spend” criterion is… maybe kinda arbitrary?
Really? *cocks eyebrow*
Uhh… I guess maybe it is arbitrary. Moving to a tiny apartment doesn’t make me a better entrepreneur. It’s arbitrary! My definition of success is unrelated to whether I’m good with money or business.
Bringing it home
Bingo. Now for the one-two punch. What if how much you make and how much you spend have absolutely nothing to do with whether you’re worthy of love?
But… but… I’ve got to… strive…
What if you were enough, just as you are, right now?
What if… I was enough…?
You mean… I can stop striving? You mean… I can let go?
Yes. You can let go.
A tour of my email inbox three years ago
43 new emails since yesterday. Sigh.
- Someone invited me to do something I don’t really want to do, but I don’t want to be rude…
- Yay! I’ve got a new Pathfinding client! That will be awesome. But… now I’ve got to handle all the scheduling. I hate logistics…
- Sigh, an unsubscribe notification. Why did he unsub from my mailing list? Am I writing too often? Not often enough? Are my subject lines not engaging enough? My open rate is pretty low… has it been going down? *checks statistics*
- A comment on my most recent blog post! Yay! Now I need to think of something nice to say in reply. The comment was basically a long-winded way of saying “great post”, so I don’t have a lot to work with, but I want to make people feel welcome and appreciated. I guess I’ll just say “Thanks!” Is that lame? Will she ever even notice that I replied? I don’t know if the comment notification system is working properly… *investigates WordPress settings*
- Oi. Some troublemaker is fighting with nice people on my Facebook page. Let me see if I can talk to her and make peace… oh. It looks like this isn’t going to be easy or pleasant.
- Archive. I’d like to unsubscribe but I like this blogger and I don’t want to hurt her feelings if she sees that I unsubscribed. So I’ll just archive it.
- I gave away a few scholarships to the World-Changing Writing Workshop, and now I’m getting tons of emails asking for scholarships, even though I’ve already given them all out. But their stories are really touching and I want to help them… what do I do?
- A blogger liked my guest post and now they want another one. That’s great! But where am I going to find the time to write it?
- Ooh, my hold on The Lies of Locke Lamora came in at the library. Awesome.
- Someone wrote a blog post about “fear of success” and how it can block your business from growing. Pish and tosh. I’m not afraid of success. Success would be awesome. It’s all this tedious bullshit that gets in the way of success – that’s what I’m tired of.
We interrupt this email inbox for a news flash.
Fear of tedious bullshit is fear of success.
“Fear of success” means fear of what success brings.
If you were more successful, what would happen?
Would you feel crushed by the additional responsibility?
Would you be more visible, and have more people asking you for things? Would you feel forced into either an awkward no or a halfhearted yes?
Would you become busier, and feel less spacious and more stressed?
Would you feel more pressure when you write if you knew you were writing to a larger audience?
Would you have many more opportunities to let people down, in bigger and more terrifying ways?
Would you make more money, and then feel guilty about what you do with that money?
When you think it through, “success” is a double-edged sword, isn’t it?
Take a moment to visualize what success would really look like for you. Not rainbows-and-unicorns visualization, but an honest imagining of what a typical day might be like if you were more successful.
Don’t visualize the awards ceremony, visualize the email inbox.
Notice how success magnifies everything – both the good and the bad.
Whatever annoys you now might incapacitate you if you were successful.
Whatever you fear now could terrify you if you were successful.
Whatever you find tedious now might bore you to tears if you were successful.
Whatever you find uncomfortable now might panic you if you were successful.
Whatever you dislike now, you might hate if you were successful.
You’ve got to make room for success before you can want it wholeheartedly.
If part of you believes that “success = more troubles”, then that part of you will drag its heels, being understandably reticent about seeking out more troubles.
If all this is happening subconsciously, it can be especially frustrating to your conscious mind, which can’t understand why all your best-laid plans get subtly self-sabotaged by that well-meaning part of you that’s so earnestly trying to save you from all those troubles.
Here’s what making room for success looks like.
- I wrote a “polite no” form letter and practiced saying no, so that people asking me for things no longer has the ability to incapacitate me.
- I bought a subscription to YouCanBookMe to automate a lot of my scheduling and logistics. Now getting a new Pathfinding client feels entirely great instead of mostly-great-and-slightly-horrible.
- I opted out of getting unsubscribe notifications. They only made me worry and were never helpful. I set a weekly reminder to look at my metrics and think about how to act on them, and that feels empowering instead of demoralizing.
- I let go of trying to say the right thing in blog comments and social media. I write quickly, I don’t edit, and I let it go when I’m done. I practice resilience, not perfection.
- If someone stirs up trouble on social media, I block them and move on. It takes about 10 seconds and I only feel a little bit bad about it, instead of engaging with them which takes hours and usually ends up with me feeling horrible.
- I unsubscribed from lists I don’t read. They probably won’t notice, and if they do, I’ll assume they’ll understand. Now my email inbox is less cluttered and feels less tedious.
- I started managing my time better, so that I make time for the most important things and I know how much time I have available so I can say yes or no to opportunities.
This was a long process that took a lot of work, both logistical and emotional. But it’s work worth doing.
I made room for success. My business grew. And now I need to make more room for more success so that my business can grow again.
It’s like climbing a ladder.
You grab one rung with your left hand – you make room.
You grab the next rung with your right hand – your business grows.
You grab the next rung with your left hand – you make more room.
You grab the next rung with your right hand – your business grows more.
Hand over hand. Left, right, left, right. You can’t grow more until you make more room.
What’s one thing you could do to make more room?