From Pain to Possibility
Episode 13: How I Do It
Intro: You're listening to From Pain to Possibility, with Susi Hately. You’ll hear Susi’s best ideas on how to reduce or even eradicate your pain and learn how to listen to your body when it whispers so you don't have to hear it scream. And now here's your host, Susi Hately.
Susi: With this episode, I want to dig into a question I get a lot, which is, how do you do it? People see me running a successful private practice, professional training programs, and launching yoga courses regularly. They also know that I’m a wife and a mom to twin three-and-a-half-year-olds. So with this episode, I want to dig into some of the key principles that I have used over these past three and a half years. They really are a summation of what worked and what didn't. And my hope is that you can gain some insight or ahas that will work for you and your life.
Now, one thing I do want to emphasize is not a lot of this came easy. In fact, a lot of it was learning the hard way and figuring out stuff as it came along. There’ve been a lot of bumps, there’ve been things going sideways, a lot of figuring out. And I mention all of this because when people have full plates, it’s really easy for when things get hard to throw the hands up and just say, “Eff it. I’m not going to bother. It’s not worth it.” And if there’s a little voice inside of you that says, “Actually, it is worth it,” then listen to that voice because sometimes the hard work, kind of like the slog that we need to do going up a hill sometimes, sometimes it is a necessary part of the process because it ends up enabling us to use our creativity to find a solution that actually works better. But to work through that so-called briar patch of hard work, that uphill climb, yeah, it can be a little tough at times. There could be tears shed. There can be a lot of thinking. But it’s worth it.
Along with that, I think there’s an important fundamental belief to understand about me, which it really, in some ways, is a nonbelief. And that is I don’t believe there’s such a thing as work-life balance. When you think about it, there’s no obituary that we write for life and another obituary we write for work. Rather, it’s just one. I am the central hub. I’m the one who’s consistent through all of it. And I don’t change whether it’s this podcast recording or whether I’m running through puddles with my kids or hanging out with my husband or cooking a meal. We don’t write two obituaries. You are the consistency through all of it.
So with that, here are the five principles that have worked for me: clarity, conversations, support, my calendar, commitment. Said another way, clarity leads to conversations. Conversations opens up the door to understanding where we need support. Understanding support helps us get clear on our calendar. And underlying it all is the commitment to what it is that we want.
So with that, I’ll begin when I was pregnant with the twins. I knew I still wanted to teach. I wanted to serve. I wanted to contribute, and I had a creative energy I still wanted to display and to build upon. I had real clarity over what I wanted and how I wanted to contribute. But I had no clue how I was actually going to manifest. I had a lot of hopes, a lot of dreams. My kids weren’t born yet. I didn’t know their temperament. I didn’t know how they were going to sleep or how they were going to feed. I had no clue about their state. I didn’t know how I was going to recover from pregnancy or from delivery. I had no idea how I was going to be as a mom or whether I was going to need any extraneous or extra support from a mental-health perspective.
So my husband, Stu, and I, we had a lot of conversations. We had conversations that were pie in the sky, things that we really loved, ideas that we hoped would happen. We also spoke about the concerns and the worries that we had. And all of it was important because what it did is it enabled us to see what we each really wanted but also where the gaps were, in case of. What we saw out of all of it given his work, given my work, given our lives, is we were going to need some extra support beyond the two of us.
So we started on the hunt for reliable child care. And I use my voice with emphasis because those two words really should be one: reliable child care. And I laugh because I had heard other business owners I had talked to, female Olympians, who had had kids and were still in the game, and all of them had said “reliable child care.” And I knew it was a thing, but I didn't know it was a thing until it was really a thing. We had used an agency. We had hired a nanny. And two days before the kids were born, she bailed. It was my initiation into rolling with it all and getting clear again. And this time it was, what's important for us, for someone who is reliable? What does reliable mean to us?
So there are two important keys here. The first one is that I was clear that I wanted to continue to work. I wanted to continue to serve. And I wanted to make it work with my husband and, of course, my kids. And there are lots of conversations which opened up the door to, okay, what's the support that we need? And then we started to learn a little bit about what reliable child care actually looked like. And like anything, when you're doing it for the first time, that you've never dealt with before, you give it your best shot based off what you think are best principles. And then, well, the proverbial shit could hit the fan, and you just go with it. You learn what works. You learn what doesn't. You quiet the stuff that doesn't work. You take on the stuff that does work. And you refine, you correct, and you continue.
So what we ultimately have done over the past three and half years is a cobbled-together solution. And what's so interesting is that when I say cobbled together, it really reflected the seasons of our time with our kids. And season is really an important term, and I first heard that term years ago, I think from Stephen Covey, when he was talking about family. And truly, seasons, particularly in these first three and a half years, can happen and be moved through pretty quickly. So how they were between one week and three weeks and three months and then six months and things that were important in the early stages are very different down the road. And when I look back and I see where child care weaned off or when child care abruptly stopped, it actually related to different seasonal changes. So out of that process, I have learned to be able to roll with it, not from a resigned perspective. I'm very clear and very connected to it all, but I just recognized what has worked and what hasn’t. And while I'm jumping ahead a bit, I think that has helped Stu and I be very successful through all this COVID time. And I'll explain more about that later in this episode. But that learning early on is what's helped us later on.
This is a good time to introduce two books that I have utilized to help me get clear from a perspective of what's important and then leading me towards the conversations that I need to have, which then lead me to understanding the support that I would need. Essentialism by Greg McKeown, and The One Thing by Gary Keller.
I learned about Essentialism back in about 2014, and I have consumed that book countless times, both reading the book as well as listen to the audio book. It was on my phone when I would walk my kids in the early days of them being alive and in my life. And it just kept ringing true for me over and over and over again. One of Greg's key principles in Essentialism is less but better.
So prior to having my kids, while I was still pregnant, when I was considering, all right, what do I really want for my business? And I knew that it wasn't about growing my business in that year. My kids were first with me. It was more about keeping the wheels on the bus. I knew without a doubt that I would continue to work and continue to share, continue to teach. So this year was not about growing anything. I didn't need to act either offensively or defensively. I just wanted to keep the wheels on the bus. So I looked really, really clearly at what was necessary to keep the wheels on the bus. I pulled back on all my private sessions, and those were put on the shelf. There was a certification program that was already running, and I had assistant trainers to help me with some key aspects of them. All the logistics, product sales, other courses that have been already created that were still for sale, all of that could be taken care of by my assistant. And what I really needed to focus on was some key conversations with those people who were involved in helping keep those wheels on the bus. My intent was when I was ready to get back into the bus, there was some fuel both in the tank, and the wheels were actually on, and there was no rust. And so that's where I focused. I figured out through this idea of less but better what could actually be exactly that and what I could put on the shelf, knowing that I could come back to it.
The second book is The One Thing, and I was introduced to that book prior to my having kids, but I didn't really get into it until my kids were about six months or a year old. What I love about The One Thing is a consistent line that is used throughout, which is, what is the one thing that when done makes all else easier or unnecessary? Let me say that one more time. That one thing when done makes all else easier or unnecessary. Really, really, really vital. They also have a concept of dominoes and the lead dominoes. If you think about a big outcome that you want, that might be a really hard domino to push over right in the front end. So what's the smallest, littlest action that you could take now? What's the smallest little habit that you could take now that can start the process of knocking over dominoes and with momentum you can get to where you want to go? So that's another, another key piece. And what that enabled me to refine and really affirm was the importance of patience and not rushing forward, taking care of what I needed to take care of, which was myself and my kids, and key conversations with key stakeholders in my business that were helping me keep the wheels on the bus.
So those are two good books, and I'll put them into the show notes that you can easily access them.
So this now leads me into the calendar. When the kids were born, I focused every single day on, what is the one thing that I need to focus in on right now? What is the most essential thing? Or said in the spirit of The One Thing, what is the one thing that when done makes all else easier or unnecessary? And every single day I did that one thing.
Now, the calendar wasn't quite as firm or structured in those early days. I mostly was in my pajamas. I rarely showered. I was changing diapers and feeding babies. But I always carved out 15 or 20 or 30 minutes to be able to do that one thing. And I did it every single day. And that one thing was important to move things forward, was important to keeping those wheels on the bus. That one thing could have been a conversation with my assistant. It could have been reaching out to one of the trainees. It could have been writing an email. Really simple things that I was clear on that were most-important tasks.
Then, as the kids started to grow, as they slept for longer, as they went longer between feedings, then more time opened up. So at about four months of age, we were putting them down at 10:00 p.m., and they were waking up at 5:00 a.m. And I could get up at 4:00, and I could spend 45 minutes either on my practice or on getting something done within my work. So that then I could get that 45 minutes in before they got up, and then I could be with them.
Then what started to happen is that they were waking up at 6:00 or at 6:30, and that period of time started to get bigger, and I was able to do more. I started to time block my calendar more specifically so that I knew exactly what that 45 minutes or that hour was going to consist of ahead of time, because there was now more consistency in their schedule. There was more consistency in their state. There was more consistency in their temperament. We also had a consistent individual who was also supporting us more time during the day.
Then, as time continued, what I recognized is I wanted to have one full day totally with them that didn't have anything to do with work. And so I chose that day to be Fridays. Fridays has become my executive-board day, to the point where I have scheduled my Therapeutic Yoga Intensives, I have scheduled my certification trainings so that I am not teaching on that Friday. So pretty much every Friday it is me and the kids, me and the kids, and that is all.
So then, this evolved into, between Stu's work and my work and reliable child care, that I would be up at about 4:00 and then finish work at about 1:00. And on some days during the month, I ran a membership call at 4:00 in the afternoon. So over time and very slowly, things began to expand.
Then, we had COVID. And as I mentioned earlier in this episode, all of this cobbling together of child care, of rolling with it and running with it, of solving problems, we were able to transition pretty well. Stu is a fire inspector. He is out in the field two days a week. Plus, he is a safety codes officer, who does safety plans and integrated systems testing for buildings and those who own those buildings. So obviously, when COVID hit, he was back at home, we were back at home, and we decided that we were not going to have any kind of care in the house. It was just a little too risky for us. And we just decided, okay, now what are we going to do? And what's interesting, when I look back at that time at the beginning of March, I didn't have a concern about us being able to not do it, because we had already done it so many times with this idea of reliable child care and cobbling things together.
What Stu and I opted to do is I continued my own calendar, which is getting up at 4:00, working through to about noon or one o'clock, having my membership call on some weeks in the afternoon at 4:00, and then he would do all the afternoon. I continued to have my executive-board day on Friday, so if Stu needed a full day, he could have a full, full day from whenever he wanted to wake up to whenever he wanted to go to sleep. So then that’s how we worked it. Me in the morning, Stu in the afternoon. Stu with the kids in the morning, me with the kids in the afternoon. And it just seemed to work.
And we were able to play off of each other so that there was one time where Stu took an online training program for pyrotechnics and being a fire inspector or something like that. It was actually very cool to watch, as a side note. But he needed to be available on his computer Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, all day long. So that required me to be with the kids all day long. But because we knew that that program was happening well ahead of time, I was able to shift up my schedule and how my schedule worked. And Kiya and I were ____(17:04)—my assistant and I—were able to work around that.
So there was a key thing here that highlights both the commitment that Stu and I had to what it is each of us are doing. We each want to support the other to have success. We both want to have our kids see what's possible. We want to model it as best as we can. We do that by working out really, really clearly what is most important, and then having the conversations that we need to have. And like I said, sometimes those are difficult conversations, sometimes they're easy conversations, but, ultimately, they're all fruitful because we realize where the gaps are and where support is needed, where changes of thinking are needed, which then leads us into, okay, let's take a look at the calendar. Where are things blocked? Where do we need to shift? Where do we need more support? And underlying it all is this commitment that we have to it all, the commitment to each other as a couple, the commitment to our kids, the commitment to our work.
So in summary, I think the key thing that I really want to emphasize is that it is absolutely possible. When people say that your life changes when you have kids, there's no doubt that they're right about that. Everything changes. But then, in some cases, many things stay the same. As a couple, what I see has been most revealing is just that—having kids revealed a lot of things between Stu and I. COVID revealed a lot of things between Stu and I. It revealed a lot of the assumptions that we had about each other, about how we work, about our client base, a lot of stuff. And so in being able to see that and not being afraid to actually look at it and talk about it and figure it out, we've actually come out better through this process that we went into it.
And so for you, I wish that for you, too, to have the courage to be able to get clear, to have the conversations, to seek the support you need, for the outcome, you really, really, really want, to play around with your calendar of what works for you, because when you do, some really cool things can happen.
If you want to dig into this process a little bit further, there are two ways that we can connect. One is through the Yogi Business Program. It will replace the planning, the yogi, in front of the business, because we know that all of that, that idea of calm busy of clarity is way more important than chaotic busy and will actually support us in the success that we want. There’s also my private series, three-month program. If you are realizing that some of what I've talked about may be a solution to the symptoms that you're experiencing in both situations, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] I would love to work with you.