Do you feel stuck and want something more?
When Ruthie was about ten months old, I (Nicole) was a full-time, stay at home mom. The PPD fog began to lift, and I started to wonder, “What am I going to do next? Will I watch Netflix at naptime for the rest of my life? Am I destined to just keep wiping down the counters a million times a day, forever?” I loved my two tiny girls, and knew my work as a mom was unbelievably important, but I needed to contribute to society in addition to serving my family. But I was so entrenched in my daily responsibilities, I didn’t even know how to start dreaming again.
Maybe you have felt as daunted as I did, and have asked yourself the same questions that went through my head over and over: Where would I even start? What did I want to do? Who would watch my kids? Do we have money for me to explore something new? I felt stuck.
Maybe the circumstance that makes you feel stuck is a job you are trying to leave. Perhaps you have an idea, but you’re so overwhelmed you don’t know where to start. Maybe you’ve already started something, but it feels so intimidating because you need to do everything just to get it off the ground.
I was still so deep in survival mode that I couldn’t entertain an idea like “running a million dollar business in 10 days.” I didn’t want to jump on the multi-level marketing train, messaging random people from high school on Instagram. And I wasn’t ready to listen to people like Tony Robbins or Jenna Kutcher, because their ideas were so much bigger than I could even fathom.
I (Mark) could tell that Nicole really needed something to explore her passions and gifts, and break up the monotony of daily life. I started throwing all these big ideas at her, like working out six days a week, getting her teaching license, becoming a yoga instructor, or starting a photography business.
Soon, I realized that, before Nicole could get to a place where she could even hear all my big ideas for her, I needed to understand her perspective and what support she needed. Talking about a big change was just too much. She needed a small change before she could envision a bigger step.
START WITH FOUR HOURS/WEEK… YES 4!
Together we decided to carve out just four hours a week for me (Nicole) to come up for air and break my endless cycle of meeting the demands of the household. Four hours felt manageable when nothing else did.
We knew that Nicole was exhausted by the time I (Mark) typically ended my work day around 5:00 p.m. She wouldn’t have wanted to sit at a coffee shop by herself and think about her future. We also ruled out working at the girls’ nap time, because she needed that time to rest and recover for the second half of the day. So we asked ourselves, “What are Nicole’s best hours?” I remembered how refreshed Nicole felt when I let her sleep in and get ready without the kids, so we took the same approach here.
We decided to hire a babysitter once a week, during Nicole’s best hours: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. That way, she had time to herself when her mind was fresh, and could still be home in time to rest during nap time, before parenting for the rest of the day.
Maybe your best hours are from 8 p.m.-midnight, or 1 p.m.-5 p.m., or even a couple of two-hour chunks throughout your week. Maybe you do want to work at nap time. Figure out your best hours. When do you feel refreshed and inspired? Start there.
Then, plan how you will make that happen each week. Maybe you’ll get a babysitter. If that feels like too much, perhaps your partner takes the kids on Saturday mornings so you can work. Maybe you work full-time, so your best time is Sunday afternoon when you’re relaxed.
MAKE IT HAPPEN
Make it happen at whatever time works for you. Talk to your partner so you’re both on board with your plan, and schedule those four hours into every week.
You don’t even have to know what to do with the time. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or come up with a whole new business right away. Think about what you really like to do, and let those four hours every week give you the space you need to start dreaming again.
YOU’LL BE AMAZED BY THE DREAMS YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH IN JUST 4 HOURS
With those four hours, I (Nicole) took photography classes, researched and fleshed out my ideas, built my first website, took on my first clients, and developed my business strategy. All it took was four hours per week.
We’ve done this every time we start a new business or have an idea we want to explore. The goal is to make small changes that create a big impact. Initially, it might not seem like much, but those four hours combine to create something bigger than you could have dreamed. This is something so reachable that you can do today. Think about your four best hours, talk to your partner, and make a plan. As you follow through on it, you’ll rediscover your passions and start thriving.
We’re on your team and we believe that the possibilities and your potential are well beyond what you realize. It’s so easy to stop dreaming and get stuck in a rut. Maybe, like me (Nicole), you have accomplished some of your big goals (marriage, kids, house, degree, a new business, etc.), and you just don’t know what’s next, so you stall. You don’t have to know what’s next, but you do have to keep dreaming. Once you stop dreaming, you stop living. You have to give yourself the time to start dreaming again.