There's Productivity in the Pause

As soon as our country shut down and started practicing social distancing, my day-to-day changed. I am a full-time personal trainer and group exercise instructor, so in order to do my job, I have to be in person and in close contact with other humans. Back in March, when I first was told I wasn’t going to be able to continue training, I spent a lot of hours and days upset about the whole situation, in a panic about how I was going to survive, and full of anxiety for what the future holds.

One of my biggest sources of anxiety centered around the fact that EVERYONE and their cousin was posting about fitness. Like immediately. Businesses closed and it seemed like everyone decided it was the perfect time to begin their online fitness career. My instagram was flooded with trainers (and non-trainers) doing IG Live workouts and sharing their at-home programs. Prior to quarantine, I had just launched this website that I planned to sell programs on, and do online training through. I had also just started working on my Train Anywhere Programs about a week before everything closed. Since everyone else was releasing programs and maintaining their hustle, I did too. I worked four back to back 8+ hour days to get all of my programming and formatting done for the two Train Anywhere Guides. All of my Guides come with private instagrams where I demo and cue the moves for you… so I did all of the video shooting, voice overs, editing, and posting in that time, as well. Long story short, I got the Guides done, but while the programming is solid, the content isn’t exactly what I wanted. I had planned for the videos to be shot by someone other than me balancing my camera on top of some textbooks, propped up with my water bottle. And I wanted to shoot in multiple locations, not my boyfriend’s living room.

I hopped on the online training goldrush bandwagon right out of the gate because I felt like I had to.... because everyone else in my industry was doing it. But it didn’t feel right to me, for a lot of reasons. Mostly because I personally didn’t feel like I was adding value to the space in the way that I wanted. I felt like I was rushing to produce things, just for the sake of being relevant in the space. So I stopped. But that caused my anxiety to creep back in. I hated waking up and going to bed feeling anxious and frustrated, so I started to think out loud to my boyfriend and have conversations with my, much-wiser-than-me, mother.

The thinking out loud helped me formulate my thoughts and helped me come to this conclusion: I don’t want to continue the hustle right now.

I felt good about this realization.... for like a day. After 24 hours of letting it sink in, the anxiety came back. It felt weird going from my pre-Covid schedule of 6 am to 6 pm and running between gyms to teach classes and train clients, to having nothing pressing to do. I felt like I should be doing something, should be producing something. So this is where I called in the big guns for help, my mom.

My mother is the queen of hustle. To help you understand what I mean, let’s chat about her for a second. My mom had me, and my sister and brother, by the time she was 25. While being a mother to the three of us (which definitely could be considered a full-time job) she worked as a Kindergarten teacher, but was also studying to get her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education, which she got. And then also got her Doctorate. My mother navigated having a career she loved, getting a Masters Degree and PhD, maintaining a loving and successful marriage, all while raising three children who definitely were not complete angels… so yeah, the woman understands hustle.

I knew I needed some insight, so I called my mom and told her everything that was going on and what I was feeling. After getting off the phone with her, I finally felt good.

When we were on the phone, she told me a story about when she was writing her dissertation. She said that, at the time, she had similar feelings as I did right now. Writing a dissertation is a lot. When she was writing this long paper (basically a novel), there were many weeks that went by where she wasn’t producing pages. She would get super frustrated about this because she wasn’t getting closer to being done with the monstrous end goal of having a completed dissertation. She felt unproductive because there was nothing physical to show. When she expressed this frustration to an advisor of hers, the advisor told her that just because she hadn’t put together more pages, she was still getting closer to her end goal. She was still being productive.

All of the research, the reading, the analyzing, the brainstorming that she was doing, that was consuming her time, was helping her get closer to that huge end goal. She couldn’t write and have a quality paper without taking time away from the actual writing to expand her knowledge and think. Pausing her usual hustle (of writing and finishing her dissertation) was actually allowing her to be more productive and successful in the long run.

While this story may seem like apples and oranges, it resonated with me and made me understand my current frustration. Right now, I am not getting that immediate feedback that I crave with my work. I am not producing anything or connecting in the same way or continuing my normal hustle. I initially was looking at this shut-down as a bad thing. As something that was happening that was completely disrupting my life and my future goals. However, I neverrrrr get time like this. In fact, I always complain about not having enough time to write for my Blog, to read, to study…. So why am I clinging on to my hustle right now?

I was clinging because it was my normal. It was what I knew. It’s my comfort zone. But it was such a freeing feeling when I realized that I am allowed to dictate my normal now. I can control what I spend my time doing. There is no reason to rush to do what I want to do. Rather, I will benefit more from slowing down. Understanding all of this, I purchased a nutrition certification program to study because I want to incorporate nutrition services with my personal training clients. Ultimately I want to work for myself and have a successful website and business, so I am doing research and brainstorming ideas for that goal. I also am reading SO much more than I have in the last 5 years. And I am embracing rest.

Right now, I am pausing. I am pausing my normal, so that when I come out of this, I have more to offer my clients and have a deeper connection to myself and the personal goals that I have for my future. If this story totally vibes with something you are currently feeling, I hope it gave you a little clarity. Don’t feel bad about changing up your normal; there is productivity in the pause. And on the flipside, if you are still loving the hustle, keep doing you!

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