I was exhausted.
I was in the middle of a 4-year grad program, and I was sick and tired of doing what other people told me to do.
Sitting too close to academia’s campfire, I found myself on the verge of burnout.
Totally overwhelmed, I just wanted to get the whole school thing over with so I could start up my own business already!
There was no way I could feel happy or fulfilled, let alone absorb what I was learning at the rate I was going.
After much back-and-forth, I finally found a compromise I could live with.
I extended what was beginning to feel like the Never Ending Grad Program by an extra year.
Yup. You read that right.
I was in grad school for a whopping 5 years, and yes, it was worth it.
In exchange for the extra year I gained the freedom in my schedule to:
a. Teach and practice yoga
b. Watch movies with my husband
c. Make sauerkraut
d. Walk in the woods
e. Meet my friends for happy-hour
f. Do an extra mentorship with one of my favorite teachers
g. Go to the sauna, indulge in the occasional massage, and get regular acupuncture
h. Start building up my website and email list (which have became the foundation of my business).
And on top of all that whipped cream I had a big fat organic cherry in the form of more time and energy to prioritize my health, happiness, and crazy-creative Self.
I’d say it was a fair trade.
Even if you work a 9-5 and feel exhausted every day, you can still create a business and become healthier at the same time.
You just need to know the right framework to set yourself up for success.
The first habit you’ve gotta have if you want to succeed is this: Prioritize Feeling Good.
Us humans? We like to feel good.
The whole reason you want to start your own business —and the whole reason you want to live a healthy lifestyle—heck! The whole reason you want to do anything is because you think it’s going to make you feel good.
Just because you haven’t reached your goals yet doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start feeling good. Right. Now.
This very moment.
And this moment too! (And this one…and this one…and this one…)
Good feelings are your source of power.
They fuel your oomph and protect you from burnout. They provide the support you need to get anything done, and they guide you to a more vibrant life.
They’ve been your best friends since you were a wee tot at your mama’s bosom. Don’t give up on them now!
Instead of putting off your good feelings for later, start hanging out with them as much as you can.
Invite them to your morning coffee, let them read you a bed-time story, and even take them with you when you’re stuck in traffic.
When you welcome in the feelings that you want to feel, and really fully experience them, it’s like you’re shining a light on the path to where you want to go.
And when you follow that shining yellow-brick road (or woodsy trail, or boulevard, whatever works for you,) you’ll have an easier time turning your dream life, into your real life.
Which brings me to my next point.
The second habit you need to succeed is to Just Say “No” to the Status Quo, Yo!
I was feeling really cruddy in my mid-grad-school crisis.
Cruddy about the classes I had to go to.
Cruddy that I didn’t have the time, energy, or willpower to exercise or see my friends.
Cruddy about the fact that I felt overwhelmed in the first place.
So cruddy that I knew I had to cut things out of my life if I wanted any chance at happiness.
Quitting wasn’t an option—I knew that I wanted to earn my degree. Deep down inside, below the piles of to-do lists, I still loved what I was learning (classical Chinese medicine. And yes, I still think it’s awesome.)
It was the schedule that had to go.
I had to find a way to finish my degree and have time to do the other things I love at the same time.
And so I did.
Yes, extending the program by another year cost me time and money in the short-term, but my newly minted sense of freedom was priceless.
Because of that freedom I was able to create a lifestyle that let me thrive, and set up the foundation for future success in my business.
I’ve already climbed above and beyond the goals I had when I first started my blog.
I’ve seen peaks I didn’t even know were waiting for me, and now I’ve upped my game with a whole set of new and even more wonderful & ambitious goals. (Next stop: the Everest of the entrepreneurial wellness world!)
I’m much further along in my business than I would have been had I not said “no” to the status-quo and made space in my schedule to do what I wanted to do.
And you can bet your bottom-dollar that I’m a lot happier too!
I pinky-swear that I wouldn’t be writing this article or feeling confident about my business if I hadn’t de-cluttered my life.
If you want to bring more good things into your life, you’ve gotta spring-clean your schedule all year round.
An easy way to do this is what we were just talking about in point #1: prioritize feeling good.
Lets say you’ve been invited to a party, but you’re really pumped about a new project you’re working on and would rather do that:
Do your project, don’t go to the party.
If, on the other hand, you’re really pumped about the party, but think you should be working on the project, find a time when working on the project would feel better and go dance, sexy-pants!
Take-away: Say no to anything that doesn’t feel good to make room for what does.
Little side-note, I know this sounds like it’s easier said than done, but start making small adjustments here and there and you’ll see that it gets easier with time.
And if guilty feelings are cramping your feel-good stye, think of it this way: if you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not helping anyone else.
Make yourself happy first. Then you can make other happy.
Now I want to hear from you.
Leave a comment in the comments section and tell me one thing you’re going to cut from your schedule this week to make room for what you want.
I would love to hear from you, and I personally read and respond to every comment I get!
Remember, change is the only constant in life, but you can only influence the outcome if you take action.
P.S. If you liked this article click here to get your FREE copy of the 10 Vital Steps to Create a Healthy and Vibrant Lifestyle. It’s a super-special cheat sheet for aspiring go-getters who want to do what they love, look good, and feel great doing it.
P.P.S. Do you have a friend/colleague/sister who could use some more good in her life? Send ’em this article and spread the love so they can start living up to their own most vibrant potential, too!
A version of this article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.