You know that question people ask in interviews – where do you see yourself in 5 years (or, gulp, 10 years?). I realized I’ve never asked that of myself when it comes to social media. And yet, for years I would say social media was part of my job, quite a big part of it in the last 3 years. When I stopped doing in-person private practice work in 2015 and went completely digital, I remember one of my own mentors saying “you’ll have to get used to the idea that your phone is basically your office now”.

How long do you plan on working?

Do you have a retirement age?

I know a few people who are keen on the FIRES movement, and for a time, that was probably me. that (I’ll let you Google that if you’re unfamiliar with it, because my email software warned me the keywords could be flagged as spam)and for a time, that was probably me. After studying full time for 12 years, I didn’t have a full time job until I was 29. The desire to ‘catch up’ on finances by overworking caught up with me quickly.

I’m now more curious about the long term game plan and the Japanese concept of ikigai – essentially the reason you get up in the morning. Where you find passion and pleasure and purpose overlap so that work is part of a joyful life and retirement seems boring. In Ogimi, a rural town in Okinawa, they have the highest life expectancy in the world. The book I’m reading at the moment attempts to discover the ‘secret’ of how these centenarians are finding such passion, purpose and longevity.

Speaking of ageing, this week, my three year old started talking to me about ‘ratcat’. I started thinking her dad must have put on one of our old playlists. But, of course she means ‘catrat’ a character from Gabby’s Dollhouse (a new kid’s show we started watching on Netflix) and not at all the band from Sydney I used to rock out to on cassette in primary school. Yikes.

And no one was around to witness the moment where I put on That Aint Bad, marvelled at Simon Day’s fabulous locks and jaw line. I then Google what he looks like now, realize he’s 58 and go back to cooking dinosaur pasta and giving the dogs their worming tablets. Hot stuff. This is what it’s like now, approaching middle age.

Another night, my husband agrees to watch Amazing Grace with me. I’ve persisted with the show despite them retraumatizing me from my own births with a shoulder dystocia birth and a postpartum haemorrhage in one episode (seriously, do I need to send the producer my book?).

We’re watching, and my husband goes:

“Isn’t that the guy from Heartbreak High?” (Alex Dimitriades)

“Yup. Did you know Abby Tucker is on Playschool now? She’s very big with the under 5 crowd”

For the most part, we’re actually pretty darn thankful we get to grow old together after 20 years. Recently we’ve made some new parent friends and the dad has a terminal illness. He maybe has 5 years of life left. It is an odd, bittersweet yet wonderful thing to make friends with someone whom you know won’t see past his child’s 10th birthday. The day in and out of school pick ups and drop offs are the same, but we’ve fast forwarded through all the small talk quickly. It’s a compassionate reminder that we have one precious life and to really, really think about how we want to spend our days.

This week, I also want to remember the life of Amber Rose Isaac – one of the far too many black women who died in childbirth in New York City last year. Her baby boy, Elias, whom she never got to meet on the outside has his first birthday this week. You can listen to my podcast episode with Amber’s partner Bruce McIntyre HERE. There is a 15 minute highlight episode, as well as the full unedited version as a podcast or to watch on YouTube. Our discussion will also be part of my book Parents of the Pandemic. 

Help Save A Rose Foundation continue their amazing work in ending systemic medical racism and black maternal mortality HERE

I’ve been thinking more about what brings me energy and joy in my business and life in general, and how I can encourage others to stop stressing about impostor fears and getting their website right, and instead get to the crux. Hope is a doing word. 

Where do we find flow, ease and inspiration, and what depletes us? What are we spending our time doing that is for other people and our own made up expectations these people have instead of our true joy? Put another way, what’s a ‘hell yes’ and what’s a ‘hell no?”. Side note, my 3 year old has started singing that Hell no to the naw naw song and I had to remind her that’s probably not one for daycare.

Be honest, what’s a hell yes and what’s a hell no?

Your hours?
Fees?
Outsourcing?
Breaks?
And, a huge one for myself – regular periods of permission not to be useful or give emotional support to anyone

For your business I recommend writing a list of absolutely everything you do in one column, how long each task takes, a list of your available hours in another, and yet another column thinking about Pareto’s principle (80 percent of your effort results in 20 percent of results). You might scare the bejesus out of yourself when you see it doesn’t add up.

Using this principle I’ve cut:

Social media (80% of my efforts on my business nowhere near adds up to 20 percent profit). At this stage, I can’t see the evidence that I *should* go back, but more on that in the coming weeks. In 2 weeks I’ve written about half my book on motherhood, mental health and social media use already. I’ll keep you posted…

Birth Trauma Training Podcast (loved it, but a podcast with guests is time consuming). It was literally taking me 2-3 days of work per episode in sourcing guests, setting up appointments, doing make ups for cancellations, research, recording intros and outros, editing, making graphics and promotions. I made no money from that, which is fine, but do you know what else is fine? Creating a resource and then leaving it as just that – a resource. I let down so many people who wanted to be interviewed, but with only working 2 days a week it was simply taking up too much time.

Birth trauma debriefs – again, there are really high drop out/no show rates for trauma. It’s normal, but it’s also hard to keep these referrals going if you work part time and can’t easily recover the childcare fees. I estimated that I spent about 2.5 – 3 hours in admin work per person before I’ve got a bum on a seat so to speak. There’s just such a high rate of no shows, re-arranging appointments, and all the motivational interviewing on the phone that goes into getting people to commit to sessions. If I had a full time practice with a cancellation list, a government grant or could work non-business hours this wouldn’t be an issue. But that’s not where I am, so it had to go

There’s always more to cut.

It might be the client who has been paying you the same low fee for a long time despite you never putting your fees up even by a dollar or double-checking their work status.

It might be that you can’t say no, or you tell yourself you are ‘working’ when on social media despite having zero strategy about what you aim to achieve with the hours you spend there.

One precious life – what do you want to do with it?

Have you found your ikigai where passion meets purpose meets what the world needs and what you can be paid for?

If you need to get out of your own head,  I really do love helping people with these questions. In between book writing, speaking gigs and creating courses I also mentor people, who, for the most part are where I was 3-5 years ago. Book yourself into my calendar HERE or just email me [email protected]

Erin