The Marathon Of Change.
How do you know when to shift what you’re doing, and how you know when to stick it out?

I’ve got some news that’s a long time in the making:

We’re on SUBSTACK now, baybay!

Why the switch? Well, I’d been using my former email subscription service for seven years.

And over those seven years, things started to feel…off.

Stale, even.

What’s more, it literally wasn’t working. I got notes from people saying they hadn’t received my emails, even though they were subscribed. There were formatting errors all over the place. I had to host The WANT Community, our membership club, on a whole other platform even though I was sending daily (!!) emails through my old service. The costs were adding up, and every time more people joined, the more I was paying.

And then, it happened: even though I loved sending out my monthly emails, I began to dread the process of actually creating them.

I’ve talked before about how I’m stubbornly resistant to coolness and trends. Even when I know they will serve me. When Substack came on the scene, I hesitated since it was new. And as it gained traction, I hesitated more because it was…gaining traction. I am allergic to bandwagons.

And so even though it wasn’t working for me, I stuck with what I knew. Don’t fix it unless it’s broken, right?

Except it WAS breaking.

So why wasn’t I fixing it?

How do you know when to shift what you’re doing, and how do you know when to stick it out?

The dance between when to stay and when to pivot has been one I’ve been dancing for decades of my life.

I have stayed in jobs and relationships way longer than has served me. And. I’ve also left jobs and relationships way sooner than I maybe needed to or should have.

Finding the balance between the two hasn’t always been easy, or even possible, to know.

FOR EXAMPLE: while I stayed with my old email service for way longer than necessary, I recently experienced the exact opposite situation…

I’m running the NY Marathon this Sunday (woohoo!), and about three weeks ago, I started to feel some minor discomfort in my right knee. Nothing big, but definitely something new. I started to freak out, thinking I was developing a dreaded Running Injury with only a month left in my training. It must be the shoes, I thought.

And thus began the Great Shoe Exploration Of 2022. Hang onto your hats and get ready for this one…

  • First, I bought a new pair of my old shoes in the same size (Pair A).
  • But then I went to a running store, and they convinced me another model was better for marathon running (Pair B).
  • I returned Pair A and bought Pair B.
  • I ran a few miles and felt pretty good, until I realized Pair B were ONLY for race day running, and some online reviews told me they had a tendency to fall apart pretty fast. I now needed another pair just for training.
  • I went and got a similar pair (Pair C).
  • They didn’t feel right. Returned them.
  • I got a foot scan and got a great pair of shoes for training (Pair D). I figured maybe I could just run the marathon in them instead of only using them for my training runs. But then…
  • I took Pair B to the running store to return them. I told the employee there my plans to run the marathon in my Pair D training shoe. The employee was AGHAST that I would even think of running 26.2 miles in Pair D. They insisted I needed a pair with more stability (Pair E).
  • I returned Pair B and got Pair E, still planning on using Pair D for training, but now with the task of breaking in Pair E pre-marathon.
  • I walked a day in Pair E and they just made me sad. There is no other way to say it.
  • With only one week to go, I figured my safest bet at this point was just to go with my old pair. But since training, my foot had expanded (this happens!), so I’d need a size up anyway. I went to the store, and…guess what?
  • The only problem with my old shoes was that they’d been worn down after all my training and were also now too small. The SECOND I put on the new and improved version of my old shoes (Pair F), I felt AT HOME.
  • (For those of you following along, that’s six pairs of shoes, not including the pair I started with.)
  • Oh, that knee thing? Apparently, those were the feelings of my body….get this…RECOVERING. Like, apparently the feelings I was feeling were almost textbook-ly normal when you start to run as many miles per week as I had been running. I had just never felt them before, because I’d never run as much as I had been running.

As we say in theatre….aaaaaaand, scene.

Pair F for the win. WHAT A JOURNEY, RIGHT?

So yeah, basically, I went through a month of freakouts and new shoes just to come back to my old standbys. (Thank god for generous return policies and understanding running store employees.)

The moral of The Great Shoe Exploration of 2022 was a three-parter:

  1. Everyone will have an opinion. Some opinions are applicable. Some are not. Don’t let over-analysis of every single opinion on earth cloud your own judgement. 

    These other shoes weren’t bad shoes. They just weren’t for me. That doesn’t mean the people I talked to weren’t pros. They gave great suggestions, and I feel way more informed now than I ever have before. But with something so personal as “how will this FEEL” — well, even a 3D scan of my foot wouldn’t be able to tell me that. I was just so desperate for THE ONE ANSWER, that I failed to realize that there WAS no one answer.
  2. Take a pause before you pivot because of a pain point. 

    I’m glad I wanted to act fast, but I also would have benefitted from doing all the training-for-a-marathon-and-how-your-body-might-respond research I did in this last week a bit EARLIER when my freak-out began. So many times we’ll react fast to discomfort in our lives — which is smart, but only if it’s mindful. While you shouldn’t push past painful or uncomfortable feelings (“no pain no gain” is a phrase I wouldn’t miss if it disappeared forever), you also shouldn’t assume the worst right off the bat and try to “fix” whatever is going on. Sometimes growth and newness is uncomfortable, and that’s not only okay, it’s normal. It means you’re putting in the right work to make your life HAPPEN.
  3. New isn’t always better. Old isn’t always better. Sometimes, you need both. 

    Remember the song from when you were a kid: Make new friends, but keep the old? In the case of my shoes, I have a gorgeous new pair of a new-to-me brand of training shoes. AND, I have an updated pair of my old standbys that I feel confident wearing on Race Day. I made a new friend AND kept the old.

How does this relate to Substack, though?

I basically did the opposite as my shoe saga when it came to changing my email service.

I kept giving my old system a chance to get better, and it didn’t.

I ignored everyone else’s opinions, because I’d stuck with my own system for so long.

I felt the discomfort and fully dismissed it, instead opting to just “suck it up” because I told myself that this was the life of being a one-woman show.

I waited and waited until the pain point was unbearable and unenjoyable.

Things, I didn’t realize, didn’t need to be so hard.

The whole time, I’d been telling myself I know my business best. In reality, all I knew was what WASN’T working. But because I wasn’t sure what WOULD work — and the thing other people were telling me worked for them was something that was ::shudder:: trendy — I stayed put.

Let me tell you: sticking with something that’s not working just because you don’t know what WILL work in the future is not that great of a reason to stick with that “something.”

How does this relate to ME, though?

I’m glad you asked.

If you’re anything like me, the small moments in life actually contain the biggest lessons.

For me, it was marathon prep and an email service.

For you, it might be an outfit. Or a project. Or a job. Or a relationship.

Or something else.

We ALL have those pain points in our lives, and we have them often.

I’m not saying every tough moment is a “growing pain” and you should stick it out or trust the process or whatever…OR that every tough thing has overstayed its welcome and a bad sign or red flag that a hard pivot is necessary and necessary NOW.

What I AM saying — or rather, suggesting — is to slooooooow down and NOTICE.

What is your goal?

What do you know?

What do you not know?

How can you integrate the knowledge and opinions of other people (whose opinions and knowledge you respect) with the knowledge and opinions you already hold? What might live inside that middle part of the Venn diagram, and what might live outside it?

There is no one right answer when it comes to the decisions you make in your life, from the biggest shifts to the smallest bits. And hey, you might make a choice and then pivot from that one. But you’ll never know what’s going to work for you if you never notice what’s going on in the first place.

Just notice it. Be proactive, not reactive. Whatever you do.

And hey, if you’ve signed up — welcome to Substack. I’m so glad we’re making moves together.

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