I very rarely do I answer “What Do You Do” the way people expect I will: with a passion justified by a more “sensible” job.
I have big problems with the terms “Side Hustle” and “Day Job.” I think they’re stifling, I think they’re suffocating, and I think they’re stupid. And in today’s episode (#30!), I talk about WHY. Plus a little bit about my life outside of WANT, and why I choose to make it all work.
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Last week, I was at a networking event thing for activist-minded women in their twenties and thirties. Lots of rad women, lots of big ideas. Because I was feeling chatty and confident, I told myself to stay a little while longer, if just to finish my glass of “OMG It’s Finally Spring!” celebratory rosé. Because I’m an extroverted introvert and do one-on-one conversations, I gravitated toward the gal standing by the wall who was finishing her glass, too. A kindred spirit.
I ask her a little bit about herself – who she is, what she loves, what she cares about, how she spends her time on a daily basis and why (because I go hard right out of the gate). She asks me what I “do.”
So I tell her about WANT.
(And you guys, I was on fire. I promise it wasn’t just the rosé. I’d just gotten back from a speaking engagement and booked two more, I was high off of reading your beautiful emails sharing your incredible stories, and I’d finally started to own some of my long-term goals and get them rolling. I felt in my freaking element and ready to share the love!)
And then she asks me “So is that your side hustle?” And I stumble.
“…Well, no, that’s where I put my energy and efforts on a daily basis. That’s where the majority of my focus is.”
She cuts me off. “Yeah, but is it MAKING YOU MONEY.”
That’s not a typo. It’s not supposed to be a question mark. It’s a period.
Like she was trying to school me on “what I do.”
After years of struggling with “what I call myself” and how I explain who I am and what I’m about to other people – and, honestly, after reaching a really good place with it all and finally feeling like I can answer people in a way that’s succint yet doesn’t sell me short – I found myself thrown off-guard by her haste and candor. Plus I just didn’t want to talk about other things, ya know?
Thankfully, my self-awareness prevented me from getting defensive or snapping back at her. After what seemed like twenty seconds of gathering myself (probably more like two, not twenty), I calmly replied, “Well, it’s not my primary source of income, but I am, yeah” (which is not untrue)
“Oh,” she trails off…
We wrapped up our conversation and I made a beeline for the door. I couldn’t stay in this networky environment much longer.
I know. I know she didn’t mean anything by it. I know she was just trying to compartmentalize and simplify the information she was gathering. But her words stuck with me for days. Especially because she was…well, she was like me. It’s easier to brush off comments that rub you the wrong way when they come from people outside your age range or career or interest field. But peers are different. She wasn’t someone who was unfamiliar with the kind of “work” I was talking about. She was just…assuming it was on the side.
I have big problems with the terms “Side Hustle” and “Day Job.” I think they’re stifling, I think they’re suffocating, and I think they’re stupid.
It’s like when actors or painters or writers (hi) get asked what their “real job” is, because their work as an artist isn’t work that’s usually associated with paying the bills. To the artist, whose art is as real as it gets, asking “So what’s your day job?” feels like a passive-aggressive slam.
I have so many problems with this – where do I start? Using the words “day job” and “side hustle” assumes that one is serious and one isn’t. One pays the bills and one brings in a few dollars a month at most. One is a career at most and paycheck at least, one is a passion at most and a hobby at least. One is the big juicy main steak dish, one is the sad asparagus spears.
I realize that it’s human nature to want to simplify and find structure…but I think it’s downright dangerous to label what you do as a side dish instead of a main course. Or downplay the main course as merely something that gives you nutritional value.
If you’re constantly referring to what you love as unworthy of the spotlight, then how can you ever expect it has a fair shot at success?
I never, ever, ever refer to any of my jobs as Day Jobs or Side Hustles. To me, they’re all just different projects that serve different purposes. Never once did I refer to my job at a vegan restaurant in L.A. as my Day Job – and yet it was what paid the bills most of the time alongside my acting gigs and spin classes and freelance work. I never once referred to my acting or teaching or writing as a Side Hustle – and yet they brought in a handful of change each month at best. My restaurant job was not how I defined my days. My art was never on the side.
The restaurant helped me build community. The art helped me use my voice.
Instead of compartmentalizing my life into Day Jobs and Side Hustles when I go to parties or meet new people, I always lead with what I’m most excited to talk about. Most of the time, it’s WANT. Sometimes it’s my classes. Sometimes it’s a small one-off project I’m doing that fascinates me to no end. Sometimes it’s just a riff off of “I’m a writer.” But very rarely do I answer “What Do You Do” the way people expect I will: with a passion justified by a more “sensible” job.
I’m lucky enough to have multiple jobs that pay my bills. WANT is one of them. But I’ve also been working in the fitness and wellness industry for over a decade, and I love that too. And go figure, it’s the primary thing that pays my bills right now. There are a LOT of people who talk about turning your “side hustle into your main hustle” – screw that! Why can’t your side hustle be your main hustle right out of the gate? Why can’t your day job and your night job live harmoniously? In high school we had multiple classes that carried equal weight. Why not the same with how we spend our days? Nay, our lives?
Here’s the thing: you are where your energy is. What you do and how you make money MIGHT be the same thing, but might be the answer to an entirely different question. The concepts of Day Jobs and Side Hustles speak nothing to what you’re actually putting your energy toward – because they focus on quantity of hours and dollars, not quality of passion and vision.
“‘Side Hustle?'” my mom chuckled when I repeated the networking story to her. “I’ve never heard that term before!”
Mind = blown. Every third Instagram post, every other blog – everyone talking about how to develop a side hustle or turn your side hustle into your main hustle or whatever. It had been exhausting for quite some time now. The fact that she had never even heard of this was absurd. How was that possible?
And then I thought about it. And I remembered how she’d never encouraged me to have a Plan B like so many of my artist friends’ parents. “What will she do if she doesn’t make it?” people would gasp. “Katie is a smart girl. And she loves many things,” my parents would say. “She’ll figure it out.”
That mentality was such a gift to me. They knew I didn’t need to plan for “real life” with a passion on the side. Real life lived everywhere.
No one who is in my life would ever think of WANT as my side hustle. They know how many hours I put in working, and they know how much energy I spend making it the very best it can be. Maybe it doesn’t look like a “regular job” to people on the outside…but that doesn’t mean they’re allowed to shove it in a corner of generalizations and assumptions. The same goes for the other ways I choose to fill my days, whether they make money or not. I streamline when I need to, but I thrive on strategic variety. Nothing I do looks normal to the naked eye, and I am alright with that. It’s normal to me.
What I propose is this:
Down with the Day Job.
Down with the Side Hustle.
Let’s ask people what they spend their energy on, and tell them where ours is as well.
Let’s view what we do as different aspects of who we are. All main courses in their own right.
Plan A all the way.
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Hi. It’s me. We haven’t met, but I feel like I know you. Scratch that – I know that I know you. And I don’t mean that in a pushy, I’ve-been-there-before-so-now-I-know-you-and-also-everything way. I mean that in the way that we all come from the same source, the same sisterhood, the same #rigged system that’s made us believe false truths throughout the ages that nothing we do will ever be enough.
I know you are struggling right now. With what, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the job? The relationship status? The family or kids or lack thereof of both? As someone once said, “Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
But what I do know is this: your struggle is inflammed by the perceived expectations of the world around you.
To be kind, to be humble, to be gracious – to be boistrous, but not too much. To be soft, to be resilient, to be a leader, but not too much. To be heard, but not absorbed; to be wild, but at the same time tamed. This is the dichotomy of being a woman. Just a woman.
And to be a powerful woman – oh jeez! That is a task of itself, a dance more precise and more stress-sweat inducing than walking through eggshells. One misstep and the craaaaaaaaack of everything delicate below you rings loud in your ear. You must be bold. You must be brave. You must be a mind-reader and truth-teller but always know when and where your place is to say such things.
Success, you must learn, is relative. And success, you must say, is nothing but smoke and mirrors. But success, you must learn, is both the pinnacle of acceptance and the beginnings of lifelong critique. You are not kind enough, or humble enough, or gracious enough – or you’re boistrous, but way too much. No softness, too much resilience, too wild, too heard.
Because when you’re a powerful woman, you are a goddess unchained.
And everyone will have something to say.
I believe in you, lady. I believe in your grandness and your solitude, your quietness and your noise. I believe in the way you walk through the world, step by forceful step; the way you trip sometimes but always keep going. There are pebbles lodged in the soles of your shoes and dirt encrusted on the laces, relics from the places you’ve been and the things you have seen. Resist the urge to scrape them off. They belong there, they complete you – shoes were not meant to stay crisp and clean, in my opinion.
You have the answers you’re looking for, deep down. Whether they’ve made their way to the surface yet, TBD. You’re not supposed to wake up one day and know. But anyone who says they do or assumes the opposite is a liar.
Surprise, surprise: the hallmark of being a true adult is knowing that you will never know.
And so you, goddess unchained, you are grappling with the knowing and the not knowing and to that I say you’re doing it right. The world wants you to believe it expects you to know but all that is is a desperate plea to fill in the blanks. Blanks that are not yours to fill, blank spaces that aren’t meant to be filled in the first place.
But the last thing I want you to do, sweet friend, is get defensive and stew. How Dare They! How Dare This! The world is not conniving against you, the world just does not know. The world is a child, curious and stubborn. It’s wary of change. It wants to see what sticks. It wants to know what can be cuddled, and how hard, without being smothered. It wants to know what can be crushed, and how hard, without being broken. You don’t have to be the parent or sitter – but rather, the other curious child on the playground who is building sandcastles in the sand instead of eating it.
Nothing you do will ever be enough?
Everything you do is already enough, by the very nature that you’re doing it.
The world is reactive, so you must be proactive.
The world takes cues, so you must make your own.
I don’t want you to look down at the quicksand and say, How Dare They!
What I do want you to do is stand in the middle of the storm and exclaim with pride, How Dare I!
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Do you ever feel like everyone else is running circles around you while you’re walking through quicksand toward success?
If you’re like me, you’re probably nodding your head vigorously, right? I thought so. Whether it’s business success, achieving that ever-elusive “healthy lifestyle,” or making an impact in the world, the pressure to perform is real.
A lot of times I find myself all tied up in mixed messages: one day someone’s telling me to do what works for me, the next day they’re telling me a $500 supplement is the answer to all my problems. One day I’m encouraged to go slow and steady, the next I’m being sold a recipe for overnight success. My life naturally ebbs and flows – sometimes I’m in periods of fast growth and rapid success, but most of the time it’s about those small shifts or baby steps.
So when websites, blogs, celebrities, influencers, etc etc etc etc tell me one thing but show me another, it can begin to feel like there’s this pressure to keep up. Especially in the “health and wellness” space.
The one site I have always turned to for no-bs advice that actually works for me and respects who I am isGreatist. It’s a website and media company that truly talks the walk and walks the talk of living a healthy, happy life in a realistic, authentic, true-to-you way. Have a little too much to drink this weekend? That’s cool, we’ll help you feel better. No time for a workout today – like, really, no time? Don’t stress about it. Having trouble at work or making friends as an adult? We feel you. Greatist never judges, has always “been there too,” and never pretends like we need to overhaul our life to make it what we want it to be.
I’ve been die-hard obsessed with Greatist since they launched in 2011 – you’ll hear more about why in today’s episode. I know a lot of brands say they’re all about balance and staying true to yourself…but Greatist is one of the only ones that actually means what they say. It’s not about being the healthiest all the time, it’s about being healthy-ish. And as today’s WANTcast guest told me, it’s not about being the greatest all the time. It’s about working on greatness like an artist works on art. It’s about being a great-ist.
Derek Flanzraich is an entrepreneur on a mission to give everyone a healthyish attitude. He is the CEO & Founder of Greatist, a next-generation media startup working to make healthy living cool and build the first truly trusted healthy living brand for this generation. Derek’s been building brands and organizations that last since his dog-walking business at 10 years old, so he knows a thing or two about what it takes to create something with long-term value and meaning.
I love our conversation so much. In this episode, Derek and I talk about building a brand that lasts, taking hits and making compromises, and the gaping hole in the health and wellness industry that led Derek to found Greatist. We also talk about the state of masculinity, the future of gender neutrality, the three things anyone can do to live a “healthy-ish” life, and why health and wellness can’t just begin and end with food or exercise.
We had a blast together – he is truly a WANT Man through and through. So down to earth, so genuine, and so the embodiment of this brand he’s created. I mean, anyone that can play Drake-related games with me and not think I’m a crazy person is an A+ human being in my book. Don’t ask. Just take a listen.
Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Derek’s message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!
Today’s guest isJessica Murnane, wellness advocate, podcast host, and creator of the One Part Plant movement. She’s the author of a brand new cookbook,One Part Plant, and the host of two wildly successful podcasts: One Part Podcast and The Cookbook Deal.
After being diagnosed with endometriosis and receiving a pretty crazy ultimatum from her doctors, Jessica decided to try overhauling her diet to see if she could heal herself naturally. Fast forward to today, and Jessica now has zero of those debilitating endometriosis symptoms and follows a full-on plant based diet.
If Jessica looks familiar, it might be because she’s been on WANT before. Firstin an interview, next on thetenth episode of the WANTcast, and then lots of guest appearances here and there as she’s become a dear friend and a person I feel is truly out there changing the world, on and off-line. In Episode 10, Jessica talked about her brand new cookbook deal, and we casually mentioned her coming back to do a “Part Two” episode…
WELP, little did we know how much could happen in just one year. I won’t ruin it for you, but I’ll just say her newest podcast’s subtitle is “Also, The Weirdest Year Of My Life.” That should say it all. I knew we’d have a lot of ground to cover, but what we ended up talking about most actually wasn’t the year or the cookbook – it was everything else in between. Her candor, humor, and heart are hallmarks of why her OPP peeps adore her so much…and why her cookbook became a #1 New Release on Amazon after only a day. A DAY.
One Part Plant is so much more than a cookbook – it’s a memoir slash self-help guide slash ode to all the reasons eating “one part plant” can enhance your life from the inside out. Think I’m exaggerating?Check it out hereand we can start a little OPP cooking club from afar.
This episode’s title could have been the longest thing ever, because we truly covered so much good ground. In this episode we talk about caring about being “cool” vs just liking what you like, food issues and Jessica’s past with not just what put in her body but how she viewed her body, toxic relationships and the need to “fix” others, her relationship with her husband and what makes a healthy relationship in general (especially when you come from having body/food/fixer issues), the crazy way her new Cookbook Deal podcast panned out, asking for what you need personally, professionally, and financially, her beef with people who say they’re “too old” for things, the barometer to use when you’re deciding whether to say yes or no to a project…oh my goodness, I should probably just stop there so you can listen for yourself.
I’m honored to have her on the WANTcast again and pumped to see what she does next…
…oh, and just for some context: we begin this episode discussing something her husband does for her every year on her birthday: an eight-day lead-up entitled “Murnanukkah.”
Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Jessica’s message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!
Sometimes it can seem as if the world is out to get us; that when it rains it pours and when it’s sunny it’s blinding. General consensus was that 2016 was the former – and if you’re anything like me, the last month or so has been the latter.
It’s really easy to talk about being overwhelmed when you’re overwhelmed by hard things – but it’s harder to talk about overwhelm when all things are GOOD. Mainly because, well, our inner critic tells us there’s nothing to be overwhelmed about. Overwhelm, it says, is about NEGATIVITY. And there’s nothing negative happening here. Snap out of it.
I’m no stranger to enrolling myself into Camp Overwhelm, usually unknowingly. And many times, it happens when the most opportunities are at my feet. I end up feeling anxious, self-sabotage, and the cycle repeats. Or I just have a breakdown. Either or. (Insert half-smile emoji here.)
I’m getting better at it. The things that used to overwhelm me no longer do. I remind myself I’ve done this before, I’ll do it again, and this is just another one for the list. But as a self-proclaimed go-getter, I sometimes back myself into a corner of so much good I don’t know what to do with it. My mind instantly starts up with the negative self-talk. Jeez Katie. First world problems. You’re overwhelmed because you’ve got so much opportunity. Be grateful, why don’t you?? The voice gets louder and louder and I sink into shame from feeling like my overwhelm means I’m not appreciative or happy. Which, of course, makes me a whole lot less happy.
Part of the reason we get overwhelmed when too many good things happen is that we try to give everything our full attention all at once. Think of it like an overcharged phone or camera battery circa 1990something: just like if you’d leave your device plugged in for too long it would overheat, when we live life in a constant state of bouncing from one high-high to the next, we burn out.
But the bigger problem, and reason why a plethora of positivity can swiftly turn negative – is because negativity is the language we’re using all too often on a day to day basis. It’s so easy to creep into negative talk in positive moments – so easy, in fact, that you might not realize you’ve gotten into the habit of it until good things come your way. It’s the language we use, the way that we bond, the tool we break out when we feel alone or scared or hurt or unsure or even just ambivalent. We can’t expect to truly understand and accept the good moments if we haven’t been practicing the language.
When left unchecked, our first response to Goodness-Overwhelm can be to complain or retreat intoself-sabotagey behaviorsto subconsciously “balance things out” (kind of like how we hold ourselves back when we think we’re only allowed to have one “thing” we’re good at…). You might even feel selfish or guilty about being overwhelmed in the first place. If I can’t handle the good, am I even WORTHY of it?
I always used to wonder why soonlyweds got so -zilla’d out over wedding planning, and now I understand why: when so much good comes your way, you sometimes don’t know where to start. When you’re faced with an impending new beginning – whether it be a marriage or move or career opportunity – the giddy anticipation combined with the things you need to (nay, WANT to) do can bring out the best and most grateful person in you…or the most anxious and insecure. Moreover, if you haven’t been actively keeping your language in check, internally and externally, the good can feel foreign. You’re going from one extreme to the other – and are in unfamiliar territory without even knowing it.
I’m not going to get into the multitudes of ways you can manage your negative self-talk – that’s what this site is for. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, especially if the things making you overwhelmed are GOOD things, here are six simple strategies – three internal, three external – to help you proactively persevere through whatever whirlwind you’re facing:
• INTERNAL: SEPARATE THE EMOTION FROM THE SITUATION. The same rules apply when you’re dealing with overwhelm for positive reasons and negative or tedious reasons – because whether it’s a plethora of happy or aggravating things to focus your attention on, it’s still producing the same reaction. The difference is that when you’re overwhelmed with negative stuff, you’re more likely to force yourself to go a positive, proactive place. When you’re overwhelmed with positive stuff, it’s easier to pile on the guilt or negativity. Overwhelm isn’t a positive or negative thing – it’s just an emotional reaction to a situation at hand.
• INTERNAL: GET HONEST. Sometimes, overwhelm comes from the sheer amount of things occurring all at once…but sometimes, it goes a lot deeper. If you’ve got a lot on your plate, it’s time to skip to the next step. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed because you don’t think you deserve goodness or are afraid you’ll be disappointed, it’s time to recognize that. Are you overwhelmed because of the quantity of good things themselves – or because you don’t think you deserve them? Or do you secretly think it’s all too good to be true, and you might lose whatever has come your way? My friend Jen likes to say that “You can’t kill a good thing” – meaning that if something comes your way that is good, it’s yours for the keeping. Still skeptical? Read up on how to tackleGhost Worries.
• INTERNAL: GET GRATEFUL. Oh jeez, you’re probably thinking. Another article on the internet telling me to be grateful for all the things I have. Hear me out for a sec. When I say “grateful,” I don’t mean flipping a switch to the warm and fuzzies. We cannot wait for gratitude to come. We must actively wedge the language of gratitude into our consciousness. And that doesn’t always feel warm and fuzzy. Gratitude starts by stepping outside your emotions and pragmatically recognizing the good things in our lives, which are all around you. Self-sabotage comes in when the positive things in our lives simply become tasks to check off a to-do list or burdens we feel we need to carry – basically, when we lose touch with how wonderful these individual instances actually are. Practice seeing wonderful things, even if it feels forced or contrived or doesn’t feel all that wonderful in the moment. Learning a new language isn’t about conversing right away – it’s about repeating single words over and over until they become second nature.
• EXTERNAL: PRIORITIZE. After you’ve gotten real, gotten honest with yourself, and made gratitude a priority, get to prioritizing. Often times when we’re feeling overwhelmed, we’ll make decisions based on short-term relief instead of long-term success. Look at your day or week and compile a list of top to-dos. What is most important? What is most urgent? The things that are both important and urgent go at the top – they’re the things that matter most. What’s purely urgent (and not important) is usually reactionary and stress-inducing – skip them for now. We usually place so much importance on urgency we forget what is truly top-of-the-list material. Depending on your day, choose 3-5 top priority items, then draw a line and list the rest of your to-dos below that. Resist the urge to cross the line yourself (see below) until all the both-important-and-urgent items are taken care of.
Most importantly, do not be afraid to say no to as much as you need to. This might seem easy when your to-do list is filled with awesome things – but for some reason, we tend to over-extend ourselves OUT of that state of happy bliss way too often. When we’re overwhelmed and can’t see straight, we forget that the ability to say “no” and move forward, or just let certain things happen – not being a walking “yes” or people pleaser 24/7 – is the true sign of a leader who has things under control. And ps, who is able to enjoy the good things as they come her way.
• EXTERNAL: PICK YOUR PARTNERS. If you’ve ever read any sort of self-helpy article about busy-ness or overwhelm, you’ve probably learned by now to ask for help when you’ve got a lot to do. And it’s been repeated over and over again because it’s true: you simply cannot tackle every single thing in your life alone. Delegating tasks to others works. Loosening the reins of control over those things you don’t need to have a firm grasp upon (but need to get done) helps save your sanity and also forms a sense of camaraderie. A few suggestions: enlist those closest to you, visit TaskRabbit.com, and delegate at work so that you’re not leaving the office screaming every day.
But another important yet unexpected tip is to pick your celebration partners. Know who in your life you can call to talk you down from an anxious ledge and celebrate with you. Overwhelm is simply imbalance within a single individual. Help isn’t just needed when you’re in crisis mode – it’s needed when you’re celebrating, too. Whether it’s a friend or your significant other, know who you can turn to for support, laughter, high-fives, or pep talks when you feel your cup is about to runneth over.
• EXTERNAL: TAKE YOUR TIME TO POWER THROUGH. All the positivity, planning, perspective, prioritizing, and partnering are nothing if there are not proactive steps made in a forward direction. Like the Nike ads say, just do it. But do it consciously. Treat the moment with the respect it deserves, not as a task you need to check off a list but a meaningful moment that is one of a kind. Take what I call “mental pictures” as you go, stopping to notice and note the details of when and where and how you are in the moment. Then take another step. Then another. Then another. It’s a tricky feat to balance savoring the moment and actually getting things done, but when achieved, it’s a surefire way to kick overwhelm to the curb.
When we’re overwhelmed, it can sometimes seem like the world is pitted against us, preventing us from accomplishing anything or feeling like we’re being the person we know we want to be. But you’ll find that once you start to show the world you’ve got things handled, once you start going, you start to realize that the sunshine is yours for the keeping.
WANT YOURSELF: Have you ever had so many good things happen at once that you ended up feeling overwhelmed and anxious? How did you keep yourself in check and shift yourself out of a negative mindset? I’d LOVE to hear in the comments below…