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And all from a Starbuck’s in Holland…

July 10, 2012

Wow, I feel like I just found the fossils of a dinosaur…ceramic cups at Starbucks.

Four ceramic cups (and more to the left and right of me) here in Holland.

In the US, hurry, has been the mainstay for quite awhile, do you agree? Maybe this is why I had to take a photo of this little scene and devote an entire post to it.

Here in Holland ceramic mugs are the mainstay…it’s assumed you’ll sit for the ENTIRE experience vs take it away in a paper cup as is assumed in the US. Here, unless otherwise told, it’s assumed that you will watch the world go by vs take the “experience” away with you while you continue to text and toil away.

Having lived in Europe now three times (not counting these two months), this shouldn’t have been such a surprise but it was. “Americans live to work and Europeans work to live” ~ I had completely forgotten that phrase until yesterday when I saw this and I do believe there’s some truth in it; you?

Being a nation of DOers is an awesome thing. After all, this is how we stay successfully employed and rockin’ as entrepreneurs, right? But I don’t think we need to be in action 150% of the time. We can’t afford to be.

To DO and BE in action after what we want and what we know we can have (essentially a GREAT, creative and purpose-driven life) > until you look at the details. We’re exhausted, our adrenals are shot, our hips, back and necks ache and we can’t sleep (all of this, by the way…even the part about the hips is and can be due to stress and pushing when we need to pull back [this last fact brought to you by the me that is also a certified yoga teacher]). Read my guest post on around my personal story with this.

In Europe and definitely here in Amsterdam the day’s about working, living, working, living…taking five minutes, ten minutes, maybe even an hour (gasp) between work episodes to watch the world go by (or boats). And that’s what I’ve been doing. I have the same amount of work with my branding and coaching as well as my book yet I feel more connected and more conscious of the minutes that go by and how to spend them so that the whole me is taken care of.

In the US it’s work, work,  work, little bit of *guilty* living, more working…

But when we realize we can still DO and be IN action toward what we want in life and also take care of ourselves, our nervous systems and those of our our colleagues, employees and family this is when we hit yet another level of success (awareness) as business-owners and entrepreneurs.

We can have what we want and we can also take our time to get it. And it really is true ~ proven, in fact ~ that taking minutes to watch the world go by only helps our productivity and increases our quality of life. The success I experienced in running my business here for four years was in large part due to the time I took to be…happy. To take time. I loved biking to and fro my studio/office and most of all, loved taking more time to work ON the business rather than just IN the business.

I felt like I was an inspiration bomb and so efficient, and, as a result my clients were also getting the goods. They were getting the best of me.

I think we can all agree that we must take time to nurture so success can become our nature. In a recent Ted talk by a neuroscientist from Brown University, happiness was confirmed, yet again, as a habit we can gain. Or as I like to say an ability we gain when we give ourselves permission to BE happy.

Here’s a down and dirty time-table for daily success (growth of a business AND happiness in life):

1. Tit for Tat. For every hour of work, take ten minutes to breathe at your computer (this also comes from the me that’s a certified yoga teacher). Or, get WILD and go outside, take a walk and watch the world go by. Then come back and continue being in bad a** action. We need both.

2. Eat the frog. Do that thing you least want to do first-thing in the morning. It will increase your confidence and well-being for the rest of the day and will move the needle on what you want to come into your business sooner rather than later. Not to mention, you will be that much more able to take the time for you, for your family or for your body (hello, gym and/or yoga studio). Eat the ugliest frog first-thing…enjoy the rest of the day.

3. Avoid interruptions. Turn off anything and everything that beeps while you’re eating the ugliest fronts. It takes something crazy like 4 or 5x the effort to re-start where you were if you are interrupted by email/phone calls/facebook…focus. Pretend you’re a yogi and keep your gaze or drishti on one marker.

extra credit: Let go. It may not get all done TODAY. Welcome to entrepreneurship.

Connect with Michelle on Facebook and Twitter.

  1. Thanks Michelle for this important reminder about how critical it is to take a break. I do find that the payoff becomes less and less the more I push and remain in action without taking breaks along the way. I am going to remember to give myself permission to stop, breathe, and BE.

  2. I love the work ON the business, not just IN the business….. I get in the habit of just work, work, work, and forget to think, create, enjoy. I am trying not to dive back in to my old habits after being on maternity leave. My staff was amazing when I was gone, and if I continue to trust them and keep delegating, instead of going back to 300%, then I will have time for those 10 minutes thinking, creating and enjoying….. smelling the flowers, and more importantly, watching my babies smell the flowers!

  3. Great post! I’m actually drinking from a ceramic mug right now, but I work from home so I’m not sure I can count it…my struggle right now is that so much of the ADD type computer work (Twitter, FB, even blogging) I do is a big part of my job. I can write for focused periods of time, but often a ‘beep’ that interrupts is something that I will benefit from much more if I answer it promptly. Yet it definitely changes my energy and pulls me in many directions, which I know isn’t the greatest. Does anyone have suggestions for that?

    • Paula, I feel this way most times too. I want to feel that when I’m on with my son, I’m on and not worrying about all the messages/posts I will have to answer later.

      But I guess that’s exactly the point…being in the moment.

      We can strive to be more and more in the moment…so turn off all beeping, get that one project done and then be with our kids when we are with them and be with 50 or 250 messages at once when we’re with them. But to jump only makes our heart skip a beat, it feels.

      So not a suggestion or tool but food for thought maybe. Everything has it’s container and it doesn’t always have to happen simultaneously.

  4. Thank you Michelle for this awesome blog post! I love your energy and radiance. I love the tip about breathing at my computer every hour. I forget to do that when I’m pounding away working on projects. Thanks for the awesome tips and energy. I love your work.

    • Thank you Amanda! And the crazy part is that it’s proven that we breathe even more shallow at the computer than we do in normal life. Taking time off technology is live-giving.

      Loving your mermaid adventures SO much! Rock it out beautiful, vibrant, powerful mama!

  5. robyn permalink

    it’s interesting, the separation. thank you for the reminder to enjoy whatever work may mean to any one of us – to live while working vs work until we can spend time living.
    brilliant post.

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