Ep. 196 Stop feeling guilty


In this week’s #askanna episode, Anna looks at how to stop feeling guilty.

Although the whole point of escaping the 9 to 5 is to escape the 9 to 5 (!), this structure is so deeply ingrained in our minds and in our habits that we inevitably feel bad about running our business according to a different schedule.

Submit your question for Anna to answer by emailing podcast@onestepoutside.com.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

The Outsiders Business Incubator – A year-long business incubator for experienced corporate professionals who want to translate their skills and passions into a profitable and fulfilling business. onestepoutside.com/9to5

Stop feeling guilty

Hello, and welcome back. And today we’re here for an ask Anna episode. So this is when you get to ask me a question. It’s a question that comes in via my Facebook community escaping the nine to five, sometimes via email podcast at one step outside.com, or via any of your favorite social channels. So if you have a question, there are no stupid questions. If you have it, I’m sure that other people have the same question and answering it will really help others as well. It helps me to because of course, this podcast is for you. So it allows me to create podcast episodes for you. But also other content, if it’s something that really warrants a full workshop, if it’s something more personal, I’m happy to send you a voice note to give you private feedback, as well. So please get in touch podcast at one stop also.com or your favorite social channel? And I’m happy to answer your question. Now, the one today that came in on a workshop I did a few weeks ago was how can I stop feeling guilty? How can I not feel guilt when I pick up my kids from school early in the day, and I don’t come back and do work.

I had a client recently who is pregnant and doing three days a week, getting paid for three days a week, and yet she feels guilty for taking a break a proper break for lunch, which I would argue is pretty much a legal requirement, not to mention the physical and mental one. And she feels compelled to basically do more than she’s being paid to do right. In fact, generally, the general tendency when we work part time is and what I’ve heard from most people, is that you work full time, but you get paid part time, right, which is pretty crazy. So how can I not feel guilty when I’m picking up my kids early from school, if I’ve got a doctor’s appointment if I maybe even go to the hairdresser in the middle of the day, and then maybe I’m working a bit later. Maybe I’m finishing a little bit early today, maybe I’m not working the exact 40 Hour Workweek.

Now, there are two scenarios here, right. One is when you are working for an employer, even there, however, I’d say the same things apply. But the second one is even more ridiculous, because that’s when we are our own employer.

And there’s no external person who’s going to tell us off. Which is of course, the sort of hangover from school, I guess we don’t want to get in trouble. At least I don’t, there is no structure of the nine to five corporate policy that we have to follow because we are effectively and intentionally designing the business and lifestyle that we want. So let’s break this down. Right? How can I overcome that feeling of guilt. Now, first of all, the whole point of escaping the nine to five and building this lifestyle business, so that you can design the lifestyle that you want. So that’s important to recognize, if we’re not doing that we’re just recreating the cage recreating the handcuffs as it were that we had before. We’re just becoming a worse boss than probably our real boss was before. And if you do want to check out over on my personal brand sites, or Anna lundberg.com, or on my LinkedIn profile, you can find an article from a couple of months ago when this comes out, which is when it’s when the problem is you not your job. And the gist of the article is, you know, we can demonize that nine to five and we can blame our employer and the toxic workplace and the boss and so on. But ultimately. And it’s an empowering thought to realize this, but ultimately it’s down to us. And if we are that overachiever, and there’s another article in there about high achievers and the curse of being a high achiever, if we’re super motivated, and ambitious, and have that kind of good girl, good boy, good student mentality from school, we are in trouble. We think that you know, working hard is means success, success is working longer hours and hustling and work shouldn’t be fun, and all these things, right, all these limiting beliefs, then we’re recreating that, wherever we go. So whether we quit our job and start a business, it doesn’t matter, because we’re going to be bringing that same mentality with us. So it’s important to recognize, first of all, that the whole point of escaping the nine to five, building this lifestyle business is to design the lifestyle that you want.


Now, the nine to five structure, it’s important to recognize is arbitrary.

And we can talk about this for a long time around the, the, you know, outdated nature of the whole 40 Hour Workweek, which by the way, started out being an improvement, obviously, for factory workers working 16 hour days, 100 hour, weeks, whatever. And even now, of course, the nine to five, I have many prospects telling me would be preferable to the hours that they’re working right now. Right. So initially, it was a good thing. It made sense and so on. But actually, as we have seen, it’s not perhaps the best way forward and it’s certainly not the only way forward in today’s society. In fact, There have been predictions in the past that we’d be working much shorter weeks because of amazing technology. Right? One of my very first speaking engagements I did a keynote at the seventh and seventh digital nomad conference, some years ago in Barcelona. I did a lot of well, a little bit of research into the history of work and success and success as it came from the idea of work. You know, if we think of very, what’s the word sort of, is it called popcorn history or whatever, it’s certainly not deeply researched. But this is my take on it. And I think it’s, at least superficially true.

Of course, if you think of the Romans, the Greeks historically, leisure was really valued philosophy, art, right. And even someone hardworking, I think like Leonardo da Vinci, the whole renaissance man or woman concepts, you know that that was something we aspire to. And of course, the Romans had slaves, which is not so good. But and it wasn’t women, either, or poor people who had this. But generally, the aspiration as a Roman gentleman was to have that free time to philosophize to be creative, and so on. And work wasn’t something that we admired. Right? It was, I believe, the Protestant work ethic that came in and some changes, right, that came in, of course, industrialization came along as well with artificial lighting, which meant that we could work long hours and so on. So there are historical and technical reasons for this developing. But it’s not the case that this nine to five has existed always. And it’s the most natural, organic, best solution for humankind, right. It’s a relatively recent and already outdated construct, in my opinion. So certainly, even within corporate now it’s being challenged, right with four day work weeks, and hybrid working and so on, it certainly not necessary to pursue it in our own businesses, because again, we’re designing a business that works for us. And then a third piece is that if you look at the statistics, there are so many that tell you that actually we do less than three hours of productive work per day. It’s not about hours, it’s not clocking in and clocking out as they did in factories, and not just coming showing up and the automation, the what’s it called the, the conveyor belt is just running past and we’re doing X number of things per minute, right?

The intelligence, the knowledge economy that we’re working in, we’re creating ideas, strategies, producing, thinking, reflecting brainstorming, that’s not something we can do non stop, by definition, there will be a rhythm and some ups and downs, ebbs and flows, we’ll have unproductive meetings again, in the corporate world, we’ll have a lot of time wasted on emails and water cooler chats, and would say cigarette breaks. But that’s quite outdated. And I certainly never smoked, but you know, that kind of thing. And ultimately, it’s not about working eight hours or five hours or 10 hours. Now, obviously, there are shift workers and there are certain people who who are on certain time and they need to be there and do certain work. But even then, arguably, there’s always going to be ups and downs. Right? They’re not literally I hope, working nonstop that whole time. And certainly I’m speaking to you more as an office worker who’s sitting at the desk, sometimes twiddling their thumbs sometimes just staring into oblivion. Certainly not doing productive creative, intelligent work eight hours a day, 40 hours a week.

Okay, so with those principles in mind, how can you actually overcome that guilt?

Because that’s the question, right? So I want to give you a few little pointers from the big picture to the the nitty gritty practical. Now, the first big picture, one, of course, is to remind yourself of your why, if you are designing a business that allows you to escape the nine to five and have a particular lifestyle, then that is the point. The point is not to replicate the structure you had in your corporate the the point is not to live up to some arbitrary ideal that people created in the 20th century. That’s not to follow the same model that companies do for whatever reason they do, right? Certainly, if you’re a solopreneur, if you’re working for yourself. Now, of course, if you’re working with corporate clients, for example, you might need to be or will need to be sensitive to when other people are available to do calls and things. But that doesn’t mean still that you have to work Monday to Friday, the exact same hours of them, and probably you don’t want to right? So first of all, remind yourself of why you’re in business. What are you actually trying to achieve? What is the lifestyle you’re after? And importantly, what are the results? Because, again, productivity is not about the hours, it’s about the impact you’re making.

So that leads me to the second piece, which is getting super clear on your priorities.

If at the end of the day, I’m just referring to the to do list, which let’s face it isn’t never going to be done because I’m constantly adding things and I’m never completing it. Then of course, I always feel like oh, I’ve got to do more. I’ve got to do more meaning more time I’ve got to put in more time, but I can tell you so many examples. Recently, I used to whenever the kids were napping, and now they don’t both nap. So that limits it anyway. But whenever they were napping, I’d run to my computer, I’d sit and do some work right in the evenings or just squeeze it in, by necessity to some extent, because they weren’t a nursery until relatively recently, we didn’t have any childcare at all. But now I’ve had a couple of times done that. And one of the things that happens, which seems to be something I’m doing wrong, but it’s a sync issue. So I’ve got my little laptop, and I’ve got my big iMac, and I’ll make changes on the laptop that then don’t sync green correctly sync. So all my changes are deleted. So then what have I done, I’ve spent an hour or two hours of my Sunday or naptime or evening free time, when I wasn’t going to work, I’ve stressed myself out doing work that then actually all I’ve done is literally dig a hole that I then had to fill in and start again digging the hole again, right? So so many examples of that when I’ve tried to spit in a bit more work. And all it’s done is like more tired, I get a migraine, or I make mistakes. So it’s about the results. And therefore you need to know what are the results. It’s again, easier said than done, as all these strategies are. But if I at the beginning of the week, beginning of the day, beginning of the year, tell myself, look, this year is all about getting this course recorded and getting the book out, okay, everything else can fall into place.

It’s the big rocks again, these are the big things. And those two are pretty much done, the course has done for me, the book is there’s a draft there, you know, I’m really focused on that being a priority. I can do all the other stuff, some of the other stuff. But those are the big priorities. Every day, let’s say Thursday morning is my writing day. As long as I’ve done those three, four hours of writing, I feel pretty good about it. Monday’s is about reconnecting, following up with leads and conversations and so on. If I’ve done that, then tick, right. So it’s not about ticking every single thing on my list. It’s about getting super, super clear on the priorities. And then three linked to this is a concept, a tool that I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about, again, I have a full episode on it, and lots of resources on it, as well as mapping out your ideal week. So now that I know what my priorities are, you know, connecting with managing nurturing leads, and writing the book working on the course, of course delivering client work and so on, then I can block out my week, of course, with flexibility built in, but roughly speaking Monday mornings, I prioritize this first thing, eat the frog, meaning do the most disgusting, impactful thing, first thing, and then everything else will fall into place later, right? There are so many of these beautiful metaphors, frogs, and rocks and balls and all sorts that you can use. So again, remember your why the whole point of designing this business, map out your ideal week, and make sure you’re super clear on your priorities in those time blocks in your calendar. Right.

So priorities for the year priorities for the month, proud of the week priorities, big picture, basically, it’s all about priorities. And I am reminded, and I may have mentioned this before, certainly I’ve done in a few workshops previously, recently, that originally the word priority came from Old English, French, whatever it was Latin, and there was only priority prioritize whatever it was, it was a singular, one priority. There is no such thing as multiple priorities. And we used to say this at Procter and Gamble, too, you know, if everything is a priority, nothing’s a priority. So that’s really the key. It’s super empowering, to remind yourself that actually, you are in charge here of designing your business and your lifestyle. You’re in charge of setting boundaries, you’re in charge, of course saying no, and enforcing those boundaries. And I guess the final thought here is to really explore where is that guilt coming from? And perhaps I should have started with that. But for me, it’s obvious that it’s coming from this corporate nine to five societal expectations. It’s coming from our school education routine, and it’s coming from that kind of good girl, good student overachiever mentality. So we need to shake the foundations of that reimagined success reimagine productivity reimagine the working week and again, thankfully, the world is on our side the world is reimagining, right, it’s slow moving, and many companies are reticent and traditional and won’t change. But more and more companies are allowing you to work from anywhere, allowing you to work at home in the office, for day workweeks and so on, right, so let’s jump on this bandwagon and do the same, but take it even further because we’re empowered to do whatever we want in our own business. So I hope you found that helpful. Again, if you have your own question to submit, then get in touch on your favorite social channel or you can ping me at podcast one step outside.com. I’ll see you next week.


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