Am I just too tired to play big right now?
Is this not a time of life for playing bigger?
I know so many incredible – and exhausted – women that ask themselves these questions.
I get it. Believe me, I understand it more these days than ever before. I long for an uninterrupted night’s sleep. I don’t know if the new bags under my eyes are permanent or not – we shall find out. Point is, I know I’m depleted.
So many of us women are overloaded.
But I also know that we – especially us women – often wrongly assume it’s a time in our life when we can’t play bigger. So today I want to talk about the misconceptions we have around energy, time, and playing big.
Here’s the first important thing about this that I’ve learned doing this work with women over the years:
The amount of energy you have when you’re playing small
is not a good gauge for how much energy you have available for playing big.
Why? Because playing bigger in the truest sense – being true to our passions, creative impulses, callings – completely alters the amount of energy we have.
As a sleep-deprived mom of little ones, I’m in a time of life when my energy isn’t what it used to be. And it’s not just energy, but a kind of emotional reserve that’s being used up. I have a lower tank for big stretches and risk-taking in my career than I did when I was more well-sourced. So from there it would be easy to conclude, I just don’t have the capacity for my playing big dreams right now.
But I’ve also noticed something undeniable: when I write daily, my energy level goes way up. When I’m teaching my courses, same deal – the life force in me is stronger and brighter. This part of playing bigger – doing what I love and what’s true to me – gives me back way more energy than it takes.
And here’s the second very important thing I’ve learned from supporting so many incredible women on their playing big journeys over the years:
We think playing big will drain us, but playing small is far more draining.
Here’s why: Our playing small – our denial of our own aspirations and callings – puts us in a tug of war with ourselves. We feel the impulse to share our story, and then self-doubt shuts that impulse down. We feel pulled to make our work more visible, but then perfectionism causes us to abandon our work midstream. We feel a rising energy to make a big career change, but then our fears keep us from riding its momentum. These kinds of inner tug of wars – back and forth, back and forth, back and forth – exhaust us. All the energy is going back and forth inside of us instead of flowing outward, clearing the channel for more to come in.
So, if you are feeling a call to play bigger, but worry that you are already too tired or it’s not the right stage of life, here are some questions to explore today:
- Start to imagine a different notion of playing big, one not about striving more or working harder, but rather about the deeper playing big of listening to your inner voice and trusting what it says. What would that look like in your life? What could a gentle, fun playing big look like? What would fill you up with energy?
- What are some of the exhausting parts of playing small for you? Notice what kinds of playing small are draining your energy – perfectionism, being run by fear, listening to the inner critic, or avoiding what you love?
- What is inspiring you these days? What is calling to you? These are hints about what your next playing big chapter will involve. What is one small thing you can do to live into one of those inspirations this week? Something that would take only an hour – or whatever slice of time you can set aside – but that would give you a dose of joy? Put it on the calendar now.