Question Everything!

Question EVERYTHING by Bryna Rene Haynes | #AspireMag

I’m a bit of a workaholic.  

Okay, that might be an understatement. I’m a lifelong, die-hard workaholic, and busyness is as addictive as crack to me—and honestly, I’ve been hovering at the edge of burnout for over a year. Growing the online side of my business has added even more “to-dos” to my list, and between social media, e-mailing, blog creation, and all the other stuff we “have” to do when we own a partially-online business, I’ve been in a constant state of overwhelm.  

Until now.  

I’m writing this from the coffee table of a rented holiday home in Co. Kerry, Ireland. It’s January 2018, and I’m taking the month off.  

“What?” you may be asking. “How the heck can you own a business and take a whole month off?”  

I chose it. It’s that simple. But it started with a question.  

I had a belief that told me I had to work really, really, really hard to get what I wanted in life and business. That belief was put there by my hard-working father, his hard-working father, and all the hardworking Quebecois ancestors who came to this country for the American dream, and—you guessed it—worked hard to make it happen. That belief left me prioritizing income goals over life goals, and work over life. Not okay.  

Then, I started asking questions. The kinds of questions that shook up my world.  During my business coach’s recent live event, at which I was a presenter, I started delving into my goals for 2018. I asked myself, “What if I didn’t have to work so hard to have the money and freedom I want? What would that look like?”  

Bam! I asked, and the Universe answered. In the space of a few moments, I was given a download of an entirely new model for my business that would allow me to work less, earn more, and help even more women write their world-changing books.  

But then, I realized that in order to make this new business model work, I would have to expand my team. How could I find qualified people? I’d tried before,  and had a small team of amazing people, but always ended up back where I started, biting off more than I could chew.  

I turned to my questions again. “What if I don’t have to find qualified people? What if they found me?”  

Bam! Within three days, I’d received two applications for editing positions, and fielded a phone call from a colleague about another potential resource. I also met a shining star of a VA who just happened to be at the event where I was speaking.  

Holy crap.  

I started asking even crazier questions. “What if I didn’t have to spend so much energy growing my audience and marketing my business? What if clients just found me, instead of me finding them?” (I got two inquiries about my highest-level book strategy services in the next week.) What if I asked for support from my current clients around this new arm of my business? (Support flowed in the form of video testimonials and referrals.) 

Okay, this was obviously magic. But revamping my business model, as excited as that sounded, didn’t solve the deeper, more fundamental issue I was facing: How could I stop working so hard, and start reclaiming the parts of my life I’d been neglecting?  

Well, the only way to know is to ask. So I started applying my questioning techniques to other areas of my life. And … chaos ensued.  

I’ve always been hyper-focused on work. I’ve been an entrepreneur since the ripe old age of twenty-three. My work has been a major part of my identity—not so much in terms of what I do, but in terms of how my work ethic sets me apart. I take a lot of pride in being the kind of person who gets things done, and done right.  

But when I applied my questions to things like self-care and time management—when I started asking things like, “What if I made my health my highest priority? What if I took two hours a day to drive to the gym and work out? What if I set a time to knock off work each day, and stopped saying, ‘I just have to finish this one little thing’?”—I was led deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, to the question at the core of it all:  

“What if I became the kind of person who takes care of herself—mind, body, and soul—instead of the kind of person who finishes her work at all costs?” 

Oh, shit.  

The thing was, when I asked the questions, I could see that person. I could almost touch her. But she was so fundamentally different than me. She had her priorities straight. She had time and energy for her family. She made choices about her health and her time based on her vision for her future, not the needs of today’s projects. She had an actual schedule (a huge fear point for this rebel creative) and followed through on all of her commitments, not only the ones with deadlines and payments attached.  

I’ve always known this version of me was possible. What I had thus far refused to see was that she was—is—only a few choices away.  

My questions revealed to me that I could, in fact have all the things I kept saying I wanted. The way was open. I just had to choose.  

I’ve always considered myself a disciplined person. And I have been—when it comes to work. Everywhere else, I’m wishy-washy. Willing to compromise. Uncommitted. More, my dedication to my work has become an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for every other area of my life. And this is no longer acceptable to me.  

My questions forced me to see what I had been avoiding: that was the solution to all of my problems. By applying a simple, “What if,” I was able to see that all my whining about “I don’t have enough time,” was a veneer. I kept telling myself I was disciplined and committed, but that was a lie. I wasn’t who I thought I was. I wasn’t a victim of my business, a frazzled Superwoman fighting the volume of tasks on her plate.  I was a woman afraid of claiming her own power, because it would mean holding herself accountable in all areas, even those where she was less sure of herself, or where the rewards were less obvious.  

Gulp.  

“Thou must work hard” is not a Universal law. It’s a belief we take on and attach to our value.  Hard work is rewarding to those of us who are driven. It generates “results.” For those of us who absolutely love what we do, work can be like a drug, demanding our constant attention with its highs and lows. But—as the amazing women in my life have shown me over and over again—it is possible to have your cake and eat it too. We can live, love, and work in our mission, and still have a life for ourselves. We don’t have to prove the worth of our mission by working harder than everyone else. In fact, when we claim our power fully, and put the magic of inspired questions to work for us, we may not have to work “hard” at all.  

So here’s a final question for you to ponder:  

“What if I could actually have everything I want, in every part of my life?”  

Change is in the air! Have fun, fellow inquirers!  

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Bryna René Haynes About Bryna René Haynes

Bryna René Haynes is the founder of The Heart of Writing, the chief editor for Inspired Living Publishing, and the author of The Art of Inspiration: An Editor’s Guide to Writing Powerful, Effective Self-Help and Inspirational Books (Inspired Living Publishing, 2016). In addition to working with private clients around the world, she has guided over 180 authors through the Authentic Storytelling model as editor for ILP’s best-selling print anthology series. Learn more about Bryna at www.theheartofwriting.com