I’m a striver – have been for as long as I can remember.

If I may be so bold, I’m going to go out on a limb and presume the same may be said of you, too. Because I bet there is something you don’t have that you want, want more of, or want to be better.

Unfortunately, being a striver sometimes gets a bad rap. For some, it presupposes the act of wanting means you are somehow ungrateful for what you have. Or, perhaps, worse that you shouldn’t want to transcend where you are. 

Merriam Webster defines “strive” as: “to devote serious effort or energy.” 

What’s wrong with doing this when it comes to what matters most to you – in life and in business? 

I am raising this philosophical question since we are entering a reflective and planning season. Reflective because year-end is fast approaching, which means you’re likely looking back to what you said you wanted at the beginning of the year and comparing that to where you are now. And simultaneously, you are starting to set goals and plan for the year to come. 

In other words, it’s the perfect time to talk about striving. Regardless of the area/s of your life and business where you want more of something, or want things to be better. 

House: A Metaphor

At times, can striving be seen as a sign of greed? At times, can it be seen as a reflection of one’s sense of worthiness and their standing in the world, or a judgment about either? Yes, yes, and yes! However, I’m not diving into these aspects of striving with today’s piece. 

What I want to talk about is this: When it comes to striving, are you making room or adding-on? 

The experience of striving requires you and me to make a choice about our approach to the process.

It’s why I’ve come to believe a house is such a great metaphor for this discussion. It’s a visual reminder that you only have but so much room. Because everything in it takes up space.

The same is true when the “house” is your life and/or your business. 

A house, a life, a business, each only has but so much room. 

This is why things can often become tricky when it comes to striving. What happens when you want more of something or you want something to be better – whether it is related to any one or combination of:

  • Time
  • Relationships
  • Money
  • Things/experiences
  • Success
  • Fill in the blank

Do you make space

Or, do you add-on

The former means removing or letting something go; while with the latter, there’s the risk of creating clutter (which comes in a myriad of ways).

Bandwidth is teaching me to pay more attention to the difference between the two. And, to ask the questions above as soon as I recognize I want something new or better. 

Because…oof…the strife when you think you’ve made space, but all you actually did was add-on is REAL! 

Five Considerations

What I am also discovering, though, is that in order to answer the two (2) questions above and determine the most optimal way forward, there are additional questions to consider. Like…

How do you define space?

I won’t endeavor to offer a singular definition that can be applied across the board for you, as I think this is such a personal exercise. 

But, here’s how I am defining it: 

  • When I think about my calendar, I view space through the lens of free time and buffer time (do those feel sufficient for me?); 
  • When I think about money, space means cushion (is my business checking balance getting too close to my “floor,” and/or do I have the savings that helps me to feel relaxed when sales are slow?); 
  • When I think about time (which, for me, is separate from my calendar), I think of relationships (am I doing my part to spend my time how I want, with whom I want, as often as I want?) and experiences (am I doing things I find enriching and that feed my soul); 
  • When I think about my business, I view space through the lens of capacity (do I have free-thinking time to daydream, to connect to my creativity – for my own business and on behalf of my clients, too?)

Space is physical, psychological, emotional; it’s energetic, and financial. It can feel heavy or light.

When was the last time you assessed your space, in its varied dimensions? As you read this, do you have enough; do you need or want more; does it feel like it’s the best it can be? Does it feel expansive or constricting?

How do you protect your space?

To my mind, “protecting” is two-pronged; it’s about what you keep from coming in as well as what you keep from leaking out.

Re. a house, you have locks and maybe also an alarm system. You have windows and doors that keep the heat and cool air in. 

Re. time, you set blocks of time for certain activities. This is a form of saying “yes or no” to yourself and to others.

Re. relationships, you endeavor to spend more time with people that energize you than those who deplete you of energy.

Re. business, you take on clients you want to work with and projects that light you up; you keep a robust pipeline to minimize having to scramble for new clients or projects or having to work under less than ideal circumstances. 

Re. money, you pay attention to the rhythm of your cash-flow; you save (short- and long-term); you pay attention to your expenses and their ROI and ROE (aka: return on investment or energy).

Re. success, you know what you will or won’t do in the name of achieving your success.

Protecting your space is about knowing and having boundaries, and then honoring them. 

How do you know it’s time for a change?

Do you feel stuck? Do you feel you have too much on your plate? Has boredom turned into a sense of malaise? Are your family and friends giving you feedback you’d prefer not to get? Do you feel you don’t have enough time, money, physical space, etc. to focus on what’s most important to you?

These are typical “pokes” that reveal perhaps you need to take a look at what you are or are not creating space for. 

How do you sit in the void? 

But before you can make adjustments to your space, you typically have to first sit in the void. And while this is often incredibly uncomfortable, it’s likely one of the best ways to assess the space constraints with which you’re dealing and determine if making room or adding-on is the better option.

Remember, everything in your life and business takes up space. Making this time of the year, when you’re evaluating your 2022 goals and making plans for 2023, perfect for taking stock of your space. In all its permutations.

If you’re game to share, I’d love to know what you’re striving for? What do you want, want more of, or want to be better? Comment below or send me a DM on Instagram.

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