The Exhausting Politics of Overworking and Overdoing

The Exhausting Politics of Overworking and Overdoing

Women are exhausted by overworking and overdoing. And, if what I believe is true — that women have been languishing for years — it’s worth it to dive into the political — small p political — traps that have led to the feeling that women cannot seem to do anything to get ahead. This series will go under the hood of the everyday political structures that my clients — and myself — have experienced that keep women feeling trapped and stuck in exhaustion and in being unable to make as much progress as they wish they could. The goal is to highlight some of these power structures and start to lean in to change them for yourself and for others. This post and podcast is the first in a series called The Politics of Languishing and I’m sharing these ideas from my own perspective and experiences as a white woman and mother who lives in a rural area of the United States. Your experiences may be very different.


KEY SUMMARY POINTS

  • Work in this article is defined by me as anything that is not pleasure or joy.
  • Breaking down the many layered baggage of work ethic is often a part of the coaching work I do with my high achiever clients who lean toward perfectionism and people pleasing.
  • The tethered relationship we have with technology has played a role in our overwork that leads to extreme exhaustion.
  • Capitalism is another part of the power structure to which we feel tied to this constant state of work.
  • Overworking is actually causing deaths. Surprising new studies show that people who work more than 54 hours a week are at serious risk of dying from overwork.
  • Are you trapped in Toxic Productivity mode? This is a constant state of needing to improve yourself or your life and not ever feeling satiated by those attempts.
  • 3 ways to fight back against overworking and toxic productivity.
  • A fun yet powerful action to take TODAY to help bring ease to all.

When I was a teenager, I would get home from a long day at school, grab a snack, watch some bad television and often fall asleep.

After a nice break, I would clean up, do my homework and my chores.

But on some rare occasions, before I could emerge from my downtime, my step-father — who was a hard-working truck driver — would arrive home early.

Beep. Beep. Beep … this was the alarm clock dinging me awake from my dreams as his 18-wheeler backed into our longish driveway.

As the beep-beep-beep sound rang in my ears, I would jump up off the couch frantically, hurry and clean up and pretend like I hadn’t been sleeping or resting or watching television because I didn’t want to face his judgement that I was lazy.

My heart still pounds thinking about the ridiculousness of those moments.

The truth is that rest, leisure, play and pleasure were not at the heart of my nuclear family. In fact, the only thing that was valued was hard work and saving your money.

SHAWN FINK

It didn’t take long in my adulthood to realize that kind of living is not for me, that I value being fulfilled through the art of being and the vastness of what pleasure and mindfulness can bring to a life and a family.

And, it’s something I still have to catch myself getting caught up in if I am not careful. I’ll easily choose over-functioning over under-performing and I have to make sure that I am thriving in mind, body and spirit as I work to make an impact in this world.

Breaking down that longtime work ethic is almost always at the heart of the private coaching work I do with highly ambitious creatives and changemakers who value a more meaningful, fulfilled life but have no idea how to achieve it AND their dreams and inner longings. 

At the heart of all the hard work that has women feeling exhausted and trapped is what I call soul exhaustion.

And the root of soul exhaustion is an insatiable desire to keep forcing and striving — often without a real vision of what you’re aiming for and you are just overdoing everything in pursuit of a better tomorrow, a better you, a better life.

All of this is why I believe strongly that many women — especially mothers trying to take her work and her family seriously — have been languishing for years and the pandemic actually gave them a glimpse into slowing down and enjoying another way of life

I know because when I was a working mom out of the house I was constantly trying to avoid falling into exhaustion and despair while simultaneously striving to get to the next level. 

Until I realized that life is not for me.

In 2013, I designed a more aligned life for myself so that I can serve and empower women to design a beautiful life of impact and ease, earn and income and be home with my daughters as needed. 

I’ve been running my own soulful yet strategic coaching business for eight years where I have freedom, simplicity, pleasure and joy — as well as struggles and hardship because no job is perfect. 

The Challenge of Designing a more Aligned life for Ourselves

Designing a life along with a business or career that infuses our authenticity with our values and creates a feeling of wholeness requires that we change how we’ve been doing life and set down some of the old patterns we’ve picked up along the way.

For me, I had no problem shedding the politics of overworking when I started working and living a much slower pace.

But, for many, that kind of a big change feels nearly impossible because the politics of overworking is so ingrained in us that a thriving life filled with meaning and impact seems unattainable. We simply must keep striving for more and overdoing to keep up with everyone else.

“I believe in empowering women to unearth your higher purpose and design your life around living it and moving toward it at all times.” 

shawn fink

But for many women creating a more aligned life where you are making a bigger impact AND living with more ease and joy doesn’t seem possible — and, quite frankly, for some it’s not necessary. We can make changes and live more in alignment without burning down our careers and lives.

But, first, you have to understand:

  • Work is essential even if a person isn’t. 
  • Money is necessary even when it’s not enough.
  • Being trapped in a bad situation is better than being out of a job.
  • Hustling is rewarded more than settling for less.

Being caught up in a system that keeps you busy leads you further away from your zone of genius and higher purpose, but it’s safe and comfortable so you stick with it.

Today, as capitalism soars, we are all paying the price of the unintended consequences of the overworking ethic of past generations mixed with an inundation of constantly evolving technology that has us tethered to our own personal work ethic more than ever.

For the sake of this article, I want to first define work and overwork in my way, a very unofficial definition, in fact.

I see work as being anything that isn’t pleasure, rest and joy. 

Work can be the dishes. It can be a deadline or project. It can be answering emails, checking emails, texting with committee members or bosses. It can be social media. Paying bills. Mowing the lawn. It can be working long hours for your boss just to prove your worth. It can be homeschooling. 

If it feels like work, it’s work, in my book. 

And, as for technology, anytime we pick up a device for something other than pleasure, it’s also work. 

Thus, our endless connection … to work, over-functioning and neverending productivity.

How Technology is Leading the Way to Our Languishing

Sometimes when I am in a space of overwhelm and overwork, I think about the old days and how simple it must have been. I like to teleport myself into the Anne with an E series — that sadly ended too soon — and imagine lighting candles for light and doing everything by hand manually. 

Those days are long gone and I wonder sometimes if we’re trying to be more like robots than human beings and if this great desire to keep up with technology is making us work harder because, honestly, we’re just not that smart or evolved yet as a species.

But we are trying to be smarter than our computers.

The end result is that we’re exhausted by the overworking we are doing simply because of our ability to grab a phone and start working (learning, absorbing, communicating, consuming.) The pandemic life drove these bad habits home for so many, literally. 

The fact of the matter is that we are easily influenced by the overworking and overdoing culture simply through our convenient devices:

  • We can wake up and check email.
  • We can eat lunch and work on our social media accounts.
  • We can be at our kids’ soccer game and take the client call.
  • We can respond to our boss’s text messages in the middle of family dinner.
  • We can wake up and go into our home office and stay there all day and all night, if we wish.
  • We can rock our baby to sleep and take a professional development eCourse.
  • We can hop on an important zoom call during our vacation.

“If anything, the idea of pleasure, leisure and rest has gotten so lost in the past decade than ever before that we have forgotten what it can feel like to value being bored, to value the art of doing nothing, to create space for bursting creativity and joy and awe and to understand the value of just being rather than doing.

SHAWN FINK

But, there is a larger issue at play here — something much bigger and harder to tackle.

And that elephant in the room is capitalism — which is driving our overworking culture.

The Pressure to Overworking and Overdoing is Leading to our Languishing

Once you start going under the hood of the economy, poverty and the politics of who is thriving and who is not, it’s hard to not see the truth of the matter.

It’s hard to not see how white elitists are worrying about their boats and their elaborate vacations and yet your friends in a different zip code are worried about how their child is going to get internet access and safe drinking water.

We have a huge well-being gap caused by capitalism and income disparity. 

According to the Theory of Capitalism at Columbia University, “Capitalism is a system of largely private ownership that is open to new ideas, new firms and new owners—in short, to new capital. Capitalism’s rationale to proponents and critics alike has long been recognized to be its dynamism, that is, its innovations and, more subtly, its selectiveness in the innovations it tries out. At the same time, capitalism is also known for its tendency to generate instability, often associated with the existence of financial crises, job insecurity and failures to include the disadvantaged. “

This means that anyone can bring an idea forth at any time — which is a beautiful gift of freedom for anyone who wants to be a business owner. But it also means that competition is fierce and sales pitches are everywhere and the marginalized and disadvantaged are being left behind.

“Capitalism takes the position that “greed is good,” which its supporters say is a positive thing — greed drives profits and profits drive innovation and product development, which means there are more choices available for those who can afford them. Its opponents say that capitalism is, by nature, exploitative, and leads to a brutally divided society that tramples the working classes in favor of fattening the rich’s wallets.”

Kim Kelly in Teen Vogue,

I found this article to be a great read on how millennials are struggling with this power system:  “While the millennial generation has been called lazy, entitled, and impatient, data suggest that 30-somethings are actually working more and for less than the generations preceding them. Significant attention has been directed to this phenomenon in recent months. In a viral article published on Buzzfeed, Anne Helen Petersen described Millennials as the ‘burnout generation’ where leading a stressed and emotionally straining lifestyle has become the norm for many young adults.”

The evidence is clear: overworking and overdoing isn’t creating a system for well-being for all. If anything, it’s causing extreme disparities in all areas of life, including financial.

As a business owner, I talk to women entrepreneurs all day and they, too, are exhausted by the hustle to do to keep up with the current economy as well as the current challenges of modern day marketing, which is a lot like shouting into a crowded street and hoping someone will respond.

Fierce competition and saturation of the market have some women-owned small businesses feeling stressed about clearing a profit and exhausted by the constant demand to do more and be more.

How Overworking and Overdoing Morphs into Toxic Productivity and Over-Functioning

Of course, we all want to work hard and be good workers. That’s always the mission. 

So when does hard work lean toward something unhealthy and unfulfilling?

That is going to be up to you as it is a subjective definition for each person. But it’s pretty clear that when working hard becomes a 24/7 nightmare with no breaks, little life fulfillment, and resentment, you have begun to morph into toxic productivity.

Toxic Productivity is an insatiable desire to keep chasing more, more, more and still feeling like you have not done enough or are enough.

shawn fink

Toxic productivity should be our No. 1 enemy as a society.  It’s what eats at you when you just can’t stop and rest. It’s what keeps us from connecting with ourselves and each other. It’s what steals family time. It’s what steals pleasure and joy. 

“It can be defined as an obsession with radical self improvement above all else. Ultimately, it’s an unachievable goal; no matter how productive you are, the result you are left with is a feeling of guilt for not having done ‘more’,” shares expert nurse Emma Selby, clinical lead at health & fitness brand Results Wellness Lifestyle.

You could be trapped in toxic productivity if you get frustrated by other people who take breaks to have fun and you think they should be working more or harder for their money or if your kids are scheduled every night of the week with activities and you find any amount of down time to be a waste of time.

shawn fink

Getting things done and being a part of things is awesome and a great way to bring life fulfillment, but toxic productivity takes over when you do all of those things and you still don’t feel like you’ve done enough. 

It’s not enough. You are not enough. Your partner or kids are not enough. 

You know something needs to shift when you are stuck in the overworking and overdoing cycle.

One attribute that can really pop out in this space is over-functioning. 

Brené Brown describes overfunctioners as having the tendency “to move quickly to give advice, rescue, takeover, micromanage, get in other people’s business rather than looking inward.”

I am a chronic overfunctioner myself — as is Brené — and I know the signs when my over-functioning side takes over and I have found that giving myself compassion for wanting to be a hard worker goes right back to those younger years of my life when the beep-beep-beep of that truck jostled me into a panic.

What is all this overworking and overdoing doing to us?

The same people trapped in the cycle of overworking are the same people who are stressed, burned out, overwhelmed, anxious and angry. 

This is exactly what I see with my clients who want to make a bigger impact in their life and their work or business but also don’t want to feel burned out and exhausted by taking on too much.

In fact, all this overworking and overdoing is actually killing us.

According to a new study published earlier this month by the World Health Organization, “Alarming new research shows that people working more than 54 hours a week are at major risk of dying from overwork. It’s killing three-quarters of a million people each year.”

And the funny thing is that the only real conversation around overwork and work ethic is that it’s really hard to find good workers (ie: hard workers).

While there is evidence that the work ethic that most of us grew up with has only become more and more toxic and demanding, there is the other side of the story that believes we’re still not good enough or working hard enough or doing a good enough job, according to this article in Aeon:

“The work ethic is a tent-pole of national identity politics. Reading between the lines, across the media, or even just skimming the headlines, gives one the impression that we are a nation under attack. One national poll in 2015 found that 72 per cent of respondents said the United States ‘isn’t as great as it once was’. The principal culprit was the country’s declining belief in the value of hard work. More people thought ‘our own lagging work ethic’ was a larger threat to American greatness than the Islamic State, economic inequality, and competition with China.”

And yet …

That same article says this: “Widespread anxiety about a diminished work ethic is confounding when considered against the actual data on how much time Americans spend working. The hours of all wage and salary workers rose 13 per cent from 1975 to 2016, a total of about five extra weeks per year. And there’s evidence that those of us still working through the pandemic are putting in longer hours than we were before. In addition to long hours, workers suffer from irregular schedules, volatile by design, that change at their employers’ whims. And there’s also the mass of the so-called involuntarily unemployed, constantly seeking, but not finding, enough work hours to survive. These three features – overwork, unstable schedules, and a lack of adequate hours – define the paradoxical time signature of the work life today, especially for low-wage workers.”

We can do better for our neighbors and our community.

We can do better for our families.

And we must do better.

The Staggering Connection Between Hard Work and Languishing

And so when all you do is work and work and work and when rest is seen as lazy and unproductive, you end up feeling exhausted and empty. 

If your identity and self-worth are tied up in your productivity and work ethic, you will feel bad when you are doing nothing, resting, or experiencing pleasure rather than productivity.

Hard work without rest, without space, without nourishing self-care time leads to languishing and burnout. Gone are the days of our mental health days where we could slow down and recover. Now one set of work activities bleed into the next and, these days, from one room to the next.

Not too long ago, a reader responded to one of my emails about rest with this quote and her thoughts …

“But in a society reflexively suspicious of rest, getting a restorative break tends to require a formal mental-health diagnosis. Otherwise, you risk getting called a slacker. That’s what happened to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a couple of years ago when she announced she was taking a few days off for “self-care” after a grueling election. “ Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t yet started her new job,” Fox News blared, “but she’s already taking a break.”

My reader said this: “This got me thinking that maybe we need to bring back the nervous breakdown, to protect the nation’s collective reserve of nerve force at a time when it’s stretched so thin. What would the modern version of a culturally accepted, nervous-breakdown-precipitated time-out look like?”

Once you know better, you know better — but what do you do about it?

Living in alignment has never been more valued and never been easier. When I started my own business in 2013, I approached it as a freelance writer. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. 

Starting a business where you can be free isn’t always ideal for you or your life circumstances. Finding gainful employment AND feeling like you are in your values can be a challenge. And we can’t just walk away.

And yet one of the greatest outcomes of the pandemic is that more and more companies now value remote work as being a viable option.

That doesn’t make it any easier, though.

Anne Helen Peterson wrote in her newsletter that while we have the support of technology, our self-worth is still pulled from being productive.

“At some point the brain and body says no. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the endless Wednesday of the eleventh month of attempting to work from home against the backdrop of a horrific pandemic. Every day we wake up and complete our tasks and grasp at peak productivity and fail and go to bed and wake up and grasp all over again. The exhaustion of continual failure compounds the exhaustion of the work itself.”

She goes on to write: “We’ve reached the point of diminishing returns. I think we know this. You can see it explicitly manifest in anti-hustle culture, in the renewed embrace of unions and the labor movement, in the popularity of books like How to Do Nothing and movements like The Nap Ministry. Some people have known it for a long time, some are just gradually coming to terms with it. A lot of it, I’ve found, depends on just how inculcated you were by productivity culture. Were you surrounded with examples of productivity as success? Or were the “productive” people in your life the most exhausted and pissed off?”

It’s not About How Much You Accomplish. It’s about the Impact You Make.

In my podcast, The Brave Yes, which focuses on wholeness and life alignment as a way of living and leading and interviews women who have made Brave Yes Leaps in their lives in order to experience greater well-being and wholeness, there is a theme:

If you want to be authentically happy with how you spend your days and your time, you’re going to need to live your values and seek out life fulfillment.

Your self-worth impacts your ability to flourish and thrive.

In my last piece, I wrote that women have been languishing for years.

Adam Grant wrote in his article for the New York Times that “Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.”

The only way out of languishing is finding meaning and purpose in your life — not necessarily less work time but more aliveness.

We need to feel like we have purpose and meaning in our lives. And we can’t do that when we wrap up our worth and identities in how much we accomplish each day. Long list of to-dos crossed off may feel good but by the end of the day we still feel empty.

That’s why my coaching helps you focus only on the highest impact and long-term gains in your life and why we spend a lot of time asking questions like:

  • What can I do to make the bigger difference this week? 
  • Who am I when I put away my to-do list?
  • How can I stay true to myself and my values?

I want all of my clients to enjoy being more courageous and motivated not for the sake of overworking or overdoing but because they are in their zone of genius and using their superpowers AND because they have the energy to do so thanks to amazing well-being practices.

“When we live in a state of hurried and harried, it’s hard to make time for a flow state or to listen for our higher purpose.”

shawn fink

When we feel trapped in an overworking cycle where we can’t find contentment or worthiness without over doing everything, we feel a sense of emptiness and stagnation. 

If all you live for is your to-do list, you’re likely feeling as if you have been muddling through your days. 

“If you want to feel more alive, overworking is not going to get you there — at least not with any long-term gains.”

SHAWN FINK

For me, it’s about balance but I am also a privileged white woman who works at home with a small client base from around the world. I built my coaching business eight years around my own values of simplicity, family, pleasure, joy and freedom.

My coaching work helps you flourish by finding your ideal flow states, balancing your energy and your expectations. And I do have a toolbox to help you with any challenge you encounter.

Rather than keep settling for a life of languishing emptiness, we need to take control and focus on bring ourselves back alive day after day, week after week. 

When we find flow and whole-hearted focus in our days again, we experience bliss. 

And then, it’s all flourishing from there.

3 Ways to Fight Back Against Overworking and Toxic Productivity

I work with women on finding their authentic life path.

I work with women on choosing their upleveling their capacity as a business owner so they have the time and energy to make a bigger impact.

I work with women on choosing a new career path or starting a business.

But what I do not work with women on is doing more for the sake of doing more. Every decision needs to come from a place of ease, joy and inner wisdom.

And so if you feel trapped under the rubble of overworking and overdoing, I want you to slow down right now and breathe and trust that change is coming to you. It’s on the way right now.

“Taking your life and time back begins with you choosing to do things differently and that you don’t need permission from anyone else to start making choices that impact your health and your well-being.”

shawn fink

And you can begin right now.

Here are 3 Ways to Fight Back Against Overworking and Toxic Productivity

FOCUS ON IMPACT AND FLOW

We see the evidence of how busy work can really zap our children’s time when they are in school. It’s a waste of time and energy when play and creativity would be a much better source of learning. I’m not a fan of busy work and I don’t think it’s great for adults either.

The next time you think you should be doing something, notice how you fill your time and ask yourself if that is busy work or impact work? And ask yourself if you could fill your time with something even  better — pleasure. If you are not sure what brings you pleasure, that is exactly what we’ll figure out in my private coaching. 

TAKE YOUR REST SERIOUSLY

As a creative soul and writer and coach, I take energy management and rest very seriously. I have to. It’s the only way I can sustain my momentum and positive energy. It’s the only way I can show up for my family and clients with joy. 

Rest comes in many forms — not just laying down and napping. Sometimes rest is asking for help on a big problem or struggle so you don’t have to keep worrying about it and ruminating over it. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you what to do and help you create a solid plan. 

FINDING YOUR GOOD ENOUGH QUOTA 

For years, I have worked with women on feeling enough. And I have said it over and over that enoughness is an inside job. The only person who can ever help you feel validated and enough is you. 

And that means you have to find your good enough quota. We can easily work all day long and keep going with all the things and that is what we will do if we don’t have a good enough quota in our minds. Knowing what is good enough for YOU is essential to being able to stop, relax and let go knowing you did … enough. 

Building a Vision of Thriving for All

My coaching work focuses on helping you move into your next Brave Yes. It helps you create and design a Brave Yes Life by infusing authenticity and courage into your life, work or creativity.

In my social justice work, I am constantly talking to women about equity. Equity isn’t just in money — though more money for all is absolutely the fastest way to thriving in mind, body and spirit.

But it’s also important to remember that we all deserve to feel alive and like we matter.

It’s important to remember that living on $300 a month is not a sustainable family budget and yet many are doing just that.

And so the vision you create for yourself must include how to help others thrive as well.

Because as long as some of us are languishing we’re all going to have work to do.

You don’t have to overwork or overdo to find your worth.

But you do have the ability to choose the Brave Yes to use your voice and be in the right places at the right time to be a part of the solutions.

And while we will not destroy the patriarchy or the capitalist system this week or this year, there is one thing we can all do starting right now, today.

We can all help each other immensely in ONE big Brave Yes way.

We can choose to relax.

Relax your expectations of yourself.

Relax your expectations of others.

Stop letting overworking and overdoing drive the worth you give to yourself and to others.

Ask yourself if you are letting toxic productivity lead or if you are letting your heart lead?

The Truth is that Women have been Languishing for Years

The Truth is that Women have been Languishing for Years

Are you languishing or flourishing?’

In a New York Times article by writer Adam Grant that went viral in April, we all nodded our heads at the fact that, yes, indeed we are languishing right now in the messy middle of this long, drawn out global pandemic.

Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton and author of books such as Originals and Give and Take as well as host of the TedX podcast WorkLife, wrote in this article that we are all languishing, which he defines as the following:

“Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work. It appears to be more common than major depression — and in some ways it may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness.”

Like most, I felt a big YES when I read this … that is how I am feeling. I am not used to languishing. In fact, 2020 was my best year ever for many personal and professional reasons.

But 2021 has been less than thrilling for many reasons. At times it has felt exhausting and depressing.

Grant wrote in his article: “Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.”

So I resonated with his belief that we are languishing.

Until I got to thinking more about my own research for an upcoming project and sat with the idea … and then it occured to me.

Women have been Languishing for Years

Most women — and those who identify as women — have been languishing for years — decades even.

How do I know?

Because I have been working with women for a decade and every email, every webinar, every coaching discovery call proves my point.

Grant explains in his article that the word languishing was coined by sociologist Corey Keyes, “who was struck that many people who weren’t depressed also weren’t thriving.”

Such has been the case for many women juggling a family and a career or business — with no room for self-care — for years.

Don’t let the influencers influence you into thinking it’s just you who’s not thriving. Their product is likely not the solution you need to finally feel happy, content or hopeful.

What we need is for all of us to pitch in and try to change the entire system for ourselves — and for all families.

In my experience as a working mother over the past 15 years, I have had to fight very hard to flourish and that doesn’t even consider my privilege as a white woman. I have worked hard AND it’s been a struggle, a hustle and a constant uphill battle to keep my mediocre life afloat.

Sometimes it feels like all we’re doing is trying to climb to the top of the pile or keep ourselves from falling into despair.

This doesn’t even begin to explain the hardship of Black and Brown women who have been trying to thrive while coping with struggles such as high unemployment rates, police brutality, trauma of all kinds and racism at work and in their communities.

So what has been the cause of women’s languishing long before the pandemic?

First and foremost, the causes of our languishing is a systemic culture and power system that has consistently added more pressure and more responsibilities to womens’ plates while simultaneously preventing women from rising in the ranks at work or in society compared to men.

The truth is that none of us have been flourishing as much as we could be or should be given the economics of this country and world. Our lives are not easy. They are filled with hardship not because we don’t work our butts off but because of the power systems we are forced to live within are stacked against us.

And that is the case especially for Black and Latino Women as well who, according to the 2019 State of Women in the Workplace, “Black women and women with disabilities face more barriers to advancement and get less support than other groups of women.”

And that’s not all, that same report in 2019 — just a year before the pandemic began — also reported the following:

  • Women are less likely to be hired and promoted to manager: For every 100 men promoted and hired to manager, only 72 women are promoted and hired.”
  • 1 in 4 women think their gender has played a role in missing out on a raise, promotion or chance to get ahead.”
  • Lesbian women, bisexual women, and women with disabilities are far more likely than other women to hear demeaning remarks about themselves or others like them.”
  • 73% of women report experiencing microaggressions—or everyday discrimination—which is rooted in bias.”

And, according to the US Federal Reserve System, “New data from the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) show that long-standing and substantial wealth disparities between families in different racial and ethnic groups were little changed since the last survey in 2016; the typical White family has eight times the wealth of the typical Black family and five times the wealth of the typical Hispanic family.”

As long as some of us are floundering, we’re all going to keep languishing.

Grant’s viral article pointed out what women have known for a long time — that we are stuck. Women are trapped in a life that culturally and systemically believes that women and families need to do it all and at the same time are held down and back by a broken system that prevents them from getting ahead.

In fact, this messy middle that we are in is only pointing out our flawed our system for helping all people thrive is failing.

Feeling good shouldn’t be this hard.

The so-called antidote to languishing is flourishing.

Flourishing is the ability “to find fulfillment in our lives, accomplishing meaningful and worthwhile tasks, and connecting with others at a deeper level—in essence, living the “good life,” according to Martin Seligman, the founding father of positive psychology and author of Flourish.

I happen to be trained and certified in helping my clients flourish and thrive and we use the flourishing model to do that. That’s a big part of the work I do with my high achieving clients who are also caretakers. And it’s also why I know that women have been languishing for far longer than this year.

There are six parts to the flourishing model that need to be accessed and tended to in order to flourish:

  • Positive emotions
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishments
  • Vitality

Before the pandemic, the average results of Harvard’s Human Flourishing Program Flourishing Quiz was 70. Now it’s 65. Of course this is based on who has had the time and been targeted in taking the Harvard quiz but let’s just say the average isn’t flourishing at 70.

One commenter on the quiz article wrote this:

“As a Black woman living in Minneapolis – it is hard to be “flourishing” – when any day someone you love may be murdered by the police for being Black. When you are protesting for the right to be alive. Looking at India and Brazil – how can anyone not be sad? Over a million people will die from Covid19 in India. Pregnant women and babies dying in Brazil. The grief. This Humanist is not flourishing – but I am happy to be alive, vaccinated, housed, and have everything I need, including love.”

The fact that so many of my clients actually enjoyed the Great Slow Down the pandemic caused proves my point. The hustle-culture that our lives had been turned into before Covid-19 struck was a dead-end street for women and families.

The Great Pause that we had to be together, to slow down, to bake and read books was a welcome sigh of relief for many. And the idea of returning to that hustle and grind is not appealing for so many.

Yes, we want connection. Yes we want to feel free. Yes we want to do fun things again.

But we don’t want the pressure, the non-stop go-go-go or the demoralization that many felt in the workplace or in their communities.

Recognizing you are languishing — and have been — is the first step in doing something about it.

The Art of Flourishing isn’t a one-time fix but rather a long journey of life changes that boost your positive energy and your meaning and purpose for being on this planet. This is the work I do with my clients. Earlier this year, I shared my method overview in my free Rise Stronger Challenge.

But self-care alone isn’t going to help you flourish.

If you are trapped in a demoralizing job that isn’t paying you enough or if you are caught up in a business that isn’t providing for you in mind, body and spirit, it will be hard to experience true flourishing.

If you have to take three buses to get to your first job and another 2 buses to get to your second, no amount of self-care is going to help you flourish. You might be grateful. You might be fine. You might even be happy enough.

But to flourish … that’s a different ball game.

Changing your life to have more meaning, more purpose, more impact so that you can grow forward is the Brave Yes Life I’m trying to spread and get to catch on for women.

I am one of the lucky ones. While my income isn’t always flourishing as we need as a family, my meaning and purpose for my life is the primary guide for my everyday life.

This is a big reason why I scored an 85 on the Flourishing Quiz. The only reason it wasn’t higher was because I still haven’t been able to connect with people the way I need to thanks to the pandemic. But I expect that to change soon.

Over the next several weeks, I am going to dive deeper into these power systems and the politics of what is keeping women — and those who identify as women — stagnant rather than flourishing — and I’ll share what resources we can use to help shift this paradigm. I’ll be releasing a new series of blog posts/podcasts breaking down what’s really happening to keep so many women feeling trapped and stuck and unable to flourish.

In other words, I’m going to be talking about the politics of languishing.

LIsten to this Brave Yes Show Episode Now

How to Journey Toward Wholeness

How to Journey Toward Wholeness

When I launched my podcast The Brave Yes Show, I knew that at its heart and soul, the show would be about women finding wholeness, alignment and living our values and in our integrity.

I knew because it’s what I am ready for in my own life — and it’s what I am here to help women do in their lives.

One of the first episodes — and one of the most popular to date — has been Permission to Journey Toward Wholeness.

How and what WHOLENESS leads to for a tentative, hesitant woman who has felt trapped in her life and hiding herself for years is truly wide open.

  • It may show up in finally doing what you’ve always wanted to do and letting go of a past identity.
  • It may show up in going for a promotion and finally owning who you are in your industry and being ready to demonstrate and perform at your peak.
  • It may show up in starting a side hustle or business that engages your creativity and passions that bring you more alive.
  • It may show up in pivoting your business or upleveling your business to bring more ease or more power because you know you deserve it.
  • It may show up in finally choosing yourself and investing in who you are and who you want to be to make a bigger impact in your family or community.
  • It may show up in choosing a new way of living and leading in your life that brings all your too muchness and sensitivities into the light so you can take up more space in your life.

But the end goal is always, always your wholeness — where all the many parts of you are flowing smoothly and on display to everyone around you.

Your wholeness isn’t tied up in what society dictates or pressures you to be.

Your wholeness isn’t doing what others think is best for you.

Your wholeness isn’t about keeping up with the elite crowd or the neighbors down the street.

Your wholeness can only be reached through your own personal journey — a journey that I call your Brave Yes Journey.

SHAWN FINK

As a coach, my role in a coaching relationship is to keep a focus on your wholistic life — and our work together is about bringing all of your many fragmented parts into alignment. We weave wholeness into everything including your own self-worth through my coaching tool called Activating Your Audacious Authenticity. Once you know yourself so well that you can see how you have been showing up in the world out of alignment, it’s so much easier to lead and create more boldly.

The key to being the change we want to see in the world beings within. It begins with no longer self-sabotaging. It begins with no longer letting energy leaks take over. It begins with trusting yourself.

On this week’s Brave Yes show, I am breaking down what you must be willing to do to journey toward your own wholeness.

I had so much fun with this episode by bringing in the Brave Yes Voices interviews I’ve done this year so far. Using my guests’ stories, I am offering you some powerful wisdom to use as you begin, continue or uplevel your own path toward wholeness. Please share with a friend who you know needs to know she’s valuable and worthy.

Listen Now to this episode now as I share more about the following:

  • You must be willing to stand up for yourself.
  • You must be willing to claim or reclaim some lost part of yourself.
  • You must be willing to take a risk.
  • You must be willing to be different.
  • You must be willing to advocate for yourself and your needs.

HELLO!

Hello. I’m Shawn. I am a creative soul and Gen Xer who is creeping up on 50. I’m an instigator and changemaker that started out as a free spirit in my early years as a latchkey kid. I’m a starter and a doer.

If you want to find your energy and your motivation we’ll start by unearthing your inner worth and your inner fire for life. The results and goals you set will be all yours and unique to you and your inner longings. Work with me here.