Why I’m leaning back instead of leaning in this year.

“I wish I’d worked more,” said no one ever on their death bed.

Yesterday I was interviewed for a podcast and when I was asked what I want to do in 2014 I replied: less.

2013 was amazing. I turned 30. I got engaged. I had my first book come out. I launched my first digital program. Business tripled. I moved into the first home I’ve EVER felt like I have enough space in. A banner year for sure.

But you know what? I worked a shit ton. And yes, that’s a measurement.

At any given moment I felt like I had three or four projects I was in the middle of and at least one deadline looming over my head.

I was recently having a chat with my Uncle Phil who also happens to be one of my business mentors and a very wise guy and he said this:

“You need to learn how to stop validating your existence through action.”

Woah Nelly!

Here’s something that is not news:

We teach what we need to learn.

Financial freedom is a spectacular goal. It’s something I’m proud to teach about and stand for.

But it’s the other kind of freedom that’s a bit more of a sticky wicket.

The kind of freedom where we don’t feel guilty after sleeping 10 hours and where, if we produce nothing in a day, we don’t feel any less worthy of a human.

This year I’m after freedom, just like in years past.

But this year the kind of freedom I’m after looks like white space in the calendar, more unplanned days, and letting myself off the hook for taking a break.

There are times when your nose needs to be right on that grindstone. And there are times when you need to lean back.

This year I’m gonna see what happens when I lean back instead of lean in.

Here’s what I’m pretty darn sure of:

  • Production is not the meaning of life. (Tweet it!)
  • Working more hours does not increase our inherent worth.
  • The best ideas often come while we’re taking a break.
  • We can have a lasting impact on the world while steering our course according to ease and feeling good.
  • Working less can net more.
  • We are more able to be of service when we’ve slept enough and allowed ourselves to relax recently.

Every time I ask myself what I want in 2014 I get the same answers:

  • blank space
  • unplanned time
  • less is more
  • ease

We don’t have many models of people consciously organizing their time around enjoyment, doing less, and choosing ease. But we have a few. And that’s enough.

I got a letter in the mail from Leonie Dawson with her 2014 Create Your Amazing Year Life + Biz Edition Workbook. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this one part:

“I only work 2-3 hours a day. I’ve never worked full time hours in my business – even as it doubles (or even triples) in size each year. My priority is to spend lots of happy, gentle, creative + adventure time with the loves of my life: my husband Chris and my daughters.”

Game. Changing.

When I read that my not so small, still voice screamed out: I WANT THAT!

What if we practiced doing less, saying no to more of the external so we can say yes to more of the internal, and taking time to simply be?

I think it would create a revolution in the gentlest, most-relaxed, organic way possible.

It would be a revolution where we focus on living instead of doing, where striving gives way to feeling good, and where being is valued as much (or more than) doing.

I’ll be part of that revolution. Will you?

Leave a comment and let me know how you’re leaning back this year.


  • Leila

    1000% AGREE! Funny how I was thinking about that and talking with my husband about it for the past few days! I am already taking less hours at work and trying to relax MORE and plan LESS. It’s hard at first (you feel guilty guilty ugh) but I am having few signs here and there that show me that I’m doing the right thing!
    When I was young (like 5 years old) and my family will ask me what will I be when I grew-up, I always answered this: breaking-up almonds under an almond tree. Everybody laughed so much at it and said: no, but a real job we mean. I would say: this is my dream job! LOL (Now, I have no idea why an almond tree but i know that behind that is the dream of spending as much time as possible outdoor, under the sun, breathing fresh air and being surrounded with people and nature. For me that was what I wanted to do/Work/BE.

    I loved your post and can’t wait to read you again about this subject: TRUE FREEDOM! :)



  • Dear, dear Kate –

    Thank you for sharing this.

    The past two weeks have been the first two weeks in 10 years when I haven’t had a full-time job (the same job all 10 years).

    Before that I was in college, and prior to that I worked another full-time job between high school and college.

    I’ve had health issues the past few years, including multiple hospitalizations (this past November featured my seventh in 25 months).

    Being laid off (complete with a healthy severance and continued benefits) was the best thing that could have happened to me. Just so happens I’ve been building a new platform for a new business for the past year. Did B-School & was introduced to lots of new people (including you!) from whom I’ve learned a ton. I wanted badly to step out on my own but I know I never would have walked away from that full-time job. Health issues and all.

    SO here I am, two weeks in. And to my disappointment, I haven’t hit the ground running like I thought I would. I’m a doer. I expected to be up at 5 every day (I used to do that when I worked full time), working by 7. And that hasn’t happened. And I’ve been feeling wracked by guilt. Even as my closest coworker, who’s aware of every nuance of my health, etc, has been texting me to remind me to rest and get my health in order now that I have the chance.

    I’ve been sleeping til 7 or 8 (which is insanely late for me), going to bed early, investing time in reading new books, getting my living space better organized, meal planning and cooking healthy meals for my husband and I. And yes, I’ve been working – developing two new coaching programs and a new freebie – just not all.day.long. the way I wanted to.

    Maybe I’ll eventually get to that “up at 5, working out by 5:30, working by 7” schedule…maybe I won’t. And I know now (especially upon reading this, and being reminded of Leonie’s words which I also read not long ago) that it’s okay if I don’t.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • I got tired just reading this: “I’ve been sleeping til 7 or 8 (which is insanely late for me), going to bed early, investing time in reading new books, getting my living space better organized, meal planning and cooking healthy meals for my husband and I. And yes, I’ve been working – developing two new coaching programs and a new freebie – just not all.day.long. the way I wanted to.” You’re working, girl! Just maybe not the same as you used to. I hope you’ll get well soon, and take long luxurious breaks when you need to.

  • This is EXACTLY the message I’ve been receiving lately, and it’s how I want to run my life and my business in 2013. I love your concept of “consciously organizing time around enjoyment, doing less, and choosing ease.” And while the achievement junkie part of me gets anxious about “doing less,” the intuitive part of me is breathing a sigh of relief. As always, perfect timing, Kate! Thank you for this!

  • I absolutely LOVED this post, Kate. You totally nailed how I have been feeling lately. Thank you for speaking up and being one of the few role models to show us that it’s not necessary to work yourself into the ground in order to be successful. Well done! I’m with you :-)

  • Resonates with my thought today: Are we doing life with “in-tension” or doing life with “intention”? Intense or intent? Game-changer that is allowing me to “rest” more in the moment, even if I am not able to take a “rest” moment, hour or day…:)

  • Yes! I took 9 months off last year. Seriously 9 whole months. 2011 and 2012 I worked myself to the bone and was just done. This year I have a lot of big business growth and exciting things planned. But I am committed to keeping a balance of work productivity & life productivity meaning allowing that blank space. I am committed to truly living life and to me that does not mean working constantly even if the work is fulfilling.

    Congrats to you!

  • Love this. I have some lofty goals for the year and feel anxious about how to achieve them with the very small pockets of time I get. But my two little ones yanking on my shirt remind me to not feel guilty for just being present with them.

  • Hell YES, Kate!

    Ease + Joy. The name of the game.

    So stoked to know you are on this page, too. :)

    Here’s to abundance in love and space…and freedom to enjoy each sweet simple moment.



  • Effortless.abundance is what I’m.all about. I am at the.start.of.my business to make my journey feel the way I want the destination. I.am.consciously letting go.and not working to exhaustion so I can feel I.earned it. I.spend more days with my family than creating.and I.catch myselfing doing just to.do instead of inspired action. Not easy habit to break for an overachiever but as I said I’m.modeling.my journey…..

  • NIchola Napora

    Thanks for modelling this Kate! This is exactly what we need to hear in our culture of busy-ness.

  • OOOooooooh, I 1000% agree too! Love this post Kate. As a lifetime conditioned “do-too-mucher” I am creating a 2014 of leaning back but with no less creation, results, joy or success. In fact, I have a funny feeling it could be a more abundant year than ever due to learning how to lean back more (like you say, we know when it’s time to go nose to the grindstone, it’s more about learning to balance that with more blank space) You’re so “finger on the pulse” about down time being the time when some of the best inspirations arise! Love it! Thanks. Bernadette :)

  • Thank you for sharing this! Kris Carr expressed that this year her word would be “Ease” and I’m happy to see that sentiment echoed here, and echoing in my soul. All good!

  • Alyssa

    Good for you Kate! One of the things at the top of my list of intentions written for 2014 was “Do Less”. Another one was to allow time to playfully explore my creativity – writing, drawing, maybe even painting.

  • Love love love this, for just the reason that you mentioned Kate — that we don’t have many models out there showing us that it’s ok to “lean back” when that’s where our energy leads us. And not just ok, but that, like you said, it can actually foster MORE creativity, MORE connection, MORE energy and productivity in the long run. I’m 100% on board with this “gentle revolution,” and believe it’s such an important message to get out there. So thank you for being an immensely successful woman very much in the public eye who’s speaking up and saying I’m choosing to enjoy BEing in my life. I intend to be one of those organically-enjoying-being-my-way-to-success models for other women out there as well. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Amen, sister. This is what I’ve been doing for the past seven months after years of non-stop action and striving. Ironically, relaxing is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Valuing myself beyond my productivity levels does not easily for me. Reading this post was affirming! Thank you.

  • Kate, let me start by saying that this is a fantastic post. The chronic need to constantly be doing-doing-doing is something that plagues tons of us (myself included). Just last night, I had to close the laptop and repeat the above mantra you used up there: production is not the meaning of life. Production is not the meaning of life. Production is not the meaning of life!

    The question I have, though, is regarding Leonie’s lifestyle: “I only work 2-3 hours a day. I’ve never worked full time hours in my business – even as it doubles (or even triples) in size each year.”

    This is an amazing way to live, and it’s the lifestyle I’m trying to build for myself, as well! The big question I have is, HOW is that truly possible? How is it possible to build a microbusiness all alone in such a miniscule amount of time? There are so many steps that go into the process, and if only 2 or 3 hours are devoted to them each day, building the business would be a yeeeears-long process–one that would then warrant another part-time job (or other form of income) to supplement it, right? Your insight here would be mega-appreciated, as I’m jumping from temporary job to temporary job while hustling to get my own business going, and the idea of a 2-3 hour workday still sounds like a pie-in-the-sky dream from down here.

    • Kate

      Hey Claire – what a fabulous question…it’s one I’m exploring personally as we speak. I would imagine that building a large business in a small amount of time requires getting really clear on what the income generating activities are in your business and spending 80-90% of your time on those and then cutting out anything else. I know personally I tend to search the web, end up on social media a lot, and spend time doing things that don’t actually bring in income during my work hours. Have you read The 4-Hour Work Week? That’s a great book about how to work smarter, not harder, and teaches about out-sourcing, going on information diets, and more. Also, I would check out Leonie’s work directly to find out more about how she does it!

  • This year, I plan to spend LESS time DOING and more time REFLECTING ON if what I am DOING is inline with my VALUES and WHO I want to BE and HOW I want to SHOW UP. Awesome, awesome post Kate.

  • Kate, I just “met” you through MarieTV and instantly loved both the content you shared and the way you carry and express yourself. Glad to have found your site, and this post is very relevant for me.

    In mid-2013 I reached the same conclusion, and made the tough decision to resign from a “great” corporate job. I had moved from HS to college to doctoral program to challenging corporate job to bigger corporate job and so on, over a period of about 25 years. Then finally started paying more attention to the voices in my head and heart that were saying less could be more. So I took a deep breath and walked away from a job that, on paper, was fantastic – and supplied more than half of our family’s income.

    Five months into this grand experiment I am still working on the intellectual exercise of figuring out how best to structure and spend my time, and the psychological exercise of maintaining (hopefully even growing) my sense of self-worth when I’ve internalized the message my whole life that high-earning corporate leader = valuable human and other = lazy/less.

    There will probably always be the voice that doubts, but perspectives like the one you shared help combat the doubts with reminders that more space and peace can be what’s required to open up new opportunities and make greater contributions to the world. Thank you!

  • Too funny Kate

    I would be renowned among my friends and clients as an Olympic Loller!

    I have always valued and made space for – nada – nothing – lolling with no intent – musing – mind wandering – lolling lolling lolling

    I can focus like a laser when I have projects and I adore making things happen really well for people.

    2014 for me is about 4 BIG GOALS

    1. Build my Life Dreaming biz globally – every moment I spend on my biz is a delight because I know why I’m doing it so Passion + Purpose + Action are aligned.

    2. Move me and Cocodog back to Oz after living in Ireland for 21 years – a biggy and it’s becoming more doable after friends flew me home for xmas as a gift [yup – I have AMAZING friends] and I reconnected with people and spaces. I can see and feel myself there.

    3. be honest and deal with my Money Blocks – money has been my achilles heal for most of my life and I’m transforming my mindset and actions every day. Feels amazing and it’s helping me make my top dreams a reality.

    4. Stay healthy in mind, body, heart and intuition – at 54 this is uber important and I’m blessed with a sturdy body, curious mind, happy heart and shitkicking intuition.

    And there’s always time for lolling in my life.

    Here’s to a truly amazing 2014 full of dreams, conscious and focused action and huge dollops of LOLLING.


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