Have you noticed how unprecedented all of this is? We’ve never had a global pandemic like this one, or a president like this one, and we’ve never been able to see into each other’s lives with the clarity the way that we can right now because of the internet. It’s all true, what we say: These are crazy, unprecedented, uncharted waters.

And, yet.

There’s a lot about this that feels familiar to me. We are still people, attracted to fear at 10x the force that we are attracted to light… and yet we yearn for proof of connection and compassion. We want to be seen and heard and loved… and sometimes, we want to be left alone. We want to feel agency, we want to feel important, and we want to contribute… while at the same time we want to let go, hide away and be left to our Netflix and Switch and novels. This “navigating equally matched competing forces” is one of the things that make us human, in my mind.

Being drawn by these competing forces within us usually leave us uncertain and unsure. What’s the “right” thing to do next? When we try to “get it right” and not be “too much of one or the other” we end up in a gross grey middle ground where we just worry and we don’t act:

  • I want to be left alone AND feel connected, so I’ll just watch from the outside and yearn.
  • I want to be hopeful but also rational and realistic and ahead of the (flattening) curve so I’ll just sit and worry about whether I’m being the right amount of hopeful.
  • I want to feel agency and I want to contribute and yet, I want to avoid overwhelm and burnout and wasted time and energy… so I’ll wait for the perfect time and opportunity even though I know that perfect doesn’t exist.

What do you want?

This is why we get so upset with question that begin with “What do you want?” What do you want for your business this year? What do you want to do during your quarantine? What do you want to create? Those questions stress us out!

We think that the answer is “I don’t know!” but really the answer is “I want two opposite things and that confuses me!”

It’s always true. It’s psychological physics: you will always want two things with equal and opposing force.

You probably feel this strongly when you are offered the chance to work with a coach. You like the idea of “getting some support and growing your business” but you are also equally drawn to the idea that “it’s too crazy right now and I just can’t commit to anything.” So you stay in the grey zone, worrying; not signing up but not saying no, just waiting for the clock to run out.

And that’s probably happening on a million levels with a million things in your life… and the clock will run out. The program will close, the coach will move on. And you’ll stay where you are… but that’s the least of it.

The coronavirus will eventually run through and you’ll go back to work with or without your website rewritten.

Your kids will eventually leave home with or without the travel you wanted to do with them.

And, eventually, your time on earth will end, too; with or without the success and fun you were hoping for.

There’s another way, thank God.

Rather than trying to balance these two forces by meeting in the gross grey middle where worry reigns supreme, what if you allowed yourself to pursue both of them? What if you committed equally to growing your business and taking care of yourself? What if you pursued connection alongside alone time?

What if you recognized that you could alternate, rather than compete?

See, it’s the model that’s wrong, not the desire.

It’s our perceptions that have us trapped and stuck, not our realities. It’s true that this is an unprecedented time AND a deeply familiar one.

Both are true.

It’s a time of opportunity AND a time of worry.

It’s a time for connection AND a time for deep personal reflection.

It’s a time for supporting others AND watching Netflix in our pajamas for 8 hours straight.

You don’t have to choose, despite how your brain wants to trap you in its maze.

You can choose the Both, And.

I’m writing this to you AND me. I want all of us to wake up again to our hopes and dreams and goals and desires right now.

All of them, even if they seem to compete.

I am sitting here every day arguing with myself about writing my book, trapped in the competing thought “there’s no time with the kids at home” and “now is always the right time.”

I’m going to work to be 100% present with the kids AND carve out time when I can write my book. Both, And.

As for you, you can grow your business AND take care of your family.

I encourage you to choose both, and right now.

Both, And Includes Rest

Before I go, I want to touch base briefly on the other side of our promised “Both, And.” I will absolutely encourage you to build your business (one side), but I will also hold you gently to a commitment to self-care. This has been a hectic week of uncertainty, vulnerability and shifting realities, one wave crashing over us after another. If you feel like you’ve been pummeled, you’re right. It’s time to rest.

Yesterday, I slept for 2 hours and then read Percy Jackson for 2 hours in my bed. My kids played grand prix after grand prix of Mario Kart. My husband went for a run. We all ate Trolls Oreos (OMGSOGOOD- I swear, there are pop rocks inside).

It’s what we needed.

What do you need?

What would feel like absolute, unequivocal gentleness? Absolute grace and kindness?

  • Is there something soft you can feel, something delicious to taste?
  • Can you watch your favorite movie or read your favorite book? Maybe the one that makes you cry every time if you need that (Dirty Dancing), or the one that makes you laugh every single time simply because it’s so unreasonable (Wedding Crashers)?
  • Can you watch a Netflix Comedy Special (or episodes of The Office) and laugh?
  • Can you leave the dishes, uncork the wine, light a candle, and dance?
  • Can you do a Celtic Cross tarot reading and lose yourself in the interpretation?
  • What can you do for yourself that would feel like a gift from the universe?

Do that.

I’m cheering for you: All of you.

Your business AND your heart.

About the author

Dr. Amanda Crowell is a cognitive psychologist and business coach who helps accidental entrepreneurs get more clients and have a bigger impact. She is the author of Great Work, the host of the Unleashing Your Great Work podcast, and the creator of the Great Work Journals. Amanda's TEDx talk has received almost two million views and has been featured on TED's Ideas blog and Ted Shorts. Her ideas have also been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Quartz, and Thrive Global.