What is the role of solitude in making a meaningfully productive life? Returning guest Katie Krimitsos shares some lessons she's learned during a season of change in her own life.
Katie Krimitsos has learned the value of silence and solitude
I first met business coach and podcaster Katie Krimitsos a few years ago at a conference. I was impressed then by how much she has accomplished and how committed she seemed to be to encouraging other women. I talked with her in episode 140 about how she manages her busy life–be sure to check out that episode to learn more about Katie.
Earlier this year Katie and I ran into each other at another conference and had a few minutes to chat about what's been happening in her life. As we talked, I heard so many interesting parallels between her story and some things I've been thinking about in my own life. So . . . in a TPW first, I asked Katie to come back to the podcast to talk with us about some recent events in her life and the changes they’ve brought about in her personally and in her approach to making a life that matters.
Who is Katie?
Katie is a mother to a 3-year-old daughter and another little one on the way, wife to Chris, and an avid entrepreneur and podcaster of “Biz Women Rock” who loves using business as a vehicle to do good in the world. (Again, for more about Katie, check out our earlier conversation in episode 140.)
What has changed for Katie since episode 140?
In episode 140, Katie told us about how passionate she is about productivity. She is goal-oriented and loves being efficient and effective in the work she does, and she has carried this trait with her through many entrepreneurial endeavors.
2018 was looking to be a great year for her business, with a lot of events and projects on the schedule. Things started to change, though, when she found out earlier this year that she is expecting her second child. Pregnancy challenges and knowing the impact childbirth and a new baby would have on her and her family led to the realization she'd need to rethink some of the plans she had in mind.
She wasn't sure how it would all work together. So rather than push forward with her plans, she put everything on hold. She realized she had to allow herself to pause because she wasn’t feeling well and the arrival of her new baby would require a shift in her business model. During that pause, she took the time she needed to get quiet and think about what she wanted her business (and her life) to look like after the baby comes.
She has come out the other end of that pause incredibly focused and productive, but she believes it wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t forced herself to pause.
The decision to stop was scary for Katie because it had very real financial repercussions. But it was also necessary for Katie to make the time to be quiet and completely stop the forward movement in order to get really clear with herself about what was most important to her with the new life change that was about to happen. This quiet time was a forced recalibration to understand what path she was going to move towards.
What did this experience teach Katie about the value of silence and solitude?
The first thing she learned was to trust her intuition regarding when she needs silence and solitude. The moment she found out she was pregnant, she knew she needed some silence.
The second thing she learned is that it’s okay to let that be an open-ended amount of time. It was challenging for her because she is the type of person who feels fulfilled when she’s moving forward on an intentional path, but she knew this time was going to be a wandering, grey time–not a place she's typically comfortable.
She also gave herself the permission to not make any serious decisions during this time until she knew she was ready because she found herself asking a lot of “what if I do this” questions and having second thoughts about things she thought she wanted to do.
She went on lots of walks during this time. One day, while she was on a walk, her husband reminded her of the meditation podcast idea she'd had in the past. That stirred her interest. During subsequent walks, she and her husband brainstormed about what the “Meditation for Women” podcast would look like and why might it be something she would consider right now. Why, indeed, would she want to add something new to her already full plate?
However, this project met her needs on two major levels. First, Katie has a big desire to encourage women all over the globe to strengthen the light already inside of us. She could easily see how the meditation podcast would be a great tool to make that impact.
Second, Katie saw the possibility of creating a new business model that was less time-intensive than her existing model, which would be more conducive with life with a toddler and newborn. She believes this is a testament to the value of time she took to be quiet. “I never would've thought of rolling out this idea in the way I did had I not taken this time.”
When Katie was feeling very unproductive during this quiet time, her cousin gave her some advice that has proven to be true.
“Katie, honor this season. If there is something I know about you, it’s that when you are focused, and when you know where you want to go, I have never seen anyone work more effectively, efficiently, more passionately, and do it as fast as humanly possible than you. So just trust that. Now is not the time for that. You’re not clear, you’re not focused, you don’t know exactly what that path is. So just wait. You’ll find it. And when you do, you can’t be stopped.”
How does a busy wife, mom, businesswoman carve out time for silence and solitude?
Katie says it doesn’t need to be regimented or look exactly the same every day. It doesn’t have to look like anything other than what it needs to be for you.
For Katie, sometimes it looks like getting up at 5 am and sitting on the couch with her timer on to meditate or follow a guided meditation program. Other times, she is doing it during her lunch break because her daughter’s at school that day.
Another way she incorporates this essential quiet into her life is by taking walks in nature, especially when she finds her brain is racing a thousand miles a minute and she needs to relax.
Whatever it looks like, it achieves the same result, which is to detach who she is from her thoughts, to take time to focus on breath and be cognizant of it.
However it might look for you, Katie says, the important thing is to integrate it into your daily life.
How do you still the voices in your head to benefit from silence and solitude?
Katie reminds us that these voices will always be there, but the whole point of practicing meditation and solitude is to recognize those voices and thoughts but choose not to attach to them. For example, when she is on her couch trying to meditate and she is flooded with thoughts and ideas, it would be easy to pick up her phone to try and take action on those thoughts. In these moments, the practice becomes recognizing those thoughts but not taking action on them and seeing them as separate from yourself.
Katie says any sort of practice of being quiet with yourself requires a practice to allow those thoughts to pass. As you get better at doing this, that’s when you actually hear your inner voice and access intuition.
What’s on the horizon for Katie?
As a result of taking a step back to listen and be quiet, Katie has developed a resource for women who want to get better at being quiet. She didn’t just want to create one podcast, but a network of podcasts dedicated 100% to women and their unique journeys. Currently, the only live podcast is called “Meditation for Women,”’ which offers episodes of very accessible guided meditations ranging from 5 minutes to 25 minutes.
Katie’s baby is due in December 2018, but she is choosing not to take the approach that business as she knows it will end when the baby arrives. The Meditation Network is a very large project that will take more time than the few months she has left before the baby's arrival, and she isn’t done with Biz Women Rocks either. She is still passionate as ever about providing services to women entrepreneurs but has pared down the business to providing only 1:1 coaching services to accommodate for her new arrival. When she’s ready to jump back into work next year, she’ll have both projects to work on.
Last thoughts on making a life that matters
“Trust and prioritize,” Katie says. She goes on to say,
Productivity is all about prioritization and where you choose to spend your time. There are seasons when solitude and quiet are the priority because you know in them you will find answers to what next season’s priorities will be. So it’s just a matter of trusting that you’ll move through these seasons.
If you’re having a hard time getting things done because you're anxious and totally depleting yourself, maybe it's time for you to spend some time on yourself in quiet. This could actually be the most productive thing you could do because you are filling yourself so that you can be clear and focused on how you’re spending your time and getting your priorities taken care of.
Our seasons are ever evolving, so know the core of who you are and how you want yourself to show up in each of those seasons.”
What do you think?
Do you incorporate times of silence and solitude into your life? Do you wish you did? Please share your comments or questions in the comments section below this post or in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group, or send me an email.
Connect with Katie
More about Katie
Katie Krimitsos is a mom, wife, adventurer, podcaster, business strategist, seeker and change maker. She's committed to brightening the light of women around the world – through her Biz Women Rock community, which supports Women Entrepreneurs – and now through Meditation for Women, guided meditations that are specifically created with the special journey of women in mind. These meditations are tools to help women reconnect with the divine wisdom already inside of each us so we may live our own, extraordinary lives.
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