When Expansion Looks Like Retraction

Written by Amber Swenor

As Soul Seed Strategy's founder and Brand Strategist, Amber works with clients to evaluate their brand, understand their goals, and develop a strategy that will deliver the results they seek.

August 11, 2021

Why We’re Uncomfortable With Pause

Recently, I hosted a client retreat. We asked the attendees to arrive the night before so they could settle in and relax before we got started the next day. So by the time we met up on the second day, they were rested, excited, and “ready to work.”

I proceeded to invite them to settle in further. To ground in. To get present to what they were noticing.

It didn’t take long to see the signs of “I need to be doing something-ness.” The pause-discomfort. The, “if I’m relaxing, I’m not accomplishing something and that means I’m wasting time, and I came here to accomplish things and grow my business.”

I know this anxiety well, because I have been there many times in my journey, and it still pops up from time to time.

Allowing space for our own rest, joy, and for clarity to come through is not something that most of us are taught in the school of life. Instead, it goes like: go to school, go to college, work, work, work, then retire and relax.

This framework that many of us are accustomed to involves punching a clock and getting paid for work rendered.

But, as an entrepreneur, that clock no longer exists.

So why do we keep ourselves stuck in that old paradigm?

I’ve noticed a variety of reasons that this can come up:

  • Productivity is deeply ingrained in us
  • We think that if we pause then we’re not producing, and if we’re not producing then our businesses won’t grow
  • We haven’t yet experienced the power of clarity that can come during or after a pause
  • We haven’t yet learned how to work in flow with our energy.

And I’ve found that until we take time to create space and take a pause, we usually can’t get to the root of the thing that has us running silly to begin with.

(Spoiler alert: the clients who came on retreat? They each left with major clarity, more aligned business models, and ready for expansion with greater ease. One client got clear in a new business model that had her shifting from all the doing to instead leading, by adding contractors to her team. She left and generated thousands in new business within days of leaving our retreat because the pause brought her the clarity for a new strategic vision and the confidence she needed to execute on it.)

What Growth Requires

For the past few months, I’ve been bearing witness with many clients who are in a space of, well… space. Creating space to take a look at things and get clear about things so they can launch forward with greater ease.

I myself have been very present to this space, allowing space after having some staff turnover, while navigating a deeper brand alignment and rebrand in my business, and launching another business. My greatest values are freedom and joy, however, things were starting to feel grindy. So I made the decision to allow myself space to be present in the desires that I have for the future of my company and where my energy goes. I delegated more, started a client waitlist, and got comfortable allowing some things to “fall off.”

And sometimes growth is this way….

It requires pausing, presence, and saying when enough is enough.

Growth doesn’t always mean “adding more.”

In fact, what I hear most from clients is that they desire “more,” but feel worry and overwhelm about adding more. Nobody wants more “to do” or add more exhaustion. 

In these cases, what I’m really hearing is that women desire something I think of as: expansion.

Expansion into greater abundance, joy, wealth, and freedom. 

Expansion feels lighter.

Try it out: think of the concept of growth. Think of doing the work to grow. How does that feel?

Now, imagine expansion… expansiveness, allowing, receiving, and flowing. How does that feel? 

When I work with clients who desire this light, expansive feeling, it’s usually achieved when they do less of a more niched thing that they are total rockstars at and get paid a heck of a lot more for doing! It also involves receiving and allowing help, so that the weight is no longer all on your shoulders. Ahhh, what a relief. 

Pausing and shifting into low gear can be extremely potent, powerful, and necessary. But, there are moments where this space can feel like pulling back, like you’re missing opportunities, like slowing down. And in some ways, it may be all of those things.

Sometimes when you’re ready to expand with more joy, more love, more impact, more money, and more ease, it first looks and feels like retraction. And this can scare people, but it’s not a step backward. It’s a step in the right direction.

Expansion requires space for your soul-aligned clarity to come through. 

I see so many people trying to think their way into or out of something. But the problem is that thinking is just a third of the equation. The path to alignment requires being in tune with your energy, or your feelings. It requires mindset alignment, and then also the aligned doing. 

Too often we make space only for the think and the do… but how are you to know your soul truth if you aren’t making space to feel what you feel? 

It’s this “quiet before the storm,” or before the launch, the birth, the expansion, that gives you the space to get clear, and the energy needed to forge ahead.

4 Steps to Allow Expansion

If you’re on a path to greater expansion, here are 4 steps you can take right now to welcome it in:

  1. Create space for being. It’s in the being that creativity and clarity can flow. This can be as simple as 20 minutes daily to take a walk and be in nature, away from devices. During this time, connect with your body and clear your mind and start to notice what you notice. And if you are able, I highly recommend investing in and taking time away for a guided transformational retreat — the clarity breakthroughs that can come through these experiences are priceless. 
  2. Examine how you feel. If you desire something different, and that desire keeps coming to you, ask yourself: why are you denying it? Then consider what’s stopping you from moving forward on what you truly desire. Could it be a limiting belief or something that’s ready to be healed and released?
  3. Prioritize and release, delegate, or outsource what’s not in the highest alignment for your long-term vision, zone of genius, and joy. Let. It. Go. Remember, expansion is going to happen by you personally doing less of “all the things,” so that you are only focused on the most aligned things. 
  4. Receive support in your expansion. Think about some of the biggest commitments you’ve made and followed through on, and consider why you followed through. What helped you get set for success? Now consider a recent goal you set where you fell short or failed: why was that? For many of us, we do better when we have a support team — like coaches, staff members, or peers we mastermind with. Either way, you aren’t meant to do it alone, and accountability and guidance can make a huge difference. 

Does expansion require work? Yes. But it’s a different kind of work that most of us haven’t been taught. The kind that brings your full self into alignment: your desires, your energy, your mindset, and your strategy. This is the kind that we teach in Ignite Your Brand… and the doors are now open!

Ready for support in growing a soul-aligned business, for greater joy, impact, and wealth, with greater ease? Join me for this transformational work inside Ignite Your Brand, where you learn how to strategically grow your business in a way that is deeply aligned for you and your greatest gifts. You’ll take part in an intimate group coaching deep dive and mentorship program that is designed to help you step into your authentic soul-aligned strategy for growing your business. 

We’re enrolling now for Fall 2021, and for being our loyal reader, you can enjoy a top-secret $500 savings bonus with coupon code IGNITE for a limited time! Check it out right here!

I believe in your ability to create whatever you desire when you are fully committed and willing to do the work on all levels. I believe that pause and presence are more powerful than the constant doing that you’ve been staying busy with. 

You don’t need to do it all, in order to have it all and to be it all.

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