Doing Less & Being More

January 12, 2022

Amy Small

Amy Small is the EVP, Creative + Brand at Media Cause, a mission-driven digital agency that helps nonprofits grow and accelerate their impact. She also serves as Managing Director of the RiseUP Marketing Fellowship, a nonprofit-backed professional development program that provides paid training, mentorship, and hands-on client experience to diverse talent who are often overlooked by the marketing and advertising industries.

In addition to her official roles, Amy volunteers her time as a mentor, frequently speaks at conferences and webinars (including three 3% Conferences), and has been a judge for the Webbys, Effies, Anthem Awards, and CampaignUS Power of Purpose Awards. She’s currently focusing her personal efforts on breaking down the workplace stigmas surrounding mental health, and is on a journey to help create systems, policies, and workplace norms that support employees as holistic individuals, rather than just professionals.

I just finished reading "Do Less: The Unexpected Strategy for Women to Get More of What They Want in Work and Life."

It was one of the most fascinating books I've read in a while because it's completely counter-culture, at least in the corporate world. It's about listening to your body, not your calendar. Stepping back, not stepping up. Feeling, not forcing. Honoring your own needs, not always the needs of others.

When I was on The Scooty Fund podcast in November, we talked about what it would look like for employers to allow their teams the space to truly be creative, and how that would improve their mental health. Giving them room for thinking, exploring, resting, in order to nurture great ideas. Lifting the noose of productivity that sends so many people into spirals of stress and burnout. During that conversation, I didn't have a great answer. But I think what this book proposes might actually be it.

If we're always doing, we're never being. If we're always beholden to other people's or clients' needs, we're abandoning our own. What if we didn't have to work so hard, and could still be happy and successful? Like a watched pot that never boils...are we unknowingly making our lives harder and less fulfilling by trying TOO much?

One of the game changers in this book, for me, is about how women's bodies don't operate on 24 hour cycles like men's do. We aren't wash, rinse, repeat on a daily basis. We biologically have 28-ish day cycles, and within those four weeks, there are times when we're more creative, times when we're more task oriented, times when we're more connective, and times when we need to rest and renew. But the corporate world doesn't work that way.

We're expected to be on, all the time, every day, every hour, at the same level of intensity. No wonder so many women push through anxiety, depression, and burnout (raising my hand here) because we feel like we have no other choice. Or why many others simply opt out when they reach upper management levels. The workplace hustle culture was not designed for us to succeed. It was designed to make us abandon who we are in order to "fit in."

Brene Brown talks about fitting in as being "about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn't require us to change who we are; it requires us to BE who we are."

My wish for myself, and for you, for 2022, is to stop always DOING and changing, and start BEING. To belong to yourself first. To listen to your body and build your calendar around your needs and energy flows, not someone else's. To start saying no to outside demands so you can say yes to what really matters. TO YOU.

This is all going to take time and self-compassion -- there's a lot of unlearning to do here. But we each only have one wild and precious life (a beautiful sentiment from Mary Oliver, via Glennon Doyle).

I think doing less and being more is how I would like to spend, and enjoy, mine.