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84. (S3E10) From Success-Empty to Success-Full with Shelley Paxton
Episode 8416th March 2023 • FINE is a 4-Letter Word • Lori Saitz
00:00:00 00:50:58

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Do you feel like you're just going through the motions in life? In this episode of FINE is a 4-Letter Word, I’m speaking with Shelley Paxton, former Chief Marketing Officer of Harley-Davidson and author of the bestselling book Soulbbatical: A Corporate Rebel's Guide to Finding Your Best Life.

Shelley shares her personal journey of feeling success-EMPTY rather than success-FULL  — despite achieving what many consider to be the pinnacle of success. This awakening led her on a profound journey of self-discovery and a mission to help others redefine success on their own terms.

During the conversation, she discusses the importance of rebelling for what you want in life rather than against what you don't want, defining success in a way that feels fulfilling from the inside out, and the power of slowing down and listening to your inner voice. Shelley also shares insights on how being a professional marketer can actually help you better represent your own personal brand.

Join me for an inspiring conversation with Shelley Paxton that will help you break out of the "fine" mentality and start living a life that's truly fulfilling. Listen now!

Shelley’s hype song is This Is Me from The Greatest Showman

Resources:

Today’s episode is sponsored by Zen Rabbit. If you’d like to find peace of mind amidst the chaos and no matter what’s going on around you, you’ll find a whole bunch of free resources, like meditations and articles at ZenRabbit.com. And while you’re there, if you’re curious about how you might stop working so hard and achieve more success at the same time - get a copy of The Five Easy Ways to Start Living a Sabbatical Life. It’s a short guide to working less and living better. Find it all at ZenRabbit.com.

Produced by Nova Media

Transcripts

Lori Saitz:

:

Hey, my friend. Welcome to FINE is a 4-Letter Word. My name is Lori Saitz. I'm an entrepreneur, mentor, founder of Zen Rabbit. And your instigator in saying fuck being fine. This show is for those of you who are done living with the dumpster fire and are ready to find the tools and courage to transform, to step into more success and fulfillment in both your personal and business life. You're in the right place for stories of self-discovery, gratitude and connection, and to help you strengthen that connection to your own inner guidance. You'll find each episode has an accompanying meditation. Now let's get into it. Welcome to another episode of Bein is a four letter word. Today we have a very special guest. Shelley Paxton is the former chief marketing officer of Harley-Davidson and author of the best selling book, Sabbatical A Corporate Rebel's Guide to Finding Your Best Life. In this episode, Shelley shares her journey of awakening to the fact that success doesn't always equate to fulfillment. She talks about the importance of defining success on your own terms and rebelling for what you want in life rather than against what you don't want.

Lori Saitz:

:

Shelley's inspiring work has been featured on NBC, CBS, Forbes and other high profile media platforms, and she's on a mission to rewrite the script of success. Today's episode is sponsored by Zen Rabbit. If you'd like to find peace of mind amidst the chaos and no matter what's going on around you, you'll find a whole bunch of free resources like meditations and articles at Zen rabbit.com. And while you're there, if you're curious about how you might stop working so hard and achieve more success at the same time, get a copy of the Five Easy Ways to Start Living a Sabbatical life. It's a short guide to working less and living better. Find it all at Zen rabbit.com. Grab a seat. Sit back and get ready for a conversation that will inspire you to break free from the fine mentality and start living a life that's truly fulfilling. Without further ado, let's welcome Shelley Paxton to the show. Hello and welcome to Fine is a four letter word. My guest this week is somebody I've been greatly anticipating hosting on the show, Shelley Paxton. Welcome.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Thank you, Lori. I feel like I'm in good company. You and I have so many. We have so many commonalities and connections. I know this is going to be juicy.

Lori Saitz:

:

Yeah. So I came across Shelley because actually a mutual friend of ours, Suzanne, had mentioned you when I did a virtual coffee with her, and she said, because we were talking about sabbaticals. And she said, Oh, have you read Shelley Paxton's book Soul Radical? And I'm like, No, but it sounds intriguing. And so I, of course, ran out and got it and devoured it and started following you on Instagram and interacting and. And I'm so grateful that you agreed to come on the show and talk about your God.

Shelley Paxton:

:

These kinds of conversations are a hell yes for me. I love it.

Lori Saitz:

:

I love it. So, yeah, let's get right into it. And I'm curious what the values and beliefs that you were raised with that contributed to you becoming who you were, especially at the beginning when you were a young adult. And we weren't processing like, Hey, I can make choices, different choices if I want.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Yeah. I mean, this is so much of my story. I love that you start your conversations there because so much of my story was like me, you know, being kind of forced into a very, very traditional set of values, Right? You know, family looks like the nuclear family. And we grew up in a place with almost no diversity. I was in in the suburbs of Minneapolis. And, you know, it was sort of the work hard ethic, right? You you it was I didn't really understand like working smart or working in different ways or how we care for ourselves. I was raised with a father who climbed the corporate ladder from, you know, literally came from nothing like a very, very tiny. Both my parents are from this little tiny town called Hamilton, Ohio, outside of Cincinnati, blue collar town. You know, most of the the people there were like factory workers. Nobody in my dad's family had gone to college. So it was like, you do the work, you show up, you get the job, you climb the ladder, you play the game, right. You get where this is all going. And so I while I understood it in my, you know, my parents modeled that ethic.

Shelley Paxton:

:

I was also like, wait a second, isn't there another way to do things right? Like, where are all the other people who maybe don't look like me or don't feel like me? And I started asking a lot of questions because I felt really constricted is the word that's coming to me. I felt very constricted by how I was raised. My parents were deeply religious. I was raised in Catholicism. None of it rang true to me. I felt like this this sort of, you know, in my body, I felt a reaction to it. And so my story of, you know, the subtitle of my book is A Corporate Rebels Guide to Finding Your Best Life. My whole story from being raised with those very traditional values was me trying to understand and myself and my values and my truth in a world where I wasn't. Nothing around me was resonating the way my parents were living. You know, traditional relationships, all of it. Nothing was resonating for me. So my life has been an exploration of finding my own values and my own truth and really rebelling for what matters most to me.

Lori Saitz:

:

It's interesting because especially when we're younger, it's like we don't necessarily know that that's what's happening. We just know I don't feel comfortable here. But if I don't feel comfortable here and this is what everybody else is okay with. There must be something wrong with me for sure.

Shelley Paxton:

:

And so, you know, the interesting thing that I've been able to see with, you know, a lot of life experience, a lot of deep work, all of it and in the rear view mirror is that I was initially I was the rebel because I was rebelling against all of this stuff. I only knew that this stuff didn't feel good to me. And then I was kind of painted as a black sheep in my own family and in trying to find my way. And then I started acting out. I truly was a rebel in, you know, the most negative context possible, like smoking all the pot, drinking all the booze, sex, drugs, rock and roll. Like all of it. I started living at a very young age as a way to like, I think start to well, I didn't know how to deal with it, so that's how I was dealing with it, right?

Lori Saitz:

:

Yeah, exactly. Like any I mean, teenagers don't know how to manage their emotions, so you do whatever you can to break those chains. Whether it's what's the word I'm looking for like productive or positive or negative, like just whatever I can do to shake this off.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Yeah. And whatever I can do to, like, find something in someone or some community that looks different where I feel like I belong. Right? It's our innate sense of wanting to belong and not realizing that we belong to ourselves. I mean, it took me many decades, right, to figure out that. So I don't want to I don't want anybody to listen to me speak and go, Well, she had it all figured out. I mean, listen, I'm 53 years old and I'm still figuring some of these things.

Lori Saitz:

:

Well, that's yeah, that's part of life. I mean, we're always figuring things out and growing. And I've had so many conversations with people that are like, I wish I had figured this out when I was, you know, 25 or, you know, I wasted all these years. But it's not a waste in any in any way. It's part of our journey. I mean, at this point, I keep having this conversation with people of life is an experiment. It's an experiment. And we get to define what success is and what failure. You know, how we define the word failure even.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Yeah, we. Well, you're speaking my language because I think that from a very early age for most of us, not everyone, but I would say for most of us, we're kind of handed that script. Well, this is what the success script looks like this. These are the boxes you will check on said script. You know, these are. So whatever those values were, you know, and some people's families, it's like, well, you have three choices. You're going to be a lawyer, a doctor or an engineer. You know, in my family, it was like climbing the corporate ranks because we work hard and we're going to become someone, you know, all all of these all of these things. And I you know, I always say I wish that, you know, I don't I don't wish that my story had been any different because like you said, it it took me getting to this point, I wish that more people would tell their stories so that from earlier ages we can see that, you know, we have options. There are other stories we get to challenge, some of the assumptions we get to define what our terms are. And it's based on our truth.

Shelley Paxton:

:

You know, that all took me forever. And I wrote a book because I wanted to share the story. I wanted people to know that, you know, it was easy to look at me at the peak of my career. I was chief marketing officer of Harley-Davidson. It was super easy to look from the outside in and go, Well, she's got it all. She has every she has everything. She made it to the the top of the proverbial mountain. And there I was feeling incredibly alone, incredibly empty, and feeling guilty for asking myself the question, is this all there is? Yeah, right. And yet now I know because I was, you know, I was courageous enough to say I want to really investigate what this is and who I am and what my soul's truth is. And then I want to share that story for others who might be going through something similar to say you're not alone. And I'm so glad I did that. And I encourage everyone, you don't have to write a book but tell your story in some way so we can normalize that. Success gets to look how we want it to look.

Lori Saitz:

:

Yeah, Yeah. It's interesting. I had a conversation with my dad yesterday or the day before, and I was telling him about this business project that I'm involved in and it's it's a whole long thing, but it's going to. Eventually supposed to culminate at the end of this year. And he said, So then you'll be successful. And I'm like, Wait, wait, wait, I'm successful now, Dad, what's your definition of success? And he said, Well, you know, when you reach the end of a goal, when you reach a goal, I'm like, Yeah, okay. And I can also consider myself successful right now because if my definition of success is living joyfully every day and enjoying every moment that is successful, he goes, All right, well, I guess you're successful now. But like the way he said it, it was kind of like, you know, okay, yeah, I'm not going to argue with you about this.

Shelley Paxton:

:

But yeah, in our society, I think we're taught so much of that language, right? Well, when I get X, when I achieve Y, when I were constantly postponing this thing called success and this thing called joy and this thing called fulfillment. Right, Right. And you get to define it. I have been using the language a lot over the past several years as I've been on this journey and doing this work. What does it mean to you to feel successful versus success empty because so many of us tick those boxes? I was guilty of this. It's like, Oh, okay, well, I was handed this script, I'm going to do all of these things. Well, they're all external things and they're all this kind of generations old societal definition or something that your parents modeled or gave to you or something that is likely, you know, created by the patriarchy and doesn't fit most of us. And so this idea of what does it mean to live successful I've started it might actually be the the crux of my next book when I get around to writing that, which might be. But I wrote a definition for it. I said it's courageously defining success on your own terms in a way that feels fulfilled from the inside out, right? It's this inner knowing to outer creation instead of like, outer checklist to inner angst, Right?

Lori Saitz:

:

Exactly. Exactly. Yes. Oh, I love that. And because I'm also I'm on this mission to teach the world to be calm and grounded no matter what's going on around them. And second or equal to that is to over to challenge this belief that you have to work hard to be successful, that you have to work hard to accomplish a goal. And what you just said about doing the inner work to create the outer results. That's the way it works. That may be some work. It definitely takes action, but that doesn't mean it's hard work in the way that we have traditionally defined hard work, like busting your ass 24/7 hustle, you know, get it done under any circumstance. You talked about doing that in your book that you you bought into that that success requires you to be on all the time and completely selfless. In giving, in giving of yourself, no matter what the consequences to yourself.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Yeah. Yeah. Mean two things came up for me. And hearing you say that. One is I. You know, so much of those things that come up are these shackles of should. Right. That are handed to us like, Oh, well, I should do that because that's what everybody in my family does. I should do that because that is what my parents expect of me. I should do that because society says that's what success looks like, you know? And so in the in my book, I talk about my listen, I have a bazillion shoulds and I had had you know, had still have and I'm sure will have many Right. It's a process of continuing to notice when they surface and name them and shine a light on them. Right. And then shift the language. But I think so many of us spend time like, well, I should do this, I should do that. And that just I mean, what an energy suck. I call those soul sucks, right? Like they just take us in a different direction and we end up the one of the stats. I just I had this in my TED talk that I just did a few weeks ago. This the top regret of the dying. So are you familiar with Bronnie Ware? Yeah. Palliative care nurse and author who wrote the Top five Regrets of the Dying and the Top Regret of the Dying is I wish I'd had the courage to live the life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Shelley Paxton:

:

And that's at the core of so much of the burnout, so much of I think only 20% of us, according to a Mental Health America survey, are finding any deep, lasting meaning in our lives, like they're just so many of these things that we have normalized, right because of the shoulds and because of this hustle and grind. And the second thing that struck me when you were talking is this idea of time off, in particular in this country, meaning the United States of America, in particular in this country, is so ass backwards, right? So we give people like two weeks and we like, well, you earn that after you've done all this hard work and then maybe you'll take a fraction of it because we kind of shame you if you're going to take all of your holiday or all your time off. And part of what I mean when I say sabbaticals, not literally, that you have to leave your job, but it's also about creating that space and starting to view time off as a prerequisite for inspired and energized and creative work. I mean, think about if more employees were that and showing up in that way, regardless of what work they do.

Lori Saitz:

:

Yes, 100%. This is what I've been talking about as well. Imagine if instead of I will have fun, relax, recharge after I've finished all the work, which never happens. So then you never get to that place. What if instead of saying, I'm going to do that when it was actually required that you have to have fun, recharge, relax in order to get to success? Because that is actually the truth. We've been taught a lie. A big fucking lie. That it. You can do that later. After? Yes, after the work is done. But the work is never done. So you never get there. The truth of the matter is, taking sabbatical time, whether it's a year off like you did or I took a month long road trip in with my 19 year old cat in in August. It doesn't have to be a year or a month. You can do it every day. It can be incorporated into your daily life. In fact, it not can be. It was going to say should. But no, it must. It must. Right. Because that is really the only way to be truly successful. Otherwise you reach this place of the culturally subscribed to version of success like you did, and you're you're empty. You're miserable. Yeah.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Yeah. And the emphasis. Exactly. Love how you brought that home because the emphasis is on the full part, right? If we're not full, we can't show up in the world in any facet of our lives in the way that we want to, in our relationships, in our work, for our communities, you know, in what we're most passionate about. If we're feeling empty and exhausted and burned out like we're barely showing up. I mean, you know, I worked really hard. I the the reason one of the things that just kind of pushed me to the edge of I was having this nightmare, you know, in my book, this is where I start the book. And I was having the nightmare again and again and again in my in my final year at Harley. And it was one. Waking me up and it was so clear now that it was the universe and my soul conspiring, you know, to go pay attention. You need to listen. And I got to a point where I was hardly getting any sleep. I was delirious. I was so exhausted. I knew I wasn't functioning. I was trying to pretend like I was okay because I was scared to ask for help. But please don't do that. Like, don't don't be me. Yeah, yeah. In in that, in that space. And it was only because I was like, I can't go on this way. I can't keep showing. I'm not showing up for anybody, including myself. And so, you know, I think so often we put ourselves at the bottom of our own to do lists, and it's not in service to anyone. Right? We think we're in service to everyone, but we're not. We're it's another it's another lie we're telling ourselves. Yeah.

Lori Saitz:

:

I mean, how many times do we have to repeat the totally worn out analogy of put your own mask on first? You know, the airplane thing. But we've heard it a million times and everybody knows it. And doing it is a different thing.

Shelley Paxton:

:

It is. I run some core groups for the chief organization and I work with my women, the senior female leaders who are amazing. And I realized, like we're all facing the same challenges all the time. Like these women have families and huge responsibilities. You know, big jobs, big titles, all of it. And it's like everything for themselves keeps falling to the bottom of the list. And so one of the things that we work on, you know, to the spirit of flipping the time off script is look at every week, every month, every quarter and proactively say what me time I when I put in here and you can define me time however you want. I call them meetings. Yes I don't remember from from the it's somewhere in the back of the book. But this idea that you can decide that that's time you want to have with your partner. It could be time you want with girlfriends or it could be time with your family, purely time for yourself. But we often think about those things after our entire calendar gets full from everything else and everybody's grabbing at those little slices of time on our calendar until there's nothing left for us, right? So flipping the way that we approach it so very proactively, we build these blocks mean, okay, so 80 over 20 rule, maybe 20% of that time that that time goes away because something truly is a fire drill. Okay. But you've really honored it 80% of the time and you will feel that you're showing up differently. So that's a fun exercise that I like to do with people. It's kind of like your ideal day, week, whatever. But those foundational building blocks we normally start with, okay, well, what does the family need? What is whatever we forget about ourselves in the process, especially as women?

Lori Saitz:

:

Yeah, exactly. It's again, for another analogy that putting the rocks in the jar, like you have to put the big ones in first and then that's because if you put all the small ones in, the big ones don't fit. It's the same thing. The we are the biggest rock. That has to go in there first.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Yeah. Yeah. It's so beautiful. I forgot about that. But I love that rock analogy. Yeah, it's so good. Yeah.

Lori Saitz:

:

And, um. Yeah, now I just lost my train of thought, but that's okay. Well, it'll come back on. Talk about the. The place where you got to. I mean, obviously you reached the point. You're like, I can't continue going on this way. What? What? Brought you to deciding. I'm taking an entire year off.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Yeah, it's. Listen, there was no perfect science. I mean, I think this was more of an art and probably, to some degree, an act of desperation because, you know, like so many other times in my life, I didn't really have a role model or a way of thinking about or approaching what was kind of an existential crisis. That's how it felt to me at the time. It was like, okay, wait a second. I have worked my entire adult life to get to this place. I have a very sexy job. I mean, for marketing, does it get any better than being CMO of Harley Davidson? It does not tattoo it on their bodies. It does it. I have a.

Lori Saitz:

:

Background in marketing and I will attest it does not.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Yeah. And I and I didn't. And I don't take any of that for granted. And I think that's why it was really like it felt so gut wrenching and it truly was an existential crisis because I thought I've pinned my entire identity to being this badass corporate executive who has stood behind and, you know, stewarded these incredible global, iconic brands. And, you know, the last place I was was Harley Davidson. And I kind of got to this, you know, pinnacle C-suite role. And so to even think about letting go of all of that was terrifying. And the word terrifying doesn't even seem to do it justice. So if anybody's thinking about that and going through all of all of these emotions, like, I get it, it is really, really terrifying. And for me, once I understood what this nightmare was trying to tell me and that what I was seeing in this nightmare was actually a proxy for my soul. And my soul was malnourished and neglected and longing for me to listen to and love it. It was a wake up call. I was like, Oh, my God. Okay, wait a second. So at the time I was like 45 going into 46, and I thought, Where will I be when I'm 50 if I keep, like, pushing my way through this, if I keep forcing my way, if I keep pretending that this kind of existence is normal, will I even, like, be alive to tell the story? Yeah.

Lori Saitz:

:

Yeah. I think it's interesting that you. I mean, the nightmare was so, like, it just kept showing up. So persistent. At the same time. I'm willing to bet there are other people who have similar stories that don't pay attention to them. Like they're just not open to analyzing. What could this mean? They're just like, Oh yeah, yeah.

Shelley Paxton:

:

And I'll be I'll be honest, like I was in that place for about four months. I was in the place of like, you know what? I'll just drink more wine before I go to bed and I'll incapacitate these nightmares. And like, I was trying to I was trying to, like, bypass this thing and outrun it in every way possible. So I understand. Like, I was fully human in my experience of going, Nope, I don't got time for this. No, thank you. Tamp it down. Tamp it down. Until I literally thought I was going to lose my mind. I was suffering mentally, mentally, physically, emotionally, all of it. And I went to a doctor and that's where he was the first person who introduced me to the the idea of meditation and slowing down and monkey brain and all of it. And I'm not here to tell you that meditation is the be all and end all. I am a believer in slowing down. I'm a believer in learning to get quiet and listen deep. And that's what ultimately happened, is out of desperation. I went to like an integrative doctor who happened to do our love Him, Dr. Bob, who happened to do our Harley physicals and just had a really cool approach to what I now understand is more functional medicine, integrative medicine. And he was like, We've just got to get you, like, taking a deep breath, sitting still, taming this monkey mind. He and so he just he introduced me to Headspace at the time and he was like just 5 or 10 minutes every day start to build this muscle.

Shelley Paxton:

:

And so it was through doing that that I learned how to slow down. And it can take whatever form. I mean, I say to people in my world, like, if you don't want to do some really, you know, a guided meditation or whatever, give yourself ten minutes to sit and close your eyes and be quiet and see what comes up. Yeah, see what you hear. Just tune out all the noise. Give yourself that, that gift, that opportunity. And so it was through that, that I started to get more quiet and more quiet and more still. And I was like, Wow, I don't actually know who I am beneath the facade of this identity that I have created and become totally wedded to. And that scared me. That really scared me. And I thought, if I keep doing this like I'm going to ruin my health, and then what good am I? Then, you know, I'll be 50 and probably not have a job and all of it. And so I decided that it was it was you know, I said, I'm going to take the risk to invest in the possibility of my future self and I'm going to take some time off. And I worked with my financial advisor to put aside a little cushion of money. And I was like, okay, well, when the money runs out and or when 12 months is up, I'll reevaluate. And if something feels really off, I give myself permission to course correct at any time, right? Like if I freak out and I'm like, What was I doing? This is the dumbest thing I've ever done.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Great. We'll pause and we'll deal with it. Or if I get to 12 months and need a little bit more time, great. We'll deal with it. You know, in my case, I got eight months into this exploration. You know, 12 months was completely arbitrary. So let's just start there. It's what I felt like I needed to really do the deep work and start to unwind and start to reconnect and understand who I am and to really pursue some of my passions, to see what doors that might open up. But eight months in, my dad dropped from a massive stroke, right? And so the universe had other lessons to teach me, you know, I was really grateful. He's he's still alive. He's quite brain damaged and experiences the world very differently than he used to as like CEO and chairman of all these companies. This very hard driven, disciplined guy. But, you know, the reason I say that is you never know. And all of a sudden I viewed not being in a full time job, the biggest gift, because I was able to go help my parents for five months. I spent time with them. I cooked for them. I moved them full time to Florida. I was with them on this journey of finding a new way of being. And I learned so many lessons in doing that. And I thought, there is no going back. There's only creating forward. And what do I want that to look like?

Lori Saitz:

:

Yeah, good point there. In terms of what nobody can go back at any point to anywhere in their life, regardless of what was happening. Like there is no going back. There is only going forward. And I have two questions from what you just talked about. The one you talked about having your identity pinned so closely to your job. I had run my first company that I started, ran it for 11 years and couldn't scale it quite the way I wanted to and ended up shutting it down. But. There was such an adjustment for me and I know for a lot of my listeners who are entrepreneurs, that if the business and in your case the people who are in corporate, their identity is tied to their title or their identity is tied to the business they have created. And it's so difficult to separate yourself and look at it and go, okay, I am not this. Mm. Why do you think we do that?

Shelley Paxton:

:

Oh, my God. You know, it's so insidious because it happens over time. Right. I mean, when. When that moment hit me of going. I truly don't know who I am without all of this. Right. And realizing that all of that was outside of me and not inside of me, that I had entirely pinned my worth and my value on the sexiness of the brands I supported on the size of my paycheck, on the cachet of my titles. All of it was it was terrifying because it was the only thing I had ever known as an adult. I had been working in the advertising and marketing business and only going up like a hockey stick since I'd been 21 years old. And so here I am, having this existential crisis at 46, right? It's been a quarter of a century being this person, you know, Shelley Paxton, who supports all of these, you know, McDonald's Visa, AOL, Harley Davidson, like all these cool brands. And it struck me like, well, okay, I'm a marketer. What if the most iconic brand I could ever represent is Shelley Paxton? Yes, right.

Lori Saitz:

:

Yes.

Shelley Paxton:

:

And Ops. Who the fuck is she? That's the work that I had to do. And and that was not easy work. Like there were sort of different as you know, from reading the book, there were kind of different phases of my sabbatical, at least, you know, in the way that I, in my experience of sabbatical when I walked away and one of them was really doing some deep identity work when I was in New Zealand and really forcing myself to strip away all of that and, and get clear with myself, like, who am I really? And say some what felt like pretty cringey things to myself at the time. Like I am a bad ass, I am a trailblazer, I am a corporate rebel, I am beautiful, I am, you know, blah, blah, blah, right? I shouldn't say blah, blah, blah. Like all of that is very important. And I go through and share this my version of this exercise in the book so that anybody can do this on on their own as well. It is it is hard and extraordinarily rewarding work because I planted the seeds and I had to keep saying it again and again. And I don't think I believed it for months.

Lori Saitz:

:

No. And you're not alone in that that exercise of like, you know, somebody one of my coaches had given me and the rest of my mastermind group the exercise of saying to yourself every every day in the mirror, I'm proud of you. The first time somebody said that to me that I really heard it, I just started crying.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Yeah. Yeah. The other one that really got me very similar to that is looking yourself in the mirror and saying, I love you. I mean, I even have like full body chills saying it right now to you because it's something that I didn't feel for a very long time. And I'm not going to say I have it completely nailed. Now, these are all practices, but building these muscles and really having a deep understanding of who we are, you know, like shut off the external world and go, I am worthy and I am worthy because I am innately, yeah, all of these things. And that's how I show like I am, you know, I am am, I am energy, I am presence. I mean, this is what it helped me understand what some of my superpowers are that I was probably, you know, crediting to, oh, you know, this work that I do or whatever. But it's like, oh, no, I actually am a bright light in this world. Yeah, people respond to and are lifted up by my energy. Okay, that's interesting, you know, and over time, you really do start to believe it. And when you start showing up that way, like I am, these things, not all those things out there, something fundamentally shifts.

Lori Saitz:

:

Yes, 100%. I've seen it happen in myself and I've seen it happen with others. And that I am statement is so powerful. Whether what you say after it is positive or negative, it is powerful. So the other question I wanted to ask you is a lot of people that I've talked to about the sabbatical I took, and when you talk to people about the sabbatical you took. I'm guessing you get the question or the statement. Well, that must have been nice. It's it's you had the luxury of being able to do that. And what do you say?

Shelley Paxton:

:

Yeah, First of all, I always acknowledge and I say this at the beginning of my book, like I acknowledge my good fortune and privilege in my in my story, in my life in general. And I, I made a decision I when I went to Harley, I had just come off of a divorce where I lost 50% of everything. I lost my retirement. I, you know, I lost my, you know, whatever little nest egg I had. So I was fortunate to be in a role and I was compensated very well that I could start to build back some of that. Now, I could have told myself a story that, well, I'm not quite where I want to be or until I have until I have X amount of dollars in the bank. I can't really take this time off, you know, until you know exactly as we were talking about before. And I said, I'm willing to I'm willing to take a gamble on myself. And so when I said earlier, I worked with my, you know, my financial advisor, I kind of had this little thing going on the side. And this was a bit of kind of bitter, resentful, me post-divorce. And I was like, Well, then I'm going to have a fuck you fun.

Shelley Paxton:

:

So I never depend upon anybody else in my whole life again. Right? I had I had that. And, and actually, the Fuck You fund ended up being a real gift because we just we took like this little amount of money, like maybe a thousand bucks, and we just started growing it over time to then, you know, six years later, I was able to look at him and say, well, what else do I have and what would it take to get me to 12 months? You know, I can scale back, I can streamline my life, I can cut things out. And that's the work that we did. And listen, I still acknowledge all of the privilege in that because I was making really good money. What I say now that I didn't understand then is you can do this in different ways. So it goes back to what we were saying before when I left, and I created this crazy term sabbatical because I didn't know how to tell people what I was doing. I thought it meant leaving your job. What I now understand is that sabbatical is about finding yourself.

Lori Saitz:

:

Yes.

Shelley Paxton:

:

And Right. And and deploying like living into some of these principles that we've been talking about in this whole conversation. So if and when it is important to you, carve out this time, maybe it looks like a long weekend every quarter. Yeah, right. Maybe. So you do that four times a year, whatever that looks like for you. Maybe it is going away into into the woods. A cottage where you write. If that's your passion, that's one. It can look any way you want it to look. But I am now a believer that we can create sabbatical as a way of being. And in fact, I kind of revised the the definition of it because I do truly believe that it's a way of being that's more aligned with our truth, and that is a commitment to living more authentically, courageously and purposefully, whatever that looks like for you. So what's a baby step is what I would say. What's a baby step that feels doable and feels repeatable? Because the whole idea is that we don't have to run away from our lives. Right? How do we create lives that light us up and fill us up and that we feel that success at the end of every day?

Lori Saitz:

:

Yes. And you just gave the perfect segue, so I'll just mention it here is that I have this this guide on my website called Five Easy Ways to Start Living a Sabbatical Life that listeners Can Go and Get for free because right. You don't necessarily have to leave everything while you were talking, I was thinking too, you know, when we hit a crisis point, when there is some kind of critical thing like your dad having a stroke, you dropped everything and went to be with your parents. This is similar to the situation that a lot of people are facing. Like it is critical that you take this time, find the time to do this for yourself, for your soul. Like it's not an external. Uh, event necessarily. It's an internal event, but it is equally, if not more important. You know, people would find the way. What I'm saying here is that people are like, Well, how did you do that? You were you had privilege, whatever. But if somebody was faced with a crisis, they would find a way.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Yeah.

Lori Saitz:

:

So to take the time off, to find the money, to manage that situation, consider it the same way we always do. Right? Consider it the.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Same. And, and yeah. And I. And I feel like there is a finer point. I always say, like the nightmare I was having. And then my dad strokes like those were my cosmic kicking kicks in the ass. The pandemic was that for a lot of people it was one big fat kick in the ass that crystallized what matters most. Right? Do I even like what I'm doing? Do I like who I am in this world? Do I want to reconsider? And you're right. We always have the power to say, I want to do this differently and start making different choices. And often we wait until, yeah, the tragedy strikes, the cancer hits, we lose a loved one. You know, we lose our jobs, right? The number of people who I have seen in, you know, while I was still in my career before I became an entrepreneur and while I'm an entrepreneur that say, oh, my God, I just wish they would fire me.

Lori Saitz:

:

Right, Right.

Shelley Paxton:

:

It's amazing. Yeah. And I'm like, oh, okay. So you're it's that same notion of like, we're putting that thing out here. Oh, well, when they fire me, then I can go do the thing I really want to do, right?

Lori Saitz:

:

Instead of taking personal responsibility to make the decision yourself, to make that choice yourself, because that's too scary. So I'll just wait until it happens to me.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Yeah. And then it feels really shitty when it happens to you. So why not? Why not do it on your terms and say, you know, listen, people are going to look sideways at you. There was it's part of the reason I created language for this thing I was doing because everybody in my world was like, you know, in this in this space, well, this is what we do. This is what we do to make money. This is what we do to climb the ladder. This is what we do in our family. And so no one understood. And I even my parents were not supportive. They were not they were, you know, and I was like, I have to do like, not asking you for money. I'm not going to come live in your basement. All is good. I have put some parameters around this thing, but I need to go do this for me. And so prepare that. I think one of the things that's things that holds us back from doing these things before we're forced to do these things is because a lot of people aren't going to understand it. Yes, and that's okay. Maybe those aren't your people, then.

Lori Saitz:

:

The fear that people are going to judge you and guess what? People are going to judge you either way. They're going to judge you if you do this X, If you do Y, so do what you what you truly feel called to do. What is in your soul's highest interest. Because you're going to be judged whether you do it or not. So why not take the step? Find the courage. Do the thing.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Yeah, Yeah. And it's so it's so incredibly rewarding. I mean, it is to this day. I think the two most courageous things that I've done are one, walking away from Harley, not having a clue like into the total unknown, not knowing what this would look like, or if I boomeranged back into the corporate world or who knew? I had no idea and I was willing to take that chance on myself and believe that I would pick up on the little breadcrumbs along the way. And if I listened deeply and I got quiet, I would be guided. And I was and am guided because I am able to get quiet. And I now understand my truth and I am in conversation with my soul. Um, and it yeah, but it's terrifying. And the second decision was deciding to put my heart and soul on paper and publish this book. And it goes back to what we were talking about in the beginning. I really wanted to tell this story in a way that shared all of the the turmoil and the mess, right? That is going through this. Because at the time, for me, not enough people were talking about it. I'm like, I can't be the only one who's feeling this way. Right. But, you know, it's the Instagram highlights reel analogy, right? This is the life. And I thought, I'm going to tell I'm I'm going to put it all out there and people will pick up what, you know, what they need, what they're meant to hear. They will not feel as alone. And I get to be with others on a very similar journey. So there's there's so much reward for doing this. And every single step is going to feel terrifying. This is growth.

Lori Saitz:

:

Yeah. Again, this is life as an experiment. And you had mentioned like if it didn't go the way you had expected, you could take a different path. Like this is part of the whole experiment. So. Yeah, Yeah. Thank you so much for sharing. Before we go, I can I mean, you have so much energy already. What happens when you need an extra boost of energy? What's the song you listen to? What's your hype song?

Shelley Paxton:

:

Oh, my God. My hype song. Nearly every day, at least once a day is the song. This is Me from the Greatest Showman soundtrack, if you if you know that one. But it's like I love that it celebrates all of our, like, scars and bruises and imperfections and the fact that we're not, you know, we don't fit into these boxes and we don't have to show up in this polished way. And that's beautiful, right? This is me and that is my power. And so that's one that is usually my walk up music when I speak and one that I often play in my workshops. And yeah, for myself in my living room.

Lori Saitz:

:

I love it. And you just used my word for 2023, which is celebrate.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Yes. Oh, good one.

Lori Saitz:

:

Yeah, yeah. Celebrating everything. If people want to continue a conversation with you, where's the best place for them to find you?

Shelley Paxton:

:

A couple places. If you want to dig more into my work, go to shellypaxton.com. Shelley's with an E y. So that's the easiest place to explore my book, my podcast, my work. And then if you want to engage on socials, I'm Shelley Paxton on LinkedIn and at sabbatical with two B's on Instagram. Okay, So and sign up for my newsletter. Go to my website, sign up for my newsletter. Like, let's stay in dialogue. You get to hear about, you know, I call it soul fuel because, you know, for me to you want to share what's lighting me up and hopefully light you up as well.

Lori Saitz:

:

Love it. We'll put links to all of that in the show notes.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Thank you.

Lori Saitz:

:

Thanks again for joining me today on FINE is a 4-Letter Word. Shelley.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Thank you. So much fun.

Shelley Paxton:

:

Lori Saitz: Shout out to Suzanne Taylor King for bringing up Shelley and making me aware of her book in our conversation several months ago. I love how networking and synchronicity work. Here are the key takeaways from this episode. Number one, you can choose to rebel in different ways. You can rebel against all the things life tries to force you into, or you can rebel for what you believe in. Number to tell your story. If more people told their stories, then you would get to see things from different perspectives, challenge assumptions, and realize that everyone has their own truth. You can help normalize different versions of success. Number three Rest and relaxation shouldn't be a reward for hard work. Taking time away from work regular sabbaticals is a prerequisite for inspired, energized and creative work. Number four Give yourself the gift of just ten minutes a day of quieting the noise and taming the monkey mind to see what comes up. That's when you really start to know yourself. Thanks for being here and subscribing to find is the four letter word. Please share this show with a friend or a colleague. If you're feeling especially generous, leave a review so other people like you can discover the show too. It's on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher and all the major podcast directories. You can join me on Social two on Instagram. It's Zen underscore rabbit. You can find links to the other platforms at Zen Rabbit Out.com. Before you go, remember to take a moment to think about what you're grateful for today. Lastly, you can find this week's meditation cued up right after this episode. And if no one's told you this week, I'm proud of you. Take good care.

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