I just finished a work sprint that lasted two and a half months.

Despite having written Do Less, I was doing more. More than I would like to do, at least.

During the sprint that included two back-to-back launches and two back-to-back (mostly virtual) retreats, I caught myself feeling “overwork shame” a couple of times.

I got curious about it.

I let the mastermind I’m part of know about it because shame left in the dark really tends to fester.

(I can’t imagine doing business without this group, and I highly recommend you find one for yourself. Applications to the one I’m leading in 2021 will be opening soon, and you can get on the waitlist here.)

I realized a few things that helped me alchemize the shame into learning, and I’m sharing them with you because I know I’m not the only one who finds themselves overworking from time to time, despite “knowing better.”

Make Space for the Pendulum to Swing

I found myself wondering, “How the heck did I end up doing so much in such a short period of time?” And then I realized: I had three months without childcare this past spring (and I know so many others are still in that situation), we lost two full-time team members at the end of March, and I was running our company in four hours a day with a skeleton crew.

It was a massive contraction from a production standpoint. The promotions we’d planned simply could not happen. We needed to onboard new team members in order to prepare for our promotions, and I don’t like to launch in the summer because I want to be at the beach with my kids as much as possible.

Thus, my 2.5 month work sprint from mid-August to the end of October.

When I stopped beating myself up for overscheduling myself and looked at the reasons everything shook out that way, a lot of self-compassion became immediately available.

After every contraction comes an expansion. After every expansion comes a contraction.

The pursuit of balance can sometimes trip me up and trigger my inner Perfectionist Polly.

But making space for the pendulum to swing the other way when it’s been one way for a long time helps me feel more compassionate and accept what is.

Doing less when it comes to beating myself up or resisting what is helps me exhale every time.

Learning Is Cyclical

Right in the thick of the sprint I found myself saying, “Seriously, Kate? Again with the overworking/overscheduling? Haven’t you learned this lesson yet? You know better than this.”

And then I remembered my own medicine: Everything is cyclical.

Each of us has some core lessons in this lifetime that we’ll circle back to again and again, just at a higher level of consciousness than last time.

When I took a closer look, I saw that I had more support and more systems and structures helping me to maintain spaciousness within my full schedule than I’d ever had before during a previous work sprint.

My communication with Mike was better. My presence with my kids was better. My sleep was dialed in, and I kept prioritizing moving my body, despite my little “I don’t have time for this” gremlin.

So, yeah, I was up against my tendency for my eyes being bigger than my schedule again. But I was refining and becoming wiser and wiser by the minute.

Since I’ll never be done learning the same things over and over again, I choose to celebrate how much more I know this time than I did the last time.

You’re Doing It Right

Never, not once, have I gotten the result I was after from beating myself up.


I found myself thinking that I was a f*ck-up who couldn’t practice what she preached.

But I knew that wasn’t helping me with anything.

So instead, I decided that everything was happening exactly as it should be and that I was doing everything precisely the way I needed to in order to receive the lessons I needed to receive. It also allowed me to redirect any energy that I might have wasted beating myself up toward my creativity, focus, rest, presence, and learning.

Will I find myself overworking and overscheduled again in the future? Based on past experience: yes.

Will I be more compassionate with myself and quicker to find spaciousness and ease each time? Undoubtedly.

Facing the same challenges again and again is inevitable. Learning from them each time is a choice.

What’s one of the challenges you find yourself facing over and over again? What have you learned and changed over time so that you’re facing it from a higher perspective each time? Leave a comment and let me know!

Kate Northrup is an entrepreneur, bestselling author, and mother who supports ambitious, motivated and successful women to light up the world without burning themselves out in the process. Committed to empowering women entrepreneurs to create their most successful businesses while navigating motherhood, Kate is the founder and CEO of Origin Collective, a monthly membership site where women all over the world gather to achieve more while doing less. Her first book, Money: A Love Story, has been published in 5 languages. Kate’s work has been featured by The Today Show, Yahoo! Finance, Women’s Health, Glamour, and The Huffington Post, and she’s spoken to audiences of thousands with Hay House, Wanderlust, USANA Health Sciences, and more. Kate lives with her husband and business partner, Mike, and their daughter Penelope in Maine. Find out more and receive your free copy of the 5 Simple and effective ways to get the results you want in your business at katenorthrup.com.


Image courtesy of energepic.com.