Giving Up

Letting GoThis year…

I stopped running after every audition,

Or hoping for that big break.

I gave up my relentless quest for clients,

and allowed clients to come to me.

I quit writing long emails to people asking me for the secret formula to overnight success;

I relinquished my desire to have a constant social media presence;

I said “no” to most requests for interviews, guest posts, and twitter chats;

I even took a few weeks off from blogging, just because I felt like it.

I stayed away from most voice-over gatherings, online and offline;

I did not drool over the latest and greatest gear (well, just a little bit);

I gave myself permission to not be available all the time.

Instead of in the studio, I began most of my days in the gym, gaining strength, and losing weight.

I separated my personal from my professional life,

and decided that who I am, is more than what I do.

This year, I gave up the control

I never had in the first place,

and I replaced most of my “shoulds” and “musts” 

with “I choose to,” and “I’m going for it.”

And you know what?

Things turned out pretty okay.

My business survived.

I survived.

I feel less taxed, and more relaxed.

Here’s what I have learned:

Giving up is not so bad. 

Sometimes the old has to go, in order to make room for the new.

The junk we leave in the attic, and the trinkets we hang on to in the basement,

It can all go. Really.

Life is lighter without it. 

You see…

Many of us walk around with old stuff that isn’t necessarily our stuff.

It’s stuff other people left behind. Baggage. 

Thoughts. Habits. Beliefs. Even objects.

Things that no longer serve a purpose.

It weighs us down.

And when all of it is gone, we can move on.

Because we have reclaimed a space in our lives that is waiting to be filled with excitement and anticipation.

Take it from me:

We sometimes need to lose part of who we were, in order to discover who we are. 

There is much to gain from giving up.

Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

PS Be sweet. Please retweet!

photo credit: ‘Letting Go’, United States, New York, Montauk via photopin (license)

About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a Dutch-English voice-over pro, coach, and writer. His blog is one of the most widely read and influential blogs in the industry. Paul is also the author of "Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs." goo.gl/ihVpMc

by Paul Strikwerda in Articles, Career, Personal, Social Media

46 Responses to Giving Up

  1. Debbie Irwin

    Love this. It’s worth hanging on to. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thank you, Debbie. One of my goals for the new year is to get rid of as many distractions in my life as possible, and focus on what’s truly important.

    [Reply]

  2. Matilda Novak

    I’m late to the party on this one, Paul — but so glad to have had the opportunity to read it, as this advice is so Excellent. I’ve got some “giving up” of my own to do in 2016.
    Thank you…..
    And Happy New Year, from one who greatly appreciates your words….

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    You came to the party, Matilda. That’s all that matters, and I’m so happy you did!I hope you will gain much from what you’re about to give up. Here’s to new beginnings, and to a brand new year!

    [Reply]

  3. steve hammill

    Keep an eye on the trends, Paul. It’s the old saw from some famous dead guy, “50% of all advertising money is wasted. I just don’t know which half.”

    You can never know which thing you gave up might someday provide a big payday.

    If you’re good with that…then, “Okay. …and a Happy New Year to you and your readers.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thank you so much, Steve. Happy New Year to you too!

    [Reply]

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  5. Ron Whittemore

    Well said Paul!! Thanks!!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    You’re welcome, Ron. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!

    [Reply]

  6. Deidre Ann Johnson

    Paul,

    I absolutely love this post. I’m just getting started in this career and there is so much to do it feels overwhelming with the need to Tweet, FB, market, etc. I’m going to continue to train and perfect my craft and do what I can on a consistent basis. There are only so many hours in the day and one can only do but so much.

    Deidre

    [Reply]

  7. Paul Payton

    OK, where’s the “like” button? How about the “I embrace this message fully” button?? As always, Paul, you eloquently summarized much of what I have been feeling and struggling with. I still love doing VO gigs, but I’m grateful to be able to afford to be working when and with whom I like and “having a life” beyond it.

    The tough part for me is that many of my business friends are also my personal friends, so I’ll never walk away completely – if I did, I’d be eliminating a large and rewarding part of my life; thus, the “battle for balance” goes on – but I’m doing better with it.

    Again, thank you for the thoughtful and thought-provoking piece, and have a wonderful and fulfilling holiday season!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thank you for your good wishes, Paul. My wife will be playing in a church near you, with the orchestra of St. Peter by the Sea. Look at the website for dates and venues (you’ve got to scroll down to the bottom of the home page): http://www.orchsp.com.

    Best wishes to you, and to your family!

    [Reply]

    Paul Payton Reply:

    Darn – we missed the one down the street last weekend, and I have to see what’s going on next weekend, so I’d rather not make promises I can’t keep beyond, “The option is open.”

    Another dimension to the discussion is all the year-end obligations that go along with the work chase, not to mention those thrust upon us by tax season, etc. December and January seem to come with an exponential increase in stress levels as a result. One day I’ll get it all figured out….

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Should you make it to a concert, be sure to say hi to Pam during intermission!

  8. Paul Garner

    A timely and well written reminder to us on deciding what’s important in our lives. Thanks, Paul!. I’ll be rethinking my goals for the coming year.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    December is a great month for setting goals. Are you using the SMART-system?

    [Reply]

    Paul Garner Reply:

    I had to look up the S.M.A.R.T system in order to properly answer you, Paul. I have followed a similar progression in order to set and reach goals, but I like what I’ve read so far about this.
    Looks like I have more to learn!
    Thanks again.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    For those who don’t know, SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Realistic, Achievable and Time-bound.

    One of my favorite motto’s is: There’s always more to learn!

  9. Kent Ingram

    Like the other folks, this article hit me upside the head, too! Circumstances and events have forced me to slow down and re-evaluate where I am in life. In fact, I’m making a life-changing move to the Western Slope of Colorado this Saturday. Once I get settled, I’ll need to build a new, “micro-studio”, to get back on the voice actor track. Thanks, again, for going straight to the heart.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    This is a moving year for you, Kent. May it bring positive change to your personal and professional life!

    [Reply]

    Kent Ingram Reply:

    Thanks, Paul. I’d prefer a different “moving” to the ones I’ve had to do! This makes the 4th move in 2 years. And, since I put my name on various housing lists, there’ll be a 5th move, sometime down the road, next year, maybe. I’m not a religious man, but I’m sure asking “upstairs” why I have to be such a nomad!

    [Reply]

  10. Lee Ann Howlett

    Love this one, Paul! Very timely for me, personally, too. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I’m so glad to hear that, Lee Ann!

    [Reply]

  11. Kevin Scheuller

    Bravo, Paul!
    As a part-time, bi-vocational pastor (actually, really tri-vocational as I am the stay-at-home parent of our clergy couple family), this blog really hits home. A few months ago, I met with my bishop’s assistant to pursue more pastor hours now that our youngest daughter is in full-day school. He wants me to consider a full-time call, and I am quite sure that just a few more part-time hours (in the form of another nearby rural congregation to preach on Sundays, in addition to my current assignment) and a few office hours, is all I’m after. There are even a few possibilities available. Just recently, I did my first big eLearning project in voice-over. Things are looking up!

    Even more importantly, our oldest daughter showed me an essay she had written in which the assignment was to define what the word “hero” means to her. I’m her hero, it turns out. Simply for being at home for her, and her sisters most days when they get out of school. How about that?!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    That’s amazing, Kevin, and very moving. As you know, kids grow up so fast, and they need strong, loving role models. One day, these kids will become parents themselves, and will in turn pass on what they have learned from you. By being there for them, you’ve given your children a gift they will cherish for as long as they live. What a blessing!

    [Reply]

    Kevin Scheuller Reply:

    Indeed, it is!

    [Reply]

  12. amy

    this is the most positive post i’ve read from you in a long time Paul. something is working 😉

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thank you, Amy! It could have to do with my blood type: B-positive!

    [Reply]

  13. Kitzie Stern

    Love.This. Giving up & letting go is part of life, and when you can do it consciously it feels good.
    We don’t realize the power we have to create our lives.
    Thanks Paul.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    We have free will. For some it is a blessing. Others see it as a curse. At any rate, our ability to make choices gives us power to steer our destiny. It’s awesome, and sometimes a bit overwhelming.

    [Reply]

  14. Carrie

    Paul, this so resonates. I was just talking about this today, how I’m so tired at this time of year and am sort of tapped out of ideas and/or don’t have energy to pitch new ideas. Instead of getting antsy about what is or isn’t coming down the pipeline after the holidays, in terms of work, I’m going to leave space for things to happen. Because when we don’t push so hard, that’s when really interesting things happen.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Well, you’ve been going full speed ahead for quite a while now. Even the best batteries need recharging. There’s no perfect recipe for work-life balance, but I’m sure you know the right ingredients!

    [Reply]

  15. Ted Mcaleer

    It’s very liberating…When I retired from the Navy, I really throttled back. I’d run at top speed for 21 years and I just then, didn’t. I remember how, and can if I need to, but choose not to.
    If I’m taking care of my family and living a full and happy life, well, that’s probably about the best there is. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Very true. If you don’t have friends and family to share the fruits of your labor with, you’re missing something. Our work is but a means to an end, and even though I love my job, I still prefer the end to the means.

    [Reply]

  16. Tracey Kelley

    Good for you! The consciousness you applied to these deliberate choices is admirable. I have three tiers to my business, and one of them is as a yoga teacher. I’m constantly a student of experience, living by what I encourage students to do with their life/work balance and recognizing that I don’t give my best at anything, personally or professionally, without proper self-care and recognition that I am not my to-do list.

    I’m still in the business-building phase for the VO and writing/editing branches of my business(which is why I appreciate all your generous advice and tips, Paul!)but I’ve come to terms that I can plan my work and work my plan, but sometimes, the to-do list lingers.

    And that’s okay. It’s much better for me to come home after a full day of work and teaching and not check email again until mid-morning the next day or not play on social media or push until midnight to finish a project. I sleep better, my relationships are better, and I have a steady pace of development. Not too shabby.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Not too shabby, indeed. I’ve heard it said that Europeans work to live, and that Americans live to work. As a European transplant, I have to agree. It took me a while to adjust to this mentality, and I still don’t like it. Fortunately, I am self-employed and my boss is kind and understanding. He believes in life-work balance, and tries to practice what he preaches. Most of the time.

    [Reply]

  17. bob tracey

    Good write! I did the same 7 years ago when I started running marathons, I had to quit the sofa, quit the chips, quit the soda, quit the whyne, quit the procrastination, lace up, shut up and run. Best with your journey.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Marathons… I’m impressed, Bob. Most voice-overs lead a dangerously sedentary lifestyle. Any type of physical activity is so important, and it’s good for body and soul. Keep on running… your business, and your marathons!

    [Reply]

  18. Mike Cooper

    Amen to that, brother Strik! Marc and I set out a couple of years ago to create “a life that felt like being on vacation”, and that’s exactly what we’ve done – right down to living on 20 acres of national forest at the bottom of a mountain.

    As you know, at the end of last year I moved myself and my business from London to North Carolina. I didn’t have a permanent recording space for the first eight months we were here, and as a result, I didn’t market myself at all during that time. You know what? The work still came in. Old clients kept coming back, and new ones found me too.

    I still go into my studio every day. I audition when it seems the right thing to do (rather than because the cattle-call has landed in my inbox). And I’m working on building new relationships with people in my new country: other VO talent, agents and clients alike.

    But this year taught me that a lot of the noise we hear about what we “should” be doing is exactly that: i.e. noise.

    You know what though, I might just write a blog about this myself. Just the one, mind… 😉

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    As you may remember, I love Asheville for many reasons. The only downside is that it’s a bit far away from Easton, PA, where I set up shop. Otherwise I’d have both of you over for a delightful Dutch dinner!

    [Reply]

  19. Dick Taylor

    Excellent blog that makes much sense. Hooray for Paul! dT

    [Reply]

  20. Randye Kaye

    Amen! I have been doing much of the same, literally (many trips to Goodwill to donate old stuff) and figuratively. Pruning your life to make room for new growth is just as important as pruning a plant. Thanks for this!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I love looking for bargains at Goodwill. I call it: “Goodwill Hunting!”

    [Reply]

  21. Mike Harrison

    Wonderful!

    Many of these are things that I’ve also been doing over the past few years, some of which perhaps unconsciously. Most of the others are still goals.

    It’s easy to fall into the trap where we live and/or work the way we believe others expect us to. But doing so is stressful, energy-sapping and far less rewarding than being who we really are.

    Thank you for this amazingly insightful and valuable piece, Paul.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thank you for your comments, Mike. In the past year, I’ve often felt like a hamster in a wheel. I’m running and running, but I’m not getting anywhere. At least not where I want to be. And it’s draining all my energy. That’s why it was time for a new approach.

    [Reply]

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