Part One: Deleting My Money-Making Email List
When I launched my last business selling custom real estate content marketing solutions I had very little faith in myself. I followed my gut and when my heart told me with that niche but to be honest my head told me I was batshit crazy.
Of course, the overnight success of the company proved me very wrong but it was also the beginning of my journey with burnout.
Back when I started that business in 2016, I was single and working 80-120 hour weeks was not only normal it was easy for me. Growing up in NY I was perfectly primed to hustle my way into an untouchable position.
To be honest, that shit worked for me for years – or at least I told myself it did.
But when my now husband came into the picture in 2019 and I suddenly wanted to be with him more than I wanted to work, the lack of balance in my life and business became brutally clear. By the time we were married and moving into my husbands dream house which I bought us a month before we were married with money I had made from selling my content, my business and personal life were in a state of chaos.
From the outside at that time it looked like I had everything but on the inside I was shattered, broken and beyond burned out.
Before long I did what any Rebel Maiden archetype would do…I reached my breaking point which meant something had to give. It wasn’t going to be my brand new marriage and it sure as shit wasn’t going to be the house either.
The only thing left to shoulder the hit – my business.
So in Q4 of 2020 I officially burned it all down…right to the very lucrative email list.
Although I never regretted breaking up with a business that was positioned for profits over passion I will say that the decision to dump me email list and my loyal newsletter audience has haunted my for the last three years until something magical happened this week.
In this post, I’m going to break down what happened psychologically to drive me to take such a drastic action so you don’t find yourself where I was and reveal how I eventually broke my painful cycle of procrastination to relaunch my list to rave reviews.
What Happened When I Ditched My List
I’m sure it will come as no surprise that the first and most immediate thing that happened is my calendar began to clear up and the cash flow crumbled.
That hurt like hell but I expected it.
To be honest, I was too burned out to care at that point.
I was so exhausted from serving an audience that no longer felt rewarding or aligned in any way that money wasn’t a strong enough motivator to get me to back in the game.
I was DONE.
At first, I was deeply relieved to not have to deal with nurturing the list and putting out a newsletter every week no matter how profitable it had been for me.
It felt rebellious and indulgent.
But as time went on and the bank account grew smaller month by month, my inner critic became really judgy and loud.
“At the very least you could have kept the list, Sarah”
“Who the hell gives up a lucrative email list that took years to build?”
“We wouldn’t be struggling to pay the mortgage or buy food right now if you had maintained that damn email list!”
And you know what?
All of that might have been true to some degree – but at what cost?
When I abandoned my real estate media company I was in a dark place of suicidal depression and the idea of sitting down to write one more real estate blog or newsletter often felt crushing.
Still, that voice continued on for a while until I finally decided I was so tired of listening to my inner critic bitch at me all day about that list that it was time to relaunch. I would create a whole new list for my new audience and nurture them with valuable content until I was ready to launch my new brand.
I made that decision in the summer of 2021.
I wouldn’t go on to actually launch that list until the first week of June, 2023.
So…what the fuck happened?! Let me break down the psychology of the procrastination cycle I became trapped in and how I can get out of it so you know how to navigate this trap if you ever find yourself there.
Breaking The Cycle
I spent nearly three years engaged in a battle within myself to escape what became a perplexing cycle of procrastination to relaunch my list.
Everyday I would wake up determined to restart that newsletter and every day I would find or create other more important tasks that had to be done first.
I woke up determined and went to bed defeated.
It was soul-crushing at times.
It wasn’t until I reached a heightened state of self awareness which I needed to be able to take the necessary steps to break free of the cycle.
To elevate my self-awareness and solve the mystery around what was preventing a woman who can write as much as 20K words per day from sending one little newsletter per week, I had to put solid effort into:
- Understanding my behavioral patterns
- Surrendering control
- Quit drinking (sober 15 months now)
I learned so much about myself and my capabilities in that period of time that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
But it wasn’t until recently when I realized that it was my anxious-avoidant attachment style that had kept me in this holding pattern of procrastination for years.
With this attachment style, I spend half my time pandering and proving myself for validation which builds resentment and the other half of the time avoiding people entirely.
The way I was interacting with my list was no different than how I often behaved in romantic relationships, friendships, and even client relationships before I did the work to correct those patterns.
I just hadn’t realized when I did that work that it had bleed into this area of my business. Now that I knew what my problem was, I knew exactly what I needed to do to break this cycle of perpetual procrastination over something I really wanted to do.
Step One: I Had To Forgive Myself
One of the most debilitating things to your productivity is shame. With every day that I didn’t launch that list my shame grew and my capacity to tackle the task diminished. To escape that negative feedback loop of guilt and shame, I had to first forgive myself whole-heartedly.
Step Two: Behavioral Activation Therapy
Behavioral activation (BA) is a therapeutic intervention that is often used to treat depression. Behavioral activation stems from a behavioral model of depression that conceptualizes depression as a consequence of a lack of positive reinforcement. I incorporated embodiment rituals to allow me to tap into my Inner Queen Mother (although I am a Rebel Maiden Archetype) which allowed me to nurture myself to a healthy place and reclaim my power as a productive powerhouse.
Step Three: Tiny Steps
One of the other major changes that I made as I was pivoting to work with creative freelancers, speakers, and coaches instead of real estate agents was to change how I tackled my day. I went from purely time-blocking which wasn’t sustainable long term to a new system that allows me to consider my capacity more than my expanding list of capabilities. This new way of mapping out my days, weeks, months, quarters and year has had a profound impact on my ability to balance work and life while getting more done with less effort. I break everything down into tiny tasks that allow me to build momentum throug positive reinforcement that empowers me to do even the things I want to avoid.
Building Momentum & Motivation
Breaking down everything I do to create a positive feedback loop sounds so simple and stupid but thats the magic behind it in my opinion.
After spending just 30 days mapping out my day based on important vs. urgent tasks and reflecting on how it worked for me at the end of the day has completely reversed my procrastination cycle.
I also took the time to write out a list of all of the reasons why I was motivated to relaunch my newsletter, what excited me about it, and how it would impact me and my audience.
And my friends after three years, this past week I finally relaunched my list to a whopping 15 subscribers!!!
Now that may be a teeny number to my former category queen self, but for this Rebel Maiden who prioritiezes quality over quantity…it was perfect.
Regrets & Reflections Over Relaunching My List
As I sit on the other side of this launch now with the first issue of my new newsletter including my 12-Week email activation series that guides your through embodying The Queen Mother Archetype to Scale with Sovereignty I am overcome with emotion.
I am beyond proud of myself for putting in the real work to get to the root of the problem so it can never take me down again.
I am relieved to have actually launched.
I am joyfully tearful as I read the rave reviews coming in from those beloved subscribers.
I am invigorated to see new organic subscribers coming in each day.
I am deeply grateful for all of the support I received along the way.
If I have any regret it isn’t burning down the business or ditching the list…but rather spending three years shaming myself into pparalyzing procrastination for a decision that I had every right and reason to make.
Burning that list down was a risk.
But that’s business.
Starting a business…especially one that depends on your creative output is a huge risk.
A terrifying risk.
But it was also the most rewarding risk of my life to date and to be honest there is nobody in this life more worthy of taking a risk and a blind leap towards greatness than yourself is there?
What Is The Scariest Risk You Have Taken in Your Creative Business?
Do you have any regrets in your business? I would love to continue this conversation below in the comments. Would you have burned down your business? Have you ever dreamed of walking away from a business that no longer serves you?