Balance & Beyond Podcast

Episode Summary

#33: Redefining Success: How I Finally Embraced Slowing Down to Speed Up

Embarking on a transformative journey requires a leap of faith and the courage to question long-standing beliefs about success.

Embarking on a transformative journey requires a leap of faith and the courage to question long-standing beliefs about success. Our latest episode chronicles Jo’s own personal evolution, as she trades in ego-driven goal-setting for a life enriched with purpose and joy. A Norwegian health clinic and a visionary body coach play lead roles in this narrative, reframing how she views physical achievements. In pursuit of a 10km running goal, Jo discovers that sometimes you have to slow down to speed up. An insight that speaks volumes beyond the running track.

This episode isn't just Jo’s story—it's an invitation to look at your own goals through a new lens. We discuss the power of managing inputs over outputs, which means valuing the process as much as, if not more than, the end result. Running alongside friends and focusing on that pivotal 1% has shown Jo how to let go of competition and fear of disappointment. It’s about learning to savour the strides and finding balance to avoid burnout. With strategies drawn deeply embedded in the Balance Institute’s culture and programs, we uncover methods for cultivating a harmonious lifestyle, reminding ourselves that achievement doesn't have to come at the expense of our health and happiness. Join us for a conversation that could change the way you approach your goals in 2024.

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Episode Transcript

INTRO: Welcome to Balance and Beyond, the podcast for ambitious women who refuse to accept burnout as the price of success. Here, we’re committed to empowering you with the tools and strategies you need to achieve true balance, where your career, relationships and health all thrive, and where you have the power to define success on your own terms. I honour the space you’ve created for yourself today, so take a breath, and let's dive right in…

Would you like a completely different way to set and reach your goals? That involves doing less, reaching your goal faster, and having more on the way? Sounds like a dream, doesn't it? But I have recently unlocked a new way to set goals. This is a completely different paradigm from everything else I've ever done. 

Now, typically, the way I've set goals is I've said, “Right, I want to do this thing.” I want to, let's say it's a health goal, “I want to run a half marathon.” “I want to do this thing.” And it's all about the speed, it's all about the number, it's all about finishing it. And sometimes, it's all about the ego. It's about, “I want to be able to say that I've done a triathlon.” I want to be able to say, “I've done a half marathon.” And these are goals that are very much set with other people in mind. 

By this, I mean, it's, “Okay, well, what are other people going to think if I accomplish this thing?” And how I have often gone about achieving these goals is I have pushed, and it's been about speed, and it's been about grinding. Because that was my blueprint for how you go and achieve a goal. You set a goal and then you'll hustle your butt off until you get it. 

However, what if I could share with you a different way to set a goal, that I have recently been working through? And it is making such a difference, most importantly, for me, and the amount of joy I'm getting throughout my journey? Now, I set myself a goal. Let's say, “I've been working on my body for the past 12 months.” And when I say, “working on my body”, I mean, I took my family to a cutting edge health clinic in Norway, at the end of 2022. 

And this was all about, “I don't want to wait.” “I'm not interested in waiting for time to deal with conventional medicine.” I wanted to pay with the money to short circuit this. We were having challenges with my husband, with both my children, and myself, and we had been around. It seems like every single specialist, somebody says, “You need to go speak to this person.” You wait six weeks for an appointment and they run some tests, and then you wait another six weeks to talk to them. 

And particularly, when it came to my kids, I wasn't prepared to wait. I wasn't prepared to wait another year for some kind of diagnosis, and they go, “Well, we're not quite sure what to do with this.” “We recommend that you start this therapy, or that …” I'm like, “No, I am not prepared to wait.” Patience is not my virtue. And so, I was going to move mountains, and I was prepared to pay money to take years off what it is that we've done, how we've done it. 

And if I look outside the traditional health system, what are some other options out there? I wouldn't necessarily use the word “more alternative”, but I've become more “open minded” as to what are some multifaceted ways that we can solve problems or challenges that we have, particularly when it comes to health. 

And so, after I've spent the last year working with a body coach to rebuild my body, to rebuild the way my muscles wire and fire so that I'm absolutely as optimal as I can be, and having now rewired everything, having unlocked the way that my foot strikes the ground and the way my hamstrings engage, and I've completely rebuilt everything, It was now time for me to put this, I'd almost say, “new, differently engaged body” to the test. And for me, I'm always somebody who does better with something to strive for. 

So, what I have decided to do is a 10km run, which is going to be in May of 2024. And initially I was like, “Right.” “I'm going to do this goal, and I'm going to do it this way, and it's going to be so much fun!” And then I sat back, and went, “Okay, there's got to be a different way to do this.” “I am not going to step into the same old paradigm that I used to have, where it was all about hustling.” It was all about white knuckling, and working with my body coach. 

He's actually put me on a program that was given to the Ethiopian and Kenyan marathon runners and what this involves doing. I'm not doing a marathon, by the way, it's a 10km run. But, this works on the theory that you have to slow down, to speed up. This is something that was very opposite to what I believed in. I was all about speed. I was all about, “Let me train as much as I can.” 

And an actual fact, what this is doing is this is building your body up from the inside out. And that's such a beautiful analogy for how I have set this goal. I have set this goal as, “How do I want to feel?” “Why does this goal actually matter to me?” And it's not about the accolades. 

This is a goal that I wouldn't necessarily care about if anybody knew that I was doing this. But, I know that I work better to a schedule, as in if I wake up and think, “Well, I'll, you know.” “I'll go for a run this morning, and it's raining.” “I'm a bit tired.” It's very easy for me to go, “No, not going to go.” However, I am incredibly disciplined. 

If I know that I have to fit in four runs in a week, and if Saturday is my long run, and today's Thursday, and if I don't do this other run, then I'm going to be doing the two back to back. It's not going to work. So, for me, having structure is what actually makes me thrive. This is the “hustle muscle” that I have. I need these things locked into my schedule, and then I will do them, and I will execute. So, I know what makes me thrive. And I know how to work with my own personality, and the way that I like to live my life. 

What he has given me, though, is a program that involves a very, very different way of operating. And when we talk about inside out, like I mentioned, this is about me connecting into an understanding of “Why am I doing this?” “And I want to do this because …” First of all, I want to try something in a different way. I want to be really focused on the joy. I want to be focused on the feeling that going for a run gives me, rather than everything being hard, and waiting until race day in order to feel that euphoria, and feel that joy, and feel satisfied and content. 

I want to get that feeling every single run. So, for me, this goal is about bringing some discipline back in terms of frequency of exercise. It's about challenging myself, and frankly, I wanted to do this in a different way. I wanted to see what would happen if I followed one of the best in the world and what could be possible, and he's given me a goal time that I laughed at. 

When he told me I went, “What?” “I can't possibly ever run that fast.” I said, “I have done, I don't know how many, five or six, or seven, half marathons?” “Maybe more, and I always hit a plateau.” I could never, no matter how much I would run, overcome this barrier. I could have run for hours, but I could never increase my speed. 

And what was really interesting is, after doing all this training with him, he sent me off on a training run and he said, “All right, Jo. “I want you to go and run three kms.” “Don't put the handbrake on.” “Don't worry about how fast you're running.” “I want you to run at a pace that feels really good at, you know, a five or six out of 10.” “I do not want you sprinting.” “I do not want you straining, and at the end of the three kms, hit stop, and let's use it as a baseline and see how fast you run.” Well, I did that. I did that and I ran those three kms effortlessly, and faster than I have ever run them in my entire life. 

And let's be clear. I wasn't trying. I have not been running outside of playing netball. From a training runs perspective, I haven’t been doing anything like that. So I thought I was not running-fit. I thought I didn't have a good level of cardio fitness. And yet, because of all the work I've been doing with him, on the inside, it shifted. I broke through a ceiling, actually not a ceiling. I broke through a floor that I never, ever believed was possible to break through. 

Because, we've done it differently. We have slowed down. We have focused on those little 1% shifts that are needed in order for me to be optimal. I focused on picking up my heels more. so that I've got a longer stride. We've unlocked my hip flexors, so that with each stride, I go longer. So, I'm much more efficient. 

This is all about, “How do we have minimum effort, for maximum gain?” And this is what this was. It was less effort than I used to run, but because I'm running optimally, the way my body is designed to run, everything unlocks. And this is what this training program is for me. There is so much joy in now building up these muscles. This is about training my blood vessels. 

Again, it's in a very different way. And, if you've been around me a while, you know that I love facts and figures. I love science, and I love neuroscience, and understanding the way my program is being designed. It's all about maximizing my body's efficiency. Again, things I value. I wanna know that I'm not going to die at the 8K line because I flog myself. 

And while this is not about giving you a 10K-run training program. I want you to understand that, when you come at your goals in a different way, when you intentionally work out: What is the 1% shift, the focus area, that I can tweak right now, that is going to give you exponential results? And, what has to shift? Though, you've got to take your focus off just that end goal. You've got to stop it being about ego, or about the Instagram-Perfect, “Yeah, I finished.” And how can you develop these goals in a way that means training becomes fun? Or, how can you make these things leading up to your goal fun? 

Too often, we talk about managing ourselves to achieve outputs. So, by output, that means that my success is measured by race, day, and my success is measured by the time I got on the finish line. But, what I'm actually managing now is the inputs. I'm managing my schedule, I'm managing my joy. I'm doing this with a friend, so I'm making sure it meets my need for connection. We're holding each other accountable, we're sharing our running times.  

So, again, I never used to do this with anyone. Because I was worried about being too competitive. I was worried about what they might think of me. I was worried about letting someone down, and so, again, everything has been completely redesigned in order to focus on one of the 1% pieces that are going to make a difference, and this is what I suggest that you do. 

 If you think about a goal, you have a vision, you have a dream, you have an objective you have. If you look at all the things you're doing, are you managing the outputs? Are you putting all your joy in the achievement of the thing? And, too often, I see with high achievers, they put all their supposed joy, or contentment, or relief, when they hit their goal. 

But, the moment they come even a tiny bit close to the goal, they shift the goalposts and go, “Well, I'm actually running really fast.” “I said I wanted to do this time, but now, I should do this time.” So, there's no fulfillment. All the joy is removed. And this is what makes life really, really hard. It's why we white knuckle. It's why we push and then we lean into, “Well, there's not much joy here.” “Well, I better work harder, because I've got to earn my joy.” 

Instead of saying, “You know what?” “In order to find the 1% of the thing that you need to focus on, you can get a coach.” A couch is going to tell you what the 1% is, because they can look at you from the outside, or they can tell you, “You have to slow down.” You have to stop and take a cold, hard look at yourself and say, “Of all the things I'm doing, what's the 1% that's actually going to help me get to my goal, and to that thing that I want?” “Because that's what matters.” 

You know, what stops us from actually stopping and looking at the 1%, is we're afraid, we're going to pick the wrong 1%. Well, there's too many 1% options to choose from. So, we get so overwhelmed, and then it's easy just to procrastinate. We’re always such a high achiever, always so hyper vigilant, that we're going to beat ourselves up, if we chose the wrong thing. And, this is what stops us. 

So, when that's the case, just be busy, throw in. “I've got more work to do.” Let me work harder. And we push and push and push, because working harder, even though it sucks the joy out of life, even though it's hard, even though it robs us of joy, it's actually the more, it's the easier thing for us to do, it's the thing that sits inside our comfort zone, and so we do it. It's being great at working hard, and having a great work ethic. 

I've had people on the phone to me who are working 80 hours a week. And there's nothing wrong with this. But they say, “I'm really proud that I'm showing my kids a strong work ethic.” Like, that's wonderful. But, I'm pretty sure your kids might appreciate a strong work ethic. If we can get you working 60 hours a week, or maybe even 50, you might have a bit more time for them. You might have a bit more time for you. 

So, this is what you've got to do. You have to learn to slow down. You've got to learn to find your 1%. You've got to strip out what doesn't matter. You've got to strip out the busyness. You’ve got to strip out all the coping mechanisms, all the behaviors you're doing, because you do not have the courage, or the skills, or the tools in your toolkit, to stop and look for that 1%. And for me, I have gone to somebody who's the best in the world to find my 1%, and I'm continuously relooking at my mindset. I'm continuously saying, “How do I find joy in this?” 


The day that I'm recording this, I went for a long run, and it felt amazing. And again, I'm doing this differently. After my long run, I went to my favorite spot in the bush. So, I celebrated. I filled up my cup. I didn't then feel guilty because I'd been out for a run. And then, I was worried about the kids. I went, “No, I'm going for my long run.” I'm going to make sure it finishes at my favorite spot. So, I'm going to take some time out for myself to celebrate. My body is feeling great! I'm feeling no injuries, I'm feeling smooth, I'm feeling alive, I'm feeling like I'm working towards something. 

This is intentional cultivation. It's slowing down. And I know that, come race day, I'm going to end up running faster than I could ever imagine. But, what's more important to me, is that I will look back over these four or five months that I've had this training program, and know that I've done this differently. That I have lent myself to a better version of me, that I've broken some old habits, that I've found more joy. And that's what life's about. 

So, I'm going to achieve my goals even better than I know I could have if I was by myself. I'm going to eliminate the suffering and the guesswork and the overwhelm. I'm going to construct and do the things that we have to do in order to get a goal in a way that brings me joy, that brings me connection, that makes me feel fulfilled, and I'm determined that it's not going to be hard. Because, I'm slowing down, and I'm focusing on the things that matter. I'm focusing on my 1%. 

So, this is my challenge for you today. What needs to shift in your life, so you can slow down? What is something that you are aiming towards? Whether it's a health thing, a work thing, a family thing, or a financial thing? It's the 1% that's actually going to make a difference. And how do you have the courage and the tools to stop? To slow down long enough, to find the 1%, to give yourself compassion if you picked the wrong thing yesterday, where you can pick again today. 

It’s time to put down the imposter, to put down the beating yourself up about, “Oh I did it wrong.” “And I did this.” And to say, “Enough of the self-deprecation, enough of the white knuckling, enough of the grinding.” And find a way to tap into joy, and enjoy the process, and the outcome will end up taking care of itself. So, there's your challenge. Go and find your thing, that’s your outcome, your dream, the 1%, and set your goals. Set them this year,  with a difference. 

OUTRO: Thank you for joining us today on the Balance and Beyond Podcast. We're so glad you carved out this time for yourself. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend who might need to hear this today. And if you're feeling extra generous, leaving us a review on your podcast platform of choice would mean the world. If you’re keen to dive deeper into our world, visit us at to discover more about the toolkit that has helped thousands of women avoid burnout and create a life of balance, and beyond. Thanks again for tuning in, and we'll see you next time on the Balance & Beyond Podcast.

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