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I’m living a very different life than I thought I would be four or five years ago.

It’s easy, when you’re looking ahead to the future, to visualize only the golden, stellar, awesome parts. Obviously, right? I mean, who sits around visualizing the mundane and tedious and frustrating bits of their future?

I certainly didn’t. All I saw, four or five years ago, was a life of purpose and ease — days full of meaningful client sessions, bountiful green juices, leisurely yoga afternoons … basically your stereotypical cool-girl Instagram feed. <eye roll>

Flash forward to the present, and … I’ve been to yoga once in the past six months and I still don’t own a juicer.

I do have plenty of clients, and they certainly fill my career with meaning and purpose (as does hosting this podcast, writing blogs, and leading our online programs).

But in my rosy visualizations, I never pictured what owning a business is actually like — the unpredictable income, the necessity of playing almost ALL of the roles that would normally be divided among a team, the long days, the sense of responsibility for keeping it afloat.

I’m not going to lie. I have days where the weight of it gets to me, and in my exhaustion and frustration, I ask myself seriously, “Is this worth it?”

That’s a heavy question, isn’t it? How do you even go about answering that when there’s so much at stake and SO many convoluted feelings that go into it?

Well, I’ve found the BEST way to answer it, whether the thing in question is a job, relationship, or something slightly less serious.

INTRODUCING … THE SHIT SANDWICH

The Shit Sandwich (which I’ll refer to from now on as the S.S. because I don’t feel like writing “shit” a hundred times in this blog) was first introduced to me by Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Big Magic. She in turn got it from a popular blog by Mark Manson.

The concept, in a nutshell, goes like this:

Everything sucks, some of the time. That’s normal and completely to be expected.

Or, put another way … if you want something, you must be willing to take the bad along with the good:

HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR PASSION IN LIFE

In Big Magic, Liz talks about a writer she once knew who used to complain about not getting his work published:

            “I don’t want to be sitting around,” he would moan. “I want this all to add up to something. I want this to become my job!”

            Even back then, I thought there was something off about his attitude.

            Mind you, I wasn’t being published, either, and I was hungry, too. I would’ve loved to have all the same stuff he wanted success, reward, affirmation. I was no stranger to disappointment and frustration. But I remember thinking that learning how to endure your disappointment and frustration is part of the job.

            If you want to be an artist of any sort, it seemed to me, then handling your frustration is a fundamental aspect of the work perhaps the single most fundamental aspect of the work. Frustration is not an interruption of your process; frustration is the process.

            The fun part (the part where it doesn’t feel like work at all) is when you’re actually creating something wonderful, and everything’s going great, and everyone loves it, and you’re flying high. But such instants are rare. You don’t just get to leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren’t going great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation.”

It’s easy to imagine yourself blissfully following your passion. But when it comes down to it, a passionate life isn’t just about the golden, easy moments. It’s about what you’re willing to endure, sacrifice, and sweat through the S.S. moments to get to the good stuff.

twitter-bird Are you willing to eat the shit sandwich that comes with the things you most want in life?

THAT’S HOW I KNOW I’M DOING THE RIGHT THING

In those times when I get frustrated, overwhelmed, defeated, and “over it,” this is the FIRST question I ask myself:

“Is eating this S.S. still worth it to get to do what I do?”

The answer has always been yes.

Sometimes that “yes” has come grudgingly. But in the end, there’s no other life I’d rather be living, and if eating the S.S. of being a business owner is what it takes to keep living this way, then I’ll keep doing it.

But I know plenty of people who can’t say yes when asked that question.

So, what if you aren’t sure eating the S.S. is actually worth it? What if you’re eating a S.S. for something that isn’t right for you?

HAVING YOUR S.S. … AND EATING IT, TOO

Often, I find people who are trying to have their cake (or maybe we should replace that with “S.S.”) and eat it, too.

As in … they don’t like their situation, but all they want to do is complain about it rather than actually change anything:

“I want to be a homeowner, but I don’t want to deal with all of the maintenance.”

“I want to go back to grad school really badly, but I don’t want to take on more debt.”

“I want to switch jobs, but I don’t want to have to deal with explaining myself to everyone along the way.”

And so, caught between two things they don’t want to do, they just keep doing neither while complaining about both.

MY RULES FOR DEALING WITH YOUR OWN S.S.

I only have two requests of you, if you’re contemplating whether your S.S. is worth eating:

Do you realize how few things in your life you’re actually going to want to eat the S.S. for badly enough?

There’s only been one job — the one I have right now — that’s been worth it to me. I’m still looking for the romantic relationship that’s going to be worth it. I personally think having children will be worth it, but I understand why so many people don’t feel that way.

There’s nothing wrong with you if you decide it’s not worth it. That’s normal.

The only thing that would be “wrong” is if you kept doing something you knew wasn’t worth it, for fear of not finding what is worth it.

I’d love to hear what you think about the concept of shit sandwiches, in the comments!

Much Love,

Rachel (& Kristen)


GET ON THE VIP LIST FOR OUR NEW PEOPLE PLEASING COURSE!

Getting Over People Pleasing will be open for enrollment on Tuesday, August 20th!

If you haven’t joined our VIP list yet, please do! There will be goodies for people who are on that list when we launch the course.

EPISODES WE MENTIONED IN THIS BLOG…

Bonus Book Club! Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (June 2018)

Dear Krachel: How do I say no without people hating me? (August 2019)

LINKS

Mark Manson’s original blog about shit sandwiches

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Submit your question for a future episode of Dear Krachel

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  1. Love the inspiration it’s seems that I’ve been doing a lot of SS, however I just know it’s going to pay off.
    Please add me to your VIP list.

    Many Blessings
    Kathy

  2. Love this! I was literally discussing shit sandwiches with a coworker yesterday! I also often think about the downsides to careers that are seemingly glamorous. Right now I’m loving my work schedule and coworkers, which makes the occasionally S.S. a lot easier to chew and swallow 😉

    1. I love the divine timing of you talking about this with someone just yesterday! Yeah, it totally makes the S.S. more edible when you’ve got a schedule you enjoy, and are surrounded by people you like working with!

  3. Great post and perfect length (not too long or too short). Very insightful comments. As I once read, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”

  4. I have never heard it describe as a “Shit sandwich” XD but I think this is so incredibly true! Every good comes with a bad, and every bad comes with a good. I’m getting much better at learning which S.S. moments I am willing to pursue, and which just aren’t worth it to me (or just aren’t right for me/the life I want). Great post!

    1. You’re so right! Nothing is ever 100% good or bad. And when we don’t expect things to ever be 100% one way or the other, it’s much easier for us to figure out what’s worth it.

  5. Ever since I first heard you guys mention the “s.s.” concept earlier this year, it has really stuck with me. I watched a Liz Gilbert interview where she talked about it, and just loved it. I have some very vivid and funny visualizations forever in my mind now from it.
    I like the perspective it lends, and it really helped reinforce those decisions to quit things over the years, now that I can point to it and identify that I just really didn’t want that s.s. so I walked away (from pursuing a higher degree, from a relationship, etc). And, for that matter, reflecting on the things I do now where I can accept it, like the workouts and extra hours practicing dance, because I know I love it enough that that s.s. is totally worth it!
    I especially appreciate this: “Don’t judge yourself for not wanting to eat the S.S.” – it’s nice to realize that I’m allowed to not want what I don’t want, it’s so easy to forget. I have judged myself, and fear judgment of others, about some of the choices I’ve made, so this is a constant work in progress.
    Thanks!

    1. Hey Jen! Personally, I think you’ve gotten really good at evaluating whether the s.s. is worth eating! 😉 I’m glad you’ve been applying this to all aspects of your life … it really helps!

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