Doing hard things vs Doing all the things

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Confession time. I’m a recovering people-pleaser.

Until a few years ago I pretty much spent my whole life worrying about keeping other people happy, being liked and what others thought about me.

What I didn’t realise is that people-pleasing also breeds procrastination. When I started my own business I discovered I had a HUGE problem with getting things done. Not because I was too busy (although that’s what I told myself!) but because I had conditioned myself to believe that I should be doing everything for anyone else, but when it came to doing my own important stuff ….somehow I just managed to find some other little task to do for someone else!

My days were filled up with every teeny little task around the house, ‘researching social media’, reading all the books, but I would struggle to get the big, income-generating stuff done for my business.

You see, when you’re a people-pleaser you live for other people, to see them through their storms, to help them thrive.  You on the other hand, just go from day to day only feeling worthy if you’ve done something for someone else.  

Unable to love yourself without some form of praise or acknowledgement from someone else, you become trapped in a world where your worth is measured only by your productivity.

You also get stuck in a victim mentality. You become so addicted to keeping everyone else happy, and doing all the things, that deep down you start to resent it and you start to wish that someone would just come and save you. I call it my Prince Charming syndrome - i’ll play Cinderella to everyone else until my prince comes and rescues me.

And this somehow rendered me incapable of doing my own hard things. I was burnt out, I was tired, I felt worthless, and most days it was easier to do all the things and wait for someone else to the hard things.

And so today I want to talk to you about the mindset shift that needs to take place within you for to do the hard things and stop being the people-pleaser who does all the things.


‘We can do hard things’ is a mindset.


‘We must do everything’ is a recipe for burnout.

In today’s world, women are programmed to believe that only way to succeed is to force and hustle and hold your breath until the strain of it all passes. I actually mistook defiance for resilience until recently.

And today I want to tell you that that kind of thinking, and living, will put you in an early grave. And if you have kids, it will send them crazy too.

So how do we do it?

How do we do all the things and not lose your mind?

How do we cultivate a mindset that empowers us to choose the hard things that will give us the results that we want, and leave all the other stuff behind?

Here’s 5 simple steps that I use to get through those days, and keep my mindset on thriving, not surviving.

  1. Start with why. There is a reason that Simon Sineks tedX talk went viral. We know what we want (the car, the money, the things), we sometimes know how we might want to get the things (usually we think it involves hustle and pleasing!), but rarely do we know WHY we want it. We need to know our passion and our purpose, otherwise we can never push ourselves to do the hard thing. My why is my son. When I doubt I can do the hard things I look at him, and remember the life I want to create for us and I know that I can choose to do the thing that will take me one step closer to getting there.

  2. Coach yourself. When the doubt and overwhelm starts to creep in, I stop and tell myself “I don’t need to do everything, but I can do hard things. I was made for this. I can do this. One step at a time”. Self-belief is a muscle that needs to be strengthened, a habit that needs to be conditioned. Whether you tell yourself you can, or you can’t, you’ll be right. So choose your words wisely, and ultimately….if you want it, you must believe, and tell yourself you can!

  3. Look to the future. I talk with my future self often - she is the one that drives me on and keeps my dream alive. Try asking yourself “what 3 things is my future self doing now that i’m not doing?” This simple question takes you out of the energy of the problem, and into the energy of possibility. Your future self is hopefully rocking the life you crave, and so who best to ask how she got there? Usually my future self tells me super simple things like drinking more water, exercising daily, and posting that blog I said I was going to! Doing hard things doesn’t require rocket science, it usually requires discipline and focus - which brings me to step 4.

  4. Complete a task. People-pleasers have a habit of doing lots of things, too many things, and often many of them at the same time badly. My business started to change when I started halving my to-do list and not moving on until I had completed a task. Completion grew my business by 600% last year. Do not underestimate the power of finishing something completely. Get it done, sign it off, move on.

  5. Finally - Modify, but don’t quit. We all have those days. Somedays we can go full throttle, other days we need to slow up and rest. Perfecting the art between achieving your goals and honouring your body takes practise, and so learn to modify, but never quit. Give yourself permission to rest if you need, but never ever quit - especially on a bad day.


Be the magic that you are.
And do hard things with love & grace.


(And if you’re ready to move from the story of “I must do everything” to the power of “I can be anything” then PM me. I have a very special, transformational experience for women who are ready to stop people-pleasing, stop waiting and start creating their dream life)


Mary HoustonComment