A couple weeks ago when we launched our interview with Nicole Antoinette, I sent out a Being Boss newsletter sharing my obsession with Mt. Everest. And when I say Mt. Everest, I’m not using a metaphor. In 2010 I became so consumed with thoughts about the highest summit in the world, I knew I had to see it with my own eyeballs. So I flew to Nepal and spent 10 days hiking up to 19,000 feet to watch the sunrise from behind Everest herself. It was so beautiful, but I learned that the true reward was in each step and each breath along the way. I found confidence in the process and I’ve tried my best to carry that lesson in my work.

There are times when the process feels so good—I’m digging what I’m creating, and I feel like I’m getting somewhere with my work. And there are other times when I’ve felt like my big dreams, relentless ambition, and dissatisfaction with being basic will be the death of me. When I feel like this, I know it’s time to put my big dreams on the shelf (right next to the fear) and just do the work.

Listen, nothing kills self-doubt and insecurities like the act of creating something. I’m not talking about launching the thing, or promoting the thing, or even selling the thing. It’s in the MAKING of the thing. And that’s why I believe in the hustle.

Earlier this week, Emily outlined the rules and activities that go down on her mandatory rest days, so I thought I would share a list of what my hustle really looks like—and spoiler alert: it’s not climbing Mt. Everest (literally or metaphorically).

So let me begin with a list of what my hustle DOES NOT look like:

  • Planning
  • Dreaming
  • Wishing
  • Thinking
  • Journaling
  • Reading
  • Learning
  • Researching
  • Meeting
  • Engaging
  • Instagramming

Do these things listed above matter in my business? ABSOLUTELY. I probably spend a good chunk of my time planning, dreaming, thinking, learning, and meeting—but those things are not my hustle, and those things don’t really give me much confidence. What I’m really trying to say is planning, dreaming, thinking, and learning aren’t enough if you don’t do the work that it takes to convert your ideas into something that takes shape in this world.

So here’s what my hustle looks like and here is how I really give life to my work on any given day:

  • Writing a blog post or newsletter
  • Recording a podcast and making sure I have a clear call to action
  • Creating a new opt-in / content upgrade for my newsletter
  • Designing a keynote presentation for an upcoming masterclass
  • Writing an outline for a book
  • Emailing a podcast sponsor about our partnership next quarter
  • Sending out a sales email that doesn’t feel icky
  • Setting meetings with specific times, dates, and objectives
  • Outlining & delegating a task list (complete with due dates) in Asana

So what I really want to tell you is that you need both.

You need vision and you need hustle.

You need a big picture and a step-by-step plan.

You need work and you need rest.

You need structure and you need flexibility.

You need community and you need competition.

Your capacity to live in the tension of the and, and your ability to recognize when to push and when to pull is what will make you a creative, productive, and happier boss.

Kathleen is the co-host of Being Boss Podcast, helping creative entrepreneurs learn how to run their own creative business while being their most authentic selves. She also co-owns Braid Creative, a business visioning & branding agency for people- and purpose-driven businesses.