How to Do it All

You may have noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I don’t love that– it’s unlike me. I stick to deadlines, even when I set them myself.

This is about balance, something I have been thinking about a lot lately. I knew this summer was going to be a hurricane; I mean, I designed the storm myself. I pushed the boulder down the hill in the first place, so I can’t be surprised that it picked up momentum. I balance my photography gigs, this blog, social channels, trip leading, a coaching practice and my life (i.e., my car getting totaled in a hail storm). I don’t always do it well, but hi, I’m here, so I’m obviously doing it in some general capacity.

An alternate title for this article might be “How to Keep Your Shit Together,” and SPOILER ALERT!!! I don’t actually know the answer. But if you continually launch yourself into the deep end, well, ya better learn how to swim.

“How do you do it all?”

Clumsily. Blindfolded. And on too little sleep.

My attempt at balance is messy. It’s a lot of throwing spaghetti at the wall— a metaphor I use all the time because what a visual… and that’s how it feels. It feels like pasta everywhere, with my laptop and cameras somewhere buried in there too.

It seems glamorous to travel the world and write and take photos. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it feels easy. Do not mistake this article for a complaint. I am in love with what I do for work and I wake up thankful every day. I also recognize the great privilege that has been present in my life allowing me the opportunities that got me to this point. But you can get run down or burnt out doing literally anything, and I don’t think it’s supposed to be fun or easy all the time.

Sometimes life turns up the volume on every channel at the same time. Sometimes you wish just one thing would slow down. Sometimes you just want to catch one little break, but the punches keep coming. You cannot always control the volume. It becomes really important to look at what is actually in your control, and act in your own best interest, because nobody else can do it for you.

The following points are written in the first person, as affirmations. That’s on purpose.


I’m accustomed to being a one-woman show. I over-commit, over-volunteer, over-extend. I can do it all! WATCH! Then upon finishing “it all,” I promptly start laugh-crying into a large pizza (that is, on good days).

Sometimes even the highest achievers need to ask for help. Willingness to ask for help is a strength. And shocker… sometimes you can even hire people who will do something better than you can, allowing you to spend your time doing the things you are best at.

Ask your friends for help. Ask specialists for help (and, ahem, pay them accordingly). Ask the people in your life for help who have told you over and over that they are here for you. It’s usually not an empty offer.


Time and energy are the most precious commodities we possess. You do not have time for bullshit, you do not have time for people who do not show up for you, you do not have time for things that drain your energy and give you nothing in return. You do not have time for people who poke holes in your dreams. So say no to all of it, because it’s not making you better. And it’s most definitely not helping you keep your shit together.

Say no to jobs that do not pay you what you’re worth, say no to people who suck up your time and energy, say no to shitty food and giving up on yourself. Say no to the wrong things so you can make space for the right things.


When was the last time you felt small? When was the last time you reminded yourself that we’re all just floating on a rock in Space? When was the last time someone reminded you that your problems are just not that big?

It’s not always about you. And don’t allow yourself to feel bad about that fact– that’s not the point here. The point is that this world, your life, everything you’re connected to, is much bigger than whatever is stressing you out. Listen to a podcast. Watch a movie. Read a book. Do something that puts things in perspective. Remember to celebrate your wins when you can. Remember that this isn’t the first time you’ll have to deal with something hard. And remember that you are not in this alone.


Comparison does not make you better. It doesn’t. It puts out your fire because it convinces you that other people have better ones. It dilutes you, makes you feel small, and makes you feel like you’re not enough. Comparison does not improve you or your work– it doesn’t lighten your load.

I do not know a single person who does not struggle with this. I compare myself to other people in my industry, to people I know and people I don’t know, to my best friends, to people my age. It has never helped. We have to just stop. Don’t get sucked into it, and notice when you do so you can pull yourself out.


You must have energy to do work that matters. So take the requisite time. Decide to eat well, to exercise, to devote time to your spiritual practice or mental health, whatever that means to you. Notice what you need– do what you can to make rest possible. If you’re working multiple jobs, I feel you. It’s hard. It sucks. It feels impossible. Do what you can.

I don’t believe in Hustle Till You Die. If The Hustle is killing you, change what you are doing. It doesn’t matter how “successful” you are at the top if you sold your soul or your health to get there. You have a limited amount of time and energy. Spend some of it on your personal well-being.


Why are you here? What makes you feel fired up? What gets you out of bed? Maybe you don’t have a super passionate idea of what that is right now, and that’s OK. But follow the clues your life is giving you. And stay focused on the purpose-driven stuff. Don’t get distracted by the shit other people are doing, gossip, negativity, or the million reasons people will tell you your goals won’t work out.

Listen. The storm will never stop, it just changes form and intensity. That’s life. Life will bring you challenges, then push you into the deep end and throw the entire pool off the cliff. It’s your job to learn to swim regardless.


Thanks for reading. If you liked this post, or if you know someone who would find it helpful, please share it– handy share buttons below.

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  • Reply
    Joe Pajamas
    July 19, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    U r so cool and your words are very good,

  • Reply
    Rachel @ Better LIVIN
    July 20, 2017 at 7:59 am

    I definitely fall into that comparison trap! It’s so hard not to in today’s online world. I see people making a living off their blog and I wonder why I can’t seem to do the same. Just stay in your own lane- you’re doing great!

    • Erin Sullivan
      Erin Sullivan
      July 22, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      It’s sooooo harrrrdddd. You got this, Rachel! Pull yourself right on out of there (and I’ll try to do the same!).

  • Reply
    Lindy Callahan
    July 20, 2017 at 10:08 am

    So true and so real. We all need these reminders.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    Hit it on the head Erin – comparison is a killer. We’re all guilty of it, but it’s one of the most self-defeating exercises you can engage in.

    • Erin Sullivan
      Erin Sullivan
      July 22, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      It’s so exhausting! Thanks for sharing, Matthew 🙂

  • Reply
    July 22, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    I will definitely be reading and re-reading this many times. Great reminders. Thanks for posting Erin!

    • Erin Sullivan
      Erin Sullivan
      July 25, 2017 at 8:55 am

      Thank you so much Laura! Really appreciate your support.

  • Reply
    Caitlin Pickett | Yoga Instructor
    July 24, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks for being so truthful and real with your audience Erin! These are great things to remember when we seem to be drowning in life! Its all OK!

    Also I nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award over on my website here: http://www.caitlinpickett.com/bloggeraward

    • Erin Sullivan
      Erin Sullivan
      July 25, 2017 at 8:55 am

      Thank you Caitlin! Great to hear 🙂 And thank you for the nomination, that’s so cool!

  • Reply
    July 24, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    “Comparison does not make you better. It doesn’t. It puts out your fire because it convinces you that other people have better ones”. This is so true and is an amazing way to phrase it. I also think what drives people to be “haters” is a reaction to comparison. I try to be inspired by others rather than compare myself and let jealousy creep in.

    • Erin Sullivan
      Erin Sullivan
      July 25, 2017 at 8:57 am

      Betsy–– I need to remember this SO often myself! I totally agree that we hate on other people because of comparison (jealousy to some extent). The more similar someone is to us (or to our goals), the more jealous we are/the more we tend to compare. That is so awesome that you tend to be inspired rather than to compare… I think that’s the goal!

  • Reply
    August 8, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Really, you are so inspiring. I struggled also with an ED and now I’m moving soon to Australia to follow once again my dream of travelling the woeld. I feel sometimes so insecure or scared, but I really really want to do this.
    Your words are so inspiring and healing. Thank you very much for that.

    • Erin Sullivan
      Erin Sullivan
      August 8, 2017 at 10:15 am

      Hi Ana, thank you so much for sharing. What you are feeling is totally normal! Remember to be gentle with yourself in moments of fear, doubt or uncertainty– all stuff that will most likely come up in a move to Australia. Stay connected to your Why and trust it. xo

  • Reply
    August 14, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    ten minutes ago, i was sitting at my computer trying to map out how i let the snowflakes in my life turn into avalanches. some of them are really good, some just simply aren’t. i’m usually pretty good at figuring out when and where i could’ve handled things better but ten minutes ago, i just wanted to cry and throw my laptop in the ocean. then, my thoughts took a different turn: what would erin do? very happy to have found this post, your wisdom and your candor. cheers, lady!

  • Reply
    February 1, 2018 at 1:14 am

    Sigh. I so love the way you write

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