I fell through the front door, desperate for nothing more than a hot shower and some long-awaited alone time.
It had been a long day: a run with my best friend at 5:30 am; eight hours at my day job in an open-plan office; a networking event at lunch; and a session with my business coach after work. I was drained, my tank was running on empty and I needed to recharge delightfully alone.
My name is Ashley, and I am an introvert.
It's something I shamefully tried to ignore for years because I also happen to be one of the most ambitious people I know. When you’re ambitious, there is no time to take a night off to simply be by yourself and do nothing, in order to recharge your introverted batteries.
Being an ambitious introvert poses an interesting dilemma. Do we hustle and put ourselves out there for the world to drain our energy, or do we conserve our energy by living a more private, simple life?
I've always felt an intense need to do more, be more and see more. I've had a burning in the pit of my stomach to live an extraordinary life through building a business I love, helping and inspiring other people.
I also love nothing more than to be blissfully alone, reading a good personal development book with a glass of red wine by an open fire. I hate small talk, I rarely feel lonely and I find it hard to open up to people unless I know them well.
After years of living in denial, I have now come to accept introversion is deeply ingrained into my personality. I’m not likely to love large crowds or small talk anytime soon.
Likewise, I know my ambition will never cease, and I will always be hungry for success.
So, there is only one way to deal: find the sweet spot of balance. Here are the five best tips that have worked for me when my ambition is screaming yes, but my introversion is screaming no:
Find a purpose.
Have an event you really should attend, but the thought of networking with 40 strangers makes you cringe? Why not volunteer your services to help out the event host? That way, you have a purpose and can keep yourself busy.
It’s a great icebreaker for people you want to speak to, and it’s also the perfect excuse to leave a conversation you’re not into. You could offer to photograph, help out at the door or even pour drinks.
Fast-track small talk.
Introverts are famously known to hate small talk; we prefer real conversations that essentially dive into our fears, hopes and dreams.
Cut through the small talk, and prepare three topics you love to talk about. That way, next time someone starts talking to you about the weather, you can steer the conversation to one you will both get more out of.
For me personally, I am naturally very intrigued how people live their day-to-day lives and the choices they make. For example, what they choose to eat, or how they like to work out.
I will always steer the conversation in that direction by asking insightful (but not too personal) questions. That way, I enjoy the conversation more, and the other person gets to talk about him- or herself. Win-win!
Plan your schedule right.
Being ambitious, we want to say yes to every invitation. (After all, what if we meet our next investor there?) However, if you have three potential investor meetings, lunch with a friend and are running a Q & A webinar during the day, it probably wouldn’t be wise to accept an invite to a networking event that evening.
You’ll need to recharge that night. Otherwise, you won’t be on your game or enjoy the event! Find your sweet spot, and plan your schedule right. It’s okay to say no.
Take advantage of social media.
Hate the thought of going to networking events to advance your business or career? Utilize the great tools we have at our fingertips.
Use social media to engage with your potential audience. LinkedIn is great for career advancement, and try Instagram for business growth.
Choose your people wisely.
Introverts are easily drained by other people’s emotions and energy. If you know someone who is always negative or depressed, maybe it’s best to limit the time you spend with him or her.
Choose wisely, as Jim Rohn famously said, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.
Being introverted does not have to put a damper on your ambitious dreams. We just have to learn how to manage our energy so we are “up” when we need to be, and gloriously alone when we want to be.