Why My House is Tiny (And How Marianne Williamson Saved My Sanity)

This article will help you make friends with your own perfect timing for making big moves rather than blindly chasing the ever-seductive idea of “more.” It will help you listen to your authentic self.

At the very least, it will share how I found my own wise response to an all-too-common story in the world of business ownership:  

The pressure of bigger, better, shinier, faster.

Here’s how it begins:

Years ago, when I was still a touring musician, I saw Marianne Williamson speak.   She shared a story about her early success.  When her first book hit the bestseller list, she felt pressure to “play the part” of the best selling author.  This meant – among other things – moving to a bigger home. She described the chaos and stress this created, concluding with her lesson: (which I’m liberally paraphrasing)

When you become successful, there are so many moving parts and so much you’re getting used to.  Adding more change will add more complexity (and more expense) to your recently more complicated life.  Think twice when you are about to jettison yourself into new external trappings.

The Business Siren Song: If Some Is Good, More is Better

At the time, I gave this no thought. After all, I wasn’t planning on turning into Beyonce anytime soon.  I had zero pressure to move into a bigger anything.

But years later, when I started a company, it did get successful.  My accountants and lawyers raised their eyebrows and offered me to sit a while. 

I found myself in circles with people who were running eight-figure businesses, some of whom had several homes, private jets and other assorted goodies.   

Also, some of my close colleagues were now spending millions on their homes, posting photos on Instagram, and entertaining clients lavishly and publicly.

Enter the pressure.  It wasn’t blatant pressure. No one was telling me to do it.  It was just one of those “This is what you’re supposed to do, right?” kind of things.  Time to get a big shiny house and play the part of the successful entrepreneur!

In a culture that trains you to consume from the day you’re old enough to say “Mine” – it’s often easier to just do what’s expected of you: Get more stuff.

After all, “If some is good, more is better.”

If you can get an A, work a bit harder to get an A+.

If you’re going to Gentle Yoga, why not go to “Hot and Painful Yoga” instead?

If you have some house, then more house will make you happier.

And this is where Marianne Williamson helped me press pause.  Not because her story gave me an instant answer. Instead, it called me to ask myself some deep questions and examine this pressure more soulfully.

Enter Self-Awareness: The Key to Your Success

Getting methodically clear about everything from your current circumstances to your needy ego will help you extricate yourself from the blind external pressures for more.  It will help you make choices that are authentic to your soul.

In other words, there is no recipe. You have to be willing to pause and listen to yourself.

Here are the four questions I used and continue to use as my success expands even today.  Consider them, and step back before reaching out to grab the next big shiny anything (house or otherwise)…

1 –  Am I honoring my own personal circumstances?

When my business first took off, I had – up til that time – spent 15 years as a musician.  The year I broke the $100K mark as a songwriter was a big honkin’ deal.  So, yes, I had been successful, but I wasn’t exactly sleeping on mattresses of cash.

And just because I was now the owner of a 7-figure business didn’t make me Warren Buffett.  It just meant that I’m good at this thing I do.  

I was 15 years behind many of my peers in terms of making an exemplary annual income.   There’s no shame in this.  After all, I got to play music professionally for 15 years.  I’ll take that trade off. But it meant that my IRA had about 26 cents in it.  So I had some catching up to do.

Also, my husband has his own business. This puts both of us in the “unpredictable” category.  (Though, these days, I think we’re all in the “unpredictable” category.  But that’s a whole other blog post.)

2 – Am I honoring who I am?

I teach my entrepreneurial clients several tools for self-understanding – from the enneagram to the Kolbe A Index to Strengthsfinders.  This level of self-awareness helps them build better teams, understand their clients, and most importantly, understand themselves.

So for instance, on the Kolbe A Index, in the “Fact Finder” category, I’m a 2 out of 10.  Which means that “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away” is an entire semester of history for me.

Yes, I’m great at coaching and getting to the core issue of any challenge quickly and intuitively – but I’m not your girl for due diligence on home purchases, let alone all the taxes, inspections and fees.   I honor this about myself and make sure there are people on my team who excel at this tedious work.

But for me, big purchases require extra support.  I had to weigh whether or not the added stress was worth my time and attention with an already full schedule.

3 – Is this love or is it fear?

Self-awareness means you’ll encounter your ego.  More often than not, when I’m pushing myself into something that doesn’t feel right, I uncover a broken part of me that is 100% preoccupied with what other people think of me.  Oh happy day, there she is again.  If I realize that she’s behind the curtain running the show, it’s up to me to then navigate this tender territory and gently steer in a better direction.

Ego will try to convince you of all the things you must have, the people who will leave you behind and judge you if you don’t get those things, and all kinds of other unpleasantries.  At the end of the day, however, ego is best left out of your decision-making process.

Here’s the best question for cutting to the chase:  Am I making this decision out of fear or out of love?  Almost always, you will hear the answer immediately.

4 – What Matters Most to Me?

Do you know – really know – what truly matters to you?   This isn’t a question that can be ticked off quickly – like your daily task list. This is one of those things you explore.  Which is what I had to do.

What matters most to me is having free time and plenty of space to create.   I never want money to rule me. I never want to have to keep a toxic client because the business needs money.

Next, I value learning and coaching – more than any goodies you can throw my way.  Which is why I’ve paid hundreds of thousands on coaching and training (and why I was able to reach millions in my business in the first place.)  And also why I bought the 3500 square feet of downtown office space that’s now Uplevel World Headquarters.  I paid cash because I could. And also, I wanted a space for my team and coaching and learning, the things I value most.

Authenticity, not Minimalism

So I didn’t buy a big ginormous million-dollar home. Instead, I chose to stay in my tiny house that I love.  I’ve remodeled, landscaped and redesigned it along the way.

My friends often remark that I am “Zen” or “minimalist” when they see how I live my life.  If I am either of those things, it’s not because I am naturally wired that way. I’ve created this lifestyle because I’ve confronted the many places inside of me that are decidedly not Zen.

And I’m not minimalist.  (Just ask the guys who check my luggage whenever I fly.)  My choice to stay in my not-so-big house is not a minimalist choice.  It is simply an authentic one.  Which, ideally, will be every choice you make in your business as you grow. 

Decisions are the hardest part of what we do.  What questions do you ask yourself when you’re making a decision to ensure that you stay true to your soul?  Fire them off below.

26 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Chelsia Berry

    Thank you for asking the question, what questions I ask to stay true to my soul. This is a real problem for me. I’ve given a lot to have, but at the moment I don’t feel I have anything. I’m more caught up in the what value do I offer.

  • Michelle

    This is exactly what I needed to read today! I’m so torn right now on what I’m going to do with my life, current business, new business, take a good but back to the grind job offer with stability, bennies etc… or get into something completely new… I actually started to do the 100 questions exercise this morning and it was a bit overwhelming and of course I’m ADD and running a business so I only got about 40 down. I’m going to finish the rest tonight… I’m just so unsure. These narrow it down so nicely and I’m looking forward to reflecting and hopefully gaining some in site and clarity. ~ Michelle

  • Elizabeth Young

    Your email was the answer to a prayer Christine. Thanks for your help in bringing me to a wise decision about my business tonight with your clarity. Amongst the diatribe of endless emails and social media, your emails are ALWAYS so timely and insightful not to mention down right- if not down left hilarious. Love you

  • matt

    Im very much in a good transition period right and I really likes this article. Thank you for writing and sharing it.

  • Marie

    This is pure gold – in fact, a deep vein of gold – that I will return to for inspiration and grounding when I’m tempted by the fleeting, fake shiny stuff. Thank you for sharing your authentic self over and over again. I have learned so much from you. <3

  • Janet

    You are to me the real deal. I get how you feel. I really want to be a client. I need you wise wisdom and incredible talent to help me become what I believe will transform my life and many others life.
    Janet

  • Fonda Clayton

    I hug this post. It is such a great reminder that your choice is the one(s) that will make you the happiest and most fulfilled. This is where personal power lives. Thank you for the reminder and encouragement! xo…

  • Martha Lucius

    I agree. I used to live in a monstrous, renovated hundred year old home w a massive yard. Then I set new priorities. It’s good to have light and air. My zen is there. I am not putting on airs for anyone. I am trying to keep my own center and peace while I grow in other ways. Some parts of my life and moving, some need to be staying the same! Thanks for a nice post Christine.

  • Sandra

    I loved this article Christine. It resonated with me not only because success can bring you to this, but for me, it was moving. I moved to an area that is surrounded by wealthy towns. The presence of of this type of wealth and the mindset can trickle down in some ways. I have never been a designer bag girl, its not my thing, but where I am now, it is such a thing that people care about. Its using an extraordinarily expensive bag as your gym bag type of status… I remind myself often how happy I am just being who I am and choosing to use what I like, wealth or not. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  • Cindy

    I discovered you thru your music years ago, still love it.. I don’t have a business,am retired and sell a few things on ebay. Still love your down to earth lifestyle!!

  • Roxane Lessa

    HI Christine,
    Since being in the Gold Program, in which I learned so much about creating a business centered around what you love, I have also learned so much from Marianne Williamson and Earl Purdy (also A Course In Miracles teacher). I have learned that I was motivated so much by fear of what others thought, fear of if I didn’t “succeed” in a financial sense, I was pond scum. Now I am trying to live from decisions based in love, not fear and ego driven thoughts. I am much more peaceful, happy and appreciative of the many gifts I already have. Another book I would recommend is Busting Loose from the Money Game by Robert Scheinfeld. I bet you your tiny house you already know about this guy and his book. What a mind blower! If it’s not on the required reading list for Gold Mastermind, it should be! Thank you again for the great gift of your coaching over the years. Much love, Roxane

  • Nathalie

    Thank you for this post! I enrolled in your courses because of your authentic way of doing things! That is how I live my life (it’s work in progress in certain areas) and I am thankful for all the teachings and to have a model that I can follow while staying true to myself! I really wished I could be attending the seminar in March! This is a decision I had to make that was difficult. Time wise and Financially it’s too much for my means at the moment! My intention is to attend at one or more very soon! The Universe will provide when it’s the right time! In the mean time I am working on developing myself as a very small buiniess owner and lead my buisiness with authenticity and integrety! Making decisions that resonates with me and what I can handle! I have realized that there is no rush; I want to enjoy every step I make moving forward ( each step has learning aspects to them). Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your wisdom Chaterine Kane! 💗

  • Cyndi

    I love what you wrote. I respect you. And… I want to stalk photos of your house. Can you make it easy on me and post some, haha 🙂 ?

  • Sandi Neilson

    Gorgeous article on authenticity – well that’s what I’m reading here. I realized something similar when we chose the current house we live in. I still think fondly of the beautiful big house we designed and built on park like grounds surrounded by 500 tree olive grove but I no longer yearn for what I missed from that place. After 15 years of living in an ‘un-me’ house and being cut up about leaving my beautiful home, we finally found this house we currently live in. In it I discovered the essence of me reflected in it – the same essence that was in the big house we built. It was a lifetime lesson that I take on board for everything I own and do, so that I can honor me being me.

  • April

    Ironic how this email comes as I’m sitting in my empty living room as movers are packing up our 1500 sq ft home (really only 1000 sq ft of livable space) in Japan 2 months before we leave. After decluttering dozens of van loads of things ala Marie Kondo last January, I’m left with the feeling that what we kept to “express” ship back thrown in a 10×10 bedroom is truly really only what we need.

    I feel that with the exception of pictures, this shipment leaving today could all go to the bottom of the ocean and I wouldn’t bat an eye. What is important are the memories not the crap.

    And on that point, I realize I have MORE crap that has been in storage for 5 years and 90% of that can go too. The more time we spend on our junk the less time we have for each other.

  • Cate

    I have not been able to attend your Story Board course due to technical problems of logging in and the last one I had a date conflict.

    I did, however, imagine what I would do IF I had taken your course and just finished my hypnotherapy credentialing and am launching my business. My imagination thanks you!

  • Marla

    Love the comments here, and the depth and nuance in your article.

    We need more models like you –successful, independent-thinking and mindful.

    More, please!

    love,
    Marla

  • Jane Markac

    In a world where every business email I open is full of the road to bigger is better it is sooooo refreshing to read something that pursues realness being true to your own heart not what your ego thinks you need.
    Thanks it made my morning

  • Connie Bonfy

    YES! Yes, YES!

  • Tracie Thompson

    This is timely for me as I am in the middle of an ongoing project with the space I live and work in — an 800 square foot apartment. I’m having to go through things and be more honest with myself about what I’m holding onto, why, and what I can, or even WANT to, purge.

    I want and need more space, it’s true, and I can feel that this is groundwork for a future move into a better home. I will have fewer things holding me back, fewer things to pack and move. But that’s for later.

    What’s bringing me both surprise and joy right now is that for the first time, I’m maintaining the changes I make as I go — the areas I’ve rearranged and purged and cleaned are staying that way, and that NEVER used to happen. The only explanation I have is that I’ve hit a level of honesty with myself that’s allowing for real change to take place.

  • Kate Smith

    I jumped into small living ahead of the trend. It took me a couple of moves but went from living in 3800 square foot home on a large lot down to a 657 square foot condo with a balcony.

    When I tell people the size of my space they expect to it to feel like living in a closet but when they walk in they are amazed by how spacious it feels. That is because I gave away everything but what filled my heart and inspired my creative spirit.

    When people tell me that my place has great energy I know it is because there isn’t lots of stuff weighing me (or anyone that enters) down. Getting rid of stuff is like lifting the weight of the world off your shoulders. It frees your spirit and just make life easier. Now editing my belongings is one of my favorite things to do and I have let go of things I never thought I would part. The longer you live with less and only the important-to-you stuff the more you feel the need to be more discerning about what gets to stay in your life and space.

    It doesn’t happen all at once so if anyone is thinking about lightening their life just start small and keep going. I went through some of the rooms in my home 7 or 8 times and each time found more I could get rid of. Even now I sometimes decide to get rid of some things that came with me when I moved because I no longer feel that I need them.

    Bottom line: You may be amazed at just how little you need or actually use of the things in your home yet how they are silently weighing down your spirit every single day.

  • Nancy Darling

    I think this also holds true at the other end; at a certain age one is expected to downsize, go to assisted living, etc. My house isn’t very big but I love all the windows and the art studio. I can put up with the small bedrooms and tiny bathrooms because I have high ceilings, giant windows.

  • Fay Campbell

    Hi Christine, This blog of yours caught my eye! And while I’m now completely retired, I just wanted to say that you’re “right on” about the way you choose to live your life…and I’m so proud of all your accomplishments!! I still listen to your music of years ago and am always uplifted by all your wonderful and funny sentiments! You are one of the few people who has remained “real.” Love, Fay

  • Sarah

    Authenticity. Modeling empowerment. There’s true freedom in this. Thank you Christine

  • Amy

    Great post Christine! Marianne Williamson is a wise woman and I’ve drawn on her wisdom many times in my life. I don’t know if that is a photo of your real house, but it’s super cute and completely Ashevillian. 🙂 I look forward to hearing more of your story and learning from you next month at the UpLevel event. Thanks!

    • Christine Kane

      Amy – I’m excited to meet you there! And yes, you’ll get lots of those ‘behind the curtain’ glimpses of what it takes to grow a business! 🙂