Intentional Growth – Reimagining Hustle with Karah Gonstead

My big takeaway:

Be intentional around your growth and time.

Karah Gonstead is a social worker and entrepreneur. In this episode, Karah discusses her private practice as a therapist and her side project, Intentional Growth, which provides a space for hard conversations and mental health and wellness support. She reflects on her journey towards redefining success as having more time for herself, her family, and her passions.

As a parent and entrepreneur, Karah acknowledges the challenges of juggling multiple roles and establishing boundaries. She emphasizes the importance of intentionality and figuring out one’s core values as a foundation for making small, sustainable changes towards greater harmony in one’s life.

Overall, Karah reimagines the idea of hustle as not just about working hard, but about being intentional with one’s time and priorities. She encourages listeners to celebrate small successes and to give themselves time to grow and evolve towards their own unique definitions of success.

Links from the show:

Show Notes:

Roxanne: Podcasting from under my blankets. So it’s quiet enough to hear me. This is Reimagining Hustle, a podcast for entrepreneurial parents, creating a life or business and parenthood live peacefully in the same space. I’m your host, Roxanne Merket, a mom of two micro business coach and serial entrepreneur on a journey to prove that. It really is possible to do what you love. Without sacrificing all of your precious time. Let’s do this.

Welcome back to Reimagining Hustle. I am thrilled to introduce my guest today. I have Karah Gonstead with me. Karah, how are you?

Karah Gonstead: I am doing awesome. I’m so excited to be here with you. I love your energy already, so I’m so excited for this conversation.

Roxanne: so nice. This is gonna be a lot of fun. I’ve definitely been like doing my due diligence and internet stalking you to make sure I know who I’m talking to. So I’m, I’m really looking forward to this conversation as well. Karah, can we just dive right in? Will you tell us about you, tell us about the work you do and your journey to get.

Karah Gonstead: Yes, so I am, by background, I am a social worker first. Um, I pursued that clinically to be able to become a psychotherapist, which was always what I wanted to do with my career from a super young age. So pursued that. And now own my own private practice and practice as a therapist currently. And I also have my other little, like, so close to my heart venture, which is called intentional growth, which is all the stuff I’m super passionate about, but I can’t do my clinical practice.

So it’s, it’s my space to be a little bit more transparent while still being appropriate within the world of ethics and boundaries that I adhere to.

Roxanne: That’s so interesting. So talk to me about like, This, this venture of yours. So you, I mean the therapist. I feel like we’re familiar with therapists at this point in the game. If you’re not familiar with therapists, you need therapy. Go find a therapist. Um, like just long and short of it. That’s it. So talk to me about this, this other piece of it.

Like what is it that you’re like, okay, I would really love to just do this instead. Can you tell us a little bit more?

Karah Gonstead: Absolutely. So my, one of my big things from since forever is I’m just a very transparent person and some people appreciate that about me, and some people very much dislike that about me, and that’s all okay. But I have always been somebody who likes to have heart conversations. I like to get into the deep stuff.

I really would prefer not to have surface level conversations. You know what? I live in Wisconsin and I complain about the weather, but if I’m talking to you about the weather, I am beyond bored. It’s just gonna happen. It’s who I am. So I really wanted a place in a space to facilitate hard conversations that are quote unquote taboo or just our shush to the side, uh, within society for lots of different reasons. So to be able to do that, but also do all the fun stuff that I really love, continue to talk about mental health and wellness, and be able to do retreats and speaking events and just for this engagement piece where people can really learn, be supported, grow, be vulnerable and thrive, and intentional growth gives me that space.

So I am, I just love everything about it.

Roxanne: Oh, you and I are already gonna be best friends. I can’t tell you that much. Like this is cause you, I I feel the same, right? Like, let’s talk about all of it. Let’s put everything on the table. No taboos. So, um, so through all of this, so you said you’ve wanted to be in the mental health world for a long time, and then you’ve added this other piece of it.

What does success look like to you?

[00:03:41] What does success look like?

Karah Gonstead: If you would to ask me that. Five or 10 years ago, I would’ve given you a very, very different answer. I think part of my change of answer just comes with time and experience and maturity, but I certainly think in the world of being an entrepreneur with the just endless hats that you certainly can and sometimes do wear within that space.

To me, at this point, success really looks like figuring out and having a nice space and place of time. So giving myself the ability to not have to question can I make it to this thing that my my four year old has or that he wants to go to? Can I have a Friday off and take a weekend vacation with him? It’s those little things that, again, I wouldn’t have deemed time to be a successful piece of things when I was younger, I think when I was younger, like a lot of people when they’re younger, going to school, thinking about career, it’s like I wanna do something I’m passionate about and I wanna make good money doing it. And while that’s still true, and I think there’s value in saying that, I don’t know who doesn’t wanna have some success within the financial realm of things. I’ve just totally shifted really what that feels like and what it means to me, and it’s just about showing up for me, myself, my family, and not feeling the stressors constantly of what should I be doing instead? Oh, I have to punch out at this time. It’s just, it’s totally reshaped for me.

Roxanne: Hmm. Hmm. That’s, I love that reframe as well, right? Of just understanding. I remember too, thinking I had all the time in the world when I was younger, right? Like time is one of those things that is. It just goes on and on and on. And you have so much of it. And then I agree. I mean, as you get older, it’s like, oh, okay, maybe actually time is a little bit more more valuable here.

So you’re a parent as well in all of this.

Karah Gonstead: I am.

Roxanne: One child?

Karah Gonstead: I have one child. He turned four earlier this year, so I have one. One kiddo. Yes.

Roxanne: Yes. Which is like, that changes everything. So you, were you doing both sides of, I I, I feel like we’ve got these two worlds that you’re living in this therapist world and this entrepreneur world.

Were you doing both of those before your child was born?

Karah Gonstead: So I found out that I was pregnant two weeks before I opened my brick and mortar private practice back in 2018. We had been trying for a while, I mean, not an extended amount of time, but we had been trying and. And then I find out I’m pregnant. So this was just a whirlwind for lots of reasons. I’ve shared this over and over again, and I will just continue to share it because I just think it breathes life into what this balance and this world can be like being an entrepreneur and family and other things.

So I, again, I found out two weeks before I opened my practice and my second day of seeing my clients was, I mean, truly, I was just morning sickness all over everywhere all the time. I had to cancel half of my day. And so again, like that, the juggle started super early on because in my head I’m like, Karah, can you even do this?

Like, are you gonna survive? First of all, this pregnancy and practicing, but then like, okay, now I have to show up as this business owner, which felt, again, even back then, very different to me than it does right now.

Roxanne: Oh, for sure.

Karah Gonstead: But just the pressures of how I thought I had to show up or perform things like that, and then having to cancel half my second day in business.

It was wild.

Roxanne: Yeah. Yeah. And here you are four years later, still standing. So obviously it didn’t destroy you. Right. But that, have you have you found a lot of similarities between starting a business and having a child, because we joke about this all the time over here on this side of the world, that they’re, you’re giving birth to one or the other.


Karah Gonstead: It is. There are similarities for sure. I mean, it’s just you put all your heart and soul and love and effort and passion into both things. And certainly both things don’t always go as planned, and there’s road bumps within both. Yeah, no, there definitely are similarities.

Roxanne: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So how has being a parent through all of this changed you as a person? I mean, we’ve, we’ve kind of referenced it a little bit, but let’s dive in a little bit more. How’s it changed you?

[00:08:23] How has it changed you?

Karah Gonstead: I will give you the alphabet answer, which is the answer I always heard and I remember hearing as a teen from my friend’s parents. That when you become a parent, you become so much more emotional.

Roxanne: Hmm.

Karah Gonstead: I remember them. I can think of a couple specifically friends moms who like if they were proud of something or if something just a little bit said happened, they would just be tearful.

And I sometimes look at them like, what is going, are you okay? And I totally get that now. Like everything feels so impactful and surreal almost sometimes. My gut answer is being a parent has just made me really like, tap into that so much more. Everything’s just much more full of life in that way. Um, I think that, again, I think it’s just totally reshaped what I thought maybe I even wanted within my business life as well in recognizing, like I absolutely wanna be home at night with my kiddo. I am not working weekends anymore. I don’t wanna be working weekends anymore because I wanna spend my time with him. It’s so important to me. So it certainly has shifted a lot of things and given me a different perspective on many things too.

Roxanne: It makes a lot of sense. Kind of going back to that idea of success being time, right? Having that, those really strong defenses around your time. That makes a lot of sense. Do you ever experience guilt? And I would love to know this question, both as you as a person, but also how you both coach and therapize, for lack of a better word here, your clients as well.

[00:10:06] Guilt?

Karah Gonstead: So guilt for me, it, it does show up at times. I’ve gotten way, way, way better at business boundaries. I’m pretty. I’m gonna give myself just a humble pat on the back. I’m pretty good, really quite, actually. I’m pretty good at boundaries in real life, right?

Roxanne: Oh, you toot that horn. Yes. We’re here to celebrate the wins. Absolutely.

Karah Gonstead: when it comes to like relationships, friendships, fam, things like that, I’m. Pretty good with that. But business boundaries just feel a little different. Uh, and again, I think it’s sometimes comes back to that initial thought of starting a business. That little bit of fear that’s like, are people gonna show up?

Are they gonna still want me? If I don’t respond immediately to this email, are they gonna think I’m ignoring them? Are they gonna go elsewhere? It’s all of that. So when I feel myself feeling guilty trying to be being a human, a parent, and a business owner, The guilt that I do have comes in when I recognize I am reaching for my phone to try to follow up on something work related when I’m with my child.

Roxanne: Mm

Karah Gonstead: So I have, I’ve really caught myself within the past year. I’m gonna say I’ve really caught myself doing things that I know I don’t wanna be doing, and that just don’t feel good to me because one of two things happens. It’s either. I reach my phone to answer an email, and I’m trying to type through as fast as I can to get someone a response that they want.

And honestly, my response is crappy then. It’s not well thought out, it’s quick. On a whim, it’s maybe not as much as information as I need to be giving. So it’s either that or I answer in this nice way. That’s really how I wanna come across in my response. And now my kids over here like, Mom! Are you coming back?

Mom, come play with me. So if I do have guilt, that’s where it comes from. But again, it’s always a work in progress. I’ve caught myself in areas and I continue to work on it, but the phone stays away a lot more than it used to, which feels so much better to me.

Roxanne: I like the actual, the way that, you know, it’s an audio podcast, so I have the pleasure of seeing you as you described this. Right. But you’ve, you physically like motioned, putting your phone somewhere else and I think that that, that in and of itself, not just a metaphorical distance between your phone, but a physical distance between your phone, it’s surprisingly helpful.

Karah Gonstead: It is.

Roxanne: Oh yeah. That’s awesome. What do you wish people knew about being a parent and an entrepreneur? All at the same.

[00:12:43] What do you wish people knew?

Karah Gonstead: It’s hard. It’s really hard. Like I just call it what it is. Right? Because it is, it’s really hard even. Again, like I have a lot more in the field of all of this. The boundaries, conversations, the juggling hats, pieces of things, the communication, right? Uh, in theory at least, I have a lot more education in that realm and practice in that realm than a lot of people do.

But it’s still hard. It really is still hard. So with that being said though, I think what I have realized, and when I really tap into it, I recognize it even more, is. How beautiful that balance really can be because I don’t think that if I didn’t run a business businesses and I was able to punch and punch out, I don’t know that I would see the value in those things that I catch myself doing at home.

You know, if it wasn’t an email being an entrepreneur, maybe it would be social media. Maybe it would be text or calls from people that I would just be gravitating towards and maybe not even recognizing. That I’m not being super mindful during those times. So I think it has helped me to shape, harmonize, balance things a little bit more than I likely would’ve if these different hats weren’t involved.

Roxanne: That makes a lot of sense. I feel like you keep coming back to that idea of intentionality too. You know, being very, very intentional with your time, with your boundaries, with the decisions you’re making, rather than let those decisions be made for you. That’s really, I mean, I, I feel like you’re nodding along, you know, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Karah Gonstead: Well, this is truly like this is the reason for me naming intentional growth what it is, right? I didn’t, I didn’t start this business, um, that long ago. Truly, it was this past summer. It was, it’s more of a new thing for me. And when I was thinking about what I wanted to call that, I just kept coming back to again, just that vulnerability and showing up and realizing you’re human and what does that look like in terms of evolution and growth?

And it was that. It was, I wanna be intentional. And I think people who strive for increased wellness a lot of times relate to that. They want to do things to better themselves and to be intentional that way. So if we can call it what it is, I think we show up for ourselves a little bit.

Roxanne: That’s fantastic. That’s fantastic. Karah I wanna ask you a question about the name of the podcast. So I. The name of the podcast is Reimagining Hustle. And the reason that it’s named that is when I first started my business, I was not a parent. I was very much like super into hustle culture, loved it. It felt so good, you know, it very much fit my personality, the hustle, hustle, hustle, go, go, go, work, work, work, you know?

And, and, um, then I had my first child and my whole world stopped as it does. You know, and, uh, I, I knew instantly it wasn’t sustainable. So I’ve been on this quest to reimagine this idea of hustle since then. So I would love to know, in your world, how do you reimagine the idea of hustle?

[00:15:48] How do you reimagine hustle?

Karah Gonstead: For me growing up and I have to go back because it, otherwise, this won’t make full sense in my head. At least Growing up, I absolutely came from a family of exactly what I would think of and had thought of hustle for years and years and years and years was work, work, work, work hard and there’s no exceptions and, and a lot of that I think came from a pride place for my father specifically that he, he has never said, I don’t think he ever would, but I think a lot of what I saw was just the perception I think, that he thought other people would have of him if he wasn’t constantly giving, doing, working, showing up, putting things on the table for his family.

It was always that. So this was something that I had to work extremely hard to unlearn and then relearn really what I wanted for myself in my life. You could ask my husband, I’m sure he could tell you stories for days. Even now I catch myself doing it sometimes there. I remember recently there was a night that my family had watched my son, and we had a night out by ourselves, and it was the next morning, so it was either Saturday or Sunday morning. And I’m an early riser as is, but when we don’t have our kiddo, my husband would like to sleep in. Totally understandable. Right. And I remember it was n, I think it was like maybe seven o’ clock.

And I had been up for a while. I was reading, I was hanging out and I was like, what is this guy doing? Like, is he gonna get up and do something today? And I lit, this is awful. I literally went in the room and I was like, Eric, are you getting up? Like, what are we doing today? And he is like, I’m sleeping. We don’t have a kid right now.

And it like, that’s totally fair and valid, right? But that’s just, it’s so ingrained to me that even the weekends you get up, you do, you work, you accomplish something. That for me to just pump the brakes someday, even not even not do anything but pump the brakes a little bit and relax, it is, it is hard for me.

So it’s been a constant evolution and journey to again, truly unlearn those things. And then relearn what I want for, and I hate to call it, I’m gonna call it harmony. Harmony of what I want for when I work, how I show up for my kid, how I show up for my family, how do I show up for myself. I think that’s been the huge shift for me, and it’s always what I wanna keep striving for, is how do I make these components really be visible in a way that feels good to me and good to my family while still doing exactly what I love?

Because I love what I do for. Or trust me, I would not be doing it

Roxanne: You wouldn’t be doing it in multiple realms as well. Right.

Karah Gonstead: exactly.

Roxanne: That’s such a great, um, such a great perspective on it and I really appreciate it. What do you, I’m, I’m gonna just tap into your incredible amount of knowledge here too. If people are feeling this, like, oh yeah, yeah, this is, this is me, and I, I would like to make some shifts towards that intentionality.

What’s the first thing you would tell them to do?

Karah Gonstead: I think for me, And I do talk with this a lot, even within my clinical work, is you gotta figure out what your core values are. I will come back to that as like this foundational place, because what I think might be, again, things like successful or happiness or whatever word, whatever thing you wanna term it.

My thoughts and ideas of what happiness, for example, could be, might not at all be your idea of happiness. So I think it comes down to so much of the, it’s, that’s all the inner stuff. It’s really figuring out what you want for you and then figuring a way, figuring out a way how to show up in your actions, in your behaviors to start to implement small, tiny changes.

I think a lot of what I see where people really have these great desires but feel like they’re failing, not failing, but feel like they’re failing, is when we start at zero and we’re like, I’m gonna achieve 100 in two weeks. And that’s just unrealistic. Like give yourself time to celebrate small successes and grow in that way, but don’t expect it’s gonna come overnight cuz it’s not.

It’s just not. But you gotta figure out what you want to begin with. That’s so important.

Roxanne: Hmm. Yes. Love, love, love this. Thank you. Uh, Karah, I feel like you’ve been giving us a pep talk this entire time, but I’m gonna ask you very specifically for just a real short 30 second pep talk for other parents on this entrepreneur journey, uh, especially, you know, with, with your background. Uh, would you just give us a pep talk?

[00:20:44] Pep Talk

Karah Gonstead: Well, first of all, you can do it. If you really, really want to do it, you can do it. Again, just being the transparent me that I am, like it is hard. There will be times you will be sobbing your eyes out, be wanting to quit, not know where your money’s coming from, not know if you can continue on as is, and if you really truly want that, if your heart’s in it, your passion’s in it, you have really good support systems, that’s huge.

Whether it be business, family, friends, whatever it is. You get people to rally around you and you show up for you and you do. There is hard work involved, so please don’t let me make it sound like there’s not, there’s still hard work involved, but it will come for you. If you wanna, you’ll, you’ll do it.

You’ll do it.

Roxanne: Thank you, Karah is, it’s fairly early in the morning here where I’m at, and that was a fun, fun way for me to be pep talked as I start my day. So I appreciate it so much. We need more of you. Tell us where we can find you.

Karah Gonstead: So if you would love to check out my intentional growth items, which I would love for you to do. So again, I do have my podcast as well, so you can check that out. Again, all things vulnerable and raw and all the things that I just love to tap into with always guests. You can certainly find that. So the best place to reach me is either on Instagram or just checking out my website.

So Instagram is intentional Growth now and website is intentional growth You can check out that. Again, podcast speaking events retreats have a really fun membership coming up soon that I haven’t even talked at all about for

Roxanne: you heard it here first.

Karah Gonstead: Truly, yes. I haven’t even talked about it at all. So lots of fun things coming, but that would be the best two options of where you can meet me.

Roxanne: Awesome and we’ll make sure that everything is linked in the show notes. Kara, this has been a treat for me, so thank you for your, the gift of your time. I know that’s precious, so thank you for that. I appreciate that.

Karah Gonstead: You are so welcome. Thank you. This has been such a fun conversation.

Roxanne: Thanks. I’m really glad.

Thanks for listening to Reimagining hustle with Roxanne Merket. If you like the show and want more, check out reimagining and please leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll be back next week with another episode. See you soon.