Beating the Hustle: Danielle Colley’s Guide to Balance

As the Founder of Your Good Life, Danielle has been guiding people out of the hustle culture and into a more balanced, fulfilling life. She’s an integrative life coach, speaker, event facilitator, and writer who has helped many find their path through her courses and workshops.

In this interview, Danielle talks about what led her to step away from the constant hustle and how a simple analogy about a Mars Bar changed her perspective on work, rest, and play. She shares practical tips for managing burnout, the importance of humor when dealing with stress, and insights from her book, The Chocolate Bar Life.

Danielle, what was that initial spark that made you want to leave the hustle culture behind and change your life?

There is no doubt that the spark was actually more like a burning hot coal in my undies. Life feels uncomfortable for me when I’m in peak hustle mode. I want to achieve my goals, and I am jazzed about my ambitions and I love ambitious people, but that feeling like you’re hurtling through life constantly under the pump with no time for anything else is just not enjoyable for me.

You mentioned a comment about making life more like a Mars Bar that shifted your perspective. Can you tell us more about that moment and how it shaped your approach to balancing work, rest, and play?

I’d been having a conversation explaining how I felt my life was a runaway train. I was always stressed, my brain couldn’t switch off, I could often feel my heart racing in my chest. This person made a comment about me needing to be more like a Mars Bar, and I thought it was a great reference to work, rest and play.

It took me a few more years before I used that same reference in my coaching work but I found that people who were experiencing similar feelings of pressure and hustle could really relate to the philosophy and employ the simple strategies to dial down the inner tension without needing to quit everything and run away to the woods.

In The Chocolate Bar Life, you emphasise the balance between work, rest, and play. How do you manage to keep this balance in your own life, especially as a solo mum?

I’m no longer a solo mum. I remarried so there’s that. But the whole idea of The Chocolate Bar Life is small, attainable changes that become part of your regular routine to prevent your nervous system reaching that super heightened state.

For me, as someone who is still super ambitious and high energy, it’s important that I prioritise regular bite sized chunks of restorative activity like walking the dog on the beach, some quiet moments to breathe, or even a lie down in between my busy day and my evening shift of family time.

I try to have time at least once a week doing something I love that is just for me, like time in my art studio, or catching uno with a friend. I don’t always have balance, but I know how to gently bring it back when I forget. It’s like slack rope walking. Lots of regular micro shifts rather than overcorrections which can lead to falling off. Great routines have saved my bacon.

Burnout is something many of us struggle with. What practical tips do you have for someone who’s feeling completely overwhelmed right now?

It can be hard when you’re already deep in it. One of the flags is feeling deeply stuck and like nothing you do will change anything anyway and that place is hard to be proactive from. I do suggest asking for help. Reach out to a trusted person and let them know you’re struggling.

Whatever is causing this prolonged sense of pressure in your life is unlikely to magically disappear so getting help to work out how you can better support your physical and emotional self is a great start.

Often, we need more time and space in our lives. Two precious commodities that can be hard to find. Balance is often found through boundaries. Saying no is a great skill many of us need to master.

Your book blends powerful insights with humour. How important is it for you to use humour when discussing serious topics like stress and burnout?

Life is hilarious. Even the super hard and heavy life stuff is made of light and shadow. One of the most magnificent things about the people I hold dear is their ability to find humour in tricky places. Often the more inappropriate the content and timing the better!

I think approaching everything with a sense of irreverence and levity allows us to hold our hard stuff a little more lightly. Some of my favourite non-fiction writers write with this real giggle in their tone and it just makes some stuff much more digestible. 

You’ve led workshops for big brands like Sony Pictures Television and F45. What’s a key lesson you’ve learned from these experiences that you’ve shared in your book?

I’ve learned that we’re all just people doing our best. Everyone is trying to find the balance between successful living and enjoying the ride. Whether it’s personal achievement, professional achievement, being part of a community or culture and feeling good about what they’re creating, we all just have the same basic needs and wants – To eat more chocolate.

As a life coach, what are some common misconceptions about success and self-worth you see, and how do you help people overcome them?

It’s a tricky one. While a sense of achievement is an important part of wellbeing and happiness, sometimes your identity can get wrapped up in what you believe ’success’ is and your self esteem can become enmeshed with that. I often see people who have reached high career pinnacles but their life doesn’t feel how they imagined it would.

It doesn’t feel good, or they struggle to enjoy what they have done and are always looking to the next thing. True self-worth is an internal feeling that can’t be gained from extrinsic things. Realising that you are worthy simply for being born as you, no matter what you do is an enormous lesson which is also great freeing to the soul.

For anyone feeling stuck or dissatisfied with their life, what’s one piece of advice you’d give to help them start making positive changes?

Go and learn something. Often we feel stuck when we have become stagnant, like old vase water. While you may need a major shake up, that can be too confronting when you’re really ‘in it’ emotionally. Learning something new ignites new areas of your brain which can inspire you to feel better and feel more positive about making changes.

I’m not suggesting you go do a PhD, but just doing a new activity or seeing new people and places can spark the change. Also, being a little diagnostic can be helpful. get clear of what is working in your life and what isn’t and be intentional about making small but positive changes towards what you want instead. 

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.