Uncommon Wisdom: Pollyna Atanassova
“Uncommon Wisdom” is about sharing those habits or stories that we wouldn’t normally think to share. There’s so much talk about morning routines and self-care practices these days but a lot of it can seem kind of superficial or maybe just predictable and repetitive. This is why we asked a bunch of high-performing creatives and entrepreneurs a few questions about awareness, energy, and productivity. We wanted to learn something a bit more unexpected, and here’s what we found out.
Who is Pollyna Atanassova?
Pollyna describes herself as a human being who’s working daily on herself and is sometimes struggling with human-ing. She once was heavily committed to the Sofia entrepreneurship environment, but then transitioned into the IT industry. She grew into a Product expert, working as a Senior Product Manager and side-hustling as a Product Consultant. Pollyna is also PMP certified, so she can create a fully formed product vision, then project manage the hell out of it. She is a co-founder of Gledam.bg but isn’t currently active on the project. Polly is passionate about admiring creativity: art, fashion, music. She has also been doing Improv for the past 7-8 years and won’t shut up about it, because it’s so damn good.
#1. What's something unexpected or uncommon that made you more aware?
I am not sure how unexpected it is but taking a sabbatical. After I burned out hard I took several months off and it did wonders. It also coincided with the start of the pandemic which forced everyone inside, so the isolation actually helped. At a certain point I just let go of my career, achievements and so on, and just paused for a bit. Taking a breath. This led to some of the most groundbreaking realizations I have ever had and to an intense mental and emotional leveling up. When I was overwhelmed and overworked I didn’t have the mental capacity to evaluate the situations I was in, to look back on my behaviors or my wellbeing. Taking some time off and just intensely focusing on myself has been the most eye-opening thing I have experienced. It gave me clarity and it gave me the energy to take care of myself. Willpower, awareness, conscientiousness require energy and if you don’t have that you cannot move forward. A bonus one, again not unexpected or uncommon. Therapy works wonders! I would probably put it on top of my “How to improve and live better?” list.
#2. What's something unexpected or uncommon that gives you energy?
Relaxing! Groundbreaking again! The fine print here is: relaxing, without judging myself about whether I am doing something productive or not. Sometimes I need to read a book that is just a cool book, but does not focus on teaching me how to be more productive, how to set my goals, and what is my life purpose. Sometimes people that are ambitious tend to be very focused on what comes next, what should I do, instead of just enjoying the moment. So to enjoy the moment and actually nurture my brain I try to be creative in some way. Drawing, singing, cooking – anything like this really relieves stress for me. What is important here is that I don’t do those things while listening to a very thought-provoking podcast or a leveling-up book. The goal is to get into the flow of doing something and just enjoying that in the moment. And talking about creative and freeing: IMPROV. I’ve been doing improv theater for 7-8 years now. It is a revelation and an orgasm for your inner playfulness. I recommend it to everybody, because I am sure that everyone can get something out of it. You have a hard inner critic – improv can help alleviate that. You struggle to connect with others – improv can help. You are drained and feel lifeless – improv!!! Also… Training, healthy eating, and supplementing make a huge difference. Physical activity and the process of getting my body into top shape had an enormous impact on my energy levels and self-esteem.
#3. What's something unexpected or uncommon that makes you more productive?
As I mentioned in the previous question, for a long time I was struggling with why I wasn’t consistently productive every day. I was very hard on myself and it brought me immense stress. At some point I reconciled that I am productive in bursts and I just need to make the most of them. To stimulate my bursts of productivity, I listen to engaging or inspiring podcasts, like Tim Ferris’s for example, or read a chapter from Tools of Titans. The lesson learned in this case was: I cannot fit a mold, I need to find what works for me and make the most of that. Forcing myself into unnatural behaviors that are “the norm” wastes too much energy, without much value added.
#4. What does your morning ritual look like?
It is not set. Most mornings I just wing it. My highest priority is to get enough sleep, so I don’t have a set time for getting out of bed. I just try to get up before 09:45. The main consistency in my morning routine are the many, many supplements I take. I have focused very heavily on gut and overall health and thus far it has done wonders for my energy levels. (I would not recommend a specific supplement because I take ones that target personal particularities.) After the supplements, I have my morning wake up and skin care routine and I’m ready to kick off my day. If I get up early enough I try to do some quick training – 10-15 minutes just to get my body moving. However, that is not a given and probably happens around 60% of my mornings.
#5. What does your evening ritual look like?
Around 10-10:30pm I try to get away from all the screens. Maybe focus on having a conversation with someone or doing something creative. I do another extensive skin care routine. And then, I try to be in bed by 11:30pm. I have a practice of writing something in my journal most nights, usually some thoughts about the day and things I am grateful for. However none of this is set and there are nights now and then when I might have a panic attack and go to bed at 3am. Afterword Disclaimer: Take all of these sharings with a grain of salt. All answers may sound very inspiring and very “wise”, yet the truth is they are a presentation of the best version of myself on a good day – who I try and hope to be more consistently. On my part, I am an imperfect human being just trying to keep it together when things are hard. I may often slip into unhealthy behaviors or unaware existence. The trick is to get back up again or ask for help when I need it. And that’s okay.
You can find Pollyna at @pollyatanassova
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