About a month ago I wrote about some of the challenges of being self-employed. I’m happy to say that I’ve made some progress. Though not as much as I’d like. ‘Cause what’s the fun in that?
Then: I’m looking into a life coach that “specializes in building your business.”
Now: I found and hired a coach and she’s already been helpful in getting me moving towards my goals.
Status: On track.
Mornings are terrible productive
Then: Instead of a”year-long journals seem like tempting the God of Lost Things and Forgotten Aspirations, etc. I [made] a 66 day commitment” to more disciplined mornings.
Now: The first week went really well. I got up each morning to meditate, do deep knee bends while brushing my teeth, etc. Then I went to VA to deliver a workshop. I need to work on the whole “do it every day no matter what” part….
Status: Progress made, needs more work.
Gold stars for grown ups
Then: “I got a wall calendar and pretty sticky notes. The stickies are for (weekly, not daily) tasks and such and go on my lovely new wall calendar.”
Now: I’m a week behind in my “purge the house” chores but I’m pretty sure I’m doing better than I would be without the calendar.
Status: Progress made, needs more work.
Internet, go away for a bit
Then: ” I’ve installed StayFocused, a free Chrome plugin that lets you set a limit to how much time you can spend on” time-wasting website.
Now: Uh…I forgot I installed it until writing this. How’s that for honesty? But the business coach and calendar with To Do items (aka Gold stars for grown ups) have helped me stay more focused.
Status: Improving, needs more work.
I may be early on in my “soloprenuer” journey, but I’m pretty sure these are things that will required continued effort. I suppose that’s why these are called habits and not cures.
I’m listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic about creativity. Gilbert makes a point of letting go of her art once it has left her hands.
This is not easy for me. Perhaps it’s not easy for anyone, even those who do it as beautifully as Gilbert does. This is why I have so rarely let others see my writing. The fear of misuse, mis-translation, misunderstanding, or worse has always held me back.
Last year I spoke with someone about one of my posts and they had done just that. In what I considered an unwise, imprudent decision , this person had used one of my big leaps to justify their decision. Or at least identify with it.
I was incensed. I have put a metric ton, shitload, hellza lotta thought and careful planning into the leaps I’m taking. I have also thought about this conversation entirely too much. Despite all that mulling, ponderance, and contemplation it took me over a month to figure out exactly why this bothered me so much.
I have never learned to let go of my art.
So let’s try this on for size. It’s not about me or my work. We humans are amazing when it comes to justifying our actions. It’s called external self-justification. AKA the use of external rationalizations to justify one’s actions. External self-justification is our effort to reduce our responsibility for a behavior and is usually brought on by mental discomfort.
I hope that whatever I choose to do through my coaching business, this blog, or just living my life is used to improve people’s lives. But I can’t control that. And their idea of what constitutes improvement isn’t up to me. It’s really none of my business. So it’s time. Time to….
Alright fine, it can be a little about Elsa. After all, Disney has to be OK with this (and much worse) being done to their art.
A few years ago I stumbled across Year Compass. It’s “a booklet that helps close your year and plan the next one. In the routine of everyday life it’s easy to lose sight of your true goals and aspirations. And even though we all have dreams, only a few of us plan for them. Effectively, at least.
“YearCompass works simply. Using questions and exercises rooted in psychology it takes you through the past year, then helps you turn your dreams into achievable goals.”
Maybe you’re thinking “this is a neat idea but it’s February now so oh well.” That’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card. The first year I didn’t find this until Mid-January, I didn’t start it until February, and I didn’t finish it until March 4th. It’s not hard, I just have trouble sitting still sometimes.
One of the best parts is going over the previous year’s calendar. Hopefully you surprise yourself with all the fun stuff you did, things you got done, trips with family, etc.
One of my best memories was watching fog settle over the Little River in the Smoky Mountains. As the fog settled into bed, the fireflies came out. We don’t have fireflies in Colorado and I miss the “lightening bugs” of my childhood in Oklahoma.
There was fog in 2018. Should I seriously quit a great job working with people who help me learn and a company I love? Am I cut out to be an entrepreneur? Can I really pull off my Big Hairy Audacious Goal in 2019? Is now the right time (for any and all these things)?
But there were fireflies too. I took my mom to the top of the Empire State Building for Mother’s Day. I fell in love with climbing at Red Rocks in Las Vegas. I finally saw the Smokies. I am making money as an independent consultant. I found new hobbies and new people to love. I met Jen Sincero, the You are a Badass lady.
When I did the Year Compass last year it lead me to a real gem. After filling out all the questions and thinking back over 2017, I wrote the following aspiration:
This is what inspired my Open Space entry. So I guess I accomplished this. Or at least integrated it successfully into my life (as I suspect this will be an ongoing effort).
The theme for the coming year is:
Those are some big words to live up to. Winter hibernation is over and it’s time to get to work.
“I’d love to quit my job and work for myself. No annoying coworkers, no commute, and no crazy boss.”
Folks, my boss is still crazy.* Perhaps worse, the crazy lady boss is me.
One of my guiding tenets of this blog is to maintain honesty about the thrills and challenges of my new pathway. And the truth is this is hard sometimes.
There are no deadlines
It’s soooooo easy to “just do it tomorrow.” I’ll add X, Y, or Z to my website today. Or maybe tomorrow. Or maybe next week.
Mornings are wishy-washy
There is no set time when I have to be up most days. Unless I’ve made a coffee date with a business acquaintance, I can just lay there in a warm bed a little longer. Or a lot longer.
Sometimes I’d rather do housework
Yes, mom and dad, you read that correctly.
If I’m running up and down the stairs carrying clean laundry I feel productive. When I scrub my kitchen, it’s sparkling and pretty. The lack of tangible outcomes in starting a coaching business is tough some days.
Speaking of procrastination
Apparently common forms of procrastination are a symptom of an impulsivity problem. I know what I need to work on. But the rest of the internet is RIGHT THERE!
The deadline problem is really an accountability problem. Just like therapists often have their own therapists, many life coaches have life coaches. One specializing in building your business would probably be great for me. So I’m looking into that.
Mornings are terrible productive
HabitNest has a book/journal to help you start your day more productively. There are a million goal and habit-tracker journals out there. This one only lasts 66 days. The year-long journals seem like tempting the God of Lost Things and Forgotten Aspirations, etc. I can make a 66 day commitment. Not coincidentally, research says it takes 66 days to create a new habit.
Gold stars for grown ups
The idea of a daily tracker/planner does not appeal to me. I’m not realistically going to carry around a book and record things by hand and in my Google calendar. If a solution that doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work.
So I got a wall calendar and pretty sticky notes. The stickies are for (weekly, not daily) tasks and such and go on my lovely new wall calendar. When they are finished, I add them to a stack of completed items. By the end of the year I should have a nice track record of what I’ve accomplished.
Internet, go away for a bit
Yes, it’s good to check the news websites and be informed. It’s not so good to follow links down a 90-minute rabbit-hole. So I’ve installed StayFocused, a free Chrome plugin that lets you set a limit to how much time you can spend on CNN, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
The good news
The good news here is I’m building something I will be proud of. And I am honestly intellectually interested in life coaching, career advising, and helping people. So even with these challenges, I always wonder back to the task, goal, or reading material I need to attend to. But there’s always room for improvement!
*In all fairness, most of my bosses were excellent humans and great leaders. I would not be where I am without Lewis, Shawn, and Heather (and many others).
In the age of social media we see loads of success, happy outcomes, and other causes for celebration. What we often don’t see is the dedication, preparation, sacrifices, and exhaustion behind those successes.
I am not a fan of letting people only see the results. It’s important to see the hard work and set-backs too.
From the outside looking in it appears I up and quit my job, got a contract with my old employer, and started a coaching business out of nowhere. Abracadabra, NEW CAREER!
Let’s dispel that myth.
In 2015, I began exploring the idea of being a career coach of some kind. My employer, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, had career advisors as contractors. As I learned more about what they do and how they do their work I became intrigued.
So in early 2016 I got TWO career coaching certifications- the Global Career Development Facilitator and Adult & Education Advisor. I worked all day and spent lots of week nights and weekend mornings doing more work. But it was, and is, rewarding. That’s how I knew I was on the right path.
I also took small business classes to start figuring out how the crap to set up a business. Not surprisingly, a liberal arts education did not prepare me for this.
I won’t bore you with further details, simply know that loads of planning, thinking, saving, budgeting, etc went into that “abrupt” career change last fall.
Earlier this month Daniel and I were visiting two friends in Seattle. He’s laid back, she’s full of energy. They are a perfect compliment to each other. We all went out for pie. Amazing pie. The kind of pie you’re going to want more of later.
Whoops, got distracted. Back to our adorable couple. When ordering, he asked her if she wanted a second slice for later. No, she replied.
As the cashier took their order, she ordered a second slice at the very last moment. “100% on your terms, I get it” he smiled down at her. Later on, with equal love, Daniel affirmed my assertion that I was a “100% on your terms” kind of gal too.
Picky. High standards. Uncompromising. Determined. Obstinate. Resolute. Stubborn. These are all synonyms of a sort but some have negative connotations, others positive. This concept, like any other worth thinking about, has pros and cons.
Flexibility of mind does not come naturally to me. All of the above synonyms have applied to me pretty much since I could speak. Ask my parents, they have stories….
But I can and have improved.
There are at least two concepts that I find helpful when trying to go with the flow.
Be positive. When the human brain comes to a conclusion or plan, it’s because that’s the best one we could come up with. But what about the conclusions or plans we didn’t/couldn’t/ wouldn’t think of?
Stay curious. Is there the slightest chance that if things don’t go exactly as planned they might go slightly better??? In a world of impossibilities the answer is always yes.
I know some people have gotten tired of these phrases and ideas. But there’s a reason they’re ubiquitous. It’s because they’re useful dammit. If they don’t work for you let me know what does. Different routes to the same destination = success.
I am still unbending when it comes to things of great importance to me. If you pick your battles wisely, this trait can be exceptionally useful. Weight loss/maintenance. Refusal to settle for a shitty job. Determination to get it right.
This is one place where something less than 100% is acceptable. Perhaps even ideal.
Several months ago I had a missed opportunity to work with a former career advisor and coach of mine. Like ships passing in the night, the timing wasn’t right then. But wanting to reach out and simply say hello, I sent her a heartfelt note of gratitude and a brief update on the forthcoming changes in my career and life. She wrote back and we became pen pals (“keyboard pals” just doesn’t have the same ring to it- even if it’s technically correct).
She and I had worked together over the phone for months in 2016. Because of her skill as a coach, we grew close despite the 500 mile distance between Bellingham, WA and Denver. She was more than a career advisor, she helped me discern the difference between career advising and coaching. More importantly, she helped me begin the journey of finding out where I fit in the advising and coaching world.
Being pen pals has brought unexpected joy to us both over the last few months. I started looking for an excuse to visit the Seattle area and perhaps meet her in person. Before too long, a happy coincidence presented itself as a work conference for Daniel.
As usual I was determined to make the most of that opportunity. So I’m writing this in a Seattle coffee shop. Tomorrow my former coach, now friend, and I are having lunch. Daniel and I visited dear friends for the weekend and I get see Daniel weekday evenings after he spends his days at a Seattle-based work conference.
When is the last time you sent a seemingly random thank you note or email? You’ve probably heard a hundred stats about how it increases your and your receiver’s happiness so I won’t throw another one at you. But nothing would make me happier than for you to stop reading this post now to go write a nice note. Seriously.
Are you still reading this? Stop it. Go write a thank you note, call someone, whatever. You’ll have a brighter day and you might accidentally strengthen a connection or friendship.
Wasted time and inefficiency in general drives me crazy. So I sometimes plan things within an inch of their life. When you arrange the puzzle pieces beforehand you get a puzzle that fits together without gaps, overlaps, and blank space.
However, I’ve started to learn the value of blank space. For example, I’ve been on vacations where half-way through another person suggests a hidden gem to visit but I can’t fit it in because I’ve got other things planned each day.
Of course, this is nothing to cry over. In that instance I’m trading awesome for awesome. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But what if sometimes I could trade blank space for awesome?
As we approach the end of the year I’m reminded of my New Year’s resolution. “Leave rooms for the dreams you didn’t know you had.” In other words, maybe don’t plan things within an inch of their life.
When I quit my job to start a coaching business, it was a big leap into the unknown. Somehow I had faith that, even if I didn’t know exactly how things would turn out, they would turn out OK. Plenty of space for undiscovered dreams and goals.
So now not only am I building a coaching business, I’m an instructional designer. I’ve designed courses in several of my former jobs and I enjoy it. So getting paid to do it on my own schedule is pretty great.
I’m still a big fan of planning. But taking little leaps into the unknown has taught me not to fear the bigger leaps. Like quitting your job. I had a plan for that but it wasn’t set in stone. Thank goodness.
We build confidence to take risks by having the confidence to take risks.
If we’re ever to have the guts, chutzpah, (lady)balls, or daring to take a risk, it helps to look back on a previous risk that turned out for the best. And I am of the belief that unless said risk resulted in death or dismemberment, you got something good out of the experience. If only a lesson learned. And nothing is more valuable than learning.
The only way to fail is to not show up. So it was with that attitude that I quit my job and became a consultant. Four years of hard work paid off as I left my company with the prospect of immediate consulting work I was genuinely excited about.
And so I celebrate the signing of a contract. My first.
A toast to risks that give the confidence to take the next big leap.
I don’t have a job right now and that’s OK. At least, that’s what I keep repeating to myself.
I had a job working for a wonderful nonprofit where my coworkers were smart, dedicated, and kind. Why in the hell would anyone leave such a place?!? I keep repeating that to myself too.
Despite the fact that I have no idea whatsoever how to run a business, I’m following my head and heart. helping other people achieve their dreams is my dream. So I’m becoming a carer and life coach. But first I need to make some changes. Live leaving steady income behind. You know, little stuff.
In my last week on the job, I received many heartfelt “congratulations.” Does quitting one’s job (without another job to go to) warrant such felicitations? Apparently. Though it won’t feel like an accomplishment until I actually make money with my company.
That said, I VERY MUCH appreciate the well wishes. They really do mean a lot. I know it’s a courageous move to quit your job to start your own thing. The thing about courage is that it never feels like courage to the one committing the act. It feels scary, risky, and maybe foolhardy.
But I haven’t screwed up my life too badly so far, so I’ll probably survive this venture. More to come….