How to Embrace What Terrifies You (So It Becomes Easy)

Fear to FreedomIf it’s ok with you, I’m going to just plain be vulnerable here and share something very few people know about me.  I was reluctant to share this for years because I felt ashamed and frankly odd.  Fear of judgment, a dose of embarrassment, and scared of what other people might think kept me in hiding.  But then recently I thought, this situation is such a clear and bona fide example of what it is feels like and what is possible when you are willing to face and move through your fears that I could keep it a secret no longer.

You see I used to be deathly afraid of flying. I mean a terrified, out of my mind, anxiety ridden passenger.  My family never flew anywhere (and still has never been on a plane) and therefore it was not until high school that I first got on a plane. While I was scared to death, I didn’t let it show (I was 17 years old flying with my high school classmates, remember?), survived the experience, and easily avoided planes for a few more years.

But then it happened.  My desire for wanderlust and travel took root right after college. I started with a few very long car trips and then realized that the places I really wanted to go and desperately wanted to see required air travel. So I sucked it up and got on a plane.  And I panicked. I stressed, sweated, and heart-palpitated my way through whatever flight(s) I needed to endure to get me where I wanted to go.  For years it was like walking through Dante’s inferno as a means to an end (visiting cool new places and having new experiences).  My desire to not be limited by my fears was so strong it literally pulled me through.  Yes I had to force myself, yes I was miserable, and yes it took a terrible toll on me.  Think about it – that much fear and stress in your body has an impact.

Have you ever felt this way – paralyzed by fear? Totally wasted by trying to just “feel the fear and do it anyway”?

One of my low points (or high anxiety points if you will) came the one and only time I have been to Europe. I had to travel there on business and my partner came with me so we could extend the time for a vacation. I literally spent the entire overnight flight panicked, battling heart palpitations, and fearful that every bump and noise would lead to us crashing into the Atlantic.  I squeezed my partner’s hand so tight for 8+ hours that I actually drew blood.  Crazy, right?

Yet that is what fear does… it paralyzes us and creates irrational terror in our hearts and minds.  Whether it is flying, making a career change, or speaking your truth to someone else, fear is fear and it feels so real.

While pushing through it was getting me in action, I knew it wasn’t sustainable.  Even with my deep desire to travel I couldn’t stand the stress of the travel days and it took me days to regroup on each end. What a waste of precious time and energy.  So I decided I would find a way to make a shift so flying was no longer terrifying. In fact I thought maybe one day I could actually semi-enjoy it.

It started with a decision and an unflappable commitment to what I really wanted to experience. Without this the rest of the how-to’s and actions I took would have been useless.

So what happened? [Read more…]

Are You Still Working Like a Dog?

Have you been in business more than a year and are still feeling like you’re constantly working like a dog?

I recently ran into some highly successful and powerful women entrepreneurs.  These are women who have been their own boss for years. Women who have created successful companies, been recognized for their entrepreneurial expertise and philanthropy all while raising a family.  They have my utmost respect for what they’ve created and my gratitude for ways in which they inspired me when I first took the leap.  Yet, when I saw them recently, I felt deep in my bones that these women were weary from the journey and overdue for a kindler/gentler pace.

I Burning the Candle at Both Endsthought: What good is business success if your personal life and well-being get lost in the process?

As a business owner it can be very easy to get caught up in a cycle of overwork where you burn the candle at both ends (and maybe the middle too!).  Even if you purposefully take time to be with family, you might find yourself feeling guilty.  You feel guilty when you are working too much and then feel guilty that you aren’t working when you do take time off.  It’s a nonstop circle of feeling guilty about not being “good enough”.

Personally I hit a point a few years ago when I simply hit bottom feeling frustrated, exhausted, and miserable. I call it the FEM Triangle (like the Bermuda Triangle of unsavory outcomes). No matter how hard I worked, my desired goal was just out of reach. Even when I reached a goal I would immediately create a bigger next-step goal that was just out of reach.  I found myself working evenings, weekends, and everything in-between.  My relationships suffered, I didn’t feel as healthy as I wanted to, and I was not spending time doing the things I love.  This was not the idea of successful self-employed business owner that I had in mind!

What changed for me was making the decision that I would no longer put my to-do list and business goals ahead of everything else in my life or wait until later to enjoy other parts of my life. I would build the business that I want to ultimately have right here, right now, not later after I met some arbitrary, elusive goal.

This decision changed everything.

I firmly believe that you absolutely cannot be successful if you have to compromise one part of your life as collateral damage on the way to business success.  Yes you’ll have a give and take between the different parts of your life at different times, but if you integrate the personal and professional consciously, you never have to worry about work/life balance.  Yes you have to take action and do the work, but if it feels like you’re working like a dog, something is out of whack.

Working this way can be so ingrained as a socially acceptable addictive behavior that you don’t even know you’re doing it.

Let’s take a moment to enhance your inner awareness around this right now. You know you’re in this trap if you find yourself:

  • Dragging yourself through your day mentally, physically, or emotionally
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight (or yo-yo’ing between the two).
  • Working early in the day, all day long, into the evening, and on the weekends.
  • Skipping sleep to get work done on a regular basis.
  • Telling yourself all this extra work is necessary to pay your dues.
  • Justifying that working late and extra hours is a means to an end.
  • Unwilling to disconnect from technology for a period of time each day and week.
  • Unable to take time off.

Do you see yourself in any of these statements?

If so, now is the time to draw a line in the sand and decide that you want things to be different.  It might feel scary but it can be done.  If I can go from frustrated, exhausted, and miserable to working only 4 days a week most weeks while growing my income and business, you can too.

Take a lesson from what I witnessed in my colleagues.  Financial and business success alone will not miraculously change you from a workaholic to a happy camper with free time. Only you can give yourself permission to claim and create what you really want.

Do you want more from your one precious life than to work really hard (even if you love what you do)?  If so, contact me for an exploratory conversation about how I can help you create more time for all the things you love both in your business and beyond.

photo credit: gfpeck via photopin cc

Recap: How to Succeed at Self-Employment

It’s been a few months since we jumped in our virtual car and started the journey on the Roadmap to Self-Employment. Being an entrepreneur is an ever-changing adventure and yet the fundamentals always remain the same. By following these 9 steps you’ll be on your way to a strong foundation as you start and grow your business.

I’ve enjoyed sharing this with you. Know that whether going out on your own is just a glimmer of an idea or you’re already full-speed ahead solo, there are nuggets of wisdom and solid business principles here that will get and keep you on the road to small business success.

Here’s a recap of our journey:

 

 

Succeed as Self-Employed Business Owner
Credit Image: car in landscape via Shutterstock
 

This series originally appeared on BlogHer.com

Need help getting your business off the ground?  Reinventing? Or growing what you’ve already started? Contact me for a complimentary discovery session.

Roadmap to Self-Employment: Review & Reinvent Regularly

Running a business is not a wash – rinse – repeat thing. Sure, systems and procedures allow you to leverage your efforts, but being an entrepreneur means you never get to go on auto-pilot. Even the best laid business and marketing plans need to be reviewed regularly. The most successful businesses know how to keep things fresh and respond to the ever-changing business climates and customer behavior.

What to Review and When

It pays to review critical plans and metrics regularly. If you set aside time to do so as part of your ongoing business operations you should never be taken completely by surprise. Here are some common things you will want to review and the frequency with which you should review them:

  • Business Plan – at least annually
  • Marketing Plan – at least quarterly
  • Finances – at least monthly with more in-depth analysis quarterly
  • Marketing Metrics – at least monthly, more frequently with active campaigns
  • Support Team Needs – at least quarterly

Taking a regular peek under the hood allows you to proactively respond to changes in your business rather than react in a panic.

How to Know if It is Time to Reinvent

It can be tempting at every bump in the road to undertake a major reinvention, rebranding, or re-course of action. After all, if the water isn’t boiling, change pots!

That said, it takes consistency and time to build a business so you don’t want to change course too soon but you also don’t want to wait too long. (Need I say again that there is no handbook of absolutes when it comes to owning your own business?). If you look to the entertainment industry, the most successful artists reinvent themselves at different times. For example, as Justin Beiber matures as a young man, his music and brand is changing. Madonna is the queen of reinventing herself. Sometimes it works and sometimes it crashes and burns. That is why you need to be conscious of what you’re doing and why.

Here are top signs that it is time to reinvent (a little or a lot):

  • Changes in customer or business behavior that requires you respond differently to them to succeed.
  • You’ve hit a plateau in your earnings.
  • You are bored and no longer as passionate about what you do as you once were.
  • A major disappointment or game-changing life circumstance happens.

Remember that sometimes reinvention is the best revenge. Whatever you do, be certain whatever reinvention you undertake is authentic and stays aligned with your bigger “why” and purpose.

Reinvent Your Business
Credit Image: Foto_di_Signorina via Flickr

How to Reinvent Successfully

You can’t just snap your fingers and reinvent yourself or your business. It’s like starting a new business. It requires inspiration, thoughtful planning, reflection, and discernment. Follow these principles to make your reinvention a successful one.

  • Create space to allow the process to unfold. You can’t force it.
  • Test every choice against your own authenticity meter, bigger purpose, and desired life.
  • Be playful. Creativity requires equal parts creative tension, contained chaos, and playfulness. Allow creativity to flow during this process.
  • Explore possibilities. There is no logical, linear path to this process.
  • Embrace “not knowing”. This is where your need to be ok with uncertainty and dance in the mystery.
  • Create a roadmap to make the transition successful.
  • Manage priorities. You will likely have a juggling act navigating the old and new simultaneously as you make the transition.

Have Fun

At the end of the day, being in your business should be fun. It’s a journey that begs to be enjoyed along the way. If you regularly review and reinvent when called to do so, you’ll keep things fresh, grow your business faster, and create the longevity you crave.

 

This post originally appeared on BlogHer.com.

Roadmap to Self-Employment: Find Your Rhythm

Being self-employed is a distance run, not a sprint.  It doesn’t “end”.  Therefore the habits you put into place at the start of your business need to be sustainable.  Some might say achieving balance is impossible, and they are right. But, not in the way you think they are…

I believe balance is an elusive and unattainable goal.  More stress is created in people today because of their quest to achieve balance than in simply creating a rhythm to life that works for you regardless of whether that meets some nebulous balance criteria.

I think Danielle LaPorte says it best:

Life balance is a myth, and the pursuit of it is causing us more stress than the craving for balance itself.

I agree with her.  What I also know for sure is that we crave a balance of sorts.  It’s programmed inside of us. Think homeostasis. The tendency of a system (living beings) to maintain internal stability and a psychological equilibrium.  Equilibrium is not about a perfect state of balance however.  It’s about finding and creating that stability within what conditions are present.

I like to think of it as finding your rhythm.  Sometimes that rhythm will be fast and charge full speed ahead toward a crescendo (think: product launch) and other times it will be a tranquil and very slow beat (think: lying on the beach on vacation).  You can’t live in the high state forever because it’s not sustainable (think: dreadful music).  You’re also likely to be bored to death after a certain period of nothing but tranquility. Not to mention as a business owner you aren’t likely to make any money or have much of an impact without taking any action.  It’s the relationship between the extremes and the varying of tempo that allows you and your business to be in a sustainable rhythm and dare I say beautiful harmony.

While this rhythm looks different for every person, every person really does need a variety of tempos over time.  If you’re hyped up on caffeine and think that disconnecting or taking a break is not for you, you’re deluding yourself.  (Consider these perspectives: Taking Work on Vacation this Summer?, Am I the Only Blogger Who Loves to Unplug?, and R&R – Luxury or Lifeblood?)

I’m not suggesting being authentic by doing things you don’t want to do, but I am saying to find stillness and ways to disconnect that align with who you are. [Read more…]

How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority

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