Today I’m sharing from the heart about how hard working for yourself can be. But it’s easy to look back in hindsight, or see somebody else’s success, and think differently.
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Let’s acknowledge how difficult working for and by yourself can be.
On the best days it’s overwhelmingly awesome setting your own rules, trying new things, and turning ideas into reality. But on the toughest days it’s paralysing considering all the potential paths and knowing that you are responsible for whatever happens next.
You’d think after 10 years that I’d be used to this rollercoaster. I’m not. But I suppose what I can say now is that I am in a better position to recognise when I’m on it, and I have some tools to get out of my head and get moving again.
What I do know is that it’s not as black and white as making a right or wrong decision. It really and truly isn’t.
Let me take you back to 2010. I had been freelancing for two years. Things had been going well, but I was burning out taking on too many (unfulfilling) jobs. I was also just at the beginning of my realisation that what I had was a business and had huge potential beyond my current situation. And in the process of figuring out what to do next I made mistakes – lots of them.
I tried new things that took me away from my bread-and-butter income. Although I always proudly say I have never missed a rent or mortgage payment throughout the lifetime of my business, I came very close in 2010. I was regularly dipping into my overdraft and stressing about what I was doing with my life. At the same time my husband chose to go part-time in his office job and start his master’s degree in English Literature (which he paid for himself).
By the next year I had taken the work I was doing and started massively scaling it. Some (not all) months I earned 10x what I earned the year before. My husband passed his master’s with distinction and honed his writing craft (he’s a poet). And we were both making plans for our long trip to Southeast Asia that would start on December 31st 2011 and end whenever we decided.
I am sharing this not to be boastful, but to show the winding path that business can take, and is still taking for me.
When you’re reading “success stories” they can seem very easy and linear with the benefit of hindsight. Indeed, when I look back at my own journey I know now that every failure set something up for the next success, every hour of unpaid work I poured into my business in the early days set me up for more ease in the future.
But I want to make it absolutely clear that for most of 2010 and the early part of 2011 I was taking risks and messing up all over the place. We had no savings, our idea of a rare “treat” was to share one main from the local Indian restaurant and boil our own rice at home. It was a stressful year.
And in many ways I’m back there again now. I’m starting a new business while running my other one. I constantly worry about which path I should be taking. But I do have that benefit of experience. And looking back now reminds me that literally anything is possible. Things can change fast, and in ways you can’t see when you’re in that waiting stage.
PS. The reason for this post? I’ve just put something new into the world – and that will never not be scary! My course, Clarify: Your Big Picture Business Kit, is available now. It helps balance the highs and lows by helping you step back and look at what you’ve achieved and why you do what you do.
This was originally shared only with my email community. If you’d like more letters like this, click the button to sign up…Click here to sign up to my behind the scenes intentional business newsletter