Staying In My Lane and Other Lessons From One Year of Full-Time Entrepreneurship
June 29, 2019 was the one year mark of me leaving my full-time job and doing a cannonball jump into the deep end of the full-time entrepreneurship pool.
On that day, I remember being full of wide-eyed excitement for all that was ahead, feeling terror around leaving a regular paycheck and relying solely on coaching and consulting income (that was decidedly NOT regular) and three months of savings, and a deep sense of confidence (and ego!) and personal empowerment.
To say the year-that-was was a rollercoaster is like saying the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground…
There were a LOT of high intoxicating highs. Some of those highs included designing my days, hosting intimate workshops with fabulous women, booking my first paid speaking engagement, and working with incredible clients. There were also more gut-wrenching lows than I would have cared to experience. Lows like being dangerously close to not being able to pay rent, considering giving up my business (like I was 24 hours away from doing so), and an intense and a sometimes debilitating sense of failure and sadness.
With all those character building moments, I am so proud—and relieved!—to say that even through all of that, I’m still standing!
That said, there is still so much for me to do, learn, and experience. And as the calendar turns the page onto year number two, I’m preparing to step even deeper into my vision and purpose. For now, though, it’s important to reflect on and really “get” these lessons.
So, in a year that gifted me with so many lessons, these were the four biggest aha! moments for me:
1. Pick a lane, stay in that lane, and LOVE that lane
Anytime you’re venturing into new territory, be it a new job or starting a business, you’ll inevitably feel this intense pressure to do, try, and be all the things. You’re tempted—partly because of fear and scarcity and partly because you’re comparing yourself to others—to cast a wide net and throw whatever you can against the wall to see what sticks.
This approach was alluring and hellacious for me. Instead, I had to pick a lane. I had to choose to commit to the highest priority action; the thing that was going to move the needle on my business the most. Next, I had to stay in that lane. Doing so meant doing my best to stay focused and not get lured away from my lane by what I was seeing others do on social or by the talking heads saying I should be doing this thing or that thing.
Finally, I had to learn to love that lane. This meant nurturing the priority that I chose. This meant focusing on that thing, doing it to the best of my ability, and not giving up because I couldn’t see the seed sprout on day one or two. Just because you can’t see the seed opening doesn’t mean it’s not sprouting and spreading its roots beneath the soil.
2. Focus on how you want to feel
This is straight up Law of Attraction. You are going to hit some walls, then fall in a hole, and then you might hit another wall on the way out of that hole. I’m being a little dramatic, but the point is that our respective roads are always going to place obstacles in our way—often, when we least expect them or can afford to have them.
When you come across these obstacles it is OK to feel disappointed or angry, but only for a moment. Don’t allow yourself to ruminate or to set up camp there. Whatever you are feeling is valid and it’s important to give those feelings their space to share whatever it is you need to learn. But, the longer you focus on how rotten you feel, the more likely you are to continue attracting things that make you feel rotten.
Instead, even if you feel low, begin to put energy into how you want to feel. Reflect on the things that will help you to feel happy, excited, hopeful, etc., then start doing things that will bring a smile to your face or make you laugh.
Applying this lesson worked wonders for me. It dramatically changed the quality of the results I was seeing in my business. Dramatic changes that happened sometimes within mere hours of me shifting my mood. It blew my mind.
3. Put your oxygen mask on first
As women, we tend to give of ourselves until the well has run completely dry. We are nurturers by design, ironically though, we nurture everyone but ourselves. When we are putting together our to-do list, we are often the last to-do item on that list—if we make the list at all. Am I right?
I call it toxic femininity. We bend over backwards, we repeatedly blur the lines of or ignore our boundaries, we say ‘yes’ to stuff we hate, we don’t ask for help, we beat ourselves up, and then get up the next morning and do it all again. P.S. We’re even more exhausted and burned out than we were the day before.
Quite simply, if you are suffocating and depleted but still trying to pour from that empty cup, you cannot expect that you’ll be able to be you be, do and feel your best—for anyone. Sadly, this is a lesson that I have had to learn a few times over.
The takeaway here is that self-care is not selfish. In fact, it is the most selfless thing you can do! The best way for us to keep it together for ourselves and others, is to stop always trying to keep it together when that dam is about to break. Stop. Breathe. Ask for what you need. Give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself.
4. Go with the flow
The number of times I resisted, fought the natural progression of things, procrastinated, took things personally, and tried to force outcomes, is higher than I can count. All of that led to this:
When you are resisting the flow of life, it is incredibly exhausting. It wastes time, drives up your stress and anxiety, and causes sleepless nights. Instead, I invite you to be like water and go with the flow.
When you can accept what is and do the best with what is, it frees up your time, it allows you to gain a new perspective, and creates space for new ideas and inspired actions to come to you (see lesson #2). For some inspiration on how to go with the flow, check out my favorite TED Talk!