My greatest business struggle.
When I decided to leave my longtime career in higher education to start my own health and fitness practice, the things I feared most pretty much boiled down to: letting go of a steady and reliable income, good benefits, and a generous paid vacation package. Fears about our finances dominated my thoughts until June 30th of 2014 when I left my office and packed my bags to spend the summer on the Cape where I would begin teaching fitness classes and building the framework of my business.
Funny thing happened on July 1, I woke up and didn't give two thoughts to money. It happened again on the second, the third, the fourth, and you get the picture. Actually money didn’t play much of a roll in my thoughts at all that summer. In fact, it was quite freeing. No longer did I spend time thinking about what I would be spending money on (shoes, bags, whatever…), because I no longer viewed it as an option, and frankly, I didn’t miss it at all. I was rather relieved to be reclaiming this time (once focused on spending money) to be with family, friends, and thinking about how I would create a practice that would help people to feel better in their own skin. A new kind of currency, I have often said.
So if not finances, what has been my greatest struggle? Being alone. Alone, alone, alone. I am fortunate that after one year in business, I have a small, but steady client base, but I also have a decent amount of free time during the day. You are probably thinking, that sounds heavenly, what is she talking about??? And sure, for the first few weeks, and maybe even months, it was nice to have more time on my hands, but that soon evolved into a somewhat lonely space. I struggled (and struggle) with the isolation and constant need to discipline myself to do all the things that you need to do when you run your own business (marketing, record keeping, website, social media, and the list goes on….). All things that I once did with a team of people, but now, tasks that I do on my own sitting at my dining room table. Add in a New England winter of epic proportion, and I’m not going to lie, it was tough.
Isolation has a way of bringing out all of my insecurities and obsessive behaviors, so perhaps you can relate to the cycle that I fell into: eat to pass the time, self loathe for eating out of boredom, eat more to numb my thoughts, and feel like a fraud as I coach people on these behaviors. Emotional eating is a subject for another day, but it definitely was a by-product of the loneliness that I felt.
So what is my lesson in all of this and what can I share to help you if you are having similar experiences? Well, for starters, I believe that I will find peace in this process. And I don’t just pay lip service to it, I believe it in my core. When I start to feel my spirit sinking, I will literally say, “I believe” over and over and over in my head until I feel my energy and vibration rise back up. You must believe in you own happiness.
Next, and on a more practical level, if you are an extrovert like me, you need to plan “people time” into your schedule. Make arrangements for weekly coffee meetings with friends and colleagues. Owning your own business is all about networking anyway, so make it part of your schedule. And if all else fails, grab your computer and go to the library, Starbuck’s, or anywhere you can set up shop and feel the energy of people being around you. There are less distractions than there are at home (i.e. laundry, food, tv) and you will likely find, as I have, that I get so much more done when I set up shop outside of my house. Finally, allow yourself to feel what you are feeling. We do ourselves no favors by trying to avoid emotions or cast them aside. Feel them, honor them, and move on.
I can’t believe I am approaching one year of being in business. So much has happened, so much has been revealed. There have been ups and downs and moments of true glory, but what has remained true is my faith that if I show up each and every day with good intentions, that the Universe will provide. So there you have it, I’ll keep you posted along the way….
Well said Jan. I am proud of you and inspired by you. The child teaches the parent. 🙂
Well it seems that life is an endless cycle of us teaching each other. 🙂
Love this post!! So proud of you, Jan. And congrats on your approaching 1-year mark!!! I will definitely be returning to this post in the coming year myself, and I thank you for the share and tips.
I’ll add another – use social media for good 🙂 I have some amazing, like-minded friends I’ve made online all around the world. Great cheerleading from people who get it, great sounding boards, and with Skype and whatnot, virtual chat dates are a breeze 🙂 Dreaming up ways to collaborate with them on projects is great too.
You are amazing, my friend 🙂
Thank you, Crecia! And yes, keep sharing the love – thank you for this great suggestion. I often look at social media as a black hole, so it is great to be reminded of why it is wonderful. xo
Jan, I can hear your voice when I read this post! So true and so sincere. Excellent tips to navigate the quiet space. Thank you for sharing this.
And happy almost 1 year anniversary!!
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