My Year of No...(No offense, Shondra!)
Please tell me that I am NOT the only one!
By the end of the first six months of my journey as a new entrepreneur, I was knee deep in a “To Do” list that kept growing. I felt completely out of control. For anyone, that’s a very uncomfortable place. But for me…who had mastered my previous professional life like a boss (LOL), it was unnerving!
Then I got some sage advice from a good friend who had begun her entrepreneurial journey about a year before I did.
“Have you listened to any podcasts?” Djenaba asked me. “They are great for information…”
LISTENING AND LEARNING
I began listening daily to at least one of their podcasts. I followed them on social. I downloaded their free content. I took copious notes and was completely inspired by their stories and counsel. I debated over committing financially to their courses and programs.
Side Bar: As a new entrepreneur, my advice is to NOT commit financially to anything extra, though it may SEEM needed, for at least a year or until you have a plan for how you will use that new investment and clear on how much ROI* “it” will bring to you.
Trust me on this Side Bar…I’ve made plenty of mistakes in this area.
TOO MUCH TO DIGEST
As much as I enjoyed the learning that was going on, I felt like I was drinking from a fire hydrant. I couldn’t focus on any one area of my business because I struggled with prioritizing what needed to be done first. EVERYthing felt important and urgent. I went from learning how to read social media analytics to productivity hack study to money management options review to content creation…by noon each day. I was literally spinning in circles, not really seeing how to implement all that new, great knowledge I had begun to absorb.
AND I had clients to attend to.
I constantly felt the pull between working in my business (client deliverables) and working on my business. Y’all know what I mean?
I had to STOP.
As I completed smaller jobs for clients, I did not pursue more business. I maintained one main client. I created space in my life to dream a little, to check in on how my business was going, and to determine if it truly reflected my own unique genius.
MY YEAR OF NO
But I must admit something to you…stepping away from my overscheduled life WAS/IS HARD!
For years, I had been doing this in both my personal and professional lives. I love to serve and help people. It’s kind of my thing…and folks know it.
I also like things done well. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not a perfectionist…anymore. I am in fact in recovery for Perfectionism. (It’s a disease, you know!) So, I pursue excellence, not perfection. However, people know this about me. So, if they wanted something done, and done with excellence, guess who they asked? It’s not their fault. I was the “yes” lady.
For my own personal and professional growth, I had to declare a Year of No.
At the time of my declaration, I was committed as:
Class Parent to my first grader’s class
School Enrichment Programming Chair
Teen Advisor for my kids’ teen group
Nominating Committee Chair for my mothers’ group
School district fundraising program representative for the primary school
On top of running my TWO businesses…as Chief Operating Officer of The Henry Tribe (that’s my family) and Chief Executive Officer of The Labyrinth Consulting Group.
I repeat: PLEASE tell me I am NOT the only one!
ROOM TO GROW
I recalled hearing Marcel Schwantes, founder of Leadership from the Core, share the proven truth that success in one’s personal life begets success in one’s work life. And over the years, my definition of success had changed. I no longer felt that filling every moment of my day with activity was productive or ensured accomplishment. For me, it also became an unhealthy lifestyle. I knew I needed to make a shift in my hustle game, to create margins in my life so that I could grow personally, and thereby, professionally.
So, I practiced…
When the next call came to ask me to chair a committee, I said, “Let me think about it.” But in my head, I whispered, “No.”
When my daughter’s school parent association couldn’t find a replacement for a role I had filled in the past, I said, “I’m swamped. I can’t right now.” Under my breath, I pleaded, “Please don’t ask me again. I might cave.”
When asked to lead another group that I had recently supported, I said, “NO.” Finally. And meant it.
As mind space began to open, I began to experience a flow between my personal and professional lives. I didn’t have to work so hard, labor over every decision. There was a peace that emerged. I would get done whatever needed to be completed when I was good and ready. I allowed my business to unfold.
POINT OF CLARIFICATION
Now…I did not simply sit around dreaming all day. People do not start businesses to sit around thinking about what they want to do without applying themselves to some work, do they? Ok...maybe, some people do. But y'all know me...
I began sorting the information loads that I had been taking in. I researched areas that interested me. I developed what I call “productivity systems” to manage two major businesses. I took my time making decisions, recognizing that what works for others may not be for me. And I waited until I was ready to add certain pieces to my repertoire.
A year ago, I would stress because I didn’t have a business Facebook page. People would encourage to just create one. But I wasn’t ready to share with EVERYONE that I was “friends” with about my business. I don’t really have a reason why I wasn’t ready…but I don’t need one. I’m the boss. Right?
And you’re the boss, too. Don’t be afraid to take a step back from the hullabaloo of your business to take a deep breath and get a bit of perspective before launching into the next thing. It’s so much better to make decisions from a place of calm and possibility than from a place of anxiety.
THAT is when the margins around life enlighten.
Until next time…
CONNECTING THE DOTS
Take a moment to do a self-assessment…where are you right now? In a frenzied state or place of calm? What small choice can you make to bring the calm into your personal and/or professional life this week? Please share!