I’m a storyteller. It shouldn’t be hard for me to tell a story. Any story. Well, any story but this one. Because this story, this story is mine. And telling your own story is always the hardest one of all.
Today, I’m an entrepreneur, an author, a coach, a budding boxer, and in charge of my time, my schedule and my income. Sure sounds like I’ve got my act together. But it wasn’t always like that. In fact, for the majority of my 40+ years on the face of this planet, it wasn’t like that.
Oh, I had dreams and plans but never could seem to get them to happen. I was told that I was being unrealistic, that it didn’t work that way, that I couldn’t have what I wanted.
I worked all the time. I did things that didn’t feed my passion and certainly didn’t create the life I wanted. I was frustrated because I couldn’t seem to make the leap to being happy and well-paid, like so many other people. I couldn’t seem to find hobbies and fun or even joy. I just gritted my teeth, put my head down and tried to bulldoze through every day to the other side.
And while I’ve been an entrepreneur for some time now (since Sept of 2010), becoming an entrepreneur didn’t free me from that struggle. It probably made it worse – because becoming an entrepreneur eliminated the 9-5 structure of a job where you actually had a quitting time, and the environment encouraged, almost demanded, you hustle ALL the time.
But burning through all of your energy at 100 miles an hour can put you in a position where you are burned out, burned up and blah about everything. And that’s exactly where I ended up. I stopped liking what I did, even a little bit. I started to get nauseous every time I set down at a computer. I was frustrated, angry, depressed, anxious – you pick the emotion, it was swirling around in there.
Clearly, I wasn’t doing this “right.” But I had no clue what I was doing “wrong.” It was only after I started working with a coach that I even started to figure things out. And she very gently broke it to me that the problem wasn’t in my business. It wasn’t in my industry. It wasn’t even in my bank account. It was in my head.
I did not ask for woo-woo. I did not ask for therapy. I asked for a plan to make my business grow and support me without running myself to death. You know, strategy and steps I could take and things I could DO to be productive and profitable.
Somehow, I was not as amused as she was. Go figure.
It sucked big-time having to come to terms with this. I’ve spent my entire life “do do do” at top speed with not many thoughts to rest, recovery or recharging. Not only did I have to take RESPONSIBILITY for it and be accountable for the fact that I “allowed” it to happen — but also that as tired as I was, I still had to get up off my butt and fix it. Geez Louise, right?
I will not tell you she had an easy time with me. She won’t tell you that either – but the one thing she was always clear on was that I was worth the effort. Her effort and my own.
You see, I had mindset issues and limiting beliefs and hereditary thinking patterns that were holding me back and keeping me imprisoned in the work-hard-but-barely-get-by cage.
This is the part of my story that’s hardest to tell. Because it hurts. But I want to share it with you, in the hope that some of it resonates with you, and that you can finally start to move past it.
My family was poor. Probably not dirt poor, but not too far away. Of course, as a kid you don’t know that. You just know that other people live differently than you do.
Both of my parents grew up in the Great Depression. My mother suffered far more than my father did – she truly was dirt poor. My father was the son of a farmer, so he at least never had to worry about food. Neither of them finished high school (which wasn’t anywhere near as unusual in that day and age as it is today).
With that background, it wasn’t very surprising that they thought getting a good solid job, 40 hours a week, was the way out. And they wanted us out – out of poverty, out of unhappiness, out of what they had suffered.
My sister got married immediately out of high school. My brother worked his way through college and became a nurse. And I, the last kitten in the litter…. Did not go according to plan.
I was the one who dreamed. I was the one who questioned. I was the one who was too stubborn to ever do it anyway but my way. I was the one who couldn’t understand why it “had” to be done a certain way. I was the dodo in the nest.
I never doubted my parent’s love. Never ever. But I did realize that I was very different from them. I just wasn’t old enough to understand how I was different – or what to do about it. I tried very hard to become what they wanted me to be, instead of what I was. I accepted that they must be right – that’s what you do when you’re a kid. I absorbed their ways of thinking, their fears, and their beliefs and experiences.
Unfortunately for me, what I absorbed wasn’t stuff that could help me. What I absorbed was:
- You have to work very hard just to get by in life; never expect to get what others get.
- The only way to survive is to take a regular job and work hard without questioning what you are paid or the responsibilities you are given.
- You should try to save money, but expect to have any savings taken away from you by unexpected crises.
- You should do everything yourself and never ask for help – help is a handout, and taking handouts is shameful and embarrassing.
- You should always do for others, whether they do for you or not.
- You should work all the time, there’s no room for fun and games.
And so on. I’m sure you’re starting to see how this could set me up for a lot of frustration and disappointment ahead.
While I always managed to pay the bills and raise my son well, there was never a lot left over, I worked ALL the time, and I never got paid what even the “going rate” was for my job positions. And I learned how to punish myself for wanting more, or different.
Oh yes. Punished. Always chose work over self-care. Always put the needs and wants of others over my own. Always pushed away my own dreams of writing and being financially stable and secure. Made sure that my health suffered by not “finding” time to exercise, eat right and rest.
The only way to getting over this problem was going through it to the other side. I had reached the point where I either had to pack my backpack, put on my hiking shoes and start walking or simply lie down and give up and do nothing. For once, that steel backbone work ethic came in handy. Yep, into Mordor I went, with my staff, my boots and a whole lot of courage that I didn’t feel.
Welcome to Woo-woo-ville. Population unknown, but just added one.
I’d love to tell you how easy it was to change my thinking… that it happened “just like that” and suddenly, I was living the life and getting the income I dreamed of and everything was roses and rainbows, kittens and baby unicorns.
Honestly, this was some of the hardest work I’d ever done. I had a nasty block about doing anything for myself – and all of this work was nothing but for myself. I’d like to tell you once you do it, it’s done forever. The truth is, I’ll be working on myself until the day I leave this world.
But you make progress. Change does happen. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. And you look back, realizing just how far you’ve come and how much things have changed. And you enjoy that feeling, before setting back out on your hike with renewed faith and energy.
Over the past three years, I’ve changed my business, I’ve changed my business model, I’ve taken a job, I’ve been laid off from a job. I’ve worked on my health and the level of happiness in my life, and I’ve been so frustrated and angry I thought I was going to have to hide bodies.
You’re always going to have some frustration, some sadness, some anger. But building up the positive side of your psyche, to support you, makes it a lot easier to deal with those emotions, and a lot easier to be true to yourself in the process.
No, I’ve not made it to a six-digit passive income from my online business yet… but I’m working on it, and now I can say with complete certainty that I’ll get there. I still struggle with health issues… but I can say with complete certainty that I’m working on them. I still struggle with fear, frustration and self-doubt… but I’m learning how to overcome them and move past them.
I have reached a place where my days unfold pretty much the way I want them too. I have reached a place where I can pick and choose my client and projects. I have reached a point where I can accept and receive abundance and prosperity in the form of more money, more fun and more peace. And I’m building on that strong foundation. I’m building a freakin’ castle, with turretss and rainbows and a moat and my very own dragon. You can too. I look forward to someday being able to tell YOUR story.