What do you do?

I’ve just returned from three weeks in the homeland for a wee bit of a wedding extravaganza. It was lovely. Weddings are so great. And, despite being in Scotland, the sun shone for every single wedding. Which, considering they were three Saturdays in a row, might be some kind of Scottish record right there. The trip was my first official leave since becoming self-employed. How nice of the boss to let me take annual leave before I had accrued it. She’s such a gem. I needed it though and while I’d like to say the Scottish Vitamin D intake has left me refreshed, energised and ready to get back into it, I actually write this from under my duvet (doona) with a hot water bottle at my toes and a lemsip by my side.

There may have been sunshine but there was also Prosecco and lots of it. It was a rather busy three weeks and I think the current onset of a cold might be my body trying to tell me we need a rest. So I’m listening and today I’m going to do just that. Tomorrow I’ll clock in and get back to work. In the meantime, it has been a while since I blogged so here I am. I did actually start writing a blog on the plane from Sydney to London but I think the altitude might have gone to my head as when I read it back the majority of the post was a bit of a rant about the lack of free socks and a toothbrush on my Qantas fight and the importance of customer service, first impressions and a rather tenuous link back to business. So, I opted not to post that one and so you really didn’t miss much. Absence of said amenity kit was however still also noted on the return flight home today so I tweeted Qantas to them to ask why. First world problems.

So, back to the wedding bonanza. Three amazing couples, three beautiful weddings. Weddings tend to bring with them the opportunity to meet new people and with those new people often come questions about what you do for a living. It was interesting for me to observe my response to this question. Previously I’d find questions of this nature would make me feel a little uncomfortable, not because I was ever embarrassed about what I did but simply because I just thought it was boring. I didn’t think anyone would be particularly interested in hearing about my 9-5 corporate life. Who wants to hear about a boring job in marketing? And with an attitude like that you can only imagine how exciting I made my jobs sound. I’d answer as quickly as possible and then direct attention back to the other person who I was always quite sure would have a waaay more interesting job than me. On reflection, there was obviously also quite a bit of denial going on previously about whether I was actually happy in my career, so any questions like this would stir that discomfort and my response was always to deflect attention elsewhere , and quickly “OH LOOK, Canapes!…”

This time though I didn’t experience that discomfort. but what I did notice was a need to justify my answer. It was the first time I had been asked by strangers what my occupation was since the career change. And when I said something along the lines of “I’ve just started up my own interior design business” I couldn’t help but feel I then needed to launch into a bit of a career summary, what I’d been doing and why I now considered myself an interior designer. These people didn’t ask for my life story they simply asked what I did. Now I don’t know about you but I’ve ever asked someone what they do for a living and not believed them. Never has someone said “Me? Oh, I’m a Dentist” and I’ve replied “Really? You? A Dentist? I don’t believe it. Prove it. Show me your qualification certificates right now”. No. I’ll simply listen with interest to their story. And sometimes you meet someone who you think has a really cool job and you have so many questions for them ‘cause it sounds really interesting and you’ve never met a real-life Acrobat before. But then again, perhaps it’s less about the job someone does and more the enjoyment they get from said job and how that comes across in their communication. Our job doesn’t define who we are but we spend a lot of time doing it so we should really be able to talk about it with at least some level of interest. Those people that love their job, they’ll draw you in whatever it is they do, it’s in their energy, they’re passionate about what they do and how could you not want to know more about that?

I remember recently reading an article online recently about 10 things that people who love their lives are doing differently and on the list was ‘When you ask them what they do, they don’t give you a job title’:

“When you ask them what they do, they respond with what they do in their lives, not what work they do in order to pay for the lives they want to one day be living.”

Once I’d finished justifying my decision to become an Interior Designer – and if the person was still there – they were always genuinely interested to hear more. They asked questions and I was more than happy to answer them because when it comes to the topic of following your dreams, that I can talk pretty passionately about. And that’s again where I notice a difference. I could talk about it all day. What I’ve learnt, what I’m learning, how I’m doing something that I once didn’t think would ever be possible. And I can see that some of these people think it’s impossible for them too.

I continue to observe a large number of people who say “I’d love to do something like that….” “I wish I had the bravery to do something like that…” “I wish I’d done a move like that when I was younger / had more money / didn’t have kids / was mortgage free…etc” “I wish I had the balls to do what you’ve done”. And 9 times of of 10 this will be accompanied by a number of reasons as to why the person doesn’t believe they can do it and as I listen I hear so many of the same reasons I myself had around why I couldn’t, shouldn’t or wouldn’t be doing this. And that was me as little as 6 months ago. I was still fighting all that resistance. But all of that can change when you take action.  Once you take the first tiny step it’s amazing how momentum picks up speed and you quickly find yourself doing things anyway, just because it feels like the right thing to do.

Through coaching I remember reading something which stayed with me;

“if any human is achieving something, then it is humanly possible. Just ask “how”?”.

I’m doing something which others have done, so I know it is possible. People have taken risks to start up a business doing something they love and have experienced success. Likewise, I’m not doing anything which isn’t entirely possible by each person who tells me they wish they could ‘do the same’. They can. A couple of my friends ran the Edinburgh marathon at the weekend. Now while I’m more than sure I couldn’t run a marathon tomorrow, what I do know is that if I wanted to, like really wanted to, and put in the hard graft I could (eventually) run a marathon. People run marathons. It’s doable. I’m not suggesting it’s a walk in the park, it requires a tonne of hard work and huge determination but it’s possible. When I had a personal trainer a few years back I remember telling him, with confidence “I can’t run, I’m not a runner”, he disagreed and somehow eventually managed to get me on the treadmill , which I remember thinking I would do just to shut him up, just so he could see for himself how bad in fact I was at running, and then he’d stop asking me to run. A few months later I ran the 14k City2Surf non-stop, something I never ever thought I would (or could) do. But what had happened was that I had started to believe I could run and I ran. This week I decided I’m going to start running again and while I know I won’t be able to run very far this week I also know after a few weeks it will get easier. Ask anyone who runs, it comes back quickly. But like anything you have to do the hard work to see the results.

On occasion, these conversations around career with someone who I can see isn’t happy  (and they’re easy to spot once you’ve been there) sometimes feel like a mini coaching session, I listen to all of the fears some of which I recognise and while I don’t say “quit your job and quit it tomorrow” I will try to encourage them to think some more about it or think about it differently. Sometime the conversation ends with them telling me they feel inspired by my story and that always amazes me. It amazes me that by simply following my dream I can in some way play even a teeny part in someone else following theirs. Early on, I’d get frustrated that I couldn’t get these people to see past their resistance. I knew they couldn’t see their own potential and I want to be able to fix that for them. I struggled with their unhappiness because I knew how it felt. I’d been there, although like them, probably didn’t know it at the time. But everyone is on their own individual journey, maybe this blog is my way to inspire some sparks of what is possible, but ultimately everyone needs to go their own path. My personal trainer could tell me I could run but he couldn’t do the running for me. People are in charge of their own destiny. But what I will say to anyone reading this that might be in the “I wish I could do that” camp, is start believing that you can, ‘cause you can. And that moment you start believing is such an important moment because it’s the exact moment it starts getting done.

So on reflection I realised I need to start owning what I do. This is my life now. I don’t need to justify it, I need to continue to believe it is possible. And through this blog, if you’re a regular to my posts, you’ll see that many of the same challenges continue to come up for me. And, as I share the journey, it’s important for me to share what those are because I believe its through the sharing and owning up to these barriers that I’ll break them down. And my ability to believe in my own self-worth & my ability to ask people for money for the services I provide are two which continue to come up in some way or another. They’re also two factors which are going to be pretty fundamental for the success of my business, so as they continue to raise their heads, and I continue to work through them and share with you that process, I know that it’s for the greater good of my business.

And I share this as it comes up because I think it’s where people can get unstuck and throw in the towel. It’s not as if I made the decision to do what I’m doing and I’m confidently striding through each day as though I was born to do this. It is really difficult. It can be a struggle. Of course, I’m dealing with my own continuous fears but that’s the key, I’m dealing with them. Prior to my holiday, in the few days before I left, I took a couple of steps on projects which for whatever reasons had fear attached to them and I’d been resisting taking action but by simply making a start I felt instantly better.

And I know that other people are struggling with many of the same barriers because they’ve told me and I also know that others have experienced them and overcome them so I know that’s possible too. Somebody gave me some good advise for the payment side of things. And that was not to think about the money itself but the feeling that you are giving to someone through the service you’re providing. Imagine for example the joy which a beautiful space can bring to someone everyday that they wake up and go into a beautiful kitchen which makes them happy. They’re not thinking about the cost, they’re thinking about the benefit it brings to their life. In the same way one of my favourite things to purchase is holidays, I never regret the cost, it’s simply necessary to bring the excitement of adventure and travels that lie ahead. I’ll always happily part with cash for that. I’d also happily have paid a few dollars more if it meant Qantas had given me a toothbrush and a pair of socks too. Not quite over this yet you’ll see! My feet were FREEZING!!

More to come in the coming weeks I’m sure, and although I feel a bit under the weather I’m really excited to get back down to business; to start working on exciting new projects, to meet new people, to start making some money and perhaps to continue to inspire others to chase their dreams.

If you know someone who might get some value out of this post, as ever, please share using the share buttons below. Sometimes all we need is someone on the sidelines to encourage us to run, and I’m always happy to be that person. Go on, ‘run’, you can do it.

Scottish Sunshine. The Proof.
Scottish Sunshine. The Proof.
Do what you love.
Do what you love. You can do that, can’t you?

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