It’s almost a year to the day since I left my corporate job. And, almost by chance, my toes have returned to the sands of Byron Bay. It was here that I scribed my first blog; fresh from quitting my job, with one bag of clothes and another whole bag of mixed emotions. Was I scared? I was shit scared. Was I excited? Hell, yes. I couldn’t really explain why, but I knew I had to follow this feeling that was telling me there had to be more. And boy did that feeling pay off, what a year it has been. And, like all good 1 year anniversaries, I want to celebrate it, but I also want to reflect & share. So one year on from those very first can-I-really-do-this?! words on a page in a leafy corner of Byron, here I am compelled once again to write. knowing I’ve something to say, but as ever, not quite sure – until I find myself at the ‘publish’ button – what that will be…
So much has happened this year on this journey that I’m not even sure I could capture it all if I tried. If you’ve been on this blog journey with me you already know some of it. I actually just sat and read through all my posts from start to finish. I can see so much change in myself along the way. Sometimes I don’t even recognise myself. Or the self I thought was me. Sometimes the words bring tears to my eyes. Internally I ask myself, ‘who is this woman writing this? Internally I answer ‘I dunno, but I kinda like her!’. To serve as some kind of summary of my year; I’ve cried. I’ve laughed. I’ve stressed. I’ve procrastinated. I’ve worked hard. I’ve worked harder. I’ve been in awe of opportunities. I’ve been amazed. I’ve worried. I’ve listened. I’ve talked. I’ve worried again. I’ve met amazing people. I’ve met more amazing people. I’ve written. I’ve deleted. I’ve written again. I’ve pondered. I’ve doubted myself. I’ve backed myself. I’ve believed. I’ve been inspired. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve tried. I’ve tried again. I’ve been taken out of my comfort zone. I’ve been taken waaaay out of my comfort zone. I’ve been up. I’ve been down. A rollercoaster of emotions? Yup, you could day that. But mostly, I’ve learnt, I’ve learnt more & I’ve learned more again.
When I decided to start a business, a lot of people who already have a business told me how hard it would be. It’s tough. It’s tiring. It’s hard work. It’s never ending. It’s not for the faint hearted. It’s difficult. This industry is tough. This industry is competitive. And while all that may be true, I can’t help wonder if it’s only really ever as difficult as we ourselves choose to make it. Last year I found myself withdrawing from social occasions because I either felt myself feeling guilty for not spending my time working on the business or guilty for spending money when I didn’t really know where the next pennies were coming from. My business became my life. Life became my business. Sometimes I felt pretty low. Lonely. And particularly in those early months I wasn’t always even ‘working’ on the business. Instead much of the time was spent ‘thinking’ about the business. Thinking about the doing that I’d convinced myself had to be done or just worrying about the fact I wasn’t doing it. “Starting a business is hard work” I told people. I’d heard the ‘business is hard’ story loud and clear and I’d jumped on the bandwagon. And it was hard at times, very hard, but who made it hard? Um, I think that was probably me.
In a similar way in which for many years prior I’d let my career take hold, I noticed I was following the same patterns in business. We invest so much of our time, effort and thoughts into this thing we call ‘work’. We think about it when we’re there and we think about it when we’re not there. Or at least, I used to. Often we place a big chunk of the importance or value of work on the outcome of that work. It might be the status it gives us or the praise we achieve for a job well done but for most it’s the financial gain working bring us. The money to pay the rent / pay the mortgage / buy food / buy nice clothes / go on holidays / and that need for money can consume us. We often work for payday. But as you know, the shine from pay-day is short-lived and quick to wear off because when the money dries up, we’re often left with nothing more than to start counting the days till the next pay-day.
And while I’ve always got more from work than my pay-check it’s definitely a belief I held: I work ultimately so that I can survive. This constant focus on money is why it becomes one of the major arguments that our Ego throws into the mix when we have those feelings that we want to make a change, follow a life-long dream, quit our job or maybe just do a small thing which we love but which we worry will negatively impact our bank balance. It doesn’t have to be about work, I’m just talking about it in the context of ‘work’ here. You know those gut feelings that I’m talking about, right. Those feelings that arise that are like whispers of the soul, then BOOM, enter the stories; “but how will I survive?” “what if I can’t pay rent?” “what if my idea fails” “they’ll laugh at me” “I’ve got a family to provide for” “but, I can’t afford that…” – I suspect you know all about these stories too. Or similar stories at least. Stories that seem louder that the whispers and so the idea or dream subsides.
This last year I definitely let both my business & my money worries consume me, I was still in the ‘work hard, get results’ mentality. But instead of being accountable to managers, I was accountable only to me and I’ll be honest, I was a pretty tough boss. I forgot to take time to celebrate my achievements and instead pushed on to the next goal. I ‘need’ to do this. I ‘need’ to do that. Need, need, need, need, need. And maybe some will argue ‘that’s just what it’s like when you start a business, you need to work hard. People that work hard get results’. But working hard out of fear and working hard out of a love for what you do are two very different things.
Rather than doing it because we simply love it, we often do it (work) through need and if there is one thing I’ve realise this year, I don’t actually “need” to do anything. My relationship with money has been a MASSIVE learning, and probably worth a future post all to itself (greedy money!). Seriously though, when I released my attachments to money I realised that I’m not working for the money (end goal), I’m not setting up a business to become a millionaire, I’m following a passion, I’m creating things which I love. I’m happiest when I’m doing that. The money is simply the cherry on top.
And I’ve come to realise that life is so much easier when I do only the things I love to do and let everything else take care of itself. I think we’re conditioned by society to think that work needs to be hard. If we’re not stressed out, we’re not working hard enough. If we’re not busy, people won’t think we’re doing a good job. Well, if you need someone to tell you that work doesn’t need to be hard, allow me: work doesn’t need to be hard. It doesn’t need to consume you and it shouldn’t. When you allow yourself to simply enjoy what you do or go on the journey to discover what you love, you’ll enter your flow and from there everything has an ease about it that I can honestly say I never thought was possible. From this space (free from ‘need’) clients appeared for me, as if out of nowhere. Temporary work appeared that just felt ‘right’. It wasn’t about money it was about opportunities and learning. Things just seemed to go my way. Try it. Release the outcome, or any agenda and make choices based on what you love and see what happens. And, importantly, allow yourself to enjoy it. It can be effortless instead of effortful. That’s been another (of many) learnings for me, and it’s the reason that this year I’m putting business second. This year I’m focussing on me, because if I’m happy, healthy and focused on what I love, the business can’t not be in its flow, as I’m in mine. I’ve remember that life is supposed to be fun, and I intend to live it that way.
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray “ – Rumi
I had a wee laugh to myself last week when someone I’m working with wrote me an email to say they were missing my “chilled out vibes in the office”. Chilled out vibes, me? Now I’m sure as anyone who has ever worked with me will confirm, I probably wasn’t ever up there for the ‘chilled-out’ award. Don’t get me wrong, on a good day, I could have a laugh and banter as well as the next person, but on a bad day, while I was probably quite good at concealing it, I’d likely be worrying about a multitude of things; a deadline, the tone of an email I’d received, whether I was doing a good job, how much work I ‘had to do’, what time I would need to work late until, etc, etc, etc. In fact, the worrying was embedded pretty early on. In the ‘most likely to…’ section of my school yearbook, I’m pretty sure mine reads. “Laura Downie – most likely to be stressed out after an achievers meeting” Achiever International being a Global Business Competition run in Schools where you set up and run a business with your peers. Enough said! Interesting too, that on a recent visit to my Chiro he also commented “Wow, you’ve got soo much less tension than when you were at the bank”.
Don’t underestimate the impact that causing yourself stress through work can have on your body. And please also know that at any point in time, you’re in control of how it plays out. All you need to do is decide. Decide to step up. Decide to speak out. Decide to make a change. Decide its not for you. Decide it is for you but not this way. Decide to have a break. All you need is a split second, to decide. You don’t deserve to be unhappy at work. Ask yourself what would make you happy and listen for the answer. It’s there. Maybe not right away, but if you can ask the question, with the intension on hearing the answer, it’s always there. Our body will try various things to get our attention, and often that’s through health. If work is exhausting you (physically or mentally) decide to make the change. Just one tiny thing. You can, you know. It’s your life and you’re entirely within your rights to live it as you wish. For some, reading this might resonate with that little voice inside of you but there’s a very good chance that before you get to the end of this post the ego will raise its head too, most likely to talk you out of whatever you might just have had a thought about being possible. But, again, believe me, I’m living proof that you can (compassionately) ignore that fear and follow that gut instinct, that intuition, that spark. And it can and will change your life. And if you don’t think anyone will listen to your crazy ideas about what you want to do. I’ll listen. I’ll tell you to do it. I’ll fight for the whisper which is desperate to be heard because I know how much it will change your life. Because I know how much it has changed mine.
And again, like I’ve said before, I know not everyone feels this. I know many people already love what they do and I love that too. But know for those that aren’t, and those that have that stuck feeling, or that feeling that there might be something else for them, I’m listening to you, ’cause I’ve been there and I know it’s tough but possible for me means possible for you. And maybe it doesn’t apply to work, maybe it applies to another part of your world that feels like hard work. What can you decide on there? Where can you make it easier, for you.
So here we are a year on, same toes, same beach but I’m now living the dream that back then was only a possibility, a feeling, a hope. Sound corny? Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t. But I really don’t give a damn because I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve got my own business & I love what I do. Mission accomplished.
I spoke in my very first post about always looking for the next something, the next challenge, the next task to get my teeth into, the next thing I can achieve, the next place I can go, the next person I can impress. And do you know, for once, I’ve realised I’m happy right where I am.
And I want to say Thank You. Thank You for the role each of you has played in getting me here. My modest blog has now had over 3000 views and I’m pretty sure only 2700 of those visits were mine. So thank you to the 300 visitors. Or the 3 visitors that visited 100 times. Thank you for the shares. Thank you to the friend whos dedication to reading my blog saw her print off every post for reading material for a long-haul flight only to then lose them all on route. Maybe I can I count myself as a published author? It’s out there somewhere. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for listening. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for just the right words at just the right time. But mostly, thank you for allowing me to be me.
For now I’m off to enjoy the magic that is Byron Bay. I adore this place.
Till next time dreamers.
Like what you read? You know what to do. x