Well, for a start, I’m not even sure I have faced it yet – because there are always challenges ahead – that’s what makes business, and being in business for oneself in particular, so exciting, demanding, and yes, to be obvious, challenging.
But, I will be honest and admit there have been times along the way where I have stopped and thought ‘is this all worth it?’ and there are reasons for that. When you reach points in your journey – and you will – when you have an ‘aaargh’ moment, the following are some tips to help you rise to the challenge and perhaps bring it back under control.
FOCUS: like many of us, I see opportunity and potential everywhere. It can be hard not to go off on a tangent and chase the quick buck, or the butterfly moment. To remain focused on what was needed right here and now – the thing that will take you to the next level – takes effort, belief and sacrifice along the way.
AVOID THE DREAM STEALERS: not everyone could, or even still does, get the journey I am on.
“Why are you giving up a 6 figure salary and dream job?”
“Why are you not building a business?”
“What’s your leverage plan and exit plan?”
The first challenge for me was aligning the knowledge of what I wanted to do with the belief that I could do it. Now, it’s continuously about whom I include in my circle of influence – and quite honestly, who really needs to know what my long-term vision is. I know my bigger vision and purpose, and so do those whom I do put my trust in – and I know theirs.
VALUING MY WORTH: I am finally learning that people buy me for me. Who I am, my history, my approach and my thought leadership ARE valuable commodities. I am also comfortable in knowing that I am not for everyone; and because of this, I do business with my value system intact – with integrity, authenticity, honesty and giving stacks of value – all of the time.
ACCELERATE OR BRAKE: like all of us, I started on my journey because I have a vision for myself. I have high expectations of myself (and others), and I am naturally competitive. This can be both a driver and a hindrance. My challenge was not to compare; not to see the successes of others as a sign of poor performance of self. This caused serious debilitation at one stage of my journey; to a point where instead of action I started questioning; instead of just getting on with it I sought out perfection; instead of being energised, I became drained with self-doubt.
I have learnt to accept my own journey, and know that the only competition I have is with myself.
LEARN CONSTANTLY: ask questions all the time; be curious about the what, the why and how and give things a go. Resist the urge to over analyse and instead just take action – you will in the process learn from others. Go on, try it! Whether you succeed or fail there are always things to learn and by adopting this mindset – one of growth, of moving towards the future, of momentum, of change – well, change happens, and that’s a good thing.
WORK – IT’S REALLY HARD WORK: it’s not easy, that’s for sure. YOU have to do the work – the thinking, the calling, the meetings, the delivery, the travel, the follow-up. This journey is not for the faint hearted, but I believed I could do it, and trusted the system…wise words from Christina Guidotti at the time. I am so focused and disciplined with my time now; not only to do the work but also to say NO.
NO to meetings, NO to opportunities that aren’t aligned with my vision, and yes, I say NO to not doing work during the precious times that are reserved for my family and re-energising my soul time.
BALANCE: having my purpose clear, and passion there, my final challenge was, and always is – balance.
I have never shied away from hard work. Equally, as I look towards 44 years of age, I have to take care of myself and my own little world; my husband and three adorable children aged 11, 9 and 6. As someone who is highly focused and driven this is as much of a challenge for me as anything I have ever faced professionally.
I have learned to STOP, to invest in me, and to know that it is OK to go slower, to achieve things at a slower pace; because at the end of the day I am doing this for me – yes – but also for so many other reasons.
For my husband to have a choice as to what is next for him. For my children to see that you can own your own journey; and most importantly, modelling the life I dream for them by walking the talk of balance.
Fundamentally, remember: this is an individual journey – everyone comes to their passion, life and business goals with different baggage, different opportunities, different dreams and responsibilities and that is OK.
Some have more contacts than you could dream of, some have family commitments that need to be balanced, some have stacks of cash in the bank to support them in the early days of running a business, some have to achieve their goals in the quickest time possible through whatever means.
It really doesn’t matter. Business, like life, is an individual journey – but equally, together we can achieve so much more.
Own your journey, own your choice, own the work – and above all believe.
Own your challenges. Don’t let them own you.