Are you still quitting yourself?
I started my business in 2007 because I wanted to work as I authentically am, and I wanted to do work that I felt good about. I had hated most of the organizational cultures in which I’d worked. I didn’t do office politics well and struggled with the power dynamics that made real conversations difficult at work. More than anything else, I resented the pressure to constantly code-switch. I believed with everything in me that the world of work as I knew it was not going to change, and I could not accept that. The idea of fake-smiling, pretending to be okay, and doing work that I wasn’t passionate about was too much. On the other hand, I was terrified because I wasn’t sure whether I could make it. Although I was (and I still am) a single woman, I had bills to pay and nothing that would really count as a nest egg or safety net to fall back on. But here’s what I did know: the way my professional life was going up to that point was unsustainable. As a matter of fact, shortly after I registered my business, I was fired…………….and that was the last 9am – 5pm job I ever had.
Even after I started my business, it took me a while to fully commit to my goals. I’d go to a networking event in the afternoon and send out resumes for jobs at night! Here’s what was weird: I didn’t want a single job for which I applied. This went on for years. As my business began to gain traction, I realized that I needed to strengthen my areas of expertise while also learning to actually run a business (I was great at the leadership part, but needed a lot of improvement on systems and processes). Soon, I could not ignore that I needed to make a choice: either I was going to fully commit to running my business or I needed to get a job. Besides, trying to toggle both was exhausting, especially since I was robbing Peter to pay Paul in terms of time management.
As I thought about the choice before me, I came to see that every resume that I sent was tantamount to a negative affirmation. Each time I clicked send, I was really saying, “I don’t believe I can make my business work.” I also had to reckon with another issue: I didn’t believe I could achieve success in the way that I’d envisioned it with a job because I feared kissing many frogs trying to find a workplace culture that wasn’t toxic. Yes, I was between a rock and a hard place. There was no easy answer.
Ultimately, I chose me. Literally, I said that I’d give myself my best years and that I’d try this entrepreneurship thing until age 50. If I wasn’t where I wanted to be with my business by 50, I’d get a job. I decided that I deserved the opportunity to throw my full self at my goals. The decision to choose me has paid off several times over! I know there is no way that I would have the confidence, skills, or joy that I have if I had given up my dreams.
In choosing myself, I made several sober, but hard, choices. Owning my real goals and dreams meant clearing the path in every way I could to make them happen. I downsized my lifestyle and expenses and even stepped outside of my comfort zone to build relationships with people around whom I felt quite uncomfortable. My goals were just that important to me! Was it hard? Yes, it was hard. In some ways, it was harder than I’d imagined. But the idea of going back to work was harder…and the idea of being destitute was unthinkable. In short, I didn’t see an easy path and decided that if I was going to work hard that I would work hard on what mattered to me. Are you still quitting yourself?
As I reflect on my journey, I see that my first step to living the life that I wanted began with being honest with myself about what I wanted and what I could not accept. From there, I began developing what I call, “emotional and intellectual integrity”. Essentially, I stopped making choices that contradicted my goals and desires. I stopped minimizing my goals out of fear and set up my life in a way that made success possible. Are you still quitting yourself?
Which parts of this story can you relate to? Have you owned the goals and dreams that are in your heart? Are you removing the self-imposed obstacles to your success? Are you still quitting yourself?