It was really important to me when I started this project that if I was going to spend my days sharing the stories of how self-employed women are creating their businesses today, I had to document their entire journey. Highs, lows, warts and all…
From fraud, to friendship breakdowns, severe anxiety to losing all their clients, not one of these women have turned around and said “you know what Fi, it’s all gone swimmingly. Thanks for asking.” They’ve had to grit their teeth, slog through those low points and out the other side they emerged, their silver lining in tow. (And thank god they did because without those silver linings, my whole ‘let’s inspire young girls to set up their own business’ plan wouldn’t have got off to the best of starts..! )
At the same time though, for all the motivational quotes telling us to ‘embrace the uncertainty’, that ‘anything is possible if (we’ve) got enough nerve’ and encouraging stories from those that have made it already telling us that all those low points were worth it to get to where they are now… until you see the fruits of your labour, the pennies in your bank, whatever it is that makes you feel as though your project is starting to take off; keeping yourself stimulated and driven when your own silver lining still seems like a long way off can be a tough and extremely draining journey to push through alone.
Take it from me…
With so many birthdays coming up, Christmas around the corner and a bill from my flat’s management company that landed on my doorstep last fortnight (that incidentally, I definitely did not see coming and it completely floored me), now more than ever do I feel the pressure to turn this into something.
Given that I haven’t checked in for a while (hi!), have had some serious ‘what the hell am I doing with my life?’ moments in the last couple of weeks and have a few messages in my inbox from some of you lovely lot, saying along the lines of ‘how do I know that it will work out for me too?’; I thought I’d share my four top tips for staying motivated when the end goal still seems like a long way off…
- Remind yourself why you started and repeat that to yourself as many times as needed…
I have ideas and visions for what I want She can. She did to become and they’re ideas and visions that if I pull off, will mean that I get the career that I’ve always dreamed of having (and will hopefully, fingers crossed, help a whole lot of young women gain the confidence to make a go of their dream too).
But sometimes – and by sometimes I mean every bloody week – keeping sight of those ideas and visions is seriously hard work. You start to doubt yourself, you question whether you’re aiming too high, you start comparing yourself to others and all of a sudden you feel a tad lost…
BUT if you can take some time out mid-panic to remind yourself why you started and what made you feel so passionate to pursue your idea in those early days, naturally, you should start to rationalise again and within minutes will feel like you’re back on track.
- Take some time out to appreciate what you’ve achieved so far…
If you’re anything like me, the pressure you’re feeling to make your business a success is coming more from yourself than anyone else. So in those moments of self-doubt, take some time out to remind yourself of what you’ve already accomplished, not just in the early days of your business but throughout your life in general too. I am almost certain that a familiar pattern will start to emerge.
For me it goes a bit like this.
I set myself goal or sign up for a challenge (usually without thinking the nitty gritty details through), pile on the pressure and work bloody hard, have a wobble where I think about chucking it all in, tell myself I’m an idiot and that I don’t quit, work a bit harder and panic a bit more, and more often than not go on to achieve what I set out to achieve.
Be it academic results that you’ve studied so hard for, physical challenges that you never thought you’d complete or perhaps an emotional journey that you’ve found the mental strength to get through, the list will no doubt rack up overtime.
At the end of the day, you know yourself better than anyone and what you’ve done to get to where you are right now. Sometimes it’s just a case of reminding yourself that. Perhaps not out loud, no one likes a show off after all (!), but a little pep talk from you to you once in a while, can go a long way when you’re starting to feel a bit shit!
- Learn to accept that it won’t happen overnight (cry, I know)
I guess this one ties in quite nicely with the above. All of the accomplishments that I’m most proud of in my life are the ones that I had to work my butt off over a period of time to get. Be it studying mentally or training physically, I’ve never been someone that could simply just wing it and history tells me that I have to work damn hard.
So why would setting up a business be any different? No one I’ve interviewed found instant success and everyone I’ve interviewed is grateful that things panned out that way. It made them tougher, and meant that they appreciate it more now.
That’s not to say that sometimes I wish it would hurry the hell up…
But short cuts en route and cheating your way to the top tend to lead to shoddy results. People will respect you more and you’ll respect yourself more if you grit your teeth and build it up properly.
- Listen to what that all important gut of yours is saying…
For me this is the most important one.
Call me crazy but even in my lowest lows there’s something deep down inside me that’s willing me on and telling me that all of this is leading somewhere. Where yet? I don’t know, but it’s somewhere – I hope – that will make all the late nights writing, road trips around the country and moments where I feel like I’m a real wolly for putting my pride on the line, worth it.
It was there when I first thought of this idea, it’s there when people I’ve never met message to say they believe in this project and it still stands with me as I type this today.
If you’re battling away to start something on your own when your gut’s telling you that your heart’s not in it or that it’s altogether a dodgy idea (!) then there’s a tell-tale sign that perhaps it’s time to stop. But don’t confuse disillusion with delusion. If that voice inside you continues to tell you that what you’re doing is a good idea, the chances are that it really is.
Basically what I’m trying to say here is that I get it. Trying to start a business is seriously hard work.
I have nothing concrete to tell me that this will be worth it, I haven’t done enough for my silver lining to appear just yet and there are days when I look at motivational quotes and think ‘yeh bloody right.’
But the fact that so many of the women I’ve interviewed now, admit to having days where they felt – and sometimes still feel – as though it’s all going a tad skew-whiff; definitely fills me, as it should you, with a little bit of hope.
Yes it’s hard work and yes it can be lonely sometimes – this blog will never sugar coat that – but with these four tricks up our sleeves, let’s just buckle down together, remember why we started and do our best to enjoy the ride.
PS. You know where I am if you ever need a chat. (The chances are, I’ll be needing one back!)