As a traditionally risk averse person I would never have imagined the life I have now. Starting your own business or taking any risk on yourself is scary. But is it not much scarier to continue an unfulfilling and joyless life? Continuing the risk of not being happy and working for an organisation that did not align with my values was much scarier, it wasn’t really a risk at all.
I had followed the traditional route; university degree, career, marriage, multiple promotions to senior leader of a £200m turnover company. I “should” have been happy, but that was far from the case. So at the end of 2020 I took the risk and left the uncomfortable “comfort zone” of the engineering company I had been a part of for 15 years.
Leading up to my “leap” I spent a number of months focusing on myself, probably for the first time ever. I was focused on finding a meaningful way to thrive with my mental health struggles and understand what I value in life. I faced a number of challenges at this time, not only was there the self doubt, typical imposter feelings and lack of contacts but I was also going through a divorce and pushing my values environmentally and ethically.
I have always known that people was my driver and I knew I needed to follow this driver if I truly wanted to make a difference and find joy in my work. I left my role in December, started my ILM coaching course in January and set up my coaching business in April 2021.
I am now proud to say that I split my time working for Cavendish Cancer Care, a local cancer charity, and my 1:1 coaching business.
We have the power to decide
Working on myself, I finally realised the control I have. I have the power to decide how I live my life and to do so in a way that makes me happy. I love to help others to see this by raising their confidence and influence, removing doubt, building habits that support them and building goals aligned with what is truly important. Living a values based professional and personal life has so many far reaching benefits on our wellbeing, our mindset and our relationships. Seeing the evidence of this through my 1:1 coaching is inspirational for me.
As someone who always put others first I understand the challenges of those in a similar position; people pleasers, perfectionists, overthinkers, and those who struggle with “other’s expectations”. I experienced first hand how these traits can lead to burnout and I want to prevent this among others.
I also love working at the charity and am actively looking at other ways I can use my skills to help others, including working with local apprentices and volunteering.
Key to preventing burnout is knowing who is there to support you
Following your values and working on yourself is enlightening and exciting but it’s also extremely vulnerable. Doing what you love enriches your life but it can be lonely and exhausting. It’s important to have support around you.
I’m fortunate that as a coach I have a heightened understanding of this, and a network of coaching buddies who help support my wellbeing and my continued learning.
My family have their own business and I think this has always been a quiet inspiration to me (though I never actually realised until recently!). My parents are always there to ask questions, and it also helps me to see what aspects of their business owner life I do and don’t want to replicate.
Other business owners and freelancers have been a great support too, they face similar challenges and have similar goals, especially when my life has changed so much to that of my friends. I really appreciate local networks, and groups like Good Business Charter, Leapers for Freelance and of course Sam at Everyday people.
Lessons learnt along the way
At the 18month mark I appreciate there are still so many lessons to learn but here are some of the key takeaways for me so far:
Setting up alone is not easy, especially in the middle of a pandemic, (especially making lots of life changes at the same time!). Be kind to yourself and listen to what you need, for me scheduling rest and social time is crucial.
Relationships are key. Support others and they will support you. Build trusting relationships at networking as opposed to focusing on the sell.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Whether it’s a sale, a referral, a testimony, a collaboration opportunity, the worst they can say is no.
Keep learning and be ok with pivoting. We’re all a work in progress and so this may mean you pivot slightly, especially in the early days.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Everyone’s journey is different, and in particular social media really doesn’t tell you the full story.
Understand your value, particularly if money is not a key driver for you or if you have any money blockers.