From Associate Director to Entrepreneur: Rebuilding Identity

 

Because I get asked daily from my friends and family, “How are you doing?  How is your business?”  I will share where this roller coaster of change has me at currently mindset wise. And it may not be pretty.

I am sure I have said this before about switching careers. I knew it would be hard. I knew getting a business off the ground and finding prospects and clients would not be easy. As the saying goes through, you don’t know what you don’t know. And there was a lot, mentally, that I could never have anticipated.

I have had a hard time articulating this so let’s see how it goes putting it in writing.

At my last job, my title was Associate Director. I managed a team of Business Analysts within IT. Sounds fancy right?

I never “felt” like an Associate Director. I never really put that much thought to the clout it may carry to others. If there is ever such a thing as “looking” like an Associate Director, I am fairly sure I did not even have that aspect of it. I never really thought of it as my identity. At all. It was just the title I happen to have that awarded me different opportunities and visibility. I never felt attached to the title.

Yet, leaving that title, that Associate Director thing, I realize now I did have some attachment to it. Which kind of blows my mind.

The attachment is not in the sense that it defined me. (My friends and family had no real understanding of what my job was. I was basically Chandler from Friends). Which is fine. It was a job for me, not a passion.

The attachment I am discovering I have is knowing “what” I was, I guess you can say. Again, anyone can define what an Associate Director is and it would mean something different to each of them.  Yet, it was like this tangible thing that despite not being passionate about it and despite how others may perceive it, it somehow helped me understand my place in the hierarchy and the ecosystem.

(Sanity check! Am I making sense?)

So to go from that understanding to essentially redefining myself has been challenging. As a Personal Trainer and a Lifestyle and Fitness Coach, I am not taking on something that has never been done before; if anything I am entering into a highly saturated industry.  I have to figure out what my place is in this ecosystem I have become part of that sets me apart from the rest.

And that is what has been surprising to me, how much it has shaken my confidence.  I am still figuring out how I fit into this world.  Yes, I know I am meant to be in it, and I know there is a place in it specifically for me; until I have that well established, it is going to continue to be quite humbling in this vulnerable, ambiguous transition.

So when people ask me how I am, it gets harder and harder to answer, which is the polar opposite of what I expected six months out from my corporate life. That also turns into this cycle of feeling like I should have more figured out than I do and then it brings on more insecurity. So you see, it is a total mind fuck. Excuse my French.

The other question I often get is, “How do you spend your time now?” And I become anxious whenever it is asked. Because the truth is, I do not have tangible responses to answer with. I no longer can measure productivity by the projects my team has in flight or the percentage complete of initiatives I am working on. I no longer have time sheets that I can bucket my hours into.

My “tangibles” are things like spending time researching events I could participate in or following up with prospects or maybe even the hours I do spend training and coaching. But I do not have metrics or anything to show if I am trending up or down. I have no idea if I am doing well or sucking at this new career I am in. There is no benchmark. And there is no one I report to who can tell me how I am doing.

I could compare myself to others I suppose if I did want to benchmark, but that leads to all sorts of issues. Never ever compare yourself to someone else. Never. You are not them. They are not you.

So it brings me back to this reality. All that I do, or do not do, is on me. And while that is invigorating at times, it is also downright scary as shit. It is a challenge I struggle with every day to build my confidence when there is so much unknown.

I KNOW in my heart of hearts that everything WILL fall into place. And I know the struggles are what bring success.

I realize that if I live in the negative and the fear for too long, they will become reality. I struggle with all that I have written (and more) every single day.  No matter how much I understand on an intellectual level in terms of how I need to feel or how I should act (fake it till you make it right?), It does not just magically happen, not even on my “good” days.

It comes down to this. The things that often are our biggest nemesis are issues and struggles that have been with us for years, decades even and quite possibly our entire lives. Mine as I mentioned is confidence.

Our nemesis though can also be the key to our success. I know my business is going to rely on me finding my new identity and my new place in the ecosystem, but most importantly it hinges on finding my confidence.

 

The Beautiful Mind of a Disjointed Boss Babe

A month into my new life (which hot damn, that month has gone fast!) and I am just a big ball of emotions. All the time. How am I feeling exactly? I wish I could answer that in one or two words. I can’t though because every day, every minute brings me something different. Liberated.  Scared. In control. Not so in control. Happy. Definitely happy.  Overwhelmed. Motivated. Accountable. Grateful. Humbled. Inspired. Inspiring. Empowered.

I have moments where I feel extremely grateful without a care in the world. Like this past week when I took an impromptu trip to visit my brother and his family. Being able to be in the moment with my niece and nephews and just appreciate how lucky I am to be their aunt brought me more holiday joy than anything else possibly can. While I know it was my choice to move across country and away from my family, that does not mean it makes that distance any easier. I miss out on so many milestones and events like my nieces’ dance recitals and my nephews’ soccer games or just being able to baby sit on the fly. I got to attend my nephew’s kindergarten Christmas pageant on Friday which was the most adorable thing ever. I got to meet his teacher who told me how excited he was that he selected me to send a gingerbread boy to as part of a school project on geography. I got to just feel like I had a bigger part in his life. With my new journey, I have the freedom to do more of that which is just pure gold.

I also have moments where I get so freaked out because well studying is hard (and I have not done it in forever). I get serious butterflies when I think about having to pass an exam in another few months. What if I do not pass? Then what? What if I do pass?  I have moments where I wonder if I am focusing on the right thing at the right time. I assumed initially doing the ketone slaying thing would make the most sense because that has a more immediate sense of potential versus coaching which still feels like something far off in the distance. Something I am clearly not ready for.

Or am I? I met with a potential client (and while it has not panned out with her, it is still an experience I needed), which was way earlier on my timeline than I expected. When opportunity knocks though, you don’t tell it, “Oh my I don’t think I am ready! Can you come back in a few months?” Because let’s face it, opportunities come around for a reason. I will never be 100% ready so if I waited for that, I will miss out on so much. Anyways, I digress. I realized talking with her that yes, I have a lot to learn in the coaching business, but I actually have more to offer than I gave myself credit for. My point is, I am realizing I often short change myself instead of remembering I can do this!

Overwhelmed is another common emotion for me these days. I have so much I want to do that I feel like I am not actually doing it. Writing for example. I have always loved writing ever since I was a little girl writing quite possibly the worst short stories ever, probably (most definitely) loosely based on Sweet Valley High characters. I ignored writing for many MANY years because I really just did not know what my medium or voice is. And now, I feel like I have finally found it or at least am damn close to finding it. I have not figured out how to monetize writing, yet I have this sort of instinctual feeling that I could be on the verge of some break through with it. Or, is it just wishful thinking? (I reposted a blog yesterday that I wrote earlier in the year to a CrossFit Facebook group I am in and got almost 3,000 views. IN ONE DAY! I feel like a rock star who is being discovered. So let’s hope it is not wishful thinking!)

Pretty much at most times I am guilty of feeling like there are a million things I should be doing. Do I need to be learning more on becoming a coach? Do I proactively have to start putting together a plan? What do I need at a minimum to start? Do I need to read articles about monetizing blogging? Should I be reading books? Am I not dedicated because I took an hour a week to watch “Outlander” when I could have spent that time researching? (Who am I kidding? Jamie takes priority!)

It goes on and on and it’s overwhelming

I am definitely happy in my new venture albeit more freaked out than I think I care to admit to myself. While it is nice to be liberated and chose how and when I utilize my time, it is overwhelming. I have days where I sit down and I will literally be having 2 conversations with customers, my personal Training textbook open and Word open with 2 lines to a possible blog post. And I end up snacking. Which is a whole other conversation.

Anyways, my point is, taking on a new adventure, a new life really, is so many things. When friends and family ask how I am, it’s inevitably a minimum of a 15 minute conversation. It is quite apparent from this blog, this journey is very disjointed. Which is a good thing. Journeys are not meant to be cut and dry. Turn here, go there. Journeys are meant to be teaching moments. To challenge us. To make us question ourselves and our paths. To make us persevere. To make us appreciate what we have. This is the first time I really have had no set income which for now, is ok. I am enjoying little moments in a totally different way. I do not have this heart achy feeling of doom like I am stuck in something I do not want anymore. I can go for a leisurely lunch on a Tuesday and walk around a farmer’s market. I can sit on an outdoor patio at a local coffee shop in December (#braggingrights). I can face time with my sister and her kids at 2:00 on a Thursday without having to sneak off to a conference room for just a few minutes before rushing off to a meeting. I can workout at 9:00 or noon or really whenever I want. I can choose to fear what I do not know or I can chose to go with it and trust. Yes this journey is scary at times, but for right now, I am overall loving it.