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.

 

Calling in Good Karma: Gratitude of an Entrepreneur

Calling in Good Karma: Gratitude of an Entrepreneur

 

Foreword: As I get asked often how I am doing and where I am it in my new life, this is my current state. Warning: it is sappy.

 

The other day I received a text from my (former) cleaning lady just saying hi and that she hopes I am well. I realized that I may not have told her I had left my job (a little more info on that here)  and would be taking a break from her services, which hurts a lot. I have no shame in admitting that I loved having someone else clean my condo. I messaged her back about that and she responded that she wants to come clean for me without me paying. She was actually rather insistent and at that moment, without explanation, I started crying.

I kind of thought I was having a mini-meltdown and that I had finally lost my sanity. Like that was the moment that I was legit crazy. Why did that make me cry for fuck’s sake?

Was it that I had become a charity case?

No, I knew it was not that. I knew it was her way of saying thank you for what I had done for her over the years. I sent many friends her way that became her clients too. Also, anytime I cleaned and purged my condo (which I did dozens of times over the 7 years she cleaned for me) I gave her all of it.  I had stuff I did not need and I knew she would get it people who did. And I never thought twice about it or like it would be ill-received. Yet, when I know her gracious offer was done as a way of saying thank you, I almost refused to accept it.

And then I started thinking of all the kind things my friends and family have done for me since I left my job which resulted in more tears. I recalled all my friends who treated me to lunches, dinners and drinks when I passed the NASM Certified Personal Training exam. To my brother who flew me in on miles to see my family in December. To the friend who gave me a beautiful Christmas present as a thank you for all that I had helped her with as her mentor that year. To a friend who has an extra ticket to see The Book of Mormon who wants to take me, her treat. To my esthetician who has thrown in some complimentary services. To the owner of the CrossFit I joined asking me to write for their blog. Then to my cleaning lady’s offer. I lost it. I totally lost it.

And I realize and I know in my heart, nobody has offered or done any of these things, or the countless other things not mentioned, out of obligation or out of charity. They did it because either they are paying it back or because they just genuinely support me and want to see me succeed.

And that’s why I lost my shit.

One of the ironic things is I do not do favors or “acts of kindness” out of obligation. I consider myself highly loyal and won’t think twice about doing something for someone else. I do though to be frank, get put off whenever someone justs “expects” me to do something. If that makese sense. And I know that everyone who comes to mind as supporting me is the same. They are not doing anything thing because they feel like I expect it. They are doing it because they want to.

And that is why I keep crying when I try to wrap my brain around it. I know I am loved. And I know I am supported. There is just something about having it manifest in ways that I never dreamed of or expected. Because if there is one thing to know about me, it is this.  I have never been handed anything nor have I ever governed my life based on what I felt entitled to. I have had to work for everything I have ever had from money to relationships to my own happiness.

I have been given opportunities in my life, like jobs, that I had no real qualifications for. But I was offered them because people recognized my integrity and work ethic and I proved to them I was capable. And it is very much the same reasons why I am being given so much love right now. It is a reflection of who I am which is very humbling and extremely overwhelming.

There are certain times in life that we expect to receive things, like on birthdays. We expect to receive gifts and cards and dinners out and text messages wishing us all the best. And it is not that we take them for granted. But it is different when gifts in any form and acts of kindness happen when we do not expect them.

I have had said a million times since knowing I would be leaving the corporate world that I have been astonished at how much support I continuously receive. I have lost count of how many times people have told me I am brave or inspiring.  Every time someone tells me that or does something for me, the impact still affects me profoundly (and can be measured in tears!) And if anything, the more it happens, the more grateful and assured I become.

(Also, just a warning if you have not picked up on it yet,  basically if you do or say anything nice for/to me, you might turn me into a gushing emotional mess.)

I also know that all this love and support is validation that this whole new business venture, this new life is meant to be. It’s all going to be ok. Correction. It is going to be amazing.

 

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.