I hit a business milestone in 2012: I made more money from my business than I had made at my salaried job.
(Note: I’m often asked, “How long did that take?” Answer: I ran my business as a side-hobby starting in 2006. I went full-time with it in late 2009).
Then I hit another business milestone in 2013: I again made more money from my business than I had made at my salaried job, which I considered a milestone because it proved that the first year wasn’t just a fluke.
Furthermore, in 2013 I did this while only working as much or as little as I wanted to. In fact, I went on vacation from work during the months of June, July and August and again in October and again for much of December.
Something else happened in 2013 that hit me profoundly, however: my salaried employer was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy and shutting down.
Why was that so profound? Because ten years earlier, I’d thought that the only way I’d ever be able to support myself was through being employed by someone else, in climbing some kind of career ladder, something with guaranteed benefits and long-term “stability.”
The Rules Really Have Changed
You really don’t have to have a salaried, 9-5 job. You can do things your way. It is absolutely possible to start your own business and make enough money, even more than enough money, to support yourself. (Note: I’m talking about money in this particular post because it’s such a sticking point for so many people. I hope it also goes without saying that in choosing to work for myself, I’ve also been able to live from a place of fulfillment. Money isn’t the only end-game!).
In fact, as time would prove in my case, it has massively paid off to have done the work of creating something of my own design. The old, salaried job that seemed to have so many guarantees? Maybe not. It, too, was subject to the axiom that “nothing in life is guaranteed.”
But Here’s What Hasn’t Changed
Doing things “your way” does not mean that you can circumvent the hard work. In fact, the work actually gets harder. It is harder to walk the path of everything being on your shoulders, depending on you and your creativity and ingenuity. Truth: if you don’t have an offering that people want, and if you don’t develop the marketing skill-set so that people can see how it meets their needs, the business is not going to go anywhere.
Doing things “your way” means that sometimes, things suck and you’ve just got to hike up your panties and deal. When you get sick, there is no temp replacement. When you put time into a product launch and it flops, there is no recouping those lost expenses (and before you go into comparisons, thinking that the super-smart biz types out there don’t have product launch flops, think again. I have totally had flops!).
Doing things “your way” still means finding practical solutions for things…like health insurance. I’ve built my business while continuing to work two nights a week at a salaried job so that I could still have health insurance. It’s only with the advent of Obamacare that purchasing health insurance has been an option.
Doing things “your way” means that at some point, you’ve got to stop the D-I-Y mentality and start really investing in your business–that means that you have to stop scoffing at how expensive one-on-one consulting sessions are (they are the only thing that has ever propelled my business forward). If you want people to pay you well, you’ve got to invest in paying others who have successfully walked this path before you.
Doing things “your way” means that you have to stop making excuses–for example, statistically, any newsletter that gets an open rate of more than 30% is doing really, really well. My weekly Coaching Blueprint e-letter gets an open rate of 30% on up to 45%.
That means–let’s just be straightforward and real, here--that while that kind of an open rate is AMAZING, more than half of the people who subscribe to this newsletter might talk the talk of wanting to develop their business, but they certainly aren’t walking the walk by opening that newsletter each week and implementing the strategies that are shared, completely for free. When someone isn’t taking advantage of help that they could get for free? Something is up with that.
Doing things “your way” means that when overwhelm hits, especially if you are a life coach or in a helping profession, you’ve got to walk your talk and start implementing all of the tools that you would offer to clients. It’s not enough to wistfully think, “Gosh, I wish I could treat myself the way I ask my clients to treat themselves.”
Nope, nope, nope. Energy matters, here. Your clients can sniff out someone who’s bluffing. If you aren’t living your vision, people aren’t always able to articulate that they can tell that something is inauthentic, but on some level, they can tell. They feel it.
You Can Live the Dream
You can stop dreaming big, and start living big. You can have everything you’ve ever wanted.
It actually IS going to be as great as you thought it would be as the fulfillment of your dreams starts to show up in ways big and small. I am puffed up with pride about what my business has created, and even more thrilling to me is that as I develop what used to be a small side hobby into an actual company, I’m moving into employing others who then get to do work that they enjoy, sharing in the vision. As one person put it: “Kate, I love getting to be part of your economy.”
It’s worth it to do things your own way–just understand that this doesn’t mean it won’t be work or that it will never feel really, really hard. There’s always going to be some kind of work. “Hard” is often synonymous with fear.
One Last Thing
If you bemoan doing the work, pay careful attention to that.
Sometimes, people like the idea of working for themselves far more than they like the actual work.
When something really matters to you, you’ll make the time for it. You’ll find some way to get it done–you won’t bemoan what it takes to get there. You’ll see a tenacity arise within you that others see and feel, and if you’ve ever wondered how it is that some people seem to naturally have others gravitate to help them, that’s it–other people pick up on that passion, and it’s magnetic.
If you are spending more time talking about how hard it is than you are working to find solutions as challenges arise, you’re either stuck in a pattern and could use some support in changing that, or you probably aren’t really doing something that truly calls to your heart.
When you truly love something, you just can’t NOT do it.
A life full of things that you couldn’t imagine not doing? A very good life, indeed.
I once heard someone say that people think that having a lot more money will solve all of their problems, but really all it will do is show you more of who you already are. If you are already an arrogant person, for instance, having more money will amplify that arrogance. If you’re already a generous person, having more money will amplify that generosity.
Since the birth of our daughter, I keep thinking that really, everything in life is this way.
Everything in life, all the stuff “out there,” just shows us more of who we already are.
For instance, when I’m lacking sleep, what shows up for me is different than what shows up for my husband. We have different responses to the stress that lack of sleep brings; it’s just stirring up more of what’s already in the pot of our psyches and more of who we already are.
It’s easy to get caught in the trap of thinking that other people’s behavior, or the amount of money or time that we have (or sleep!) is really what’s behind our choices.
It’s easy to say, “If they hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t behave this way” or “If my parents hadn’t raised me the way they had, I wouldn’t choose XYZ, today” or “If I had more money (or time, or sleep), then I’d be more (patient, generous, compassionate, etc.”
But really, the proof of who we already are is showing up in our day-to-day choices, right here and right now. I’m thinking now of a dinner experience I had where someone who didn’t have a lot of money approached me beforehand with cash and insisted, absolutely insisted, on covering my meal; when we were actually at the restaurant, other people who had quite a lot of money were irritated when the waitress hesitated to split the bill among our large party.
The person with less money made choices that indicated that she didn’t feel she had less money; her choices, despite her cash flow, were a reflection of who she already was. Likewise, with the other dinner guests.
We think that how we feel about our lives is really about the circumstances of our lives, when the truth is that how we feel about our lives is really about the Stories we tell about what’s happening, and who we are in response to that.
I adore my daughter. It is hard for me to be away from her. And yet at the same time, especially when it takes hours of rocking and swaying and movement just for her to go down for a nap, I have thoughts like, “Life would be easier if she would just go to sleep, already.”
The truth, of course, is that life already is easy. I have a healthy baby girl and I get the honor and privilege of raising a human being. It is something that I wanted and longed for and never regret. The moments when I think that something needs to change has nothing to do with her, and everything to do with me.
In other words, life is just showing me more of who I already am in my boredom or my lack of presence or my habitual response when I’m feeling tired. All of it comes up and arises, and if it weren’t coming up because I have a new baby, it would come up because of a frustration in my business or with another person or in response to a sports injury or the next time I hit a money snag.
There are moments in taking care of an infant where I feel really lost and broken; I can’t figure out what she needs and I notice that I’m attached to having an answer for her and being the Super Mommy who logically manages to assess the situation and determine how to best provide for her.
In those moments, life is showing me my own brokenness: my own wounds and longing for someone else to provide answers for me and caretake for me, my own assumptions that this is what love looks like, my projections that her crying means something dire.
If you want to know what life is trying to show you, here are a few questions to ask yourself, particularly next time you feel challenged:
- What must I believe about myself, others, or the world, in order to think that things should be different, right now?
- Can I really know that if things were different right now, anything would be better? Can I honestly, truly, 100% know that for absolute certain? (Hint: No, you can’t. Play with that one.)
- If this weren’t a trigger for me right now, what else would be?
- How is this trigger, in this moment, similar to other triggers? In other words, can I find the place where I project this same story or belief system onto different content?
There is grace and courage in examining your habitual responses to life and noticing that what they all have in common is one thing: you. Life is not happening to you; it is just showing you more of who you already are.
June 2nd, 2014.
I wake up early, around 5am in the morning. I’m 38 weeks and a few days pregnant, and my first thought is that that’s it, I’m finally soooo pregnant that pregnancy-induced urinary incontinence, which I’ve heard afflicts some pregnant women, has now hit me.
Good gravy. Seriously? Arrgh. Seriously.
I head to the bathroom, slightly mortified at what I believe to be loss of bladder control. My husband is asleep and thus no one would need to be the wiser, so I’m quiet.
And then it dawns on me that even though I have a scheduled c-section four days away…my water broke.
Hoooooly shit. My water broke.
Honey, It’s Time
Total adrenaline hits. I wake up my husband. We are both looking at each other a bit like, “Uh…what do we do, now?” I’m texting my sister, because she’s had a kid and I’m trying to figure out if this is for real.
It is for realllllz.
Since I’d thought I would have a scheduled c-section, I’d thought I’d have a few more days to do things like finish packing the hospital bag, finish typing up the birth plan. My husband begins throwing things into the bag; I pull towels from the bathroom to sit on at my desk while I’m hurriedly finishing the typing on the birth plan and printing it out. We call the hospital and let them know that we are coming in.
Hitting the Brakes
At the hospital, everyone who passes us as we walk in gives us a huge, knowing smile. One person even says, “Congratulations.” Everyone knows that no woman walks into the hospital that early in the morning and that heavily pregnant, unless it’s basically go-time.
Of course, after we check in, there are long periods of sitting in an exam room, waiting. Since I need to have a c-section, surgeons and anesthesiologists who happen to be on duty need to be consulted, review my medical history, and on and on. I’m crossing my fingers that they aren’t going to make me wait until the afternoon; the anticipation is biting.
The nurse puts a baby monitor around my belly. A few minutes later she asks, “Did you feel that contraction?”
“That was a contraction?” I said, surprised. I’d felt this wiggly sensation off and on for a few weeks; it was painless and I had always assumed it was just the baby moving.
She shows me the dips up and down on the monitor. I am completely comfortable, just curious, and perhaps even a little antsy to know what’s happening next so that we can get this show on the road.
The nurse shares that she, too, had had a c-section when her baby was breech. “I totally understand,” she says when I share that I fear needles.
I think to myself that I love a nurse who is also afraid of needles.
Changing to the Fast Lane
It is nearly ten o’ clock. The surgeon and anesthesiologist come in. They introduce themselves and say that they’ve consulted and that they’ll be able to start the c-section in about an hour.
For all of my antsy desires to get things moving along, suddenly this is moving way, WAY too fast–my brain is trying to compute. Surgery, c-section, baby born, me, in less than an hour, what the fuck?
They start setting up the IV. Someone else is going through the disclaimers. I notice that I start breathing heavily. My veins keep collapsing because I’m starting to really, really freak out; they finally get the IV in on the third try. A nurse suggests that I put on headphones and cue up some relaxing music. I do exactly that and focus on trying to breathe.
The truth is this: I had a fear that I would be that one person, that one person in the statistic who dies from a c-section or who has a baby die from a c-section. I’m trying very, very hard not to allow that fear to completely overwhelm me.
When it’s finally time for my husband to go off and get into scrubs and for me to be wheeled into the actual operating room, I notice that I’m having an even harder time processing everything. It just seems surreal. When they finally wheel me into the operating room, I look around half expecting that this room is just a way station en route to the actual room, but no, this is the room.
When they administer the spinal, the nurse who is standing in front of me to brace me so I don’t fall forward says, “You can lay your head on my shoulder, if you want.” I immediately do.
Thinking about the tenderness of that moment still brings tears to my eyes.
The spinal begins to take effect. I have Devi Prayer cued up and I’m listening to it and breathing, breathing. I realize that I can feel my body swaying a bit down below and have a brief moment of panic. I hadn’t realized that I would feel my body swaying from side to side or anything else.
The same nurse who told me she had had a c-section and feared needles leans over me and reassures me that the spinal has taken effect. When I panic further, she looks me in the eyes and says, firmly but with such kindness, such knowing of what’s to come: “You have got to breathe; it’s the best thing for you and for your baby.”
I trust her. In the next few moments, the most marvelous, sweet, relaxing feeling creeps over my entire body. I have not felt this relaxed in months (years? EVER in my life?). My husband is there. He pets my head and I am listening to Devi Prayer and I can hear him and the anesthesiologist, who keeps poking in to share that I am doing great; I am doing great; I am doing great; everything is going exactly smoothly; I am doing great.
As promised, I feel no pain and no discomfort (again, seriously–I feel really, really awake yet relaxed and it’s amazing; it is definitely a positive c-section experience ). Minutes later, we hear her crying for the first time: our daughter. She is shrieking and loud. Now that I’m an experienced diaper changer, I know that that’s the same cry that means, “I am COLD! I am COLD! Cover me up! I am COLD!” Andy and I are both crying. They are checking her to make sure everything is okay.
And then a warm little baby is tucked against my chest.
Anika Jane Rado. Nine pounds, six ounces. 21.5 inches. Blue eyes. A beautiful full head of hair.
She immediately stops crying and stays snuggled against me. I am suddenly very awake, no longer out of it, amazed by all of these sensations.
It is all perfect. It is everything. It is completely and totally right.
I had thought I would only have that feeling if I’d had a natural birth. Turns out, I had exactly the birth experience that everyone needed. She is completely happy tucked against me. She stays warm on my chest for the next several hours; we get to our room and keep the lights down low and our voices soft, wanting her transition into the world to be as calm as possible.
All of these weeks later, I’m in total mama-mode. The feeling of attending to this little baby feels almost primal. I want to memorize every moment. I’m acutely aware that there will be a place in time, somewhere in the months to come, when I will look back and she will no longer be a newborn. I don’t want a single day to go by where I’m unaware of that, taking it for granted, longing for her to be an older baby, and then realize that I completely missed the fascinating world that she’s in, right here, and right now.
Welcome to the world, Kid Courage. Thank you in advance for being my incredible, life-changing teacher.