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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.

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