Perhaps you follow this blog or perhaps you follow me on Instagram etc and have noticed things have seemed a little different this last couple of months.
Thank you for noticing, for reaching out and for giving me a few extra likes here and there, your kindness has not gone unnoticed.
You see, part of this building a business malarky that I want to share with you is honestly how tough it can be sometimes. Difficult in the expected ways but also in some really unforeseen ways.
Against all advice I have ever been given, there is very little room where I end and everything else begins, I have this habit of intertwining my sense of self with whatever I am doing. Whilst it doesn’t become my entire identity it does become an enormous part of it. That goes for business, personal, health, relationships and pretty much every aspect on that wheel of life. It’s the way I love to be but I am not silly enough to think it doesn’t have it’s pitfalls!
Truthfully, I don’t even want to separate everything. I don’t want my feelings, experiences and skills entirely compartmentalised. The thing I have found the toughest is redefining my sense of the woman I am since I took that leap and frankly, this last month has challenged that even more.
I am incredibly privileged in my life, I am fully aware of that and thank my lucky stars every day for all my wonderful blessings in life. But (and herein lies the fundamental issue) my sense of purpose is being challenged or at the very least has begun a dramatic change.
You see, since I was 22 I have been the main breadwinner for my family, almost the entirety of my sons life I have struggled and rallied to keep us afloat, a roof over our heads, food in our belly and I am an incredibly proud woman. Especially when it comes to having taken the entire financial responsibility of raising a child and creating a home for us. Not only that but I have loved it, it has made me feel proud of myself in a way that nothing else has come close to.
I rarely sought help. My ex husband left us in more debt than I had ever had solo. Much which came as a surprise to me, some which would have been considered criminal and some which I still feel the repercussions of to this day. In addition to that I receive no child support either. This is not a woe is me post and neither is it a dig at my ex husband. We both made financial errors in judgement and have agreed that the best way to be amicable is for us not to argue about money. Therefore I walked away from the argument and simply increased my own ‘output’ where possible. It has served me well and I wish him the best of luck and every happiness in his life. I also wish him as good a relationship with our son as he can build.
This does however mean that my purpose, identity and career were thickly interwoven elements.
You could say my thoughts about me were:
“Me mother, me provider, me woman forging path, me lone wolf, me solo warrior.”
(I spoke that line out loud by the way and apparently I do a mean caveman impression)
But this year has seen so much change that I have now realised why I am finding it so hard to wade through each day. I feel adrift. Like my purpose has somehow detached itself from me. So, like the self aware, overly analytical woman I am I decided to dig a bit deeper.
So here goes – it aint all that pretty but it’s my truth, or at least as much as I am comfortable sharing.
#1 – I have failed in my purpose to provide, I am hitting a wall on my business journey and I am struggling to be seen
1 of my clients has taken a hiatus for a few months as their business model is evolving. 2 of my other clients have consistently been significantly late or have never paid their invoices and I have been left with no alternative but to stop working with them.
This happened the same week I moved in with my partner. Talk about overwhelmed.
I felt disappointed, let down and frustrated that I was dropping income so quickly, that people I trusted had let me down (even though I appreciate they are in the same boat having been let down by their clients or experiencing personal emotional trauma that has changed things for them drastically) but mostly, I’m annoyed at myself. For focusing on their businesses more than my own, for not marketing more consistently and for not building multiple income streams.
Then there’s the shame I have felt at not being as financially able to pay our way for myself and my son as I always have. Don’t get me wrong I had a little which covered the business charges, some investment into the property to secure the gardens etc. and lots and lots of fuel costs but really nothing else. Going food shopping on someone elses dime does not sit well with me, even if he is loving supporting us.
For the first time in my adult life I have had to rely on someone else feeding us while I get back on track. Oh dear, my self confidence has taken a knock with this one!
#2 – My feminine health is poor, I do not feel like a woman or a worthy partner
This is a particularly personal one. I have painful problems with my reproductive organs and the areas surrounding them. This is a mixture of things and they manifest in excruciating physical pain, chronic daily pain, massive weight gain, almost constant periods, nerve and tendon pain in my left leg and many other things. Mostly, I feel really exhausted and in varying levels of discomfort all the time. It’s getting worse and needs dealing with, this next stage is beyond the realms of my expertise and is in the hands of the consultants.
Twice this month my surgery has been rescheduled. Yesterday, having remained in hospital and not eating etc I was told at 5pm I was not going to get my op again. Though they wanted me to stay, rather unceremoniously I left the hospital in a bit of a grump. Whilst I have great respect for them all, another day with this pain and disappointment was just too much to stand in there – so close to some kind of forward movement yet so far, there in my open backed hospital gown I felt unseen, damaged and completely exhausted from it – I just wanted to be in my own home and my own comfy clothes and to cry quietly in the bath.
Truth be told, we are coming to terms with biological children together not being a part of our future and I am of course going to have the relevant surgeries to do the necessary but…I feel like I have failed as a woman, a partner, in myself for not shouting louder all those years ago when I KNEW my body didn’t belong to me anymore but instead belonged to unhealthy tissue, pain and cruel jokes from mother nature.
#3 – I am not sure how to be a part of a romantic team
OK, now this may seem a bit of a weird thing to say but man, moving in with someone who immediately sees you in your worst time of crisis for a while, who has to take the reigns on EVERYTHING that you have spent so long making sure are in your own hands is a bit bloody daunting.
Not only that but it’s damned bloomin hard to give myself over to not baring the burden of it all on my own. Harder than I ever realised. Apparently, I like to be the breadwinner and I like to be the head honcho. Well that too was a bit of a shock. Some people may call it control, I think it’s more of a feeling that I am nurturing my loves and releasing their stress. Who knows, probably a mix of all.
But, that’s the dream right? To be a team with your love, support each other through the highs and the lows and when one is struggling the other helps and vice versa. That’s what I have now having never had before and I just don’t know how to be vulnerable without being a bitch, without being snippy and without appearing ungrateful because I am really bloody thankful for this man and this team and this life of mine.
I don’t know how to be a gracious partner without feeling humiliated that I’m not the one dealing with this too well. Then of course, I feel pissy because I’m so bloody proud of him for just getting on with things and always being gracious to me that I just turn into an absolute frog of a woman. Guys, this is definitely not my best side…
#4 – What I am doing just doesn’t feel right
Definitely something I wasn’t expecting when I set up in business but something just doesn’t feel like it’s jelling, like I am squeezing my square peg into your round hole (oo-er missus) and whilst it goes, it’s not particularly comfortable for either of us.
It has nothing to do with the love for my work, which I do love and am continuing to do. It has nothing to do with my capability within my work, because I am really good at what I do and I’m more than capable of getting all my shit done. It simply feels like I need to shift gears and I am not sure what that means or even how to process it all.
But really, what does this all mean?
Well, not a lot and everything all at once. The one common denominator I see running through that thread is that I don’t feel like I have a purpose anymore and that is making me feel all skewiffy. (Technical term there for you guys)
My ‘why’ is evolving and so am I and it’s time to acknowledge and deal with that.
With hospital, with the move, with the reduction in clients and change in income, with my sense of who I am changing I have spent the last month in some level of personal turmoil. Trying to batten down the hatches so that I can protect my bubble and today I am coming to some conclusions.
I want to really focus on building my business using the strategies and skills I have been learning from my free Menta workshops and also from Lisa Johnson whose Fabulous Foundations group coaching programme I have been paying for. They have both given practical and actionable advice and ongoing support so I should damn well just go back to basics and do the things!
It just means I do indeed need to batten down the hatches, not to protect my bubble but instead to take this VA wagon on the ride of it’s life! No more reacting from a place of fear and much more reacting from a place of exhilaration and proactive action!
Practically, this means I am going to revisit my business strategy. There are some areas I need to get clearer on as I have changed so much. Including niching down, pricing, marketing, passive income and much much more. I was always going to re-brand this year but this is going to be a much deeper dive into it than I had originally anticipated.
Of course, existing client work wont be affected but it will almost certainly change the type of clients I will be working with in the future and also some of the services I will provide will move more towards passive income.
Let’s make a plan to not keep all our eggs in one basket hey? Definitely a HUGE business lesson from me to you there!
This one is as clear as mud in terms of the practical or actionable steps but one step at a time I must start taking care of my body in a way that it will positively react to. Getting the surgeries done, taking dynamic action and simply treating my body as well as I can is the only way this can improve.
I don’t want this situation, neither can I stomach this situation any longer.
I am going to focus on reigniting my purpose in my life. I am going to figure out what that means for me independently of everyone else. I am not in search of myself, more I want to spend more time just being unapologetically me (thanks for that phrase Helen, I love it!) not just the me I am today but actually, I want to embody the woman I would like to grow into someday.
This is all going to start with a lot of brainstorming. You all know I love me some stationary. Some good old fashioned time with pen and paper will help get me on the right road. But (and super importantly) I do not intend to dwell on this step as it’s one that can be revisited as often as needed. One of the important factors here is that I know I wont feel better or more purposeful simply by writing, I must take action and see what’s good and what isn’t.
I pride myself on being a chameleon and adapting to change so this whole thing has thrown me. I guess it’s true what they say about never really knowing what’s around the corner and I definitely have a greater respect for people that pull themselves out of their own quagmires.
I have always said that this blog is a place for me not only to share administrative news but to be honest with you about my business journey it really does link into personal life too and so it was only right to share. I am 9 months in to self employed life and there are hurdles – some I expected to face such as fluctuating client lists and changes in money, others were a surprise – how do you drive forward a business when you are second guessing who you are as a human being?
If you would like to find out more about my journey in setting up a business on zero budget and wish to follow me on those highs and lows leave your details right here.
I would love to hear from you if you’re in business or thinking about starting a business, I would love to hear your experiences. I think we often wonder, am I alone in all of this, am I the only one that ever feels this way?
Don’t forget that your likes, comments and shares mean that small businesses like The Amy Johnson stay visible. Your support means the world to me.
Thanks for reading,