What I learned by leaving school at 14? I’ve shared about this before but today, I’m writing about how it helps business.
The background to why I left school at 14 (in 1997)
At 14 we moved 150 miles away from Haverhill to Cheltenham, it’s beautiful. My sister was 10 months old and my brother was in his first year of Uni.
I did not cope well.
Why I struggled
I missed my brother and was disconnected from my mum. My relationship with dad was always terrible and I was far away from friends and family.
Here’s the kicker. There were some major differences in the curriculum. This meant I had a whole year to catch up on in all my subjects new and old without any teacher guidance.
Exhaustion was overwhelming. It felt insurmountable.
At this time my anxiety went through the roof. Even leaving the house caused panic attacks.
I now understand that I had a breakdown. When I was in it, I just thought I was broken.
Symptoms: Insomnia, over thinking, withdrawing, crying. I was diagnosed with clinical depression and prescribed Prozac. At 14 I was on Prozac
How would I be able to follow my plan? Would I be able to go to Uni, study English and become a journalist? (Want to see what I did with my life? check out my about page.
After many discussions between the school, local authority and my parents I was de-registered with a view to doing the ‘resits’ course at our local 6th form college, this never transpired and just months later my parents decided to move back to the town we had originally left.
I was devastated.
Truth time; I was happy not having to go to school and I loved the town. But, I still wanted to become a journalist.
It was a pivotal moment in my life.
I discovered that sometimes, the world around you spins differently to your expectation and knocks you off your intended course. It’s had some real effects both positive and negative and I believe that it has been instrumental in where I find myself today.
The discoveries I talk about here can be applied to your freelance business, small business or pivot in your career. Here is what I learned.
What I learned was – Don’t limit yourself to just 1 type of education
It’s not necessary to follow the path traditionally laid out and well trodden by others all the time. You don’t have to stick to only knowing what you know or only learning what you’re innately talented at. Particularly now, the digital world has opened up a plethora of learning opportunities that mean you can diversify your knowledge and expand your joy at the click of a mouse.
Learning is available for everyone in everything, you can and should explore different things.
It’s good practice to self reflect, here’s what I learned
Sometimes, there are circumstances beyond your control.
It’s absolutely normal to get caught up in the frustrations of this. Whether it’s a ‘big deal’ like my situation or lots of small day to day ones like most of us experience. Set some time aside and really think about who you are and who you want to be and when you do reflect, you’ll find you know exactly what you need to let go of in order to do so. It’s a way to recharge AND re-calibrate.
Figure out what and who inspires you
When things are up and down like a wild wave it can be hard to see the safety of dry land. It’s this time when you most need to feel engaged and inspired. I hope that you all find things within yourself that inspire and motivate you and ignite your spark but undoubtedly there will be times when that’s too difficult. It’s important to have a medicine bag of things, places, people and activities that inspire you so that when you need it you have easy access to it.
Be open to unusual opportunities
When you have been pivoted of course in the way I was you really learn to open up to possibilities. It has been allowing myself to be open to doing something different that ultimately has led to some of the most amazing experiences of my life. So stay open, you never know what’s around the corner.
What I learned? When in doubt, action it out
I’ve written about having a bias for action before but this is key. When you are pivoted for reasons beyond your control it can feed into your self esteem and raise the ugly head of self doubt. I find that always, this is lessened by simply doing something. The act of doing is the medication for self doubt.
I wanted to talk to you today about the times when a huge pivot starts to take shape in your life and what that means you need to do – especially when you’re over 30.
I am a firm believer in everyone being able to pivot should they need and wish to.
But, I definitely appreciate that in many ways the older you get the tougher it can feel. After I had my son at the age of 22 everything had a bigger bearing because the level of my responsibilities had increased. That being said, I do believe that there are a couple of things you can keep in mind to help you through such a transition particularly if you are over 30.
Your mindset is the biggest blessing or barrier to the success of your transition.
I found myself chatting to my boyfriend last night and we were discussing things we felt we had changed because we were now ‘too old’ well that’s a really tough mindset to have if you want to change your career, pivot your business or start building your empire.
After all, if you keep telling yourself you’re too old to do something, you’re probably going to feel too old to do something!
Age is not the important component to this change right now. If we look at the retirement age now compared to 30 years ago it’s increased. Yes, I realise there’s a governmental thing there but also it’s because capability does not suddenly disappear when you hit a certain age. We recognise in others that they can still do life no matter their age, give that courtesy to yourself.
It’s also about reminding yourself that you have so much more experience than you did at 19. Your career, life and personal experiences make you so much more ready to take on change – it’s not your age, it’s your fear that holds you back.
Just google ‘people who became successful later in life’ and you will find a plethora of stories about breakthroughs that you’ve probably heard of but put to the back of your mind. Use these to reinforce your evidence of change success.
It can be done and you can do it. Just remember to disrupt that negative mindset of ‘I’m too old’ when that nasty bugger creeps in.
You need to open yourself up to expanding your education.
Some of you will actually be thinking about going back to school so that could really be quite literal but, I’m also talking about learning all you need to learn about the career/business and pivot that you’re going to make as a broader thing.
For example, I quit my job and set up as virtual assistant but I had never been my own boss and so, I invested some time with a local training provider to get free training on starting a business which included basic bookkeeping / marketing / website creation etc. and then I invested in a program that taught me some of the other stuff I didn’t know well enough like identifying my ideal client and working on my money mindset.
It’s important to remember that if you want to do a thing, it’s not just the thing that you will be doing, right? For me I was doing the virtual admin – of course I was, but I was also marketing, design, customer service, lead generator etc etc.
No matter your pivot there’s things to learn outside of the actual part of the job that your going to be doing.
You have to actually do something about it.
This seems obvious right but sometimes we get caught up in the dream, in the thought process, in the research and planning that we don’t ever actually do the doing.
All of the big gurus and thought leaders will tell you this but you have to take action. A lot of them call it having a ‘bias towards action’. Mel Robbins has coined the 5,4,3,2,1 method and there are many more out there with their own spin on it.
It’s simple, if you take small incremental steps everyday regarding that change then you will get there. When you’re feeling meh, ask yourself ‘what is the right thing for me to action today, what is the step I can take right now to move me a tiny bit forward’
It could be to listen to a training audio on your lunch break instead of chatting with Joanne in the cafeteria about Carolines wedding plans. It could be to reach out to people for mentorship etc.
It’s the ‘doing’ of these things that moves you forward.
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Have you ever been in the space where you just don’t know what to do with your work and your life and you’re finding it a super tough decision?
Boy do I feel you and I am so happy that you’re here today.
There are a lot of times in life when this issue comes up, in my experience it is incredibly common when you have small children though I know that I experienced it (and will continue to do so throughout my life).
Getting a bit morbid maybe, but when I get the collywobbles about being in business for myself I often think about what I will be looking back on at the end of my life.
I wonder whether I will regret going for it, giving it my best shot and I am of the deep seated belief that whilst it may not always look how I imagined, and yes I suspect that the path will have some bumps in it – I would almost certainly regret not trying more than giving it my all.
I can only speak as a woman and as someone who was a single mother for a long time but life has hurdles, for each and every one of us. Sometimes they can bite you in the arse so hard you feel it for decades but it doesn’t have to end there for you.
You don’t HAVE to stay stagnant. After I hit my mid 30s I realised that there are some circumstances and situations I can only change by making change.
It’s this part that’s hard though isn’t it.
The making change. For me it meant I was even poorer than I started at times (which was bloody poor I don’t mind telling you) but you see, ultimately. Changing my life simply became about making decisions.
Making the decision to move on, and it was the process of that decision that freed me and propelled me to a future that I have been stunned at.
As a mother my overriding mantra is ‘what will the impact of this decision have on my son’ and whilst that’s an awesome way to be, particularly as the sole carer, it also meant that where I might have tried and failed fast (or succeeded beyond measure) I was too scared to make a decision.
But the time passed anyway. 1 year of wondering turned into 10.
My sons life didn’t get any better, in fact sometimes it got worse, but the minute I chose to go for it things began to change.
I wont lie and tell you it’s all been plain sailing because it hasn’t, I had to make sacrifices and yes so did my son BUT the truth of the matter is that, that small sacrifice has allowed us to build a different kind of life together and it’s amazing and going from strength to strength.
Decision making followed by taking action is the way to free your shackles and boost your confidence.
The key is that if you fail you fail fast and learn from it. It might mean stopping or it might mean adjusting but lady, you can do it.
Honestly, what worries you about it?
The time it will take (the years will pass whether you’re doing the thing you want or not)
So here’s the thing, if you can imagine yourself in the future both ways, plodding on doing what you’re doing and then differently having achieved the this thing of yours, which one do you really want most?
It’s completely ok if it’s just a pleasant fantasy (like winning the lottery)
The truth is that what causes us the most unhappiness is simply indecision.
If you think it’s time to stop torturing yourself why not get yourself FREE access to my masterclasses, workshops, webinars and e-tutorials? Sign up below today!
I want to keep revisiting brainstorming and goal setting in the lead up to my FREE WORKSHOP partly because I gave myself the challenge of writing a new blog post every day and partly because I think it’s so freakin’ important to build in these foundations for your business.
My assumption here is that you have done your brain dump of every idea in your busy mind. Business ideas, new start up ideas, ideas to move your existing business forward – all those ideas should be on a page somewhere.
If you haven’t gotten around to prioritising or don’t really know how to then here’s a great tip I learned somewhere along the way.
So you’ve brain dumped every idea goal and hope you have onto the page. Now you need to cut.it.back…
That’s right you need to sift through and filter those ideas until you’re left with fewer but more significant ones. These are your priorities, but how do you filter it?
You need to ask and confirm 3 things for each and every idea – this is how you will filter the non priorities from the essentials.
What would the reward for making this idea happen be? How would it impact you when you achieve it? For example what would happen to/for you financially/mentally/for your family/for your business/your life
How will this idea coming to fruition help other people? Your family, your team, your clients, your community
What do you have to be/who do you have to become in order to turn this from a goal into real life ‘completed it mate’? Do you have to develop any skills or build in any new habits?
Filtering in this way doesn’t mean you wont pick up the other ideas at some point, it means that you can focus on the ideas that will reap the biggest rewards and stretch you to growth the most now. So be brutal, don’t feel guilty just put away the ones that are for another year or when you have nailed one of the ones you’ve chosen to focus on.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with 20 long term goals, remember where you’re currently at you may be able to focus on 3 (this is what I do – 1 business, 1 personal and 1 learning – and they often link up if I’m honest) but your circumstances are different to mine. When I was a single mum it was harder to find time, now I’m in an equal partnership and my son is older I can do more, so don’t beat yourself up if you have 1 goal and don’t put pressure on yourself to have 6, listen to yourself and trust that you know how far you can split your dedication.
I would love to hear from you, get in touch and share whether you’ve set any goals and what they are.
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I’ve talked a lot about brainstorming and research lately but of course that’s not the whole game is it. So, now I want to talk to you about accountability. About goal setting and creating action plans.
I deeply believe that combined well, these things are key to your success.
There’s a lot of buzz around right now about accountability, I think it’s easy to appreciate that a lot of people feel it’s something that coaches coined in order to give you another reason to work with them however, I’m not one of them.
For me, I believe that most people buy any kind of course etc. exactly because they believe that they need that accountability to push themselves forward and they’re not wrong.
Developing your strategies yourself and teaching yourself new skills is absolutely doable when you’re motivated or inspired but the reason coaches mention accountability a lot in their marketing is because using a coach or a trainer is about being directed when you don’t know how to decipher the direction yourself. It’s about having someone hold you accountable for the things you say you need to do, learn or start and accountability supports motivation.
That being said, and I know people say ‘start before you’re ready’, I don’t believe that you should risk your financial future on a coach until you know you’re in a good place, the place where you are self disciplined enough to do the work.
Whether you’re flying solo or you’re working with a coach of some description you should definitely start setting yourself some goals and creating actionable steps.
Setting goals at the beginning of your journey/regular work sessions even if you have a trainer/coach is really important. It helps you know what you plan to work on in that scheduled time.
As mentioned in previous posts and generally across my socials (follow me on Instagram here) you should know why you want to achieve those goals and how achieving them will look in your business.
It also means that you will have a new kind of awareness about your goals between sessions too, that additional awareness is the pocket rocket of momentum because you will continue to learn and grow and have an eye for opportunities surrounding that task/area that you want to focus on.
This is how you move forward and get to that magical place called ‘the outcome’.
One of the things I like about setting goals and creating action plans and then regularly revisiting them is that you not only have this focus but you can also assess anything that has been a barrier to that process which means that you can be more flexible.
Goal setting and action plans are quite literally the route you create to get from A (where you’re at now) to B (your desired destination). It’s really important to remember that there will be barriers, stumbling blocks and diversions along the way that you will never have been able to account for before setting out. These are not necessarily signs to give up but do require you allow your path a level of flexibility that isn’t always easy to come by naturally.
Review and be flexible
It’s much easier to be flexible if you work on a monthly or weekly review basis. If you don’t you can feel blindsided and burnt out. Review sessions are a great way to monitor and adjust and also celebrate any of the ‘mini goals’ or ‘milestones’ that you reach along the way. This is great for your motivation.
And of course, it doesn’t have to just be business goals either. I find that personal growth is essential to business growth, working on your personal life alongside your business will pay dividends back in the long run. Trust me, a decade ago I was a single mum, living in temporary accommodation and unable to eat on a regular basis. Now I own my own business, home and have a loving and respectful relationship with a wonderful man.
Working on yourself will help your business.
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