I am not sure how many common interests my Nana and Oprah have. One thing they both believe in is gratitude. I recently discovered that Oprah keeps a gratitude journal, and has done so everyday for sixteen years. She said it is has been one of the most important things she has ever done stating “Be thankful for what you have and you will end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have you will never, ever have enough”. Oprah’s discussion triggered memories of my Nana; she was always saying “count your blessings”.
I am certainly not as diligent as Oprah however I have at times kept a gratitude log as a place to “count my blessings”. The simple act of taking time to note down what is good always makes me feel significantly better about life. Sometimes I might be appreciative of materialistic things, other times I may be feeling grateful for a sunny day. When you feel grateful for what you have you are focusing your attention on the positives and in turn more of those positives come to you.
Some days it will be easy to find things you are grateful for, possibly other days you may feel you need to look at littler harder. No matter how you are feeling when you start to think about your life you will realise there really is so much to be thankful for.
Here’s my list from a few months back:
I am grateful for:
- Working for myself and being able to take a morning off to have breakfast with my friend
- The 5 cents that I found on the pavement today
- My apartment
- The beautiful sunlight
- Cool technology, awesome iphone apps and Facebook
- Audible so I can listen to Law of Attraction when in my car
- Deepak Chopra 21 day free mediation
- The abundance of money, I always have enough money, the universe sees that I am taken care of
- My juicer
- This laptop
Oprah has been doing it for sixteen years, why not try it for a week, or even just a day.
What are you grateful for right now?
While being a Solopreneur means being in business for yourself, it doesn’t mean you need to be in business by yourself. When I started my business I set myself up with a laptop, brought onboard my first few clients and was up and running. I quickly realised there were many aspects of my business I loved, and others that simply weren’t in my zone of genius (that sweet spot where talent and passion collide).
Prior to starting my own business I had worked for large corporations where we had teams of fabulous administrators to assist with day-to-day project work. I wanted the same for my business. I wanted help with the tasks I felt were outside my zone of genius but the feedback I received from others was quite negative.
“You’ve only been in business 6 months; surely you don’t need to hire someone yet,” or “Really why wouldn’t you just spend the extra time and do those things yourself and pocket the money?”
My partner at the time suggested I needed to keep all the money I earned and set an income target of x before allowing myself to get an assistant. My heart was screaming out for me to find someone amazing to assist but I listen to others and kept forging on alone.
6 more months in business, my client list and workload had skyrocketed. I was juggling multiple projects and competing deadlines. I’d reached the point where I was working extremely long hours, and I needed help (and a few good nights sleep). I found myself in a situation being overwhelmed with the workload and trying to figure out how I would look for the right assistant and then find the time to train that person on the specialised systems my business operates with.
I wished I had listened to my intuition and hired someone in the beginning when I had excess capacity. Many Solopreneurs I meet have resistance to hiring an assistant or outsourcing work. For some it is a money block when starting out they are concerned how they are going to pay that person when they are just getting established, for other’s they don’t want to let go for fear of not being in total control. There are amazing benefits that come from outsourcing and working with virtual assistants. Instead of doing the routine administration. I could have spent that time strategically on building my business. Running a business doesn’t mean we need to be a jack (or jill) of all trades. Spending hours teaching ourselves a new technology or skill isn’t always the best use of time. Focus on the things you are the best at, and find someone to help with the rest. From a business point of view it makes complete sense, even in the beginning, to hire an assistant to help with the things we need help with. Letting go of tasks you don’t love frees space in your schedule to allow your true genius to shine.
By hiring an assistant I have created a job for someone, started the journey of building a virtual team, and regained time for focusing on the areas I am truly passionate about.
Do you already have a VA? If not what is holding you back? What can you delegate today?
I recall telling my mum I was leaving my job to start my own business, she gave me “that look” you know the judgmental stare of someone that thinks they know better, someone that thinks you of course are making a wrong decision. Yes starting my own business meant giving up a “good” career, one that I had spent years at University studying for. I put a lot of effort into working my way up to a job that I enjoyed. The salary was “good”, the benefits were “good”, my colleagues were “good” so yes maybe it seemed crazy that I would give up something I worked hard for, but I didn’t love my job. For me “good” wasn’t good enough, I wanted great!
It’s often easy to make a change in life when we are really unhappy, but it can be a lot harder to do so when things are good. Good is comfortable, secure and certain. I’m sure you have seen it too, or experienced it yourself. You stay in that job that is just ok or that relationship you are moderately happy with because sometimes it is easier not to change. Whether it’s that regular pay cheque or having someone, anyone, to come home to a night, we get comfortable and although, deep inside, we long for true happiness, we settle for just ok, we give up our dreams of greatness and concede good will do.
I know people who stick with what we’ve got because we’re afraid of what others will think. Pressure from friends, colleges, partners or parents can be difficult to face when we are planning on deviating from the life track they envisioned for us. That fear of negative perceptions by others has stopped many a dreamer in their tracks. For me, I’ve always been one to march to the beat of my own drum. I’ve never really been concerned by the opinions of others. You need to let go of the fear of what others may think, you can never get to happiness by living your life pleasing someone else. Happiness comes when you follow your dreams, no matter how crazy they may seem to others.
If you’re willing to be authentic, take a chance and go after your dreams, you can turn that “good” life into a “great” one.
In order to allow something truly great into our life we need to make room. What is something good that you would like to let go of in order to allow greatness in?
The last time I was in Yoga class I had a revelation. I know I should have been concentrating on my own practice, but I couldn’t help hearing the guy next to me grunting and straining as we moved through a difficult sequence. He was definitely not enjoying the moment or the journey in his attempt to achieve perfection in his poses. The next words out of the teachers mouth were, “It’s a Yoga Practice not a Yoga Perfect.” I smiled, and I thought about how true that statement was. I’m very inflexible and there is no way my Asana’s look anything close to perfect, or are even anywhere close to my “finished product”, I love Yoga anyway, it makes me feel amazing. That little bit of advice from my Yoga instructor made me realise something about the bigger picture. It made me realize that this ideal is what life is all about. You have to enjoy the feeling and the experience of living, not just the end results. I hope the person next to me heard this, as he seemed in pain and was clearly pushing past a point of comfort.
This idea of enjoying the practice really struck me that day in Yoga. As a child I can recall dancing lessons, tennis and piano. During all those hours of practice I never recall being told just enjoy the process. I do however remember being told that “practice makes perfect.” But does it? What is perfect, and is that what we should be striving for?
If we spend all of our time struggling to achieve an end result, we will miss the joy of the experience. I recently discovered a love of surfing. I love being out in the ocean spending sunny days on my board. I’m barely able to stand up for more than a few seconds on a wave, but I love it all the same. I don’t stress about being the best surfer in the water, and I no longer think about being perfect. Instead I think about how magical the day is and how lucky I am to have the time to spend enjoying something that I enjoy so much. Improvements will occur naturally and gradually, but you have to enjoy the experience of getting there. Enjoy the ride.
Life is about the journey not the result. Enjoy the moment, and love the now.
I love this quote by Howard Thurman, it resonates with me, for as long as I can remember I desired a big pay check over almost anything else in life, I thought making it in life meant a corner office with a view. I recall when was looking to move into my second job I had a choice between a wonderful role for a PR Company or a (much) higher paying job with an Oil and Gas Company which I knew would be dead boring. The sinking feeling in the bottom of my stomach signalled loud and clear I was making a mistake, I ignored it, I buried it deep and got on with things. I choose money over happiness and I continued to do so throughout my career, pushing aside my intuition.
Fast forward 10 years; an Economics Degree that I hold no passion for, a few uncompleted Masters and a general feeling of not wanting to take another elevator ride to work. Early morning, coffee in hand, I would wait for those big cold metal doors to open and I would think of all the things I would rather be doing. I knew it was time to quit the corporate world, so I did without hesitation. I dived straight in and started a Sustainable Building Design Consultancy. Escaping the 9 – 5 was amazing. This new found freedom of marching to the beat of my own drum, and the by-product that a truly online business provides, location freedom. No longer was I rushing to be in the office by 8, I had more time to spend on my passions and could weave my work and lifestyle into one. I had the freedom to work from anywhere in the world, Bali, Singapore, London, Dubai, it was a year of international travel.
Still that little guide inside me wasn’t singing. I was happy but I wasn’t outrageously joyous. I didn’t feel I was living with true purpose. I had created a wonderful business however it wasn’t aligned with my core skill set or values. Slowly I am outsourcing more of the day to day operations and finding myself focusing on helping others take the big leap from 9 – 5 to solopreneur. I love seeing others thrive and realise helping others unlock their potential is what really makes me smile.
What is your dream? Are you living it?