As many of you know, my brand new website is LIVE!
I thought it’d be useful to share some of my experiences along the way–the good, the bad and the ugly–to help make it a reality to start, follow-through, and own your voice at work and in the world; in other words, to say HELL YES! when what you’d really rather do is let it be the way it’s been.
Sometimes an expiration date stares you in the face.
Back when I was a bright-eyed consultant for a wellness start-up in Reston, Virginia, I traveled the country 3-4 days a week to train managers and facilitate corporate meetings. One evening, I was flying out to Kansas City for meetings the next day. Due to storms in the Midwest, the flight ended up in Detroit and the only hotel room I could get was at the Detroit airport. Ground floor. It was late, I was young and I was petrified. I filled up an ice bucket and set it on a chair at the door, to “alert me” in case anyone tried to get in through the door. I devised an elaborate “booby trap” on the windowsill as well. I was a newlywed. We had just bought a home yet I was rarely around to enjoy my new life. Quaking, raging under itchy covers, there was no denying this newsflash–that the charms of this once-charmed job had “expired” and upon my return, I quit. This expiration date was crystal clear.
Other times we ignore or press well beyond its natural shelf life.
Unlike bananas and milk, most expiration dates for our projects, especially when we self-employed, are more like those of molasses and sunscreen. How do we really know an endeavor’s shelf life has expired without evidence of a rancid odor or discolored appearance? Who’s to say when we take a fresh approach…
Sometimes we expect an expired idea to do the work of a fresh one.
No doubt, the easiest way is to keep things as they are. By not initiating needed changes, we save time, money, and possible aggravation. Right? My original website was created four years ago. At the time, my enthusiasm for developing this doorway to entrepreneurship was over the moon. But by 2014, the same site, despite numerous attempts and add-ons to bring it up-to-date was no longer reflecting the energy, experience and impact of what Pamela Slim calls, my “body of work.”
I knowingly procrastinated about doing what was truly needed to feel “at home” with my own site, which was to create a new one. Keeping my original website past its expiration date came with a cost. The gap between the site and what my business had become was wide.
Risks and opportunities not taken are what keep us playing small.
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Maybe you too have an endeavor or project or job that’s gone beyond its expiration date?
Now that we’re exploring that expiration dates have everything to do with you and your business, read on to discover what lessons are in it for you.
Don’t wait to get permission from others (it’s not coming). Don’t wait for the stars or your life to align (they won’t). Don’t wait to be free from fear (if it’s any sort of stretch, fear comes with the territory). Do your “thing” before you feel ready. Commit to now.
Powerful Question: Whose permission are you waiting for?
Once committed to the process of creating a new website, I set bold intentions:
I would do my best to “hold things lightly” and not get bogged down in perfectionism. I would I would trust myself, the process and the web designer to light the way. I would make mistakes and I would learn from them. I would keep moving forward through uncertainty. I would experiment with time and repeat structures and systems that served me best. I would be vulnerable, receptive and creative. I would be “of service.”
Powerful Question: What intentions are you setting? Are they big enough?
Sweatless is stretchless
It is tempting to look at the sites, programs and accomplishments of others and assume it comes easily to them. I’ve read far too many posts from those who create a website in a day or a week. (maybe it’s true, if so, good for them). I committed to the process of creating a new site and I’m telling you, it required a lot of effort.
I had to dig deep to gain clarity about what was most important to my clients and to me. To bring others up to date, I needed to bring myself up to date first. It was not always pleasant and it took longer than expected. I had to declare boundaries, say “no” and “I can’t” more often than I’m used to. The site’s direction and my words shifted frequently and I learned to be okay with it. I stretched more than I was comfortable in order to own and reveal my truth.
Powerful question: Are you stretching to the size of your calling?
Asking Others for Support
In everyday life, I savor being surrounded by family and close friends. However when it comes to getting input for business decisions, I intentionally look primarily outside my inner circle. What I needed was a range of fresh, honest perspectives, not well-meaning accolades from relatives and friends who might be tempted to “spare me” by sugarcoating remarks.
Powerful question: What would it be like to ask for and receive the kind of support you need?
Unlike my reaction when it’s time to replace an expired furnace or roof, I choose to view investments in my business as “empowering transactions.” I want to work with and learn from those I consider among the best people for the job. Usually this means spending near the upper limits of what I can afford.
Before I selected a web designer, I took note of sites I liked and who was creating them. One designer’s work caught my attention repeatedly. I had no idea what my new site what look like, but after a bit of due diligence, I knew the person I wanted to work with was Krista Smith. The process and the site design exceeded my expectations.
I also hired a copy editor. I wanted someone who’s key strength is editing to help me pare down words (I love words and apply them generously), make my message as clear as it could be. Without changing my voice or message, Kate Bonnycastle helped me to further clarify my message (and cut some words I could not bear to.)
Powerful question: What is your attitude around spending money on your business and how is it working for you?
Acknowledge what’s working
Like many women of my generation, I was raised to gloss over achievements, lest the alternative appear boastful. Over the past year, I was advised by trusted colleagues again and again to let go of the business name, iDecide Coaching. I refused. I bucked. I liked that a moderately clever name appeared bigger, more significant than, well, than me. Designing a website is a moment of reckoning. I decided that changing the site to MY name was the more, not less, empowering move. I AM my business. People hire me because they want what I can help them achieve. And, using my name allows me to own and experiment more fully, all I am capable of creating.
I realized that one of the most powerful things for people who feel stuck and unable to move in a meaningful direction, is to hear how others are doing it. I had the idea to reach out to coaching clients, to tell stories about how they were able to make inspired change resulting in big achievements. I was initially nervous about how they would respond to my request. Their replies: “I feel honored” and “What we did together really worked.” Move to intentional action from inspired idea. Radical, right? The case studies were fun to write and poignant to remember. They are quite an inspiring read. You may access case studies here . They are also sent as a bonus to new subscribers. I am thrilled to say “YAY!” and acknowledge this is the impact of work I am meant to do.
Powerful Question: How do you “own” the work you’re meant to do?
Bring your whole self
Especially in this era of job independence, it’s key to remember your most valuable asset is YOU. Whether or not you’re self-employed, you owe it to yourself and your clients to explore your strengths and experiment with bringing those to the forefront of your business endeavor. Embrace all of you–allow yourself to be vulnerable and shine.
The best way I know of bringing my whole self to the table when it counts is to schedule time for activities I enjoy that have nothing to do with “the work”. I put a lot of hours into building my new site yet made sure I went running, to weight class and yoga, strummed guitar or roamed around taking photographs. You’ll note that the new site is visually driven, using my photographs. Blending my love for words with my passion for photography.
Powerful question: What would it be like to let your messaging naturally reflect who you really are? To let yourself enjoy activities outside of the work that help boost energy for the work?
Did you notice almost all of my lessons learned are transferable to most endeavors?
As you read this post, did you think “yeah, but that’s you, and I wouldn’t be able to start my endeavor or stick with it?” If you did, stay with me here. I urge you to dig a little deeper and examine those beliefs. I have a feeling they have more to do with your inner critic or untested assumptions than they do with you.
What’s needed now in your business or life may be similar or different to mine. I know there is such hunger on the part of smart, accomplished entrepreneurs to be taken seriously and become more visible. There is no quick fix, but exploring your answers to the powerful questions above are a good start. I deeply believe that when we take timely, intentional and consistent action, we can soar at any age and stage. You are only as limited as your imagination.
Now over to you: What are you putting off (or attending to) that needs your attention right now? I’d love you to share on the Facebook Page so we can learn from each other.