As I prepare to recycle another calendar and dive head-first into a new year, I like to reflect on the past year, what my goals where, if I met or exceeded them, if I enjoyed meeting/exceeding them, and how I’ve felt in the process. Most of you know that it’s been a tough year for me personally. However it’s also been one of the best years of my life. I’ve made huge breakthroughs in my business and personal life even though (or because?) shit got tough.
I’m finally at a place where I feel confident in my process, I’m hitting (and exceeding) my income goals, and I’m working with the most amazing women on projects that totally light me up!
It wasn’t easy and I learned a lot of tough lessons along the way.
Here’s 5 of my favourite lessons that I’d love to go back to my fresh-outta-university-for-the-second-time self and whisper in my ear:
1. Everything is not as important as you think it is.
Folks used to tell me “Don’t sweat the small stuff” which was really confusing to me. NOTHING in my life has ever been small. I approach everything in a quite dramatic way, and all the little things have always been super important to me. As I had to let go of a lot of responsibilities and control this past year, I realized that my perfectionism was actually holding me back from getting a lot more done.
So even though I spent almost a third of the time working in 2015 as I did in 2014, those hours produced better work because I literally didn’t have the space to agonize over the little details of perfection. One of my college art teachers told me “Jamie, art is never finished until you put the brush down.”
She was so right.
2. You are enough.
When I first started this iteration of my business you could often find me running around trying to please everyone. Don’t get me wrong, I knew who I wanted to work with. I created that “Ideal Customer Avatar” that everyone raves about. I even ended up working with a lot of these rad women. But my messaging and offerings weren’t 100% aligned with my brand and who I am. Oftentimes I would try to professionalize myself or mellow down my inner sass. That kind of confusion lead to requests for work that was outside my zone of genius and guess what? I’d try to accommodate them. In the end that doesn’t work for anyone.
Trying to please everyone means you’ll end up pleasing no one. If you just show up in the way that you want to the people that matter will be delighted. Conforming is boring. If you let your personality shine through in your brand some people may get turned off, but YOUR right people will be even more attracted to you. And your people? They are the folks who understand you, who really GET a lot OUT of what you do, and who you’ll really enjoy working with.
3. The opinions that matter usually come from the quietest voices.
In her book Daring Greatly Brené Brown says “I carry a small sheet of paper in my wallet that has written on it the names of people whose opinions of me matter. To be on that list, you have to love me for my strengths and struggles. You have to know that I’m trying to be Wholehearted, but I still cuss too much, flip people off under the steering wheel, and have both Lawrence Welk and Metallica on my iPod.” I saw an interview with Brené on Chase Jarvis LIVE and she pulled that small piece of paper out of her purse. It was the size of a post-it note. I’m not sure why this struck such a chord with me but I literally stopped what I was doing.
I was shocked.
For many, many years (and especially 5 year ago me) I listened to too many different opinions and took them to heart. And you know? The loudest voices were the opinions that screamed the advice I usually acted on. Something about Brené’s tiny piece of paper revolutionized me. And over this last year when I’ve had more space… I’ve given myself the room I needed to listen, not just hearing the loudest opinions, but to the quietest, most tender voices of folks who have stood by me the longest and are now on my tiny piece of paper.
4. It’s OK to be a planner.
I used to get teased a lot about my over-preparedness. I still do, actually. And that’s OK. I really love being a person who thoroughly plans all the things. And I think that having a strategic plan for a dinner party, a deep cleaning session in my home, or the next 6 months in my business is one of my personal keys to success. So I’d tell my 5 year ago self that it’s totally cool to carry around that day timer AND create to-do lists AND have the giant wall-sized planning calendar AND the excel spreadsheet of goals. It’s how I get shit done.
5. There is no secret formula, stop looking for one.
One of the only downsides of working for yourself is that you don’t have that team of people to bounce ideas off of or to keep you accountable. It can be lonely building a business! It can also become increasingly tough to stay true to who you are and your voice when you see a whole bunch of entrepreneurs doing things differently, or teaching about some specific method that you must follow. And social media? Don’t get me started on the cases of comparison-itous that I had to fight off this year!! When everyone else seems to be selling a magic pill to duplicate their success it seems we spend more and more time looking for and learning the new secret formulas I feel that a lot of people come to the conclusion that there is no secret formula.
If I could go back 5 years and tell myself ONE last thing? It’d be that YOU ARE THE SECRET FORMULA YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR! For reals. You are the only you and that makes your offering extremely unique.
What would you tell your five-year-ago self if a time-travelling DeLorean existed?