My Entrepreneurial Journey (So Far)
Until a few years ago, I was one of those people who let my life go on auto-pilot. Life is complicated: We all walk around happy and distracted, and sometimes, without even realizing it, we’re on cruise control. Everyone talks about how nothing good happens when you are in your comfort zone, but how and when do you realize that it’s time to move out of it?
Something made me realize I was meant to do more. I always had ideas, but never the courage to quit my job and make the leap. Then I did, and I couldn’t be happier.
However deciding to become an entrepreneur is a lot like standing in line to ride a rollercoaster — make that a rollercoaster in the dark. You don’t know what’s coming at you next: an upside-down twist, a loop, or a sudden dip or drop. All you can do it strap yourself in, and (at least try) to enjoy the ride. It is a mental and physical battle, the struggle of starting your own business is real, and so many people out there go through this — though it’s easy to feel like you’re going through it alone.
So, much like that rollercoaster, while this life can be thrilling and exciting, it can also be scary, and a bit of a struggle. Can’t we all just let go, enjoy the ride and know that we all come out alive (sometimes nauseous and sick) but still alive? Easier said than done, perhaps, but talking about those fears, struggles, and anticipations with our peers is much like taking that ride with someone you love and trust. Just remember to always be present, audit your feelings and be mindful of your mental state.
These are the rules I live by, that I have found to help on a daily basis.
1.You (and only you) determine your worth
Who am I and what have I set out to accomplish? Our self-worth comes from within, and it’s important that we keep that alive.
I read somewhere that if running a 5k is the longest distance you have ever run, be proud. Don’t compare yourself to your colleague that just ran a marathon. We are all on our own journeys, and should celebrate our own individual accomplishments. According to Dr. Kristin Neff, by comparing ourselves to others, we are setting ourselves up for self-worth failure; someone will always be wealthier, thinner or stronger, and someone will always be able to run that one extra mile. She even noted, “studies now show that basing one’s self-worth on external factors is actually harmful to one’s mental health.”
This gut-check of self-worth needs to happen to remind us that we aren’t set out to accomplish someone else’s goal. We need to accomplish our own, no matter how big or small. It’s so easy to get distracted when we are so focused on others’ goals and their visions, that it’s easy to forget what we, ourselves, set out to do.
2. Cut it out
Your parents probably told you at some point that “you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with.” Even though you probably rolled your eyes at the time, they were right. I believe that every quarter, along with our financial analysis and other important, quarterly reports, we need to do a quick check and reflect on all negative things in our lives. It could be toxic people or relationships, negative thoughts, or even office clutter.
Often, it’s the smallest changes that bring the biggest impact. I like to make a note of all my negative and self-limiting feelings and look at them to analyze why I have them — those feelings are usually what hold me back. So I say to myself, “If not now, then when?” And get to cutting those ties.
3. There is no such thing as perfect
Perfection is something that goes out the window once you decide to go down the path of being an entrepreneur. There is no perfect work-life balance. There is no perfect day. There is no perfect result. You are in charge of prioritizing what you want more of, and how you set the tone for each and every day. There is no perfect solution, but all you can do is promise your best.
4. You are your own best cheerleader
Remember Dr. Seuss’ famous quote, “Those that matter don’t mind, and those that mind, don’t matter.” I try to remind myself that if I can’t pick myself up when I’m down, no one can. It’s all about keeping that end goal in mind — I will come out of this alive, and will have gained an important experience, regardless of the outcome (which, of course, I hope to be positive). I surround myself with positive people that I know will boost my morale along the way, but in the end, it all comes down to how I treat myself, and how I conduct myself in challenging situations.