Someone asked me recently "do you ever get stressed working for yourself?"
To which I replied "of course!"
Thankfully it's been a few years now and things have built momentum, are flowing and those tough days are not so frequent anymore. I started taking steps to work for myself over 10 years ago now, it's been a long journey to where I am now......but an amazing one.
When I first relocated to Brighton 4 years ago, not really knowing anybody, there were endless days where I was just putting in the background work to find clients and build connections. I was starting all over again. Days when I wasn't actually earning any money and days when my creativity just wasn't flowing leaving me a bit stuck as to what to do next. Fear, worry, doubt all would rear their ugly heads.
There were many moments along the way when I came close to looking for employed work again.
Thankfully I had a yoga practice, a belief in God and very supportive parents and friends. I truly believe now that it took so long to get things to where I am now purely to deepen my spiritual faith and practice. I am not sure I'd be who I am now if things had just been easy. In fact I know it.
If you're on the path to working for yourself and find yourself experiencing those stormy seas here are a few suggestions of how to manage the tough times:
Be realistic. When I was in London starting my business I also had part time contract work, doing what I loved (training and coaching) but for someone else. This was my bread and butter income and it stopped me from getting desperate around money. This meant that if new clients came my way I didn't have to get pushy to keep them, neediness drives people away! Part time work can really help in the first few months/ years of working for yourself.
Trust, determination and self belief. Once you are ready to take the plunge and be fully self employed you really have to have trust and conviction in what you are doing. It's time to 100% go for it and believe in yourself that you can. You need to be ready to put yourself out there to get in front of people, take some risks and do things that scare you. It's an incredible journey of highs and lows but above all trust it will all work out just the way it is meant to and believe in what you are doing. Keep going, don't be put off, even on those days, weeks, months when nothing seems to be happening. (this is where prayer really helped me!)
Get a coach. In the first few years of working for myself I had a life coach. This helped me to clarify my goal, keep in action, keep inspired and to learn along the way. It's amazing how negative beliefs about myself would hold me back with out me even realizing it. At work you have a manager, when you work for yourself a coach is like your manager, your motivator, your path to inspiration when you feel stuck. (I can help you with this!). I still now every now and then have a coaching session with an expert around an area I may feel a bit stuck in.
Patience and Gratitude. Don't expect it all to happen immediately. Celebrate the small things and acknowledge yourself every day for what you get done. Each year look back over all you have achieved/ learned and celebrate it. (yoga/ meditation helps with this)
Be Creative When I first started working for myself I was so tuned into work being something that was done sat behind a computer that I sat there staring at my laptop for hours not really doing anything, chatting on msn, feeling like I was working but not really. Then it hit me, as an image consultant (this is what I started with) I should be out there in the shops and looking at what people where wearing on the streets. Of course! This is why I was doing it because I loved people, clothes and shops! So off I took myself down to Knightsbridge, Kings Road, Nottinghill, Soho and so on. I went to talks and fashion shows. Life started to expand and creative ideas for my business flourished.
It's easy when you work for yourself to be stuck indoors unless you are out working. You don't need to be though! You can take your laptop to coffee shops, you can go on adventures......this is why you are self employed to be free to choose how you spend your day!
Meet other self employed peopleThere are lots of us out there, we can be found at networking groups, classes in the day time, on courses, and even working in coffee shops :-) Build your tribe and support each other.
When you do earn money save a bit of it. This might sound obvious but as much as you can save a little of what you earn so you have an emergency fund for those quiet times. I prepare for Christmas and Summer as much as I can in case it goes a bit quiet when people are on holiday.
Read inspiring books. I always like to have a book on the go that will inspire me and uplift me. In the early days when I experience anxiety around if my business was going to work out I read books like "The Power of Now" Eckhart Tolle, "Embracing Uncertainty" and "End the Struggle and Dance with Life" both by Susan Jeffers. Just picking them up and reading a few pages would soothe me.
Money. I had to shift from a mindset of relying on money coming in on a set date each month to it dripping in through out, and sometimes not at all. I developed a belief that "money flows to me when I need it", which I have found to be true. I often don't know when my money is coming in or where it is coming from but again it's about trust. I have developed a trust that it will come. I have learned to survive on very little and to be grateful for everything I have. I have learned to save a bit but also that sometimes I do need to spend out money for my own personal development or for business promotion, for things that will help me and my business grow. You do have to invest as well as save. Again it comes back to self belief in what you are doing and determination. (yoga, meditation, present moment awareness have helped with this)
Self care. You are your business, you need to be healthy, full of energy and in your best state possible. It's so easy, especially when in the well being industry, to give to everyone else and not to yourself. You need a break. You need your sleep. You need little treats. You need fun. You need to eat healthy to maintain your energy and ward off illness. If you ignore your tiredness your body will get ill to force to you take a break. Listen to the warning signs and be loving to yourself. (again this is where yoga has helped!) Holidays away from it all give you the space to get perspective on it all, it can be hard to get this when immersed day to day. Creativity and inspiration also flows when you are doing something completely different.
These are just a few suggestions. I love helping people on this journey so if you'd like me to please do get in touch.
The way I see it, if you love your work and really believe in yourself you just have to go for it. You only have one life so why not give it your all and you know what, if it doesn't work out who cares. At least you've followed your heart and something amazing will come from it what ever direction it takes you. I started off as an image consultant in London, now here I am as a life coach and yoga teacher in Brighton (with a few shopping trips on the side every now and then)! Life is for living.