This my blog about jumping into the unknown. Not literally, you understand, but metaphorically, and in this case, career-wise. Or career-unwise. It’s all about my undying urge to break away from a lifetime of compliance, received caution, and the ingrained need for job stability. My jump, although not life-threatening, has a lot in common with the physical leap off the back of the cross-channel ferry into the darkness. It was born not so much out of careful planning as out of desperation. I may sink or swim, and my survival (in self-employment at least) is by no means certain. I may get a life-saving hand just when I need it, or I could be left to flounder in the depths.
Being renowned for starting things that I never finish, I can’t promise anything, but I am starting this blog today with a view to recording the thinking and experiences, the successes and failures, the joys and woes, as my jump into the unknown unfolds.
Is there a conflict between my purpose in life and asking for money in return for what I do?
I’d be so grateful if you could read this and tell me what you think in the comments:
Lying in bed this morning, thinking about the impurity of marketing something to someone, even someone who needs and wants what you have and is prepared to pay for it – the impurity of asking for money – I would still be basically taking money off them in return for “doing my thing” in life, which has nothing to do with money – making people happier, bringing some joy, a smile.
One way of looking at it is like this – It’s a bit like a grain of sand in an oyster. It’s necessary in order to make a pearl. Maybe I need to accept that it is the necessity of making some money in this Western society (the grain of impurity in my principled approach to my life) that will cause me to make a pearl of a business. After all, if I didn’t need any money, would I do it?
Yes of COURSE I would still f****** do it. I’m genuinely not driven even slightly by the money. I need money, as we all do in this society, but that necessity is NOT what is driving me to make a great business – I know that quite clearly. My “why” is bringing some joy, a smile, a laugh. The money is a side issue for me.
So maybe it’s more like this – maybe my grain of impurity is not so much being DRIVEN by the money, but rather NEEDING TO ASK FOR and take money from people in return for making them happier, bringing some joy, making them smile. Maybe my block in approaching people is because my subconscious message is not:
“Let me do my thing and through that, make you smile, bring you some joy, bring a spark, some laughter.”
“Let me do my thing and through that, make you smile, bring you some joy, bring a spark, some laughter. And it will cost this much.”
So do I really believe that the purity of my life purpose is being polluted by this monetary aspect, and is that causing a block?
The implication, if I can’t reconcile this, is that I won’t ever take money for doing my thing. It’s possible to achieve this:
- Become an outcast, just do my thing and rely on whatever meagre scraps of food I am given. But that is not really for me. This is the lifestyle I imagine when I think about running away to Cornwall and living on the beach or in a caravan or whatever. But it’s idealistic and unrealistic – and just another version of what so many people think of when trying to “escape”.
- Give some of my life away to serve some other person or organisation, doing something I don’t care about, to get money. Then spend my spare time doing “my thing” voluntarily. I think I am trying to justify the “employed” part of this by saying, “Oh, I don’t care about that part, it’s just to get money so I can spend the other part of my life PURELY doing my thing with no monetary pollution.” But this is flawed. The employed part is by definition getting money from customers or service users or whoever, in return for your work, albeit that the money transaction a lot less direct because the organisation is in between. But it’s the same really – still monetary – and worse still, NOT doing your thing for the employed part of your life in return for that money – so how can that be better?
But both of those options involve doing my thing (at least some of the time in option 2) and for no money – doing it purely and simply without the pollution of a monetary trade. On that basis, would I be happier, more motivated, NOT BLOCKED, if the other person did not pay; was getting a total win, with no cost and no downside?
OK NOW WE’RE GETTING SOMEWHERE. This is rubbish. Even removing the money aspect; the trade; I am still feeling a block. Why?
Because the block, I am seeing now, is NOT about asking for money in return for what I do. It’s not connected with money AT ALL. For me, money is not the motivator – but it isn’t the de-motivator either!
That was my revelation this morning, dawning on me as I wrote it all out. I had assumed that money was the evil element in my plan, defiling my beautifully pure life purpose. I had concluded that the necessary presence of money in my plans for work/career/business/life, not being my motivating force, was therefore the DE-motivator; the block. And I was wrong. Just because something does not motivate and drive you, it does not necessarily have the opposite effect.
It just goes to show, sometimes you need a little reflection and self-analysis to dig deeper and understand these things.
So now we move on – why my block then?
OK, for me, I think it’s a couple of things:
In my case, much of the block is about a lack of CONFIDENCE.
If you do your thing, the other person, at the very least, is engaging with you, taking a chance by investing some time and energy and emotion by allowing you in. There is never NO risk on their part, even if no money is involved.
This block is about lacking confidence that when I do my thing, it WILL be good for the other person, and I can thereby ask, hand on heart, for people to allow me to do my thing for them, ask people to take the chance, being totally comfortable knowing that those people will think, “He is asking me to engage with him and claiming that he can do this for me – I am risking time/energy/money. Hmm. What do we think? Can he do it?” – and myself, for my part, knowing that I CAN do it.
This confidence issue is only natural when in the process of starting any new anything – you have no track record, even if you know deep-down that you can do it – you are still the new boy in the playground. Also, the primitive part of your brain tries to protect you by keeping you in the safety of the familiar – inside your comfort zone. All this causes doubts and fears – maybe fears that you are not good enough, doubts that you can really do what you claim etc. These fears and doubts are a necessary part of doing something new – I accept that – they’re going to be there, and that’s that. I need more ways to handle them properly. (In my case, one way to overcome some of that is to continually validate my competence – make time for ongoing practice and learning etc. and thereby increase confidence.)
Sometimes my subconscious is putting the brakes on, sapping my energy, stopping me – because some aspect of what I am planning is NOT authentic, not close enough to my life purpose to really drive me forward. Personally, I need to check that the things I do are right for me, and keep checking this. I need to start with “why” when considering what to do. “Why am I doing this?”
So in my case, I think I have come to understand this morning that my big block is not, as I initially thought, about money polluting the purity of the purpose of my work. It’s just about lacking a little confidence in asking people, not for money, but for engagement. Asking them if I can “do my thing” for them, and knowing, deep down, that I CAN do it, with expertise, and with all my heart because it IS my thing; totally in line with my life purpose.
Please leave a comment and tell me I’m not completely barking mad this Sunday morning!
Yep – just re-read this and it’s one heck of a weird update. Starts normally enough, but then…
I assessed some equipment for making videos yesterday. This is for Holiday Home Stars UK, which is an exciting new project I am working on. Anyway, instead of a camcorder, I worked out it is better to get a separate audio recorder and a mic and use my new (well, £53 Canon-refurbished) Canon camera – more professional to record the audio separately, and also, importantly just now, cheaper to do it that way.
All the same, my shopping cart at Amazon came to £156 and I just stopped. This morning I opened the shopping cart again and said to myself, when Colin was in bed – “you have to list ten ideas for Holiday Home Stars Web TV videos BEFORE buying this equipment”. I listed them in minutes – I am definitely highly motivated to do this aspect! (Holiday Home Stars Web TV is going to be the TV channel for the business, with loads of great ideas and tips for holiday home owners.)
Anyway, then I looked at the list of six items again and felt physically sick at spending the money. It’s not as if it is a lot of money, right – but I am SO hard on myself when it comes to spending ANYTHING. It’s also about commitment I suppose, and fear of failure maybe? I’ve tried a few things before, some have been moderately successful but there has also been a string of failures, and I suppose this also causes you to hesitate before committing to something. Which is crazy – I know that. Most of the most successful people have failed and failed and failed. It’s really no more than a part of the process.
On my list, there was Bingo Smart’s, the restaurant themed around a fictitious vacuum cleaner pioneer (I kid you not, but that was decades ago). There was Coalface, the short-term staffing service. And internet marketing. And pubmenu.org – well it’s not that many failures, and there were also successes – but I suppose the failures drag me back a bit.
So what’s different with Holiday Home Stars (services for holiday homeowners) and the revised eyeontheplace (internet CCTV)? Well, something IS different. ME. I am different. Overcoming the damage caused by my adoption as a baby, discovering my biological roots and relatives as far afield as Poland, Australia and Norway, and as a result of all this, rapidly gaining emotional intelligence – almost like “waking up” – living with a greater sense of authenticity and defined life purpose. These things are new – they all happened during the past two years. I now have a greater sense that, once I get started in doing this, because for the first time in my 49 years I am leading MY life, not the life of the compliant adopted child (a LONG story), even if what I do does not work out, who cares – I will change something. I will FIND A WAY. I have confidence in that, because now, everything I do, I’m doing from the heart.
Talked with Colin about it just before lunch, and we agreed that if I need to spend this money to invest in the business, then so be it – and we also agreed that it is not such a lot of money really (less than a two-week supermarket shop in Morrison’s for example), but to me it seems it. There were tears (on my part) after I pressed the button to buy – can’t explain why really. It’s pathetic. I mean, £156!
I suppose this is my first venture since all of the adoption stuff, finding my family, beginning to live more “authentically”. In many ways, it’s a shame I am here, aged 49, writing this, and not 19 or 29 or 39, but that’s how it is – and at least I got over all that adoption stuff – damage I had no understanding of or inkling of until two years ago – and for that I am eternally grateful, especially to the people around me who helped so much.
This is a proper jumbled-up post, for which I apologise. I should write more coherently about all these important issues.
Anyway, commitment – the website was developed on the basis that “it’s free apart from the domain name so I might as well do it anyway”, and today is the first significant expenditure. It feels as if I have crossed the threshold between having a business idea and committing to executing it. It feels real. Even though the website has already been there for a month, it feels as if today is DAY ONE of Holiday Home Stars.
I am now committed, for better or worse. The ship has sailed and I am on it. No going back.
Yesterday was a bad day. We argued the night before about nothing really, and even before that things were not going well that day, so it was a real downer. So yesterday lunchtime I found myself having to revisit my visualisation for my new life and trying to drag myself out of the doldrums and back to action.
How did I do it?
Well, given that I was so p****d off, it was not easy. I started with my visualistion of my new life, which actually I have not written down in much detail. I must do so, because I think this really helps in the hard times, that thing about dreaming and “seeing” the thing you are aiming at. So I was visualising this and then I started thinking about what a huge mountain I have to climb in order to get to where I want to be.
I was reminded, apart from the need to think positively about it all, of an old Chinese proverb that says something like “every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. I was also reminded of something I read when doing (trying to do) the internet marketing full-time, about the average person always overestimating what they can do in a day and underestimating what they can do in a year. This means, for me, a tendency to berate myself at the end of the day – looking back and thinking “well, there goes another day, and you only did THAT”. What I often forget is that the many “THAT”s all add up over a year; two years; five years – and if you just do something, whatever you can manage, each day to move you towards that vision, then it is progress.
What stops me dead in my tracks, like a rabbit in the headlights, is when I think of that huge mountain I have to climb, and always see myself at the bottom of it, looking up at the vast slopes above. It just seems too much and I think I will never make it. I think the key is not to look up, but to look down, at your next footstep, the thing in hand right now that is achievable and will take you to the next step. That way, you don’t get overwhelmed by the vastness of that mountain.
So, in thinking all this, I brightened up no end and was able to get back to work and make a little more progress. Which was nice.
In my last blog post, entitled “What am I Living For?
“, I listed some attributes of my ideal existence. The list was rather abstract and the next step was always going to be to try to match some of the needs and wants from that list into some concrete, practical steps to take me a bit further down the road towards matching what I do to who I am – living MY life. If this strikes a chord with you; if you are the sort of person who has struggled with career choice; you may well find this interesting..
So here I am a few weeks further on in my mission, having spent a lot of time researching and reflecting. So how did I do my research? Well, actually this is a good point to mention the almost complete disdain I feel towards so-called career advisers. This may be unfair because I am only talking from my own personal experience, but I never had a career advisor who took the trouble or was able to really understand WHO I AM and WHAT I NEED. Like so many “advisors”, they may be of use when it comes to people of average ability, with the suburban-semi-and-2.4-children kind of needs. I am not knocking people with such needs – far from it – if that’s your thing, and you have found it – you are lucky indeed. And for you, career advisers are probably just fine. But for people with unusual needs or an unusual set of personal attributes, and statistically I am in that group whether I like it or not, bog-standard career advisors are frankly next to useless in my opinion. The point of that rant is this – I felt I had no option but to find my own way when it came to turning my personal needs and wants into real-world career choices.
So, what did I do?
Well, I used the internet. Let’s face it, the local library is just so last century now when it comes to any kind of serious research. Forget it. So I got on the internet and started looking for descriptions of jobs. Then I soon something even better – hundreds of videos of people talking about their jobs and what they liked about them. This was quite a revelation. Now THIS is career research for the 21st century. Instant access to people talking about the jobs that they do and what they like about them. OK some of it was promotional material, but it gave quite an insight nevertheless. Now, make no mistake, for my part I was not trying to actually find a job match, but rather to find strands of things that I could relate to, that would help me start to visualise elements of MY perfect vocation. For example, a girl working in the “hospitality industry” said of her job – “it’s about making people smile. When I make them smile, I know I have done a good job.” I liked that. That resonated. Not that I will necessarily end up working in the hospitality industry – but it resonated with me, that thing about making people smile; making them happier in some way – and stimulated me into visualising myself in various types of work where I could make that happen.
I backed up this research with a lot of reading about various jobs in various industries. Unfortunately, this involved reading 10 rubbish “career” websites to get to one decent one – such is the proliferation of old-style information on this subject. You know the sort of thing:
“If Maths is your best subject, how about a career in accounting, or a job in a bank?”
As I say, I have almost total disdain towards the careers industry. But, information is out there on the internet if you search long and smart enough. As with the videos, I was not looking for “jobs”, as I am determined to remain in charge of my own destiny, running my own business – so in my case it is inspiration for business ideas in line with what I am living for – that is what I was looking for.
Of course, one could carry out such research for a lifetime and get ever-closer to the perceived ideal vocation but never actually turn the ideas into reality. There has to be a balance between research, decision-making – and execution. Some would argue, and I agree with them, that you cannot analyse yourself and thence choose your career in isolation – you need to actually get into the real world and try things out; adjust your plans; retry etc. This is like making a series of tangible prototype models, each one of which teaches “real” lessons that cannot easily be learned from paper plans. So there is a balance and there comes a point at which you need to say “enough research for now, let’s pick something, or a few things, and have a go”.
With this in mind, here are a few embryonic ideas that are starting to crystallise out of the list of attributes from my previous article in the light of the research I have done to date – ideas that I can have a go at executing out there in the real world:
Marketing, demonstrating and selling a product that I believe in:
This one is interesting because if the product is something I believe in; something that really is in line with my values, then this really could work. To give an example, say the product was something like – I don’t know – mobility aids – that sort of thing. From my list above it matches several elements. There is the contact with people; the helping people to be happy, because maybe I would be matching devices to their individual needs and giving them more freedom; the tangible thing, because I would be out there in the real world with real products; the machine thing, because some of the machines I would be very interested in – interested even in experimenting with and developing on the side – cf. my website http://exoskeletonsuit.net
. So, I need to look into this. The product could be something different, but the concept of marketing, demonstrating and selling a product that I believe in, a product that will make people happier, is a very strong match to a number of things on the list in my previous article.
Helping disadvantaged children or young adults
This I know is close to my heart. Some young people have not had the chances that I had, through no fault of their own, and are now facing difficulties in making their way in life that maybe I can play a small part in helping them to overcome. To see someone smile because I helped them; to see someone learn something I have helped them to learn – this is something very much in line with what I am living for. Not having children of my own, and having a great affinity with kids, it would be a sin not to do something along the lines of helping young people – even if it is something as trivial as making them laugh. The thing about this one is that I am determined to be self-employed, and most of the occupations that involve this type of activity seem to be public, permanent jobs – although I am talking from a standpoint of not having researched this. But if this is so, I must still strive to work with disadvantaged children or young adults in some capacity – maybe in my spare time.
I have a Fred Dibnah-like need to work, hands-on, with machines – mechanical machines. I want to have access to a workshop where I can go and potter about making machine parts; building machines – experimenting; inventing. I have such a great affinity with machines but since my childhood Lego days I have wasted this talent completely. I must use it. Again, a cursory piece of research into careers in mechanical engineering did not lead me to anything that did not look like a trapping, full-time, permanent, career-style job – and you can’t just walk in and be an engineer – and in any case most of the jobs involve you playing a tiny spoke in a massive wheel. I need to invent, to have freedom to experiment. so maybe this is also a spare-time activity at first anyway, until I start making things that people want.
What’s Stopping Me?
So now that I have identified, tentatively, some of the things that I might explore, is there anything stopping me? Well, yes! This article is reporting a snapshot of my progress as of today – it is by no means an end result. These things are very tentative and actually do need significant further exploration before I can act. For each one, I need to ask – is it viable? What opportunities are there? Is it really “me”? I also need to find out whether there other things that I could do and should be considering at this point. I need to continue to research and reflect. But I also need to retain an inner confidence that I am indeed doing the right thing in trying to make progress towards the goal of “being” in tune with who I am, and not be deflected by fear. I also need to be mindful that I must enter the execution/prototyping phase quite soon..
Something else that occurs to me, however, is the need to be practical. I cannot be like the father out of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, the eccentric inventor who never produces anything of any value and never achieves financial break-even. I need to pay the bills – I live here in the developed world in the 21st century and there are rules and conventions that even I cannot escape. So an element of practicality in inevitable. I need to implement my ideas for a better career whilst generating enough cash throughout the process. How can I do this? Well, I need to consider what I can do now in order to earn money but not detract from my goals. This is a very important point, the thing about money-earning activity not detracting from my goals. For so many years I have not even known, let alone moved towards, what should have been my true goals; instead allowing myself to be distracted for decades by “careers” that paid the bills quite nicely but never had a hope in hell of satisfying someone like me.
So now, against the need to be practical and pay the bills, I have to balance the more important need to continue relentlessly and continuously, day by day, towards my goal of finding a vocation or mix of activities that is in line with my talents; values; character. How can I do this? Well, my recent economic activities were designed to allow me time and flexibility to move to Spain and work from there. Internet marketing was seen as a key part in this strategy, allowing me to build a partially passive income and allowing me to work seamlessly from wherever I happened to be. This did not work out because basically I spent too long doing work that was not in line with my goals in return for the low income it provided. But that principle of finding work to pay the bills, that may not be in line with my primary goals but fits around them, is indeed a good one. Nowadays, I don’t need to be able to work seamlessly from Spain or anywhere else – I am not planning to go there to live any more, so that requirement is dead. This means that I can do local work if it fits around my primary goals. Lately, I have been doing a small amount of web development work in Wordpress and also search engine optimisation work for a local customer, not to mention a promotional video for the same customer. I have my limited company, and also my I.T. websites offering my services in web-related work, database development and training, so the mechanisms are in place for a little push for some more work here and there in these areas – it is the sort of work that could well fit in with my wider plans, and yet also help to pay the bills.
Unlike my previous blog post here on ijumped.net
, this one seems to have a feel of moving towards some actual, practical, executable steps that have a very good chance of moving me in the right direction along the road towards my goal of a “career” that more closely reflects who I am. There is a long way to go, but this whole process is a journey, and anything that causes movement in the right direction is progress. Like most people, I need to earn some money, but I am trying hard not to be crowded by this pressure; trying to give myself as much space as I need so that I can get this right and avoid yet more career mistakes and wasted years.
Reading this, you may guess that I am far younger than I actually am. The fact is, it has taken me a long time to reach this stage of personal development. I am well into middle age, with decades of wasted working years behind me. Compared to many people of my age, with well-defined working lives and senior posts in conventional careers, I am somewhat of a maverick, and I suppose that some would describe me as immature, or more kindly as a “late developer”. Why do I feel the need to say this? Well, I am not immune from the temptation of comparing myself with others. But I am writing this to underline the importance of putting that all aside and pursuing YOUR life goals, relentlessly, irrespective of how it “looks” to anyone else or how the little people of this world will judge you for earning less; having a smaller house, car, whatever. Let them get on with their thing and make sure it does not deflect you for a second from getting on with your thing.
NB If you read this and think “how selfish” or words to that effect, you are right in a way. This is all about me finding my vocation. BUT, there are two ways in which this is not at all selfish. Firstly, I am trying to share how I made progress with my vocation search, my way, in the face of totally useless careers advice over the years. Perhaps you will identify with this and find some of my methods useful for your own search. Secondly, if I get my vocation more in line with my wants and needs; with who I am; I will be so in-tune that I will rocket ahead, giving off happiness, enthusiasm and energy to all those around me, giving of my best to the world – living MY life. Far from being selfish, I regard this as my duty.
Well, it’s been a while. This is why:
The past three or four months have been life-changing for me. I have been discovering more about my birth family (I was adopted) and it has been a real journey. I have not only found my birth father, but I have also discovered who I am; my heritage; my roots. For example, I now know that I am part-Norwegian and part-Polish. Until three months ago, I had no idea about that.
Anyway, the above deserves more attention but is not really for this blog, which is about my search for a fulfilling vocation.
Coming out of the ups and downs of my adoption research, I have reviewed where my business plans were taking me and how this stacks up compared to “what I am living for” – my needs, wants, desires, passions. What I realised is that, although some of my business activities are starting to show promising signs, other things that I have tried in the past year or so have just not “done it” for me and I urgently need to move on and try some new things.
With a pressing need to earn more money but a determination to continue to strive for a meaningful existence and not just a life of drudgery, I revisited a list of points that I compiled about two years ago, based on advice on the excellent StevePavlina.com website, and under the heading of “What am I living for?”. Here it is (and yes folks, this really is me baring my soul to you now):
What am I living for?
to make people laugh
to see people happy
to be a father
to build my own business
to build a happy team of people
to help people enjoy their lives
to help people walk
to spend more time out in the sun
to be involved with people, in the buzz
to go fast, to fly
to be among happy people
to be loved by people around me
to play guitar
to learn a bit more Greek
to trade in a busy marketplace
to provide something valuable to people, a service, a product
to give people something they need
to enable people to give of their best
to help people overcome difficulty
to entertain people
to give energy to people
to give young people some help
to know more about and spend more time around nature, animals, plants
to make a difference in the world not just in my bank account
to show people that they can do it
to get people to be themselves, to be true to themselves
to be around happy people, to create more happiness
to connect people to this wonderful world once more
to bring the very best traits out of people, to make them better
to generate energy
to be in the light places, not the dark places
to get people’s attention
to play a full part in the real world, among the people, doing something that really adds value to people’s lives
Now, I wrote this list from the heart, nearly two years ago, and reading it today brought a tear to my eye. It all rings true, two years later. This is reassuring!
Anyway, after writing the list at that time, I went on to try to crystallise this into an occupation or a vocation or a mix of business activities. This led me to try internet marketing – actually not because I was “living for” internet marketing, but rather that it would give me enough passive income to pursue what I “am living for”. Unfortunately, the income was not enough compared to the long hours of unenjoyable work – for me, that is – I know some people would be fine with it.
So now I have stepped back from this, and decided that I need to start from the above list again and try to make a better job of crystallising it into some practical ideas for “work” that I can implement out there in the world.
Now, the last time I tried to translate this list in this way, I ended up with a list of business ideas. Re-reading them a short while ago, I was not at all happy with them, so I decided to have another go. Here is a summary of what is on my new list:
Could I demonstrate and sell a product or service with a real flair, my own way – a way that has not been done before?
Could I solve a problem for a business, so they can use my company for that.
Could I putting on a show for holidaymakers – a sort of demonstration where they learn some new skill? cf. VocationVacation.com
Could I carry out guerilla and other high-profile and innovative marketing for a company?
Could I have a walk-in shop that would make something obscure more accessible to the man in the street. Maybe a customer-friendly front for tradespeople or for techies?
Can I get into engineering and moving machines somehow?
TEFL – is this for me? Could I do a season of this now and then?
Trade – can I find a trade skill that I would be happy to become expert in, and do this for my vocation?
Young adults – can I find an opportunity where I can work with them?
Children – making them laugh is a real thrill for me – can I find an opportunity?
Now, this list means more to me than it will to you. There is real passion behind some of the words. BUT, as you can see, the massive problem with this list is that it is about three million miles away from me actually making it happen in the real world, living the life and doing my thing. I mean, can you imagine searching on a jobs website or a freelance website for “solving a problem for businesses” or “putting on a show for holidaymakers”?
So, my next hurdle is a familiar one, and one that I have fallen at several times over the years, yet it is a hurdle that I must once again approach, with confidence and commitment, so that I can one day say, “I Jumped” it!
The hurdle I am talking about is this – how to take my version of “what I am living for” and translate it into activities that I can go out and do, so that I really can get closer to living MY life as ME. It would also be good if enough of what I do generates enough money to pay the bills!
I could approach this from several angles. For example, some would say that I should not over-analyse, but get out there, try a few things and see what works. Others would say I need to identify things that are viable financially and then see if they fit my passions. There are so many ways of approaching this that to be honest, as of now, I am a little bit “stuck”.
I will let you know how I get on. Meanwhile, if anyone out there has been where I am now, and has any advice, PLEASE get in touch. I need all the help I can get!
What the heck is Newology, I hear you ask. Or maybe it’s just the voices again…
Well, Newology, since you or my inner voiced asked, is the science of the new. More to the point, it’s the name of my brand new website, launched this very day, 1 August 2010! Hip-hip horror! I have collected the services that I offer to industry under the umbrella of the new Newology brand.
The overall aim of the brand is to resolve a range of business problems, either in-house or by building a team of experts, project-managing the process so that it’s as easy and painless as possible for the customer. I also intend to focus very sharply on making sure that there is a solid return on investment and that this can be illustrated easily to potential customers.
You can take a look at the first version of the site by clicking this link: Newology
Oh, and please leave comments and suggestions below because I am not too proud to learn from you!
Yesterday I had a major “wobble”.
I’m really moving out of my “comfort zone” and I can see that this is absolutely necessary so I can get nearer to the place I want to be in life. The problem for us all, of course, is that moving out of our comfort zones is, well, uncomfortable! Personally, I realised yesterday just how far out of my comfort zone I have to go when it comes to actually generating business out in the real world.
I have, during my entire life, never really faced these fears before even though I identified them many years ago – they have remained unresolved as I managed to “get by” and make a comfortable living as an employee in a field so narrow that I could avoid confronting these problem areas. Being self-employed means we really do have to face a whole range of fears head-on – there is no “corporate shield” to hide behind now! I know that only by practising those things I am afraid of will I lose the fear and “expand my comfort zone” – this much is accepted wisdom, but of course just knowing this does not make the process any less uncomfortable!
The thing is, when I face what I’m up against, it’s REALLY daunting – it seems that what I have to do to succeed in my new self-employed life is a bit like climbing a towering, vertical cliff without a rope! Yesterday it was as if I approached that cliff, looked up at it and wondered how on earth I was ever going to climb it. I made the mistake of looking at the whole daunting task instead of just working out where my next foothold is.
I think that’s something I need to remember. Looking at the whole task – like looking up at that massive cliff – just caused me to freeze and think I would never be able to do it. Finding the next foothold and planting my foot in it – almost a piece of cake! So what I did yesterday was to really break down the big actions on my list into “footholds” – baby steps that will take me a little bit outside my comfort zone – things that I can JUST DO without thinking about the whole daunting task of “generating business”. The key to these little steps, for me, is to define them clearly and in such as way that they are small enough for “doing” without any deep strategic thinking.
When I’ve taken one of these baby steps, I’m no longer stuck – I just made a little bit of PROGRESS and it feels nice. I may have only done a little thing, but at least I did it, and it’s another little step up that cliff!
If you have your own tips that you found useful when “facing the fear” in self-employment, please leave a comment!
I’m writing this pretty much off the top of my head. I’ve literally just got out of bed and switched on the laptop.
I awoke this morning having had a bad dream. In it I dreamt that I was being bullied and ridiculed by a man who had hired me into a full-time sales job with slick words and promises of how great it would be to work for him, only to find myself on day two of my job in an office meeting, surrounded by about 30 men, many of them decades younger than I, jeering as my boss humiliated me in front of them all, saying that he always suspected I would never make the grade and my first day had proved him right. He then suddenly grabbed me and said he would show me what he did to people like me, at which point he gave me a “dead leg” and caused me to fall to the ground as everyone laughed.
The reason for me writing this is firstly to break the dream and stop it clouding my day, but also to acknowledge that really this is an embodiment of one of my irrational fears, a fear that I need to overcome. Since I did a telesales job about 20 years ago, I have a real “thing” about what I think of as “selling”. Unconsciously I think of selling in terms of cold calling against a daily regime of targets and a threat of job loss if I fail – this describes that job from 20 years ago. Really, I KNOW that sales need not be like that. I know that every businessman has to sell to succeed, but my unconscious, narrow view of selling is preventing me from getting into the process and engaging with prospects on MY terms, in MY own inimitable way.
Recognising this problem is a great help, and my dream last night was another prod that reminds me I really need to get some positive sales experience and overcome this problem that really is hindering my business. Sales for me is really about setting out my wares, showing people how they can benefit from them and bringing about a successful trade in an almost natural way, a win-win way in which both parties walk away happy. This, I have absolutely no problem with and I know I would actually come to like it, because I genuinely love “trading”. The pressured sell, when you make enough cold calls to get some of them to stick with some unfortunates whom you happen to catch at a weak moment, that completely turns me off.
So I need to work towards looking at the sales process as the thing I think of as “trading” and not the thing I think of as “selling”, because one conjures up horrors for me and the other I genuinely love.
I know I am not alone in having some sort of block about “selling”. I would be interested to hear your comments – go on – write one below while you’re here..
I was reflecting on my self employment and how it compares with having a “job” in the “real world”.
I came to the conclusion that when I had a full-time job, it was as if every day was a grey-sky day, when that uniform blanket of dark grey cloud keeps the sun out, forever. There is a dull normality about it all. There may not be any thunder-claps or heavy downpours, but there is never any bright sunshine to warm the soul either.
By contrast, for me self-employment has been like an extended period of unpredictable, unseasonal and very unsettled weather. When I look at my affiliate marketing website stats and see that my latest precious new website has captured no more than 10 visitors in a month; when I write a carefully considered comment on someone’s blog only to press submit and get the magic word “discarded” in big black letters; when I carefully apply to an affiliate scheme only to log into my Commission Junction account and see my application in the “rejected” list – these things are like bad-weather days, cold, rainy, windy, stormy days.
Conversely, when I make a big sale (as I just did today), it’s as if the sun of affiliate marketing has suddenly come out from behind those black SEO clouds and all is well in my little self-employed world for a few moments as I bask in the warmth of my little successes.
So which do I prefer? Oh come on, you know me by now. I would HATE to go back to the grey life; a life of endless sun-less days with no hope of a sunny spell. Give me the turbulent, changeable climate of self-employment any day.