Start With What You Don't Want
Several years ago, I moved to London for an extended stay.
An exciting opportunity and everything confused me.
The little details of everyday life overwhelmed me. Tasks that were normally easy felt difficult.
How to get groceries—without a car.
How to find American peanut butter.
How to navigate the Tube with three young children.
How to get a cell phone.
I had so much to learn.
Eventually, I got the hang of the Tube. I learned to love HobNobs. And I learned I hated Marmite, no matter how many times I tried it.
I remade my daily life. It was a grand adventure.
When I came back home, I had a fresh perspective on all the routines in my life that had been so familiar to me.
You see, everything that had been “normal” in my and my family’s lives—scouting, soccer, camps, volunteering, social obligations—had all been put on hold when we moved abroad.
As we started to reintegrate into “normal” life back in the US I realized that instead of rushing to fill up all my time, I could CHOOSE only to add back in what felt good to me.
I started with how I didn’t want to feel. For me, it is often easier to start with what I know I don’t want.
I knew that I didn’t want to fill up every free moment because I didn’t want to feel pulled in a million directions. I didn’t want to feel like there wasn’t room to breathe.
For us, that meant we needed to commit to fewer activities, as a family, and as individuals. In the end, the kids each had one activity and I had one volunteer activity. Considerably less than the cultural norm.
I think that we are living through a similar experience now, and soon we will have a similar opportunity.
We have experienced the overwhelm of re-learning how to do simple things, like getting groceries.
It doesn’t feel like such a grand adventure, does it? We didn’t choose to change social mores overnight, and we can’t get on a plane and fly back to a place where everything feels normal.
But, as the weeks pass, we are turning to the prospect of going back to “normal” as stores re-open. Eventually, schools and workplaces will, too.
As we slowly return to life outside of our homes, we don’t have to put our lives and our businesses back together the same way that they were before.
People are calling this time “the new normal” for a reason.
We aren’t going back. We are moving forward into something new that will start to feel less foreign and more routine. (Like it did for my family as we got used to London.)
We can choose what we want our piece of it to include and to exclude.
In the case of your business, you do NOT have to do things “the way they’ve always been done”. No matter what your best friend, your sister, or your business bestie says.
Take a beat, let that sink in.
YOU have permission to choose what your new “normal” will look like. No matter what others say. Trust yourself.
Begin by making a list of what you know you don’t want to do, what you don’t want to feel.
Look both at your personal and business life. As solopreneurs, our business and personal worlds often blend together. Be sure to include both on your list.
Here are a few things you might consider leaving behind:
- Marketing templates.
- Doubting your own inner wisdom.
Then ask what you need to make sure that you don’t go back to a place or a state of being that you don’t want to be in.
Write down what you need. Make a list and keep it somewhere you can find it.
When you make big life changes that go against cultural norms it can be scary to assert your right to make this change.
That it is a change that is right for YOU.
It requires first that you trust yourself. And then it requires you to remember that you trust yourself in the face of inevitable adversity from society.
It can feel easy when you are with your coach or your guide to decide to make big changes.
But when you are out in the “real world,” it’s challenging to make them stick.
It’s why all of my one-on-one clients have my Voxer support so that they can reach out when the outside voices start to get louder than their own, together we find the thread back to their voice, their knowing what is right for them and for their business.
I encourage you to find a trusted friend or colleague and ask them if they want to exchange ideas with you. Sit down with a cup of tea over Zoom and have a conversation about what you don’t want and what you do want.
Ask each other questions.
Make a list of what you are saying yes to and what you are saying no to.
And then make a pact together to help keep each other accountable for the changes you want to make.
Create an even better normal.
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