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25 Jun 14

Taking the leap: Justin’s story

Justin_Bonnet_taking_the_leapWhat’s it actually like once you’ve battled those initial doubts and taken the leap into working for yourself? What do successfully self-employed people wish they’d known from the start?

Today, I’m delighted to introduce you to Justin Bonnet, a practitioner of transformational energy healing. Here’s Justin’s story of how he decided to plant his stake in the ground and declare that his passion was more than just a hobby – it was a fledgling business, and one he was committed to making succeed.

I needed to buy 6 new massage tables, a flip chart (and sharpies!) and a projector, for a workshop. When I totted up how long it would take for the equipment to pay for itself (by not needing to hire it for future workshops), I found myself at a fork in the road, with a choice to make about how seriously I wanted to take my business.

Deciding to invest felt like taking away the option that it wouldn’t succeed. I don’t mean that in an arrogant, self-important way, I mean it like how Corrina explains pricing. “My cat is tortoiseshell”. “Today is a Thursday”. “I charge £60 for an hour long session”. “I have a growing business”.

Action leads to clarity

Justin_Bonnet_taking_the_leapInvesting in the tools of my trade was what turned me from feeling like an amateur into a professional. When I wasn’t sure which of two or more ways to go, that action gave me clarity: we’re going this way!

And my feeling of happiness and joy and excitement about that realisation confirmed that it was the right choice.

If I’d felt gloomy and regretful after (with buyer’s remorse!), I’d simply have Ebay’d the equipment after that first workshop. But I still have it, and it’s still getting use. And yes, it’s paid for itself, several times over by now!

If I could go back in time and offer my past self some words of advice, I’d tell myself to be patient, to respect my limits, to not expect unrealistic goals and targets. I used to be very unkind towards myself with my expectations.

In reality, I have limited energy, and limited concentration, and also limited ability to plough onwards.

The limits of time, pace, energy and money are healthy limits that relate directly to personal needs. We don’t pull a business out of our hat, fully formed; they’re creative projects that usually take months (sometimes years!) to be born.

When things go wrong

The path to success is a messed up ball of yarn, not a straight line.

Justin_Bonnet_taking_the_leapOn two separate occasions, I’ve considered packing it in when I’ve had a client with an undiagnosed mental illness, and had to process the aftermath of a ruined professional relationship.

Professistential (that’s my new word, professional-existential) questions weighed heavily each time, questions like “Can I help anyone?” “How do I know I’m not misguided?” “Maybe I should just do this for free as a hobby, and get a normal day job to pay my bills?”.

My heart sank when contemplating those answers.

What stopped me was recognising the self pity, the masochism, the perverse pleasure from martyrdom. I realised that the thoughts of seriously giving up weren’t coming from a healthy place. So I resolved to simply treat those thoughts, and my feelings, with patience, gentleness, and compassion.

I love it about myself, that I take it seriously when I’m checking my professional competence. I’m so happy that I take it to heart when things go wrong. I’d much rather work through some sticky feelings than be someone who arrogantly and defensively rebuffs all negative outcomes and criticisms.
 Realising that I am the kind of therapist I’d like to be gave me the motivation to remain one, in a positive feedback loop.

What the world needs more of

When committing to self-employment, so many people launch themselves into the world of self-employment not as themselves (meaning, with all their unique experience, character, traits, skills) but as a practitioner of a certain type.

Especially when it comes to holistic and spiritual practitioners, in big cities, there’s already plenty of generic practitioners of reiki, life coaching, EFT, etc. 
Frankly, it feels like the market is oversaturated.

What we cannot ever get enough of is fabulous individuals, with ways of being with and helping people that are uniquely theirs, and maybe with a speciality that only they have, because of their life experiences.

As told to our community angel, Madeleine Forbes.

Over To You

Have you had that moment yet, when you chose to define your business as “real”? Have you been able to embrace your own moments of doubt? And what’s your mindset when things go wrong? Leave a comment below, let us know what resonates for you in Justin’s story.


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© Corrina Gordon-Barnes 2014

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  1. Maria Lua

    I loved this post and have tweeted it! I’ve invested for so many years in my business as a musician, and many times have wondered if it is just an expensive hobby. And recording my album was the most expensive thing I’ve ever done (even though I got a great deal!). BUT, I am now a professional recording artist because of it, so there is no going back. That was my turning point in the road.

    And actually I have just reached another one. I am really running low on money after quitting my day job a year ago to really pursue my dream job as a professional musician. Luckily I do have a growing income from the music, but will it be enough to see me through??? I’ve never reached this point with such little savings before. But it has injected a survival drive into my work and I’m really producing to earn a living for the first time…

    Will I make it through to next month? I WILL it so!

    Thanks for an insightful post! Very timely 🙂

    PS if you have ever wanted to create your own custom-made SOUL song click on this link:


    1. Justin Bonnet

      Hey Maria, I love The Human Race – I’m guessing the fields of lavender were in France? My inner aromatherapist is salivating at that, hehe.

      It sounds like we’re in the same boat in many ways :-). I also find some urgency helps – in spite of grounding being my main ‘gig’, I’m still very much learning how to live practically in the world and how I can take care of my physical/practical/wordly needs, so a bit of urgency helps me anchor my focus and attention.

      I guess that’s part of the being our own boss that’s harder to put into practice? 🙂

      Anyway, thank-you for sharing your own (smileably similar) experiences 😀

    2. Corrina

      Maria – I can feel the pride in your voice: “I am a professional recording artist” – yee ha! 🙂

  2. Kelly Brooks Yoga

    I have just become self employed and your post really resonates with me., Its easy to forget that even when you love what you do you still need downtime and only have so much time and energy in the day. It was lovely to read your experience and glad you are succeeding in a job you love.

    1. Justin Bonnet

      Hi Kelly, thank you so much! The other thing that took me a long time to recognise is that my energy (and attention) comes in waves – there ARE times when I’m full of energy, have great stamina, can spend several hours in a row working, for a few days at a time..
      AND, there are times when I can only do a very small amount of work at a time, and I need to have many breaks, rest and recharge frequently.
      So my learning has been not to assume that I’m always at peak.

      Thank you for commenting! 🙂

      1. Karen J

        That’s being very difficult for me to conscientiously and consistently recognize – and accept about myself: the “waves” of energy and attention!
        Thanks for the special call-out, there!

        Bright Blessings ~

        1. Justin Bonnet

          You’re very welcome Karen!

          Interestingly, I also experience the opposite – I can get stuck in ‘assuming the worst’ about myself – and turn down opportunities to have fun, be with friends, even professional opportunities, because I’m caught in a pessimistic idea about how little energy I have.

          Either way, overly optimistic, overly pessimistic, still gets it wrong. What *does* work is checking in with myself, in the moment, to see how I feel. And also checking in with the answers that come – is the “Yes, I have time/energy for this” genuine, or does it come from a wish to be superman, and so is forced, or postured, or comes from an ideal image of how I think I should be?
          And on the other hand, if the answer is “No, I don’t have time/energy for this” is that genuine? Or does it come from the collapsed, kinda miserly part of me that isn’t willing to part with ANY energy, EVER, and so always says no, regardless of how I am in the moment?

          … No idea if that will resonate with you! But it’s what I go through and do, hehe.

  3. Stephanie

    What really resonated for me was the idea that making a decision eliminates other options. I decided last year to be an employee part-time instead of full-time and to spend the extra time working on my business. Taking that step made me feel like this business is a real thing. Like there’s no going back now. Which is super exciting! It’s also incredibly reassuring to hear that it’s okay to not be at peak all the time. I’m trying to be gentle with myself on days that I feel sluggish and unproductive, but it’s hard!

    1. Justin Bonnet

      Hi Stephanie, ah we had a similar experience there!
      I’m reminded of another of Corrina’s sayings – “Shoot first, then aim”. Just making *a* decision empowered me enormously, even if I still had a lot of work to do on, well, everything.

      Do you have any tips for how to be gentle to yourself? That’s something I’m still working on! It’s difficult to find the balance between encouraging myself and pushing myself too hard, and on the other hand supporting myself without indulging my ‘This is too much, I give up for now’ pattern.

      Although, I’m definitely getting better at being ok when I DO go into that pattern, and being ok with not being ok helps be me ok again. Life is funny. 🙂

      1. Karen J

        Don’t know if this comes under the heading of “being gentle with yourself”, Justin, but I find it MUCH easier to change a habit (physical, emotional, language, whatever) if I make it about “moving toward a *positive, better state”, instead of away from some negative place.
        Aim to “increase the 80%”, instead of “reduce the 20%”, and like that.

        1. Justin Bonnet

          Oh absolutely!! Yes that’s a good one. For me it feels like there’s first a conscious recognition of what’s going on – that’s about the so called negative (eg, I notice that I’m being hard on myself) and then there’s a decision about how to move forward, which is very definitely, ideally for a positive (eg, I choose to now be gentle with myself).

          I hadn’t thought of it that way before, thank you Karen! 😀

  4. Lee-Anne B

    This resonates with me because I have felt like giving up many times. I have an office job that is killing me slowly and my crystal healing just feels like a hobby. I have one client only this Sunday and it breaks my heart that the session is going to cost me money at the end of the day because of the room rental. I am fearful of giving up my office job because it sometimes seems that this is a sign that I shouldnt.(no clients). Im going to arrive at my session on Sunday and give it my all anyway because the client deserves nothing less. I tip my hat to you Justin, youre brave and strong.

    1. Corrina

      Ah, Lee-Anne – I feel your love for your client: your priority to show up fully and be present for them.

      And what you see in Justin – the bravery and strength – is what is in you.

    2. Justin Bonnet

      Hi Lee-Anne, ahh I really feel you there! It can feel *really* bad when there are few (or no) clients.. And losing money, I know that too – I lost my confidence and felt gutted, for several months, after two events that I ran lost money. (moral of those stories: hire cheap venues, and make sure that if you’re promoting someone else’s work, that you’re compensated accordingly!)

      I don’t know if this will help you, but I like to think of the times with no or few clients as the times for MY healing, growth and development. Although I do usually do *something* every day, I don’t go all out very often.. And a hole in the schedule can be a reminder for me to walk my talk, and take some of my own juicey medicine 😀

      And I totally agree with Corrina, you have strength and bravery too (that’s how you’re able to recognise it in others. If you didn’t have those qualities, they wouldn’t even be on your radar.)


  5. Miriam Linderman

    Here’s the part that resonated: If I could go back in time and offer my past self some words of advice, I’d tell myself to be patient, to respect my limits, to not expect unrealistic goals and targets. I used to be very unkind towards myself with my expectations.

    It is a stand for being human, for having limits of energy all while building a business and becoming real.

    I finally said yes to my tribe and put a stake down during the first week of Blog for Clients. It’s now the 6th and final week, and I am not the person who first showed up. And being myself fully, that’s what was needed. I am so grateful.

    1. Corrina

      Miriam – And you have totally showed up! You being yourself fully is what ALL of us need. Thank you.

    2. Justin Bonnet

      Hi Miriam,

      Yes there’s so much coaching advice out there which says, in essence, “Go out there and do you work”, without any acknowledgement that for me (and maybe, for many others?) I’m moving in and out of exhaustion, or collapse, or overwhelm.

      If I had employees I could delegate to, sure! But when it’s my OWN business, involving mainly (or only) me, the business is so tied up with my own energy and life. And I am most definitely not an unlimited power source, in spite of all the “You are a being of limitless potential” type messages I’ve read! 🙂
      Well, maybe in my heart and essence I’m without limit. But my body and mind, they get tired 😉

      Awesome that you signed up for the course!! I bet Corrina has helped you unlock your lovely you-ness, which then means you can help other people with their them-ness, hehe.

      1. Miriam Linderman

        Thanks Justin. Let’s be a stand for what’s real, organic, and in the world of patience and honouring process.

  6. Susanne

    What resonates with me is that it is OK to have doubts. It is important to have a closer look at them, and then start and do your business. – For me, this insight is key.

    Furthermore I like you writing “The path to success is a messed up ball of yarn, not a straight line.” – How true and human. We do not have to be perfect from the very beginning. 🙂

    1. Justin Bonnet

      Hi Susanne, I’m with you there! I believe there is a healthy middle ground between ploughing forward without any introspection, or curiosity, or reflection etc, and on the other hand, being paralysed with doubt. I like to take inspiration from nature – yes, there is a time for going out in the world, planting seeds, and for them to grow and come to fruit, and there’s also a time for harvesting, and then taking in and then resting with what has grown. Different phases (perhaps not always lasting as long as the physical seasons 😉 )

      It’s funny, in real life, although I am quite messy, I hate messy balls of wires and things like that! 😀

  7. Lisa McLoughlin

    Oh yes….a ball of knotty wool and not a straight line…. The moment for me, was when I realised I would need to up-skill my tech skills exponentially to move from hobby to business. This meant committing to certain software programmes etc…..and I remember one day in January, 2014, I woke up and felt like a proper business…But, it is a hard slog, amongst the passion and awesomeness and I, too, am working through sticky moments. As a newbie in business can feel like a being a child again…learning and growing and making many mistakes but celebrating the fabulous bits. and allowing your true authenticity to shine through and be real… Thank you for a wonderful blogpost…..x

    1. Justin Bonnet

      It’s a pleasure Lisa, and thank you for sharing your journey with this! I see myself in your words too, as I’ve also had to do a LOT of self-teaching, and learning/re-learning, with various softwares (mostly website related, also e-commerce, odd bits of audio/video editing, etc..)

      It’s a lovely thought to think of us as children, within business – it gives us an opportunity to “grow up” all over again, but this time we also have everything that being an adult gives us..!

      Best of both worlds? .. Maybe also the worst of both worlds? hehe 😀 x

  8. Karen J

    “We don’t pull a business out of our hat, fully formed…”
    I soooo need to remember to remember this, Justin!
    Thank you for this excellent slice of “how to Really do it”!

    Bright Blessings to you!

    1. Justin Bonnet

      Oh it’s an absolute pleasure! I just read your Life Advice from Mike Rowe post, and the quote “The grass is always greener where you water it!” feels very relevant to me for exactly what we’re talking about 🙂

  9. India Ram

    I used to describe myself as a ‘professor of doubt’ dear Justin hahahaha! Indeed, this was so prevalent that it took a very long time to unpick which is a constant task and was a rather large barrier prior to going down the self employment road which I am just about to enter full-time. Every time it presents itself I take a reflective peek at the older version of me and see how far I have actually travelled which does provide some comfort. When the doubt seems terifically strong, to dissolve the feelings of frustration that couple the doubt, I take my naked feet to the park and release it there. This is where I feel completely at home and at one with myself, with the professional version of me and all the other versions. The doubt dissolves and I feel refreshed both inside and out. I do not pretend that I am not challenged by not having many clients, this is improving now but not in the way I anticipated as I initially spent a lot of money on literature and tirelessly promoting my services but through word of mouth and personal recomendations. I recognise that I may always have doubts about whether I should return to my old conventional work to pay the bills and what not but the knowing that I love what I do and seeing how it benefits clients overrides that thought every time.

    I totally share your sentiment on what is needed now re: uniqueness and bringing through one’s life experiences. I am about to shed that mask so just a little longer and it will be so.

    I completely believe and absolutely trust that we will ALL turn this corner very soon. From my heart to yours, in service and love. India xXx

  10. Justin Bonnet

    Hey India 🙂 fancy seeing you here!! hehe. Thank you for sharing where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going 😀

    I also see myself in what you’re talking about – I guess for all of us, becoming self employed (ESPECIALLY as healers/therapists of some kind) is a journey in every sense of the word – it really is so much more than just a business project! We have to grow with it, or it doesn’t take root.

    With a hug, Justin xx

    1. India Ram

      Hahahaha!! Indeed Justin, I do pop up occasionally hahaha!!

      I totally agree agree with you, our work is sooo much more than the old paradigm of acting from a theoretical perspective, we live through it.

      Hope to see you soon.

  11. Jacqueline Munro

    A friend sent me this as I am at a crossroads and am wondering what direction to take.
    I too am a therapist and own a small therapy centre and know I am good at what I do and offer a great service but I am not making money.
    This article has made me realise I have been marketing the business and hiding me as a person and therapist behind that. I realise now that indeed there are load of therapists out there but I am an amazing individual who is fully committed and connected to what I offer as a professional and as a person.
    Thank you for the clarity – I’m off to make changes and a step in the right direction
    Jacq x


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