What’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
Investing 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.
On 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.
P.S. PASS IT ON
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© Corrina Gordon-Barnes 2014
“The path to success is a messed up ball of yarn, not a straight line.” Justin shares his journey with @CorrinaGB