Hey ladies. If you’re anything like me, then you have struggled with how others perceive you, and what you’re doing in your business, at some point or another. I like to think that I don’t care what people think of me, that what they think of me is none of my business. But when it comes to my actual business, I can’t help but care about what image I am putting out there, and how ‘with it’ I appear to be. I mean who doesn’t want to appear to have their shit together?! Especially in front of your biggest critics.
I know I do.
And I have definitely struggled with this over the last couple of years.
I have really noticed this when I wanted to change directions in my business. The thought of me being seen as a failure is what really bothered me. Let me tell you a little more about my business journey, and then I’m sure this will all make sense. 🙂 (If you want to skip that part, scroll down for the main points!)
So when I started Interior Love Affair, I was in love with Interior Design. I had just finished my interior design course, and I wanted to become a full-fledged designer right away. The problem was, I was on maternity leave with my second child, and I was also an elementary school teacher! (I still am.)
So I started off my business days, juggling a lot of balls in the air, (which I’ve come to learn is pretty much the norm when one starts a new business!).
I began with Home Staging. It just sort of fell in my lap, and it was really in demand at the time I was starting out. I really gave it my all, (probably more than my all), and I started getting busy with staging projects. After a few home staging jobs, I began to realize how hard and how time-consuming , not to mention pressure-filled the nature of this job truly was. For example, a realtor would call me up on a Monday, and want the full vacant home staged by Thursday. 4 days to furnish and style an entire home, all by myself! Somehow I always got it done, and did a good job at it, but I definitely paid a high price. I’ve talked about burnout in other blog posts, so I wont go too much into it here, (if you’re struggling with burn out from your biz, read this).
What kept me going is that I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher forever. So I kept trying to make my business work. I decided to give up my permanent teaching position (which is basically unheard of in my profession!), so I could be part-time, and have more time to focus on my business.
After doing this, I really had to face the fact that every time I completed a Home Staging job, it took me almost a week to recover. I would be so drained mentally, and physically, that I couldn’t function well at home or at my other work. I made the difficult decision to discontinue home staging, and pursue other endeavours. At the time, I was getting a lot of work, and I had to actually turn down staging jobs! To the people in my life, it was crazy to turn down the business I had wanted so badly to build. But I knew in my gut, that it was the right move. I just couldn’t do that kind of work anymore. I had no foresight for what the future would hold (I mean who does anyway?!). So this was a really scary move for me at the time. I was feeling ashamed, embarrassed and afraid. Afraid I would appear as a failure, and a quitter, or a fraud, that never had what it took from the get go. It was almost as though I knew my biggest critics were waiting for me to give up. And now I was proving them right. I was not a savvy businesswoman afterall; I was merely a hobbyist, masquerading as an entrepeneur.
This is basically the feeling I felt every time I realized I needed to make a switch. I should have mentioned, that once prior to home staging, I had started a baby and family photography business. And just as home staging turned out to be not right for me, so had photography. I didn’t like the actual job. I loved photography as a hobby, but my passion fizzled once real clients were involved.
After home staging I worked on residential interior design for about 2 years. I loved it. The only reason I stepped away from it, is that I felt like I needed to have a better work/life balance. I needed to be more present and available for my children. I felt like every spare minute I had, my attention was devoted to my client projects. I felt like I was burning the candle at both ends, and no one was benefiting from this. Not my clients, not myself, nor my family! So I knew I had to make another change.
This time around, I had more confidence and self-awareness to know that its ok to change things up,and make a choice that is right for me and my lifestyle. I slowly stopped accepting new clients, and sometimes I would slip up and agree to meet with a potential client, but sooner or later I would realize I couldn’t take on the project, so I would ultimately turn it down. After a while I realized I was actually happier without a client project to work on, and amazingly enough, I actually was starting to live a fuller life!
Now I am focusing on blogging. It was a big step and a big risk for me to announce “Hey world, now I am blogging about home office styling and self-care for female entrepreneurs. I felt like people might roll their eyes and say “Ok, here she goes again! What is it this time?” And to be honest, that whole perception is what held me back, stalled me from making this switch for so long. I could have been at this months ago, if I hadn’t been so afraid of what people might think of me. The good news is, I did overcome that fear, and I did make the change I knew I so badly needed to make. It took a lot of baby steps, and a few giant leaps! It was terrifying at times, but also liberating and gratifying. I know this is where I am supposed to be right now, and this is what I am supposed to be doing :).
Everything I have tried to do in my business life, has benefited me in the long run. I’ve learned new skills (Now I am good at photography, working quickly to put together a room design, working under pressure, planning ahead,etc)
I’ve learned what I like and what I don’t like. I like working on creative projects; I don’t like the pressure of pleasing a client. I like decorating, I don’t like new home building as much. I like writing, graphic design, and photography (when it’s for me). I don’t like photography when it’s for others. I like being able to leave my work in the office, and not have to respond to clients at all hours.
My confidence has grown by learning I can get a project done, by seeing the beautiful work I did complete, and by seeing how hard I can work under pressure. I feel strong. I feel sure that I can handle things that come my way, especially in business.
All of my past work has brought me to this point; knowing that I love blogging. This is right for me. I like the work, I like the planning, I like the writing and editing, and creating graphics and shooting photos for the blog. I love working with pretty objects, but not having anyone to answer to. I wouldn’t have known this unless I tried all of the other things. Unless I had tried and given my all to each of the other endeavours I have been on. I wasn’t failing when I was giving it up. I was saying goodbye. So I could say hello to the right thing.
“I wasn’t failing when I was giving it up. I was saying goodbye. So I could say hello to the right thing.”
Doesn’t this sound a lot like dating?
We don’t marry someone , or promise to marry someone just from hearing about how great they are. We need to experience what a relationship with them is like first. We need to actually be all in, before we can realize if this person and you have something that you could see making you happy for a long time.
Why is choosing a business focus any different? I was so hard on myself for changing focus. For quitting. I used to feel ashamed that I couldn’t see any endeavour through. But now I see. I had to “date” all of these different options. I had to live with them to see if I wanted to marry them. And I never did! I had to break up with each one eventually, and you know what friend, there was nothing wrong with that. I couldn’t see a future; plain and simple!
Right now, I am pretty serious with blogging. I know I like it, and I know it feels good, and makes my life better. I like the work I do, and I am working on making it my full-time gig eventually. That takes time. And I am ok with that. I am not leaving my teaching gig until I have an income to replace it with. I’m hoping blogging will get me there eventually. So far it seems promising! At that point, when I can leave my other job, then I will be ready to marry it. 🙂
Have you struggled with changing direction in your business? Let me know in the comment section below!