How my story helped create purpose

Sometimes we can use memories from our past and our stories to influence, and encourage confidence and abundance in our businesses. I want to share with you my story on how I was able to do this in my life and business. 

This past week I was trying to make sure that I regularly get out for walks and I noticed a really interesting thing about myself. On one particular walk I had a lot of good ideas come up. I was really excited that those ideas came up for me. But as I was thinking about this, I remembered that not too long ago I would have been really upset if I had these good ideas while I wasn’t working.

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Fear: The good ideas will come and then leave

I noticed that it was something that I felt so much scarcity around that I would then avoid things that were really good for me. 

I used to avoid exercising because if I was exercising and I would get my best ideas, then what am I supposed to do? I would have to run home and then lose my momentum, my idea would be gone! Do you hear how much scarcity is in that way of thinking? 

What I eventually started to do was to check myself, and ask myself, “Where can I tap into abundance in this to allow me to understand that the good ideas continue to come wherever I am?” The ideas don’t just come in and leave me.

Now, I have no fear of abandonment for these new ideas. I think the fear that the good things will leave us is so common in the creative entrepreneurial space. We have so many fears - that all the good clients will leave us, that the good ideas will leave us, or that all the most original content will go to someone else. I see this happen over and over again with clients, or colleagues, I didn’t know that it was in myself until I realized that I am avoiding the things that are truly helpful for me. I am fearful, all because of my worries and this scarcity mindset that I was slipping into. 

Life Hack: Voice Memo App

Once I realized this was popping up inside of myself, I started a new life hack that I want to share with you. I re-downloaded the voice memo app which I had deleted previously. I downloaded the app and it helps me to capture ideas in the process to take away that fear of losing those ideas. Doing this actually has really helped me to generate more ideas. I started to notice that once I got one idea out, a new idea would come up. Recording myself on the voice memo app gave me the peace of mind that those ideas were safely tucked away for me to access later. 

Life Hack: Develop Systems

Another thing that I have been learning the past couple of years is the value of systems, and having systems in my business. What I have seen in my own business is that as soon as I nail down those systems I am able to scale because I can pass off those projects because there is a system to follow. I am not just running off of a checklist inside of my brain. Now it is organized out so I can pass the project off to someone else which frees me up to refocus on my particular zone of genius. 

First you need to lay your foundation - your foundation is always your purpose and identity. Then as you build your purpose and identity programs you want to systematize everything. Doing all of this can take a little bit of time, and that is ok! 

Check in with yourself and trust your intuition. Ask yourself,
“Am I in a place in my business where doing this makes sense?”
“Do I need a little time to try things, and nail down what it is that want?”

One of the biggest issues that I often encounter in coaching creatives is that they choose a business and they start making money right away, but they have never tapped into their purpose and identity which are foundational elements to have in your business and life’s purpose so that you can ultimately create lasting change.

So, if you are new in your business, you might be thinking how do I go about making systems? Do not worry, all of that will come, be patient. Make sure that you know what your doing first because the “how” will not make sense until you have a really clear understanding of what you are doing. 

Often in the first two years or so in your business, you are working out a lot of kinks, and wiggles and your trying a lot of new things. You know what? We often get impatient about that because we are trying to find the thing that sticks. Just keep an open, curious mind. Keep trying things and remember that even though something is not working right now, you are just one failure closer to the thing that is going to work! 

Remember that the starting point is to tap into your purpose and identity. If you haven’t tapped into those two things, then creating change is never a long term thing. It is just like losing 10lbs and then gaining 20lbs. Make sure that you are always taking some time to check in with yourself. 

Are you in the testing phase? 

Do you know your purpose and identity?

Do you have programs in place that you are solid on, or do you wonder if there are other things you should be offering? 

There is a place for testing things; there is a place for determining what it is that you want to do and for changing and expanding. 

When you are tapped into your purpose and your identity, there is so much room for you to grow and expand, there is no ceiling. There is no limit to what you can do. There are no rules and there is so much freedom and joy in that mindset. 

Life Hack: Exercise to generate new ideas

When I was on that walk I realized that I used to resent these kinds of ideas, but getting that exercise helps to connect your conscious and subconscious which then allows you to stimulate creative thinking. Having that voice memo app ready to go when you are exercising really helps to capture those moments and ideas that come up for you as you allow your creative thinking to explode. 

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Fear: If this all falls apart I will have no purpose

My journey to find my identity and purpose began through my husband. Many of you may not know that my husband and I also run a wedding photography business. I joined my artistic husband in this business because a purely functional role showed itself as needed. My husband, a creative mind really struggled with organization in the backend of running an actual business. What we discovered together, was that my background of classroom management as a fifth grade teacher really came in handy with this. I was better at organizing large groups for family photos, or managing expectations and talking with the mother of the bride. It became a role that I naturally fell into, but it was never truly a piece of my purpose.

I loved helping Stephen build our business and being a part of it helped me to believe even harder in him and what he could accomplish. Because of that, he was able to really believe in himself for a long time, once he started to really get his feet under him we really started to gel together. I found a lot of creative interest in myself through photography but I still knew that in the business I was feeling a lot of stress and scarcity, I had this underlying fear of not knowing who I really was and why I was doing this. 

My fear was that if it all went away, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. In the moment I was able to label myself, a photographer and an entrepreneur. But if it went away, I didn’t know if I would be an entrepreneur again, so what would I do? But here is something that I had to realize. Labeling myself doesn’t mean anything if I had not tapped into my purpose and my identity. I had not done that, as someone in her mid twenties, I had no idea who I was. I didn’t understand what I was put on this earth to do and I had reached a point where my subconscious was no longer comfortable with not knowing where I stood. 

I was experiencing cognitive dissonance, as I was labeling myself. As I told myself, I am a photographer, I am an entrepreneur, my subconscious was saying, “Eh, I don’t think you really know.” This is why I constantly say to tap into your intuition because it know. If you don’t know, your intuition is going to create this cognitive dissonance so that you cannot avoid pumping your brakes in your brain and saying, STOP.

I had an identity crisis, and it was very painful to go through. It was a season of my life where I ultimately lost a lot. The economy was not good at the time and so I had a tough time keeping a teaching job. I felt like I would get one year, and then the next year, my role would be cut. Because of all this, I almost lost our business as well. As we got through the struggle with our business and finally got it to a point where it was approaching six figures in our gross income, we felt okay to replace my salary with taking over the business full time. 

Because of this change, I was thinking I know enough, I might as well just do it and I was actually avoiding a lot of things in my heart. I just kept thinking to myself, well this is my full time job now, I have to do it. Stephen who was at that time a social media manager in marketing and had extensive experience in sales and marketing began to pass things off to me. He started handing me the blog submissions, the networking, and all kinds of things that pertained to the photography business. But what he didn’t know, and what I didn’t realize was that I was avoiding anything that really scared me.

The beginning of that year started out slow for us, but it was okay. But, by the fall we had decided to take a month long trip to Europe to celebrate the success of the year. We had done so well all the way that year and wanted to celebrate. But as we sat there in Europe I said to Stephen, “Hey, I am a little worried that we haven’t really booked anyone since April.” And Stephen looked at me and he’s like, “How could you not book anyone?” Since April we had our biggest year, we were at like full capacity.

We made well over six figures in our business. We had a large growing network and we had a lot of really good things going. But what Stephen didn’t know, and what I knew deep in my gut was that I was hardcore denying once again. The cognitive dissonance was once again creating a rift for me that was not going to allow itself to be ignored much longer. 

What I found was that in that season, I was running on the fumes of Stephens successes. All the work that we had booked for that year was because Stephen had directed the sales calls, all of our submissions were done because Stephen had helped me write the copy. We got so much awareness because Stephen had helped me run Facebook ads and design marketing plans. Through that year we had both been thinking, “If we didn’t have him doing this, I couldn’t do it at all.” 

By December, I found myself dealing with loss, after loss. In December, we lost our second baby, after that I thought, “Man, life sucks right now.” Our business was in the pits, we had a terrible wedding where the vendors were really unkind to us, and while in the process of photographing, I began miss-carrying the baby. 

In that season, I held in a lot of tears, and pain, due to all of the losses we were experiencing, the baby, the business etc. When I was feeling in denial about our business, I had a backup plan which I figured would give me at least a years worth of income. But that backup plan fell apart and through it I lost a dear friend. Our relationship went sour and there was just so much in my life that just turned upside down on its head. 

Everything that I experienced during that time was because I had not first tapped into my purpose, and my identity. My world literally stopped for me and I had to figure it out. But you do not have to go through that pain like I did. 

Life Hack: Set aside time to check in with yourself

Often we think that we need to go, and do and get. But that is just not true. Here is what happens when you are building and grinding out this business from a place of dissonance, and from your core identity which is in you. It is part of you, you did not choose it, it was put inside of you. When you don’t get in touch with that there is only so much that you can do before it all grinds to a halt. 

One thing that I had to do was give myself permission to identify what I was here to do, and then pivot. What that looked like for me was pivoting in my business. I started to realizing that there is not as much joy for me in the photography business as there is when I am working one on one with someone. 

So when I took on my first client I saw this huge amount of joy. It was such a gift to work with that first client, and there was something about our time together that helped me to see, and to put together this timeline of my experiences and that is when I had a major breakthrough for myself. 

I realized that I felt this joy when I was able to coach someone and believe in them and give them hope and help them identify their purpose. I loved helping them to align all of the pieces in their life to circulate around their purpose. I could see looking back at my jobs for the last 2 years that this was a recurring theme for me.  I realized that I needed to give myself permission to really go for it and see where this could take me. 

Now this could have been an easy thing to do. We had a business that was very successful, I could have kept building on that business. (That business is still successful but the business that we take on there is more passive business that we are getting from all the work that I put in to Pinterest, SEO, networking, and linking that I did several years ago.) 

But what I found was that giving myself permission to make the pivot and really tap into a business lights me up. My purpose is really scary for me, and for a long time I thought that The Successful Creative (were I was educating creatives, and empowering them to go from surviving to thriving) was barely surviving itself. But that was a few years ago, and I was able to go from surviving to really thriving. 

Fear: What if others don’t see me as successful?

But, I felt like my coaching business only mattered if our photography business was first successful. I thought this because this is what I saw other people doing. I thought okay, first I need to build out this photography business to be successful. So we kept our niche really tight and we only took a limited number of weddings a year, and only within a limited timeframe. We were able to repeatedly make six figures a year, so then I thought okay, now it is time to build this out and really diversify our company. I thought now we needed to become really big and make multiple six figures a year, at least half a million in this business. I thought this way because I thought that is what I was supposed to do.

 Let me share something with you. There is no supposed to - you don’t have to do anything, there are no rules. Just because someone does it one way does not mean that you need to. So take this as receiving permission to do what it is that you like. Do you feel it? Do you know what is there? What is that thing you are thinking about? Give yourself permission to do it. 

Now I want to give you permission to let it look how it needs to look. Don’t define yourself by someone else’s successes. Here is why this came up for me - I recently heard a quote from Albert Einstein that resonated with me. 

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” 

So, our intuition is a gift, our rational mind is a faithful servant. But we’ve created a culture that honors the servant and forgets the gift. Our intuition is our greatest gift, our logical mind, our rational mind, our thinking mind. Intuition is what talks us off of our metaphorical cliffs, helps us decide not to jump and keeps us safe. Our rational minds will always be there as our faithful servants, but the gift, the one to unwrap, savor, and cultivate that is your intuition. 

There are too many of us that do things based on other people’s definitions of success, and as a result we are not living to our full potential. 

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Truth: Avoiding having ideas at inconvenient times hurts me more than it helps me.

Don’t forget about that voice memo app, or if that doesn’t work for you, get creative on ways to record your ideas when you have them so that you don’t have such a scarcity mindset around when you have your ideas.

Truth: If I am checking in with myself, and being honest with myself I can always find my prupose.

We don’t need to get bogged down with the fear that our purpose will go away. Our purpose can chang ena dgrow with us, and we need to allow that to happen.

Truth: Keeping myself stuck in the worry of what others think keeps me away from my true potential

We need to define success for ourselves, and not base it off of what others think or do. What does success look like for you in your business? Start there.

I want to encourage you with this today, and encourage you to give yourself permission to tap into your intuition and to let your intuition and let your business really kind of fill into the space of your purpose. Remember that you purpose can change with you as you grow and change as a person. I am a different person now than I was in my twenties. I’ve evolved, I’ve changed, I’ve grown as a human, as a woman, and my life experiences have helped to shape my journey. You will grow and change, and your purpose may change a bit as time goes on, but remember that those experiences just aid you in your journey. Checking in with yourself and evaluating where your purpose is and where your focus should be helps to keep that cognitive dissonance from welling up inside of you. 

I am sending so much love your way today and sincerely hope that this glimpse into my story encourages you on your journey.