I can’t believe we are already five months into 2019. I came into 2019 with some really big ideas but execution got off to a slow start. I kept getting stuck at how. How is this going to happen? How am I going to do this by myself? Why don’t I have any concrete answers? When you have big ideas the ‘what’ comes pretty easily but the ‘how’ is trickier. My inner critic was testing my spiritual gangster as usual. I was stuck there for a few months. Procrastination was impacting my life. Inaction was masking the fear I was feeling.
I’ve uprooted my life on a whelm and made all these promises (to myself) that I was no longer sure I could fulfill. Classic feelings of imposter syndrome crept into my life, threatening my independence. I knew how to create this new life in my mind but getting it to play out in my reality is a whole other ball game. We are five months in and I still haven’t figured out the how. What I did figure out is that I just needed to relax. When in doubt relax. We always have two choices. We can get to the finish line calm and relaxed or with our wig flipped inside out and one shoe on.
Here are some suggestions for getting to the finish line with peace in one piece.
Enjoy the journey and get out of your head. I have a high achiever mentality, I can’t help it. I always feel like I could be doing more. Although I never feel like I am in competition with others, I am always on a journey to reach a little higher or explore a different avenue. I was talking to my friend’s mom and she lovingly said but you have accomplished so much. She went to list off my accomplishments. I was stuck because she was right and at that moment I was being ungrateful. So I checked myself and thanked her for that reflection.
Give yourself some grace. If you are doing your best, you will accomplish the goals you set for yourself. So be kind to yourself in the meantime. It’s easy to give others grace but we need to turn that magic wand on ourselves sometimes.
Look at your history. Once we accomplish something we forget and move on to the next thing. That’s just the nature of being human. We were born to desire, desire is what leads to experience and expression. However, if you move on to the next thing too quickly you can’t pull from that experience. I love writing out my lessons learned because it gives me a moment to see how I have applied what life is teaching me. My overriding themes seem to be connected to forgiveness, releasing fear, trusting the unknown, opening my heart more and teaching others. If you think about it, all those themes are related and I talk about these areas a lot. The truth is when you do not learn from your experiences, you will repeat it. Think about the one person who has the same complaint. Unless they are working on resolving that complaint, it will be the same complaint twenty years from now. So take a moment and look at your history and decide if your life is on repeat or if it’s evolving.
I am three weeks into my staycation. A staycation is a vacation where you get to unplug from your traditional day to day task while staying in the comfort of your own home. I don’t know if you can really call it a staycation because I recently relocated from Atlanta to Washington DC. I am not sure if this is a permanent move but what I am sure that this part of my journey is tied to this location. I lived DC over ten years ago. The crazy thing is that both the city and I have changed drastically since then. Ten years ago the city was more “urban” but gentrification has altered the landscape. This is not a bad thing, it actually makes the figuring it out part more interesting.
The vibe of the city is also completely different from Atlanta. Atlanta’s entrepreneurship experience for me was more focused on empowerment, starting a business and marketing yourself. DC’s entrepreneur vibe is totally different. The entrepreneurial vibe is more real estate investing, government and politically focused. Rightfully so because the government runs this town and “fighting the power’ (i.e. establishment) is very ingrained into it. I am reminded of this everytime I’m trolling for things to do. I’m not gone lie, I am itching to march on Washington for some cause. I just haven’t figured out which cause.
As I’ve been getting acquainted with the landscape and entrepreneurial vibe, it’s taking more time to get used to the question ‘so what do you do.’ It’s not so much the question but more of the tone that’s not sitting well with my spirit these days. As if my response will determine my worthiness. I know my projections and insecurities are mixed into my perception. I’m still kind of taken aback and annoyed by the tone. It’s so direct and finite. I want to shrug and scream ‘I don’t know what I do. I’m figuring it out and taking it day by day.’ Although it’s a partially true statement, I am not sure if it’s appropriate for someone my age. The expectation is that I should know but the truth is I’ve chosen freedom and happiness over accuracy. I am a CPA that blogs about my life and spiritual experiences. I am also a yoga teacher that writes and aspires to speak publicly about doing what the hell you want. I am also an entrepreneur that host events on quitting your job to follow your dreams. I am also a landlord that travels. I am also on my ‘I support everybody black’ shit but I’m kind to people of all ethnicities. I am also an aspiring podcaster that loves all these things equally…. so that’s the true response. I’m sure that’s confusing to some, that as a human being I have a multitude of interest that all tie into my purpose and life choices. I am taking it day by day and following what makes me happy but that tone temporarily has me stuck in my head about how to respond authentically.
I also noticed while southern entrepreneurs believe in massaging you into doing business, DC entrepreneurs have a rude undertone. They aren’t paying attention to social cues. They want an immediate return on investment. They meet you today and want you to buy yesterday. I’m like wait a minute so you not gone even pull out the vasoline before you make me bend over? I’m not a southern belle. I’m actually pretty ratchet but even I feel some kind of way about how I’ve been approached. I’m probably being dramatic but I think you get where I’m going with that. I am also certain that I just haven’t met my tribe of entrepreneurs. They exist its just a matter of allowing things to happen. I understand this is a new ball game, with key players and a system in place. All in all this relocation and these new challenges are a source of adventure for me. My adrenaline is pumping! I love to use the puzzle analogy because it’s an accurate depiction of how I see life. I am working on a new puzzle, it looks nothing like the old one. I’ll start with the strategies I know and update them as needed. I am up for the challenge.
I am five months into an accounting contract. I originally only planned to be there three months. The company extended the contract due to internal turnover. So, at this point, they still have a need for me. I’ve been asked more than once to come on as a full-time employee and every time I decline the offer. Although I think it’s a great company, I cannot with a clear conscious commit to fulltime employment. Here is why
I am not ready to go back into employee mode at this juncture. I’ve spent sixteen years as an employee, so I know intimately what that life is like. That is not to diminish the experiences, knowledge or accomplishments I had as an employee. Everything I learned in that format I use daily as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is a new challenge and I am still learning how to navigate its terrain. I have acquired so many new skills and even tapped into parts of myself that I didn’t know existed.
I feel more freedom to create the type of work that is both empowering for myself and others. While accounting has provided a lot from a financial standpoint, it has rarely been the career that has made me jump out of bed with excitement. It is practical, logical and analytical. As an accountant you rarely get to live outside of the lines of that structure, however, as a consultant, you have more freedom to suggest and create. There are day to day task that must take place but there is also a space for new ideas and new ways of doing things. Consultants tend fit in that space and to focus on more project-based work. Consultants attempt to find solutions to problems that either the daily task master don’t have time to resolve or are too close to the process to be innovative.
I have a far greater plan than being a team of one. Let’s be honest after closing the books for that many years I can literally do it in my sleep at this point. What I am hoping to start creating from my sleep is a team of efficient and effective accountants who want to continue that legacy or create their own. I feel like my role has transitioned from bean counter to bean connector, meaning offering the opportunities for others to find and fulfill their own purpose. I feel like I would be more useful at cultivating these opportunities as an entrepreneur as opposed to a being a full-time employee. My goal is to have connections within both corporate and small business spheres to then refer these trainees and mentees too. It has been my experience with millennials that they are looking for something more than what currently exists. I also believe it is a part of my purpose to empower others so they can carry the torch.
Flexibility is one of the other perks I enjoy as a consultant. While most people are pigeonholed into 2-4 weeks of vacation, as a consultant I can take off as much time as I want. I have always lived far away from family and friends. As I’ve gotten older I have become more attuned to getting reconnected with loved ones. This tugging is far more important than a paycheck. So a vacation schedule in alignment with my current life is more like 2-3 months. This concept is a hard sell to a boss who has not even made this an option for themselves. In most cases, the sentiment is that you must have a higher pay grade to demand that kind of work-life-balance. However, as a consultant, you learn how to creatively balance the concept of ‘if you don’t work, you don’t eat’. For me, that just involves demanding a higher pay rate and creating more cash reserves on the front end.
I truly enjoy this adventure into the unknown. The truth is I don’t know what is going to happen next. I always feel like I am being lead spiritually so there is no need to know all the steps just yet. The mystery is somewhat of a balancing act. There are times when nervousness and uncertainty bring to the surface all my worse fears. There are other times when I hear or feel that people really see and connect with my vision. Those times confirm that I am headed in the right direction. Even in my failures, I am taking them as just an extra step needed to get the bigger picture. Almost like a rinse and repeat step just to make sure you got it.
Finally, I am attempting to get two businesses off the ground at the same time. My first business is going into its third year but still requires my attention. It still requires branding, marketing, sponsorships and new connections. It’s in a good space but I am now struggling with figuring out how to transition from startup phase to expansion phase. The accounting business is a lot more profitable, so I must also focus on making connections to keep it that way. Also, to somewhat merge both lives I’ve started to think about how to create a financial wellness platform to form a creative new perspective at looking at your health and your finances. The two are tied and who better to speak on that relationship? I believe this will open the door to more speaking opportunities and of course more travel.
Needless to say, there is a lot going on at once in my world. Although there are moments when I am exhausted, I rarely feel spiritually drained and unhappy about what I am doing. Every day I wake up I feel more optimistic and closer to my long-term goals. I think I will always teeter between corporate and entrepreneurship, the two are so ingrained in my experience. The two questions I ask when I wake up each day are where do you want me to be and how can I empower others using my natural gifts and talents? I accept where that will lead me.
This weekend I had the opportunity to attend and speak at Creative Women’s Co first all-inclusive retreat in Chicago. This retreat was designed to allow women to step away from their busy schedule, recharge their creativity and enjoy quality conversations with like-minded creative women. This was a three-day action-packed event in the heart of downtown Chicago. The itinerary covered everything from self-care, stress management to gratitude and finding balance. It was held in an intimate space that supported creating new connections and potential future business collaborations amongst the group. Each woman brought their unique viewpoint and experience to the table. There was so much synchronicity in the room, that at times most women nodded in agreement as each experience resonating across the room.
This was my first time since college sharing a room with strangers. I am very picky about who I allow in my personal space especially since we can be subtly impacted by the words and actions of others. Although I wasn’t initially a fan of the idea, I decided to step out and go with the flow. I was pleasantly surprised to find how much I had in common with a young lady from France and another who’d recently moved back to Chicago from Portland Oregon. Although all three of us culturally came from different backgrounds, our stories crossed all boundaries that appeared to keep us separate. Spiritual connection supersedes race, culture and religious background. It moves beyond the limits most of us choose to live by. We sat up late at night after the activities for the day ended giggling and discussing entrepreneurship, careers, family, relationships, culture, and spirituality. Each one of us discussed openly this feeling of knowingness that most people couldn’t relate to. A knowingness that can be discovered by anyone willing to allow it in. My connection with these women was the highlight of my weekend.
Beyond that, I got a chance to share my expertise and experience with yoga and meditation. I discussed five ways to deal with the stress of working full-time and being an entrepreneur. I shared my real life experiences and then lead the audience through a series of yoga and meditation techniques they could use in their everyday lives. I discussed the importance of creating space in our schedule to prevent burnout and manage stress. The key to stress management is being aware of your stress triggers, staying attuned to your body language and using a variety of techniques to help you manage through the process.
I learned from this weekend that retreats are powerful ways to create change in your life. Retreats allow you to have a unique experience that only you and other participants can relate to. Retreats also foster curating lifelong bonds with people from a diverse set of backgrounds. Retreats only require that you appear with an open mind.