There I was sitting at a Starbucks with my dad on the verge of tears. Not sure if my career choice was the right path, he asked me, “Are you sure you want to work for yourself?”
Fearful of failing, I hesitantly replied, “Yes.”
As weight slowly lifted from my shoulders, my dad gave me some great advice to ease my nerves and help me get my mindset in the right direction, “Good. You’re going to have some good years and some rough years. Just keep that in mind and be ready to work hard and you’ll succeed. It’s like a sport, you win some and lose some.”
And that resonated with me.
I’ve been running my content business for two years. And boy has it been quite the ride. Still learning something new every day, the one thing I can say that has helped me remain confident in my career path is running.
Wait, what? While running has helped me rid stress and think of new, creative ways to write, strategize and deliver content, I look at running the same way to running a business. And I invite new entrepreneurs, freelancers and just about anyone going through their career crisis to consider their path like running.
First and foremost, you’ve got to set goals. Now, these goals don’t need to be extravagant, but like running, you need to set a target. Goals give you something to work toward and a sense of accomplishment. Start with a mini goal. Whether it’s to run for 20 minutes every day or tackle a marathon, you get your running goal and set it. Same with starting a business. Write out your overall goal, and then break it down into mini goals (or tasks). Sounds simple, and it is. Just make sure to stick to your goals and give yourself a timeframe to reach each mini-goal.
As a content agency, there are many projects to tackle. When training for a marathon you have mapped out short runs, cross training, intervals, long runs and recovery days. Much like a running plan, the calendar is a good guidance of what I need to tackle each day.
So, the first day of each month, I map out a strategy on my calendar on when to work on what projects, deadline dates and how much time I anticipate is needed. Every Monday, I go through the week and make tweaks here and there—life happens, and new obstacles come up, so the calendar is a guide to keep me on track.
Whether you’re running to lose weight or finish 26.2 miles, a support group can help you get through the days you don’t feel like running. Same with working for yourself. There are days I feel like a failure and when I’m not sure if I made the right decision. I talk to my support group, and they’re able to help break free from those thoughts and give me the motivation and creativity that’s needed to get through anything. A network of support is huge and highly recommended for anyone at any stage of their career path.
Running by yourself has its pros and cons. Having a running buddy can help you pick up your pace, push yourself an extra mile, or get you to run on days you’re not feeling up to it. When working for yourself and starting your business, you’re alone most of the time. Having a “running buddy” to call, message or meet up with from time to time can help you bounce ideas from, or push you past your road blockers. Fortunately, I’m able to brainstorm via g-chat with a friend almost daily and my fiancé.
Listen to Your Body
Injuries happen. Many injuries can be prevented if you listen to your body. When something starts to hurt, it’s best to investigate where the pain is coming from and take a day or two off from running to stop the pain from worsening. The key: listening.
Listen to your support around you to prevent mishaps from happening. Bounce ideas off someone, but welcome their feedback—and listen. This is a hard one, and I’m learning how to listen daily. You need to put your thoughts aside and listen to others because if you don’t, you may injure your business, which is the opposite of what you want to do.
Fall, Pick Yourself Back Up
Tripped over a shoelace, missed a curb or landed on your foot wrong? You still keep running, right? My fiancé, who’s led many businesses to acquisitions, told me that the best way to learn is to fail and pick yourself up from that failure. As a perfectionist, I hate failing and messing up. In business, you’ll fail. I’ve taken rejection to heart, which I’ve learned you must not do. So I treat mistakes as a running fall. If I didn’t set a PR at a race, I look at where I need to improve and train for the next race. The Same mindset; you’ve got to treat your work the same, whether you’re a business owner or employee.
I must admit that I’m fortunate. I’m fortunate for opportunities that have come my way, and that I took the chance to see these possibilities through. While not every run is the same, at the end of the day, I’m glad I went for a run. It’s the same with business. Each client and project differ, but at the end of the day, I still love what I do.
Like running, you just got to lace up and hit the ground running.
Originally posted on Linkedin Pulse.