Yikes, I’m Starting a Business! Or, How to Tackle the F Word on a Daily Basis…

Starting my own business is something I never, ever thought I would do. I was firmly ensconced in my academic career and fully expected to stay there until I keeled over at the lectern. I never expected having to reinvent myself and start another career path, yet there I was… 

One of the nice things about life in academia is how much control you have over your time. Don’t get me wrong, there’s A LOT of work to do, but you get to decide, for the most part, how and where you do it. Aside from classroom time, office hours, and (seemingly endless) committee meetings, you can prepare class, grade exams and papers, conduct research, even hold office hours, from wherever you want, whether home, the local Starbucks, or even at the beach. 

While struggling with where my next career should take me, there was one thing I knew with certainty: that I couldn’t give up the kind of freedom I had as an academic. I spent nearly ten years in a cubicle farm during my days in the insurance industry between BA and PhD, and never wanted to return to a job where I had to punch a time clock, even if only figuratively, and spend my days chained to a desk. I’m a wanderer you see, I need to get up and move around and be in different environments throughout the day to be inspired and at peak productivity. Cubicle life was not for me. Academia was the perfect fit. 

It became clear to me that I pretty much had to be self-employed in order to maintain the freedom I wanted, ability to wander that I needed, and self-determination I craved. And when I put two and two together about how much experience I already had with coaching from both my insurance days (with injured workers) and during my academic life as advisor and mentor to my students, it was obvious this was the right path and that self-employment was in fact in my future. 

And yet another lesson about never saying never!

So here I am. My own boss and soaking up all I can about how to not just run a coaching business, but how to run a business period. Yikes! I’m actually mostly having fun with the process, but there are times when I feel overwhelmed and completely in the weeds. I talk to fellow coaches about their business development and some of them are absolutely terrified and frozen in place like deer in headlights, whereas others are blazing ahead fearlessly. What determines how we react? 

And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Fear. That big F word that causes so many of us to throw up our hands in frustration and give up on our goals and dreams. It can be fear of change, fear of failure, fear of looking like an idiot, or even fear of success. Thing is, fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It becomes bad when we let it drive our behavior, but in and of itself, it’s a normal experience and one from which we can learn. Sometimes we just need to let ourselves feel it and move on from there. 

So how am I managing the fear that 
accompanies building my business?

I have a few tricks I use regularly to help me work through the fear and get into a place of inspired action. Most are practical, but there’s also a pretty cool Jedi mind-trick too! And the beauty is, these tricks can be applied to all kinds of situations, not just building a business. 

Lists work wonders. They help to keep me organized and clearly show what I have to do. Once it’s all prioritized on paper, rather than floating around all disorganized in my brain, it often doesn’t appear nearly as intimidating or fear inducing as it did. 

From there, I start by tackling my list and breaking it down into turtle steps, which are tasks so small and natural they don’t even seem like work. They’re the natural steps broken down into manageable and unintimidating bits. For example, when I had to figure out how best to manage client appointments, it seemed overwhelming. But then I made my list of what I wanted to accomplish and how I wanted it to work and then broke that down into bite size pieces. Fear and overwhelm managed.
For me, fear can be triggered by a lack of knowledge. “I don’t know how to do this, I’m afraid to do it wrong, so maybe I should just quit now.” Sound familiar? But as soon as I start to educate myself about what I don’t know and what I need to know, the fear starts to melt away. I know what I’m talking about, gain confidence, and voila, things get done! 

Now for the Jedi Mind Trick. Well, it’s actually a mind trick on myself, but let’s not split hairs here. This took some practice, but once mastered, it allowed me to tap into my inner voice, which never lies, and override my critical voice, which lies a lot. Tapping into my inner voice (also known as gut or intuition), allows me to easily discern between useful fear and destructive fear. 

There are many ways to accomplish this, but meditation and/or checking in with my body and its physical sensations while focusing on the fear inducing thought are two useful tools. Either is a good way to deal with fear in the moment, and then, when there’s time, there’s the deeper thought work to help identify underlying causes and patterns of the fear. 

Fear can be harnessed to open the mind’s inspiration and increase productivity, or it can stop us dead in our tracks and paralyze us. I find each of these tools useful in helping me tackle the fear that creeps in while building my business and am confident they can help you with whatever project is striking fear in your heart today. For more info or to talk to me about this, you know what to do…

Be passionate about your path
and power up your life
with LifeWalker Coach
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