It’s 2008 and I just graduated with my Masters degree in English.
I’m 25 years old.
As was the case with the first 24 years of my life, I was following a path often traveled:
- Go to school
- Get a degree
- Find a great job
- Get promoted
- Make more money this year than I did last year
To me, having my Masters degree was my golden ticket to getting my dream job as a college professor. I was on to my 3rd bullet point and feeling pretty awesome!
…but that didn’t quite work out as I had hoped.
I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time, but 2008 would end up being the first year I truly felt like I was creating and living a life I did NOT want to live.
While I definitely woke up each morning wondering why I was doing what I was doing, I didn’t know any better than to assume that’s how everyone’s life was.
We do what we have to do to get by, pay the bills, support the family, [enter your excuse here].
This was me at the age of 25, and for the next 3 years of my life. I was living every day feeling trapped and impatiently waiting for the weekend and my next vacation.
Snap out of it!
Luckily, in 2011 I tasted freedom for the first time as an adult.
I was 28 years old, and my boss had just promised me a promotion.
But that promotion is not what gave me that taste of freedom. Within a week, that promotion was stripped from me and given to someone outside of the company.
As was the case with the first 28 years of my life, I immediately fell victim to my situation; there’s no way any of this could be my fault.
I deserved that promotion.
I’d spent years in the same position, doing the same tasks – REALLY well – taking orders from the same people… 3+ years had gone by already as I sat and waited for recognition.
I deserved that promotion.
Luckily, after my 60-second pity party, I snapped out of it.
I don’t know how or why it happened, but I’ll remember that moment for the rest of my life: it was the moment I decided to take my life into my own hands instead of giving it away to someone else.
Kind of gives new meaning to the quote:
“Life is short, fragile and does not wait for anyone. There will NEVER be a perfect time to pursue your dreams and goals.” ~ Unknown
It was the first of many mindset shifts I’m grateful to have experienced thus far.
Luckily, it was in that exact moment I decided I would become an entrepreneur.
What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?
If I’m being honest, I didn’t even really know what it meant to be an entrepreneur when I left that job back in 2011 – let alone have a plan in place for how I was going to become a successful one.
But regardless, for the first time in my adult life, I felt like I was the one in control of my future.
For the first time in my adult life I was making decisions based on what I wanted to see in my life – not what others were telling me to do, or following the path often traveled.
For me, that was the freest I had felt for as long as I could remember, and from that day forward – even though I didn’t recognize it at the time – entrepreneurship became directly associated with freedom.
Freedom comes with a price
So, now I know what it feels like to be FREE!
It’s all sounding pretty rosy so far, right?
Well, it wasn’t all rosy.
In fact, I’ve never lost so much sleep, been so scared, or felt more alone and lost than I did the day I quit my job and for the several months that followed when I was starting my own business.
All the sacrifices, struggles, roadblocks, fears and failures I faced over the 6 months after leaving my corporate job were plentiful:
- I suddenly didn’t feel productive
- I didn’t know what I needed to do in order to start a business, and therefore, sometimes I wasn’t doing much
- I didn’t know any other entrepreneurs, which can feel pretty lonely
- My family, while super supportive, didn’t understand what I was going through
- I didn’t have a paycheck or health benefits any longer = stressful
- I couldn’t figure out how to convey to others what I was trying to accomplish
- Sometimes I wondered if even I knew what I was trying to accomplish
- I couldn’t convert the few prospects I did have into clients
- I felt like I was running in circles 99% of the time
Do any of these sound familiar?
While I may not have realized it at the time, every single one of these experiences was so worth it.
What I learned during my first 6 months as entrepreneur is this:
We will all experience having to make sacrifices and encounter many struggles, roadblocks, fears and failures on our entrepreneurial journey. But we HAVE to face, embrace and breakthrough each and every one of these challenges because THAT is how we bring ourselves one step closer to creating freedom in our lives.
What creating freedom looks like
One of the greatest benefits of being an entrepreneur is that YOU get to choose, and you CAN choose to create freedom – whatever freedom is for you.
Is it going to seem really, really hard at first?
But remember our friend Stephen Kellogg from Season 4 Episode 1?
He said, “It’s better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than at the top of the one you don’t.”
So yeah, it will feel like you’re at the bottom of the ladder when you first start out, but the important thing to recognize is whether you’re taking steps towards creating freedom in your life.
If the answer is no, then it’s time to step away from the ladder and reflect.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to ensure you’re on the right path:
- What does freedom mean to me?
- What am I doing in my day-to-day that does NOT make me feel free?
- What am I doing in my day-to-day that DOES make me feel free?
- What does my perfect day look like?
- How can I best serve others, authentically?
- What are my core values, and how can I better align my daily actions with those values?
- What’s my #1 goal that will help me get one step closer to freedom? (Whatever it is, The Freedom Journal will help you in accomplishing it in 100 days!)
Zig Ziglar once said: “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
If you know what freedom means to you – how your life looks and the type of person you are when you’re experiencing true freedom – then you can create it.
How to deal with sacrifices, struggles, roadblocks, fears, and failures
You didn’t think I was going to leave you hangin’, did you?
I know I’m not alone in having experienced the laundry list of struggles I shared with you above – you know, where I talk about freedom coming with a price.
Here are some ways I deal with the sacrifices, struggles, roadblocks, fears and failures I continue to encounter every single day (tune in to the podcast episode that accompanies this post for more details on these items):
- Surround yourself with supportive, like-minded people
- Educate those you care about on your mission so they’re on board
- Plan your day, and stick to your plan
- Find your virtual mentors
- Join an online community
- Get real with what it is you’re doing in your business – and WHY you’re doing it
- Practice your elevator pitch: tell someone else what you do in 1 sentence – and make them care
“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” ~ Warren G. Tracy’s student
Up next in Season 4 on What it means to be an entrepreneur
We all know that entrepreneurship isn’t easy.
If you’re looking for something easy, just go ahead and continue doing whatever makes you feel most comfortable.
Up next, we’re going to be talking about sacrifices and hustle as an entrepreneur.
You can visit our home base right here to find all the posts and episodes in Season 4!