The path to entrepreneurial success often doesn't take us on the route we expect to go. To get there, we have to have the courage to leave behind what doesn't matter -- and even then, pursuing our passion can lead us in surprising directions.
That's certainly the case with Paula Abreu. As a top attorney at an oil and gas company in her native Brazil, Abreu was the definition of a miserable success who found no joy in her career. When the company downsized and gave Abreu a nice severance package, she finally decided to pursue her lifelong dream of being a writer. "I wanted to create a new life and show my son that he was entitled to follow his passion and be happy," says Abreu.
Her online writing about pursuing her dreams and leaving her old life behind quickly gained an audience -- many of whom emailed Abreu asking for help so they could also transition to a more rewarding career and life.
As more requests for help came in, the entrepreneurial bug struck Abreu. She studied coaching and launched an online personal development coaching business that almost immediately had a wait list. Based on her success with that venture, she launched an online marketing coaching firm to help others like her attract and serve more clients. It, too, caught on fast. "I was sharing my financial results each month of what I was doing. Entrepreneurs want to know the metrics and want to know the art of what's working and what's not working," she says.
Today, Abreu is one of the top coaches and online marketing experts in Brazil.
I recently asked Abreu to share some of her best advice for how entrepreneurs -- and potential entrepreneurs who aren't feeling fulfilled professionally -- can follow their passions and achieve tremendous success.
1. Create the mindset that achieving the impossible is your new normal. Not surprisingly, some people told Abreu she was crazy to leave the law world and pursue her passion. "I came to realize that the impossible is just something that someone tells you isn't possible and you choose to believe it," she says. "But as long as you focus on something and visualize yourself doing it, it is completely possible."
One big way that Abreu has shifted her mindset to see the impossible as normal is to include gratitudes into her daily life. This doesn't mean abstract gratitudes such as "I'm happy to be alive." Instead, it's about identifying specific moments of each day for which she is grateful -- and then writing them down in detail before she goes to bed. Says Abreu: "By thinking about the specific things that I'm grateful for, I change my whole mindset to start looking around for the nice things around me. It's shifted my thinking from one focused on scarcity and complaining and what I don't have to abundance and what I do have."
This isn't just a feel-good benefit. Being actively thankful about specific things in your life can boost your effectiveness and your efficiency at work. That's one reason why Abreu insists that her coaching clients use gratitude journals on a daily basis. "It really transforms people, even more than the actionable advice and strategies," she says.
2. Forgive and forget the past. Growing up in Brazil, Abreu followed what she calls Catholic forgiveness ("You did me wrong, but I'm such a nice person that I will forgive you.") Today, she practices a different type of forgiveness that emphasizes letting go of ego. "The bad things that you believe that people or society have done to you in the past are not real -- because they were just things that were done to your ego," she says. "When I was let go from my job at the oil and gas company that was just my job. It was not the essence of who I really am. That made it easier to not see myself as someone who had been done wrong -- nobody hurt me, they hurt my ego. And that, in turn, made it easier to move toward what I really wanted in my life."
I agree -- and would add that as entrepreneurs, we have the power and ingenuity to reinvent ourselves and bring only the parts of the past that we want to into the future with us.
3. Bring consistency to everything you do. If you do business online, you'll hear time and again that your number-one asset is your list of subscribers. Not so, says Abreu, who believes your most important asset is something much more fundamental: confidence.
The best way to build your confidence is to take consistent action -- even if you don't see the results you want as soon as you want them. Take blogging or webinars, for example. "We might say that we will make new sales videos or webinars every week, but if we don't see immediate results, we tend to give up. But the key is to keep at it -- be consistent with our strategy -- in order to build up our own confidence and trust in ourselves."
As that self-confidence and self-trust rise, so do your business results -- and a victorious circle is created that fuels additional confidence and additional positive outcomes.
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