Sometimes the biggest thing you can do to truly live authentically to who you are, is to say no. I must admit this is not something I have been very good at in the past - particularly when there is a great opportunity staring at me. Two weeks ago though, this is what I did. I said no to not just any opportunity, but one that would have brought $65,000 into my business. So why did I do it?
Aside from being a business coach, I also work as a freelance consultant. I mostly work with medium to large organisations helping them with customer experience and service design. I've built the business up over the last eight months and have been having great success with it. There's only one problem. In it's current form, I don't love it.
"Well that's fabulous", the voice in my head says -- "eight months to get this thing going, you're doing really well and you don't love it?!"
But I don't. I don't love it. It's not lighting me up and it has also been taking me further from my goal of having a business and career that give me freedom. And freedom is the value that is at my core.
So back to the contract. I had just worked possibly one of the toughest months of my career. I had two clients on the go at once and after a short break for Christmas, ended up doing a stint of 12 days of work in a row. And I'm not talking short days either. I was getting up at 6am to start early and tended to be working well into the evening (something I'm usually dead against). But it was not just the long hours. I felt immense pressure. So many things were on the line. People, big companies were counting on me and there was no one else. And being a tragic overachiever, I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to deliver a great result.
It was hard. It was not fun. I was stressed.
At the end of that time, I sat down and took a good hard look at my consulting business and the life it was creating for me. That was also hard, as I had to admit to myself there were so many things I hadn't considered about the reality of what it all meant for me:
1. Yes I'm an extremely independent person, but the pressure and stress of doing these big projects by myself is too much.
2. As much as I enjoy parts of the work, there are parts I loath (eg. writing reports).
3. While being a freelance consultant gives me many freedoms I didn't have when working for someone else, consulting to big corporate clients on big money projects strips freedoms in other ways. I can't be location independent and I often need to put their needs above my own.
4. When I'm focused on a big consulting project, everything else in my life becomes secondary. I lose my balance. The state of my house suffers, my physical health suffers, my mental health suffers, and my relationships suffer.
5. Working full time on these types of projects takes me away from really focusing on and building the thing that is totally lighting me up right now - my coaching business.
6. I was not living true to my own coaching philosophy of creating a business that enables me to live the life I want to live.
So when a $65,000 contract came up with one of the companies I had been working with (it was also only about three months worth of work and not even full time) - I walked away. I had to do what was right for me, be true to who I was and what I wanted for my life. Was it easy? Hell no. Do I feel I made the right decision? Absolutely.
So what now? Am I closing up the consulting business to work on my coaching? No, not at this stage. But I am going to pivot. I am taking everything I've learned and am applying that to help me make better decisions. Decisions about how I work, who I work with, the kind of work I should and shouldn't take and how I can structure that work to allow me to still keep balance in my life and focus on coaching. I am also looking at how I can change my business model so that it does more closely align to a coaching model.
The moral of the story -- sometimes it pays to say no and walk away from the things that are not serving you. And when you do walk away -- reflect back, learn and take that knowledge forward with you for the rest of your journey.
Is there anything you are doing in your business right now that deep down you know isn't right for you? Is your business really allowing you to live the life you want to live? What might you need to say no to or change to be where you truly want to be in business and life?
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