What Does it Really Mean to #Hustle?

I chose the title for this post ironically.

I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t irk me to observe the new wave of entrepreneurs constantly talking about how cool it is to be an entrepreneur and perpetuating a lifestyle that looks easy and chic. I can’t get behind the endless #hustle posts or talk of the grind it takes to create something new without really sharing what it takes to start something new. I think it misleads people to think that they can drop everything to take on a new project and it will be successful if they just ‘hustle’ enough. But what does that even mean?

I’m into honesty these days, more than I’ve ever been, so let me give you some insight into what my year looked like and how it actually feels to work for yourself. And up front, let me say that since starting The Courage Collective, I’ve been doing a dance with my money mindset. Always teetering on the line of being a little too afraid to invest fully and then dipping my toes in risk to see where it can take me. I’m not someone who has had to invest a ton of money upfront in a brick and mortar store or inventory of any kind — so for that reason, my journey isn’t as drastic as some. For me, this whole ‘working for myself’ thing has mostly tested my belief in myself and my abilities. It’s definitely taken my insecurities for a ride and has put me in the position time and time again, of really having to choose to move forward or give up.

This year has felt like three major chapters.

More than ever, I’ve come to accept and welcome the trial and error process when it comes to my business. It’s liberating on one hand because I know that everything is a test and I don’t have to get attached. And then on the other, it can be painful and frustrating, because I can put a lot of time and love into something, and it doesn’t work.

I spent the first few months of this year creating online courses. I took on every step, from researching the platform I would use, to writing the course content, to filming and editing all media connected to the courses. As I tend to do, I let this idea take on a life of its own, and before I knew it, there was one monster course accompanied by three smaller mini-courses. Why just do one when you can quadruple the work!?

I learned a lot from this process and am so happy to have an online offering that will stay relevant and isn’t going anywhere. That being said, promoting and selling the courses has not been easy. I know that I should have done more market research for this offering and been more specific about who they are for. I spent a few months writing, creating, filming, recording, and editing these courses and have a handful of students, but am still trying to find a way to get these into the hands of the people who I really think will benefit from them. For me, this process was anti-climactic and I feel like I’m sitting on a huge source of goodness straight from the guts of The Courage Collective, but I’m stunted by the selling process. Definitely more work to do there.

On top of this, I knew that I wanted to finesse my website and clean up my brand’s look in tandem with launching the courses. In doing this, I sought someone to design a new logo. I invested in this process and had a hard time with the results. The company I hired missed the mark and I chose to back out of working with them and in doing that, lost my first payment to them without gaining any kind of logo that I could use. So this was a hit financially and in retrospect, I think I lacked patience in the process. My inclination to act independently has helped me so much, but it can sometimes hinder me when I get fed up and just choose to do it myself.

That’s exactly what I did. I spent most of my time over the next month researching how to create a brand colour palette and select fonts that work together. I chose something, stuck to it, and redesigned my own website and logo — which is just a wordmark at this point.

The next chapter of this year was a kind of fizzling out over the summer. I was extremely busy with coaching clients in the new year and then as their coaching packages ended and the summer sun came into view, I became less and less busy. The lesson I learned from that season is that when you’re gifted with a time for rest, TAKE IT. I remember feeling irritated with the lack of movement and business over the summer, but I think I was getting that break for a reason. When you’re self-reliant and your bank account directly suffers from your own output, it can feel suffocating when you feel like you’re doing a lot with no reward.

More talk on money — as a solopreneur, I am pretty conservative with spending and have really clear places where I choose to spend. I’ve always been a saver, which has definitely helped me to stay well-afloat while working part-time as I build The Courage Collective. If you’re looking on from the outside, you may think I’m making more than I am based on the travel I’ve been so fortunate to do and the kind of lifestyle I’ve maintained. But the truth is, I just choose wisely where to spend. I’ve been so grateful for platforms like Wealthsimple and Freshbooks to help me save, invest, and keep my financial health in check. In a practical sense, these have been lifesavers to me as I navigate taxes and a new financial profile while working for myself.

The third chapter — the one I’m currently in — has been a real whirlwind. In all the best ways, I might add. I took some major courageous leaps within my part-time job and proposed to the owner of the yoga studio that we find a way for me to exercise my greatest skills (ie. coaching) within the community there. Together, we’ve revitalized the Yoga Teacher Training program and I have had the absolute honour of working one-on-one with 11 students — all of whom I can now call my coaching clients. This has really changed the way my work life looks and I’m excitedly navigating how my two worlds are getting more and more intertwined. I have felt wholly challenged and stretched beyond limits over the past few months. For this reason, I’ve had to take breaks, revisit a stricter self-care practice, and have grown exponentially in my ability to communicate and have tough conversations.

And now within this third chapter, I’ve launched a podcast. I realize the trend within myself to take on more when I’m doing more. I think it’s just the wheels of motivation that move within me and create more ideas when I’m at my busiest. Dear Courage, the podcast, is possibly the best way I can think to cap this year. I’m so proud of it and so grateful for the time people are taking to tune in. I finally have a platform that feels most like me. Who knows where it will go, but for now, I’m content with giving it my best shot and not attaching a ton of expectation. I think when my work comes from a place of enjoyment and less a place of desperation, it develops in a more authentic and meaningful way.

So this blog post has become more of a journal entry than anything, but I’m happy to share it. I want to better convey the inner mind and experience of pushing something forward on one’s own. Perseverance is the greatest thing to have supported me. That, coupled with words from my closest loved ones, I’ve been able to stick to this thing.

So don’t believe the hype. The real #hustle is a lot messier than pretty Instagram posts and dreamy coffeeshop meetings. It involves some low moments that may or may not result in tears, and it takes building some thick skin to enjoy the trying more than the payoff.