One day you wake up and wonder what the hell you’re doing with your life. You left this “ok” job behind, you left these “ok” people and concepts behind as well, but your life now isn’t working as it should be. And you feel pissed because it’s too hard — and no, you did not sign up for this at all. Where are the “exit” signs? You definitely want to jump off of this crazy train called entrepreneurship.
Ok, I know. This should be easier. After all, you’re following your dreams! But sometimes it just does not fulfill your soul, as it should. But why not?
I have good and bad news for you.
Bad first? Ok: no matter what you’re doing right now, you will probably not get to your final destination. Simple as that. So if you’re trying to find signs of how to finally solve all the messy things in your life, you’ll spend your life being miserable about that. Although, it doesn’t mean that you can’t try. You can and you should. But the final destination… hmm… no, it will not happen. Sorry.
The good news is: you don’t have to be upset about it at all because there is a whole new world to discover when you finally let this “final destination” thing go and start to enjoy the trip itself. As I said, you can, you must search for answers, passions, skills, but with arms wide open to the possibilities that are in front of you now. And I bet you just can’t see them because you’re really, really into this feeling that your idea is great and people just don’t understand exactly what you’re saying — because if they did, you would be a huge entrepreneur by now.
So let’s be honest here: you don’t have to wait for anyone else to see these kind of things. Allow yourself to do it. Maybe it’s going to hurt a little bit, but that’s ok. If the truth hurts, it is because you are living wrongly. And when you notice this, when it finally hurts, it is because you really want to change.
Do you want to change? Yes? Not yet? Let me tell you five reasons why you should (and you can thank me later):
There are risks yet to take
It’s possible that right now you’re feeling that you have reached your limit. But this is not true. When you try to go on an entrepreneurial road, many things happen all the time, and you will never even get to them (or the “fun part”, as some says) if you’re not allowing yourself to take risks.
Some people have to eat, to rent a place, to pay some bills, right? So it’s ok for you to take some time to have some “security” money to accomplish these things. It’s not wrong to take a percentage of your precious time to do something in order to pay the bills and feed yourself. But if you make your whole path just about the money, you will fail miserably.
I’m not saying that you must let the craziness enter your life right now. This is all up to you. But a little “Barbell Strategy” can work for a while, until you finally embrace the risks that are yet to be taken. If you decided to be an entrepreneur, you are already a troublemaker. You are already aware of the risks. If you keep on avoiding them, you’ll probably feel sad a few years from now.
… And probably there are failures yet to come
Ok, “take risks” is a mantra of entrepreneurship. Everyone says that and it seems glamorous and brave, but in real life… yeah, you will probably take some risks, fail miserably, and blame me afterwards. “Who is this bitch who told me to take all these risks if the end is shitty?”
Again, I’m sorry. But don’t fool yourself: this is not my fault.
The thing is, taking big risks is like taking small chances: you will only know if this was meant for you if you try and embrace the results. And you will regret a lot the risks you didn’t take when you see someone that made it through those same risks and survived — just like you should, if you tried.
Do you remember the last time that you asked someone out? Or asked your boss for a raise? I did it a few times in the last couple years and guess what? Sometimes the answer for these questions was not what I was expecting. I received a lot of “no’s” in life — and survived — to feel confortable to, now, say you should try. For anything you want. Probably you will fail here and there, but these messy endings will help you to finally do things right.
Remember that mantra “you only learn from your mistakes”? This one is right. You should rely on this.
It is really good to really know yourself
When it comes to starting a company and thinking that you finally figured it all out, we tend to forget who we are a little bit. This happens because you have this idea, a few clients buy it, then they start to ask questions, pay money, and your life gets in this spiral of a new comfort zone. Or not: maybe this does not happen at all and you just feel like a tremendous fraud.
In both cases, your essence can be accidently left behind, and this is one of those things that just can’t happen. I mean: you are the strongest pillar of your own institution / organization / company / enterprise. You can’t let your real self disappear between what you’re doing now and what you’re willing to do in the near future, because if you do it, you’re not you anymore. And you are not yourself, nothing else matters.
If you only stay on this path, without going to other kinds of roads, you will never know where the magic really happens because, surprise, surprise, the magic is you. If you don’t know yourself that much, that deep, that honest, you have a really big chance to feel misunderstood by others, because they just can’t feel you more than you feel yourself. (I’m quite sure that this would be a thing that Darwin would write in his evolutional theory if he knew that adaptation today depends, basically, of facing your fears and monsters, yet you survive. The strongest is the one who can accept him/herself as the motor of change despite him/herself.)
Maybe this passion of yours is not passion (or yours) at all
When you start to dig into yourself, you can find amazing things. Talking with some entrepreneurs I figured out that most of them discover that their passion is not as real as they thought. They started the whole thing knowing for sure that spark of fire that moved them beyond — and when they got beyond, they realized there was so much more than being passionate about that tiny spark.
You have to discover the bonfire.
One particle example: I have a degree in journalism. For many years I thought that I was passionate about telling the news. Then I sold the really good stuff to the press as a PR representative of a really meaningful organization in Brazil. But after a while, this was not fulfilling me. And I felt guilty about it: I was supposed to be this amazing journalist. I studied hard, I worked hard for this position, I got to the end of the road.
Today I feel that I’m passionate about telling people’s stories. In this moment I’m really glad to be here in a blog post talking to you about some stories I had or heard. But it can change tomorrow. This might just be the sparkle of my passion, not necessarily the bonfire. So I’m trying to go beyond and promise to let you know if this passion changes.
The thing here is: don’t ever feel like you’re “supposed” to do something, and don’t force yourself to be passionate about something just because you think it’s the right thing to do. Let yourself be free to discover new passions and add to the older ones, or just let the older ones slip away. Passions and ideas are not like children, you definitely can let them go without be sad about it.
There’s life after 5PM
When you go beyond the entrepreneurial life you discover that yes, you can go to the gym, or see the sunset in a beautiful place, or see that silly TV show you enjoy (and probably ends with a quote that says “XoXo, Gossip Girl”). There’s no such thing as guilty pleasures. There are just pleasures.
And you have to enjoy every second of them.
As an entrepreneur, you will work hard. You must. You will dream big. You must. But you will go out to dance sometimes. You must. You must get a hangover. Make a road trip with no destination whatsoever. Eat something you really like to eat for a big amount of time. Meet people. Find love. Find life. Because you can, you are allowed to have joy after a day of hard work or soft procrastination, because this infinite game we call life means more than anything else.
And do you know how you’re going to discover this? If you go beyond that entrepreneurial path you’re walking right now, if you take risks, if you allow yourself to find new passions, even if you feel like failing all the time.
The road is waiting for you.
All I can do is wish you (not) safe travels. And enjoy the view.
Apply to ATHENA Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Women
and subscribe to our Curated Newsletter here!
Laís Menini has worked in all types of media communication since she was 18 and is executive director of Tea With Me. She was a participant in Exosphere’s boot camps and is now part of the Athena team. Know more about her in her site The Lion Queen.
Originally published at blog.exosphe.re on April 15, 2015.