Entrepreneurship and Burn-out
I’d been wandering in the metaphorical desert for a while. A vague sense of dis-ease. Some melancholy. Feeling like I still have all of what I need, except that my anchor fell off and I drifted away.
See? I started out in the desert and then wound up on a boat. That is the very sense of confusion that has been with me.
We moved to France two years ago. The adaptation of living in another culture, speaking another language, and living very differently than I did in the US has been an ongoing process. The first six months felt like a constant exclamation point. After two years, I embrace this life that has slowed me down and encouraged me to be more fully present.
What has been a very different and unexpected journey has been entrepreneurship. As a psychologist and life coach I can talk to you all day about the ways people change, how trauma can carry throughout a lifetime, how our sense of who we are transforms over time, etc. Both education and experience have taught me much about what it means to be human.
Transitioning to the online world seemed like it would be easy. I’d built a successful private practice and my clients were mostly through word-of-mouth referrals. I loved my work. I just wanted to do my work in France (and be able to travel as I wanted!).
And then the fears. The tears. The self-doubt. The what-ifs. It felt like every single fiber of myself as I knew me was being challenged:
- Who I was to think I could create a business online?
- Who was I to think I would be successful when most entrepreneurs quit after the first year?
- Am I good enough? Should I get more training?
- No one will want to read/see this! No one will pay me for this!
- Why did I ever decide to do this?
If you are self-employed, if you create, if you are wholly dependent on yourself to get your projects done, it’s likely you know what I’m talking about.
When your day is completely up to you, it’s easy to distract yourself, procrastinate, lie to yourself and pretend you ARE working. I took note of successful online coaches and entrepreneurs and did what they did. I made offers that felt silly but, hey!, they did it and it seemed to work.
I created programs that didn’t excite me. But it seemed like what people wanted.
I created a money mindset mastery program that taught people how to understand and turn around how they thought about money. They made more money and loved it.
All good. It was looking like success. I loved working with clients and seeing their transformations. I was busy!
What I wasn’t paying attention to was me. I was both hustling and hiding.
My emails were testimony to my searching for the elusive answer to a problem I hadn’t defined. Dozens upon dozens of email lists that I had signed up for, each offering the answer I thought I needed. I signed up for coaching with several coaches, some better than others, but all certain they knew what I needed to do.
My partner and I took off for two weeks, two weeks in which I intended to work several days each week. Instead I found that I didn’t want to work, and in fact, it felt like I couldn’t work. I was burnt out.
I let myself sink down into quietness. Sadness accompanied me a lot even as I gulped down great breaths of the clean seaside air. I began to daydream again as I sat at the beach. I began to finally acknowledge that I’d been chasing other people’s ideas of success. I had lost my belief that I knew what to do. I’d lost my belief in myself.
Success is seldom a matter of setting a goal and achieving it. It’s ups and downs, curves, loops, a straight down fall, a meteoric rise. The one thing that accounts for success stories across the board is that person believed in herself or himself. Without believing in yourself, you are certain to fall prey to rolling in self-doubt. When that happens, we chase after solutions — without knowing the question.
My time hasn’t been wasted. I’ve learned a lot. I just know now that my very best answers are within. So, I’ve been listening to myself. Deleting myself from list after list. Removing myself from groups. Closing some of my programs and stopping offers that no longer feel like a fit.
It’s a good way to end as I begin.