So! Time to fill y'all in on what brought me to the point where I was ready to stop writing "Dream Big Cape Breton," and to start my own business.
Back in October, I signed up for a program by life coach Tiffany Han. It was called "100 Rejection Letters." To be honest, I didn't care what it was called or what it was about, I just knew that I was itching to work with Tiffany! I had been on her email newsletter list for a couple of years, and I just love her mix of sass, real-life know-how and kick-yer-butt motivation. I had done a "pop-up" session with her in the summer when she offered a 45-minute session for $145. Yes, I paid $145 to talk to someone I don't know, in California, for 45 minutes. And it was effing worth it.
So back in October when I signed up, I really didn't know what the heck I wanted out of this program, I just knew that I was at a point in my life where I felt squeezed. When I looked at my planner, it was full of "shoulds". Full of appointments, meetings, and commitments that I was totally sick of. I didn't have any goals that I was excited about or working towards. I was writing Dream Big Cape Breton but there too I felt uninspired, bored, but more than that, STUCK. Stuck in a busy rut that wasn't actually producing good, juicy, exciting work, but that I felt I couldn't just, you know, stop.
Signing up for something is relatively easy. Then comes the work. And the work is tough, but it's the only way to move forward, out of this stuck place. Luckily -- Tiffany sent me a workbook. I love me a good workbook!
The first exercise you do is look at something she calls your CrazyFaith. (She talks more about that in the book but I'm not going to share too much from the workbook, except for the exercises I've done. However, this is a podcast episode she recorded a few weeks ago all about the concept of CrazyFaith, and it's crazy good.)
This page is full now, but when I first got the book it was a big blank page and I had no idea how to fill it. I looked at it like: "What in the heck do I put in here? What are my core beliefs? What are the non-negotiables I hold as truth??!" I didn't know. I felt like I didn't have any. Maybe that was my problem! That I didn't have any core beliefs!
But I put pen to paper. I had a little bit of faith in my ability to work it out, pull it out of myself. And in bits and pieces, a little bit one day and a little bit the next week, I wrote out things that felt weird or felt like they sounded good but maybe I didn't really believe them. They are the things I DO believe but had not been living. That's why I was feeling out of sorts! When I wrote them down, I realized I'm not sure how to live them. But that it's still OK to believe them. And to write them down.
So then the next thing you do is figure out your intentions.
Again, the page was blank when I first looked at the book. What do I want to get out of the program? Where do I want to be at the end of the process? Jesus! Those are tough questions. A whole year away... life could look super different. Or it could look the exact same. That's a lot of time to work with. And for someone who wrote a blog called "Dream Big," I was remarkably scared to do just that. To dream, and do it on a large scale. To STOP my "busy" life for a little bit, sit with myself, and get clear on what I want.
And again, the only way to really do it is to pick up the pen, and start writing things down. It's scary. For sure. Because once it's out of your brain, it's out of the shadows and into the light, and you can see it, you can see your own frightened but beautiful and powerful dreams. And then you want to make them actually happen -- which is also scary! Because what if you fail... et cetera.
But once I put the pen to paper and did some writing, some thinking, and some dreaming, it began to feel easier. It began to feel FUN. It began to feel natural, and okay, and good. And in line with me and who I am, really JIVING. And then I wasn't as afraid to SAY, "yeah, this IS who I am. This IS what I want. It may not be exciting and sparkly and sexy to anyone else. But it is exciting and sparkly and sexy to ME."
"Let's go all in on Leah," Tiffany said to me at the start of the program. And at that point I was going all OUT for everyone BUT Leah. So the words sounded weird, like a foreign language. Like, "what does that even mean?"
Then you write yourself a letter as if the year has gone by.
Again, at this point I didn't know what to say. But I put pen to paper. (There's a theme here!) I tried something out. I imagined it was a year later. I had already done my Intentions page and my CrazyFaith page so I had more of an idea of what my heart was wanting, what my soul was wanting. Now I started to imagine what that would turn into over the next year. It's freeing to let yourself think about this without worrying about how you'll actually make it happen!
And then you write a letter to yourself as a fan in two years time.
By this point I was getting in the swing of imagining, dreaming, and listening to my heart. To be honest with you, I still have no idea what the "Outside" series is going to be, but it is a word that is showing up again and again in my journalling and in my thoughts, so I'm going to follow that.
So once you're clear on your CrazyFaith, your intentions and what you want, the next section of the book is about preparing to pitch. (The idea behind the program is of course that you're going to get 100 Rejection Letters, so in order to do that, you need to pitch people for stuff, so that they can say yes or no.)
And this is the point where I got stuck. I didn't have a business yet, really, (despite having had a bunch of freelance clients over the past two years) so I had no idea who my ideal client would be. I could pick a person, but I wasn't clear at all on what I wanted to be doing as a business. I was even lukewarm on wanting to do graphic design at this point! So Tiffany suggested that instead of worrying about the ideal client, that I get super crystal clear on what I wanted. On my relationship. And to clear out the things I didn't want to be doing, on my schedule.
And faced with that, I got super scared. It's one thing to look at your own heart and dream big, but to look at your main relationship and ask the tough questions about it, knowing that if the answers come back that it's not working, that it might mean ending it, or changing things, well, that's not easy. And Adam and I have our differences, for sure, and I've felt insecure about that over the years, fearing that those differences mean we're not a good match.
But, after a coaching call with Tiffany, I realized that we are a good match. Our behaviours might be different sometimes -- he loves to stay home and relax, I love to get out and about, just as one example -- but deep down our values are the same. And when I started communicating some of this stuff to him, although he wasn't, like, all up in that coaching stuff, he was surprisingly receptive. My fear had been so huge that he would totally reject all of this stuff, (and consequently reject me) and he didn't.
It's funny how when I put down on my intentions page to "get clear with Adam about marriage and kids", I had thought the biggest obstacle would be communicating with him! It turns out, it was my own fear.
What I've learned over the last five months is that the thing about your intuition is that you really do know what you need to do. But so often that inner voice speaks in a whisper and its hard to hear. We've trained ourselves not to hear it. We've trained ourselves to be "good girls" so that people will like us. So often listening to our intuition means going against this and doing what WE want, whether or not someone else likes it.
And once I started writing things down, and kept writing things down, and started listening to what the heck that voice said, and KEPT listening to what the heck that voice said, I found I was going all in on me. I was giving myself what I needed. I was having thoughts like "Time doesn't stretch to accommodate what you cram into it -- schedule smart." And writing them down. Then a week later when I'd read it again I'd go, "Oh YEAH! That is still true!" and follow that advice.
So that's long enough for today! Next week, part 2: values! Which are way cooler than they sound!
I sincerely hope you have a productive, inspiring and beautiful week.