Eight months ago, I lost my job and my salary. But thanks to years of living below my means, I was able to turn this disaster into an opportunity. The last few months have been challenging as I struggled with the many demands of trying to build a new business, and a new life. But in the last few days, the synapses have been firing and my creativity has been reawakened. Progress is being made, the picture is becoming clearer, and I’m starting to have FUN again! And as I move forward on this crazy adventure, the lessons continue to build.
Lesson #1 – Down-time is a necessity
I have a tendency to work long hours from my dining room table/office, often without any significant breaks. But a few weeks ago, I had to put down my beloved cat, Smoke. That cat had brought so much joy into my life and left me with great sadness as I felt her absence. Now if there’s one thing I have learned as I age, it is to embrace my feelings. All of them. Joy, sadness, worry, elation, anger, excitement. I don’t resist any more. So I allowed myself the time to mourn. My productivity ground to a halt for several days, and I was perfectly okay with that.
Lesson #2 – Good friends make the world go around
The other big event of this last month was experiencing the luck of seeing another birthday roll around. And because I no longer have the career that obligated me to attend an annual conference, this was the first birthday in over a decade that I’ve been able to celebrate from home. I spent my birthday in the midst of good friends at Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town. What a joyful time!
As I move further and further away from my old career, I’ve had to redefine myself. And working from home alone – day after day – is daunting. Never before have my family and friends become so important to me. So lately, I’ve started to say “yes” to invitations. Take yesterday, for example. I had a great time meeting friends at the farmer’s market and then gawking at the lights at Kings Dominion’s Winterfest. So among my resolutions for the new year is to plan more time with friends.
Lesson #3 – There are experts who can fill in the gaps
The amount of researching, learning, and experimentation I’ve undertaken to build the Early Exit Academy has been monumental. Some days I feel like I’m building the Egyptian pyramids, one stone at a time. And I’m doing all the lifting. But lately things have started to come together. That’s because I found some top-notch experts to help with key aspects of the business. My graphic designer/photographer gave me the tools to gamify my course and present a welcoming image. And I found a fantastic website designer. Finally, I have a functioning attractive website. He’s so exceptional that I now have him working on a new website that will house my 30-day challenges – BetterLifeChallenges.
One of my ongoing problems has been how to stop feeling overwhelmed. But now I feel confident that I can find the experts that will help me figure out the loose ends … like how to develop an effective affiliate program, market my course, handle accounting matters, and transfer the content into a learning management system. The key is to focus on one step at a time. There are so many experts in even the tiniest niches that I know I can get the help when I need it. I’m delighted to see progress being made, inch by inch.
Lesson #4 – I need creativity in my life
Here’s what really has my brain on fire! I am back to working on my course, using this incredible software (Articulate). I know I could have taken the easy . . . and boring approach . . . by developing a course based on “talking head” videos, PowerPoint slides, and worksheets. I’m spending more time, and more money, but I refuse to compromise on the quality of the course. And the thing is, the Articulate package of tools has spawned my imagination. I can make the course so much more interactive and meaningful, and I’m having FUN again as I think of new ways to present information. Here’s my mantra for the course.
People don’t want information. They want transformation!
Creativity didn’t stop there! I discovered an easy way to make my own videos (Lumen 5). In no time at all, I was able to make a promo video for the Early Exit Academy. And I’ve started adding videos to my 30-Day Challenges too. I’m enjoying it all.
What’s in store for the month ahead?
This post-career life is strange. Each month has been so different and it’s been an emotional rollercoaster. I can’t predict where I’ll be in January, but I’m liking the direction. A few nights ago, I woke up in the wee hours of the morning. I came up with a new idea for the course and found myself smiling. I’m feeling happy, determined, productive, and excited again. For whatever reason, I enjoy taking complicated and confusing information, deciphering it, putting it into a streamlined action plan, and creating a beautiful presentation. I feel like I’m doing exactly what I was meant to do.
If there’s one danger, it’s that I know this pattern well. I develop an obsession – a good obsession – and I stay glued to the laptop. But in the past, I’ve paid a price. My fitness plans go to hell and I put “friend time” on the back burner. So my next steps are:
Create a schedule for the week that includes trips to the gym
Plan road trips with friends for the new year.
And as I watch the first real snowfall of the season, I can’t help but be thankful for the place I am in my life.
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Dr. Brenda is a financial coach, educator, researcher, and sociologist. In addition to blogging at The Five Journeys, she is the founder of the Gutsy Women Club. Her passion is guiding people on their journey to financial freedom through coaching at DrBrendaMoneyCoach and online courses at DreamBigMoneyAcademy.com.
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