Choose your ‘hard’

Choosing Your Hard: A New Year Reflection

Stepping into the new year and feeling the January blues has made me really think about choosing my hard.

I once heard this great quote:

“Choose your hard. Marriage is hard. Divorce is hard. Choose your hard. Obesity is hard. Being fit is hard. Choose your hard. Being in debt is hard. Being financially disciplined is hard. Choose your hard. Communicating is hard. Not communicating is hard. Choose your hard. Life will never be easy. It will always be hard, but we can choose our hard. Pick wisely.”

I really, really like this because I think I’m in the stage of thinking the grass is greener.

Navigating Business Changes: Embracing Challenges

Talking to my husband last night about the change that’s going to happen in my business this year, I said I was feeling a slight anxiety about my expenses rising, and the financial implications of the people I’m hiring to help me.

His response was to suggest that, if I was thinking about getting a job instead (which I wasn’t!) to take that anxiety away and make my life easier, I was mistaken.

He pointed out that there are always challenges and anxiety, whatever we’re doing. So it was a great reminder that those feelings and those challenges are always going to be there.

Entrepreneurship vs. Employment: A Thoughtful Comparison

I’ve got to the point now where I’m starting to think something I’ve weirdly never thought before, though I know many people think it all the time! And that thought is whether it’s easier to go and get a job working for someone else?

You work so hard when you have your own business. I really love it because it’s an expression of you and you get to create something that makes a difference.

But, there is no doubt about it, it is hard. You are always ‘on’. This Christmas, I was good and I managed to really switch off – I think that being away for most of the break really helped, as I find it that being out of the house really helps you to switch off.

The Myth of Easy Success: Challenges in the Entrepreneurial Journey

However, even when you’re officially off, running your own business is still all consuming. Your mind is constantly racing with everything you need to do… I’ve got this offer to launch… I’ve got this to do… oh that would make a strong social media post. Your brain never ever switches off when you have your own business.

And that’s why I wanted to write this article, in case you are wondering which ‘hard’ to choose because, like the quote says, all options are hard.

Reflecting on Work-Life: Employee vs. Entrepreneur

I do think that there is a common misconception that success should be easy. All over social media, we see how relaxed everyone looks, despite running multi-million pound businesses. And it’s just not true!

The more masterminds and forums I’m part of, the more I realise that everyone has challenges, no matter how successful they are. I voice noted someone the other day, making that observation, and he messaged me back agreeing, saying that he has those thoughts and feelings every day. It was a real eye opener hearing him say that because, seeing his content on social media and how positive and disciplined he is, you’d never know how he was feeling on the inside. It’s nice to know it’s not just me who has those thoughts, and I wanted to share this with you today, in case you’re thinking it’s just you too, and you’re wondering if it’s all too hard.

Workload Comparison: Employee vs. Entrepreneur

If I think back to the workplace I was in, comparing it to what I know now in entrepreneurship, it was really easy, work-wise.

I’d go in at my set time, go to the gym for an hour every single lunchtime, and I’d leave on time every single day. Then, I’d go out to pubs and enjoy my evenings. So, as I look back, I see that my lifestyle is massively different now.

The Unseen Struggles: Politics and Fulfillment in the Workplace

My workload as an entrepreneur is so much more demanding than when I worked in an office. There, I had my defined role within a larger team. Now that I’m an entrepreneur, I have to be the marketeer, the accountant, the IT person, the coach… I’m wearing all these different hats compared to being in a company where you’re in a team, you’ve got people to bounce ideas off, and you’ve got people in other departments to take care of things. It’s easy to look back and compare your easier workload then to your harder workload now but, actually, it’s about much more than the workload.

The politics that came with that office role used to hang over me 24/7. I sometimes forget how draining it is when you’re constantly trying to please people, and how frustrating it can be when you can’t get your ideas over the line, or when you can’t create what you want because there’s always someone more senior that needs to approve it, or other stakeholders you need to get on board. There are all sorts of obstacles in an office environment that don’t exist for an entrepreneur. It wasn’t easy at all, it was just very different. And now, reflecting on that experience in the workplace, although the workload was perhaps easier it was an unfulfilling kind of ‘hard’. Even though being an entrepreneur can leave you run ragged, it’s also hard sitting at your desk all day, waiting to go home, and knowing that you don’t have your own freedom of expression. You can’t just take action and do something that you want to do.

The Entrepreneurial Path: Rewards Amidst Challenges

It’s also useful to reflect on the fact that it left me feeling completely out of alignment, every single day. And constantly feeling out of alignment with my values was really hard. I don’t think I ever felt energized or fulfilled or proud, which was a big price to pay for the stability of being employed.

I then pivoted, and chose the path of building my own business, and that is a different kind of hard. It brings uncertainty, and the weight of finances. Now that I’m growing my team, I’ve got huge outgoings in comparison to when I first started my business, and that is a huge responsibility that I haven’t been used to before in my business.

But, despite it feeling hard sometimes, it’s also really rewarding. It’s a true creative expression of what I want to create in the world, which is something that most people never really get to bring to fruition. It gives me the freedom to work when I want to. To take a holiday when I want to. To set my own boundaries. To know that there is no ceiling and that I can continue to create value, which can grow my impact. Also, my level of income is something that I would never have had in the workplace because there is always someone controlling your salary and deciding whether you get a promotion or not.

Something I absolutely love in entrepreneurship is that you are on a continual personal growth journey. There is no coasting in entrepreneurship. If you aren’t creating value, and if you aren’t pushing yourself to the limit, then your business won’t grow and you won’t grow. And, when it comes down to it, isn’t that the whole point? That we are here to continue to evolve and grow and become the very best version of ourselves that we can be? To endure challenges that we have to overcome because, again, there is no coasting. If you can’t overcome them, your business will grind to a halt. You just have to step up and step into it, in order to be able to thrive in entrepreneurship and, therefore, to be able to grow as a human being.

Choosing Your ‘Hard’ in 2024

So, I would love to invite you to think about your ‘hard’ and decide which one you are going to choose. Going back to the quote and remembering the example that it’s hard to be obese and it’s hard to go to the gym. Which one are you going to choose?

This year, I’m definitely going to choose more fitness and health, even though I want more biscuits which would be the easier option now, but the result of that action would be the harder thing to endure longer term. Sometimes, it’s the small actions that you can take every day, to grow your life and your business, that will add up to that huge success.

You can choose a path of true fulfilment. You know that both paths are hard, yet one is perhaps, for you, going to be more rewarding than the other.

I have several clients who are going through this at the moment. Yvonne had her first day of full-time entrepreneurship yesterday. She has been working with me for the last nine months and, that whole time, she was balancing her full-time job with her coaching business. She has done exceptionally well, overcoming a lot of barriers and working so hard on her coaching business whilst working full time.

So, I’m really excited that, despite knowing how hard entrepreneurship is from everything she’s learned with me over the past nine months – really stepping up, challenging herself and pushing herself, that she is prepared to go all in and start this entrepreneurship journey full time. I find her truly inspiring because, to be honest, I think if I had any idea, while I was still working, how hard this was going to be, I would probably have coasted for a little bit longer! But seriously, and in all honesty, I’m truly grateful that I chose this path. I genuinely feel that I have grown more in the last four years than in the past 40 years.

In Summary: Embracing the Hard

Choose your hard. Every option is hard. This myth, that success is easy, is probably just that, a myth – do let me know if you know any examples where success is easy! And I know we choose our thoughts and our thoughts form our reality, and we’re only human and don’t always choose the ‘right’ path, so I think at certain times, like early January when things do feel harder because it’s dark and it’s cold, it’s helpful to accept that battling our thoughts and feelings is the norm for most of us. We are all facing challenges.

I’m doing Gabby Bernstein’s 21 day manifestation challenge at the moment. I remember reading one of her books where, if you don’t like what you’re thinking, she says to choose again; choose another thought. And, despite the fact that she’s practising at the highest frequency, even she says she often feels really down and wonders what it’s all about.

So, as coaches, we know all the things we should do, but it’s good to be reminded that it’s always hard. Denise Duffield Thomas is another example. She is now a multimillionaire and she says she works every single day on her money mindset and receiving more. There is never a point that it stops, because she recognises that working on yourself is the biggest thing you can do to generate huge results.

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I’d love to hear what choices you intend to make as we begin this new year. Do get in touch!

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Hello and welcome! I’m Joanna Lott, and I’m passionate about empowering qualified coaches like you to build brilliant businesses.