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Running a business is a little like dating.
It’s all fun in the beginning—brainstorming ideas, planning your business, setting it up, building it from a dream into reality.
There’s so much love in those early stages.
Then the relationship starts to get serious. There’s still a lot of love and fun, but the pressure to perform can kick in. This can mean working harder and longer, which can get exhausting and lead to losing the love that was once so strong.
If you’re an entrepreneur and have a deep love for your business, you will understand. It’s hard. Business is hard, and keeping the romance alive with your business is hard.
I was once that person with the big dreams and goals. I worked hard. I built my business from the ground up. Literally. I built walls, laid floors, installed sinks, and hung doors. By day, I was a female Bob the Builder—hands full of splinters, covered in splashes of purple paint, scratches from screws, and glue where glue should not be. Come night, the glasses went on, the computer came out, and the development of the business started—the learning how to run it. That’s all before the doors opened.
I loved my work. I loved my clients. I loved the services I provided and knowing I was making a difference in my clients’ lives. I couldn’t imagine my life without it. I was a happily married businesswoman.
Until I wasn’t.
Until one day, seven years in, the very thought of going into that shop, into the business I put my everything into, brought me to tears and sent waves of anxiety through my body, through my mind. When all I wanted to do was run.
That’s when I knew the romance was gone.
I was heartbroken because I didn’t know when the romance disappeared. Or why. I didn’t know how to fix it. Or if I wanted to. Or what I would do without it. My head was full of thick, dark clouds, and my feet were stuck—quicksand stuck.
I was sinking, and I didn’t know how to claw my way out.
In this moment of sinking, I couldn’t bare to see all the happy, successful business relationships of the world. Why were things so “perfect” for them?
I had to get away from all the noise in my head. So, I wrapped myself up in the comforts of my prickly, woollen superhero blanket and retreated to the solitude and serenity of my happy place: the beach. Sitting on the cool sand with the tide washing in over my feet, I asked myself the formidable questions: Was I happy? Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life? What do I want to do?
The answer was no, I was not happy. I didn’t know why, and I didn’t know what I wanted in my life.
That realisation hit like I’d just belly flopped off the pier into the icy cold waters. It winded me. It took the life out of me. The tears it caused further flooded the ocean. Tears of exhaustion, of unhappiness. I didn’t know who I was away from my business, but I knew I couldn’t stay in something that didn’t bring me joy.
So came the decision to break up with the love of my life: my business.
This was the hardest decision I have ever made. But I knew I was doing the right thing. I wanted to put my broken heart back together. I wanted to find that giddy, butterflies in my stomach, first love kind of feeling again, and I wanted to discover new dreams. But I was stuck. I couldn’t just shut the door and walk away. In that moment, the thought of leaving broke my heart all over again. I had to figure out how to end this relationship while still living in the house.
So I started cheating on my business. I flirted with new ideas, with desires I hoped would turn into new passions. I started dating again. I said yes to everything: adventures, people, jobs, experiences, yes to activities I never thought I would do. I did something every day that I loved. I romanced myself. I stepped out of my comfort zone into territories unknown. I took chances, and I made mistakes. And I let myself wander knowing that it’s okay not to know what or where my next great love is. I took pressure off myself and stopped comparing myself to the ones I perceived to have it all.
Keeping the love we have with our business alive is hard. There can be so much pressure out there to dream big, work hard, to believe in yourself and your dreams. But what if the love you once had is gone? What if the dream you thought was your one big dream, what if that isn’t it anymore?
If this is you, and, like me, you can’t just walk away, try cheating on your business. Get back out there in the world and see what new loves you can find, what new passions and desires might be out there.
I’m still yet to find my next big goal or dream. But I have fallen in love! Or, I should say, I have rekindled an old love: putting pen to paper and writing words, sentences, stories—my stories, other people’s stories, words that will inspire change in this world. Inspire a change in you.
This love I have discovered is a familiar love, like that of a dear old friend. But this friend has kicked it up a notch. There’s passion and attraction there now. I want this old friend to be more—so much more. In fact, I haven’t wanted anything as much as I’ve wanted this. I’ve not felt this deep-in-my-soul kind of love before.
No love is without its challenges, though. And this love has certainly challenged me.
We’ve already had our fair share of fights. I’ve done the three-year-old tantrums when the words weren’t coming; I yelled, screamed, threw pens, notebooks (thankfully, not my computer), I blamed everyone, and then myself. I’ve cried more tears and ruined more mascara’d eyes than I have written words.
But I’ve always come back. I pick my pen back up and I write, because that’s the only thing that feels right.
This kind of love, it scares me, because what if it doesn’t work? What if I fail? I can’t go through another heartbreak. But that makes me more determined to make it work.
And those tiny little butterflies that are flying around in my tummy? They’re telling me I can do it!
They are how I know this is true love.
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