I was talking with a friend recently, and we were reflecting on a trap we all fall into from time to time. A mutual connection had been in touch with her to say they were struggling, and then had shown up in a small business Facebook group to talk about how busy they are.
Haven’t we all been there?
It’s really hard to be authentic on social media when things are hard. Even in support groups.
We have so many high expectations of ourselves and the people around us. We believe that the only way people will want to buy from us and connect with us is if we’re already successful. That is a headspin if ever I heard one!
It drives me crazy to see people using up their precious energy putting out a false sense of success. Because something happens, even on the most subtle level, where you try to believe your own hype. You want what you’re saying to be true. And yet you know that it’s not.
That level of dishonesty with yourself is the bit that can really erode your confidence over time. (I speak with experience, here.)
I’m not saying you have to share every single negative thought or experience or fact with the world. You certainly don’t have to make yourself feel over-exposed. That’s not going to help.
I do recommend having an inner circle or a business coach or mentor that you can be completely honest with, even before you’ve managed to process. Someone you can write a panic email or text to, and who’ll sit with you while you figure it out.
Otherwise, with other people and groups, may I suggest that you simply find something to say that’s true?
“It feels really busy, but I’m still worried about finances.”
“Things haven’t gone fully to plan, but I’m optimistic about the coming weeks and months.”
“We’re working really hard to make this year a success.”
Friends, you just don’t need to pretend it’s all amazing. Everyone in the whole world goes through cycles of success and struggle because that is life.
There is no constant uphill straight line of growth and prosperity that everyone else has found, and you haven’t.
Here’s the thing for me
When I wrote the title for this post, I hear the line in Kate Havnevik’s Unlike Me.
In the spirit of not pretending, I thought I’d share my own update.
Right now, as I write, my business is in a stronger position than it has been for two full years. It’s more profitable, more efficient, and more fulfilling.
But it’s not perfect. There’s still plenty to improve and work on and change.
Running retreats is always a little nerve-wracking – they require a lot of upfront work and financial investment, and I still have spaces available. Of course, I’d be way more comfortable if my January retreat had sold out as soon as I opened up the tickets! And so I sit with the discomfort of waiting, and I look for ways to share the experience for what it is: amazing, transformative, and rejuvenating.
And I can’t pretend I don’t doubt my decisions sometimes. It’s inevitable that we will, especially when we’re in new territory. I have some news up my sleeve for the new year, and while I’m pretty much decided on it, I’ll pace around the house pondering the decision until I share it in a couple of weeks.
Friends, business is not always easy. And while I don’t think it has to be impossibly hard to be successful, I am not interested in perpetuating the myth that you become self-employed and ride off into the sunset.
Be true to your experience. Explore what’s actually true. Redefine success for yourself.
We don’t have to be successful by other people’s standards in order to make a living. We do have to be true to ourselves and be honest and authentic with our customers. That’s how connection, respect and support happen.
I feel I could get my soap box out and stand on it all day! But I’ll leave it there for now.