My Life Changing Lesson about Going Solo
Teacher of the Year Goes to 2022
This year was a doozy. It was the first year that I was a full-time entrepreneur as a holistic ED recovery coach and making that move on the heels of the slow-exiting COVID-19 pandemic (like–move on already and stop holding the door open!!) was scary and exciting. I figured it would be slow going and slow growing, and it was in some ways. I am not going to bore you (I hope) so I will get to it!
Going Solo is Work
Like a lot.
And it all fell to me. And life gave no f*cks. So there’s that.
Marketing-me. Public relations and media-me. Operations-me. Finances-me. Strategy-me. Research and development-me. Legal-me. Billing-me. Making freaking copies-me. I just wanted to help people. Where was the time to do that part?
I was under the impression that I would have a plan, and I’d work the plan, and BOOM! Business! After all, I had been moderately successful at side-hustling in this industry for about 12 years. I knew my market and had matched my skills to my scope. Not until I left my steady non-profit leadership position (with limited problems and a staff!), I realized how much I had underestimated everything–the workload, the learning curve for tech, for social media, the self-imposed pressure, and how my friends-non-entrepreneurs-understood about what I was doing.
I watched as the pandemic slayed some time-and tech-weathered businesses and new ones cropped up with near overnight success. I wondered why–what did they know or do that was different from established ones.
And of course, in my own business, as potential clients started to trickle in, they looked like me, and maybe like you. There were challenges and the pain of countless relapses and “1 step forward and two steps back” tales when it came to conquering their eating disorder. A lot–so many it makes me want to shed a tear–opted not sign on with me as a coach or did not stay long-term. They almost all stated that my freebies or brief services had been helpful and they would try to take it from there on their own.
I am no stranger to this attitude of doing it myself. After all, I had traded in my 40 hour a week position to work ALL THE HOURS myself. Even the first years of my recovery from binge eating disorder I toughed out alone. But I know that only when I got help and how that support helped me to stick with it did things really turn around for me. It is “getting to the other side” that I want to help people to experience!
Going Solo Does Work
But it is really hard.
Just like in business, going it alone in recovery can work. There may even be times where that is the best way. You may lack treatment access or options that are suitable (like if what is available has caused you more harm). In my realm, for example, being in a larger body and dealing with disordered eating may lead to the suggestion that you lose weight which can only make the disordered eating worse.
But often, there are other issues that treatment, therapy, or coaching can help with as well, like depression, or severe and life-threatening ideations or behaviors. Sometimes, health can become so bad before a decision to seek help is made and issues like organ damage is not reversible and possibly could have been prevented with earlier intervention.
Needless to say, working towards a new reality in business or your wellness will be a tough and often uncomfortable journey. The effort is well worth it but help and support can make it so much more achievable!
Community Support Can Save a Solo
This year in particular, there were lots of stories about the rise of eating disorders and disordered eating born of the pandemic. That trend helped my business as an eating disorder recovery coach for sure. (This was a problem of sorts in and of itself. As I grew an audience, there was an influx of potential clients that I was not really equipped to handle. But I digress.)
There were lots of stories of celebrity eating and body image struggles and the ones that coped the best all had major support. I get it; they have access to resources. But my clients who made the most progress also had strong circles of support. They did so much better than the ones who only had me, that I created a community to help bridge the gaps. Being isolated in a healing and recovery journey is not the only option. Not by a long shot and honestly, it has given me hope.
Even with entrepreneurs, there are communities to share stories, relate to, and learn with and from each other. I cannot say how lucky I was one to find a peer group of entrepreneurs in my niche. Instant connections, support, and understanding of what I was going through just made this year easier!
The following are the TOP ten takeaways I have this year from working within a supportive community and by creating one for my clients:
- Continuing to work on my dreams or recovery is a choice and my happiness is my responsibility.
- I am enough and have value not tied to my weight (or income)
- Don’t get caught in the trap of comparison.
- It does get easier.
- Everyone has a lesson to teach you.
- Not everyone will come along for the journey and that is okay!
- Cravings, and feelings, are temporary. They may be uncomfortable but they pass.
- I do not have to take part in the expectations of society.
- Even times of 2 steps backwards, you don’t lose what you learned. You can pick yourself up and keep going.
- Make peace with the past.
Some of these lessons, I am just really understanding 15 years into recovery. Some are new. All are nuanced and it doesn’t matter if you have or have not learned them yet. It is likely that you will or have learned many more.
The Biggest Lesson (Yet!)
The biggest lesson I learned this year was that I am stronger when I ask for help.
As I write about it, it seems so simple. But this was tough for me. I look back and realized that I took on so much responsibility and was battling imposter syndrome, fear of being called lazy, and the fear that I would be viewed as less than (this took me straight back to my early days of recovery).
Fortunately, I realized that my clients were dealing with these feelings too. So, I took my own advice and sought help with the things I did not know or just when I needed to talk about things.
I believe that I am still here because I was able to get outside support and different perspectives. I was also able to give others a chance to help, which made them feel good and was within their zone of genius. Talk about a win-win.
I am certain that you can see yourself in this situation. I hope so. I hope that you can ask me for help with your recovery journey. I hope that you have access to a supportive community for whatever you are trying to accomplish in your precious life!
Whether the journey that you are on is about entrepreneurship, eating disorder recovery, or just wellness in general, hopefully these can be a help or hope to you on your path ahead. Please know that as long as this little corner of the web is up, you are never really alone!
Do you have other gems that you have mined from your experiences? I would love for you to share them in the comments!