3 nuggets of wisdom I discovered during my first 6 months of entrepreneurship

Life’s a marathon, not a sprint.

In October I decided to turn my back on my full-time job and start working on becoming a self-employed marketing professional. This decision was made overnight, literally. (Read more about it here.)

I knew I needed to put on my best running shoes because entrepreneurship isn’t a walk in the park.

I knew it back then and I feel it now.

So, what have I actually been doing in the past 6 months?

The shortest answer to that question is laying foundations.

The long answer to that question is laying foundations while seriously wondering if my high highs and low lows are normal or the first signs of a bipolar disorder.

Anyway, I realised these 3 truths about me:

My old me is useless in my new life

I was convinced that I would be able to take all that knowledge, routines, discipline, motivation and commitment from my full-time job and hobbies (my old life habits) and transfer all of that good stuff to my new life.

Turns out, I couldn’t.

I’m not able to use my old ways of working, thinking and living in my new life.

I was disappointed to realise that I wasn’t able to jump out of one project and dive right into another. I didn’t anticipate the amount of mental work I needed to do before I could even think about my next move. Everything has changed. I needed time to process things. I still need time to figure things out like:

  • The overwhelming amount of time that is all mine to organise and seize.
  • The commitments I have to make to myself, even though nobody holds me accountable for them.
  • The willingness to constantly live outside my comfort zone (mentally, emotionally, financially, etc.)
  • Realising that everything takes 28x longer than I thought it would.
  • Accepting the fact that there’s so much that I can’t control and that I just need to trust the flow of life.
  • Also accepting the fact that I’m not a robot and even if I can change something I simply don’t do things out of laziness (very hard to accept!).

Nugget of Wisdom #1: I can’t think my way through life, I’ve gotta take action.

Having more time doesn’t mean you have more time

I mean you do, but you might not seize it the same way as you’d if you’re on a tight schedule. There’s this quote that I’ve found to be so true: “If you wanna get something done, ask a busy person.”

Do you catch yourself fantasising about having a whole week to yourself, just to get things done and tend to your projects? I did too. Always. In my mind, I thought that I could write a book in a week if I wanted too.

I’ve been living a life of endless time-freedom for a couple of months now. I was still working part-time in my previous company, so I needed to show up 2 days a week at the office, but other than that, I was as free as a bird. I think the last time I’ve got that much time on my hands was probably in elementary school.

I’m not gonna lie to you, time-freedom is heaven on earth.

For a while, at least. Until I got lazy. Having all the time in the world can feel exactly like you have no time at all. You start procrastinating and at the end of the day you freak out because you didn’t get shit done.

My tool to beat laziness is scheduling. Scheduling things has been the most important habit that has kept me productive. Everything goes into my calendar: work time, food time, yoga time, friends time, etc.

Nugget of Wisdom #2: time-discipline leads to time-freedom.

Being around people is nice after all

The third thing I learned about myself is that I miss working in a team.

I love being with people and get all jacked up when I’m part of a group that works on something bigger together.

But…even though I love the unpredictable dynamics in a group, I have to retreat rather sooner than later.

I’ve known it for a long time that I’m someone who recharges her batteries with solitude. I love being with people but I need to recharge with spending some Tanja time that usually includes reading, writing, being in nature, yoga, Netflix etc.

So, I thought that being an entrepreneur and doing my own thing all by myself would be ideal for an ambivert like me.

The problem is that I can easily get lonely because solitude is my comfort zone. It’s the place where I naturally retreat to. I treat my time very carefully. I’d rather be alone at home than with people I don’t really wanna be with. Because that’s the worst kind of loneliness — surrounded by people but still feeling alone inside.

Anyway, what happened is that I’d spend days on end in my apartment aka. my fortified retreat centre, working on my things but realising that I’m actually lonely, out of inspiration and in desperate need for some real-life connections. I just needed to give myself a push and put myself out there!

Nugget of Wisdom #3: Recharge in solitude, but get inspired by people!

To sum it up, I realised that life’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

I easily beat myself up for not performing at 110% on a daily basis. I’m getting better at that, but I’m still trying to find a balance between my iron discipline and allowing myself some breaks. I need to be more kind to myself.

I’m turning 30 this year and what I’ve only recently understood (after going through an existential crisis) is that I’ve just left the starting line. I’ve got no idea where and when I’ll get to the Finish line (thank God!), nor what will await me on this track, but I’m sure as hell gonna enjoy the scenery while I’m on it.

There are times where a sprint will be required of me. Times where I’ll need to give it my all to stay on track and not be left behind.

But there will also be times where I need to allow myself to take a break and to recharge. To sit down and marvel at how far I’ve come and what still lies ahead of me. I think that’s where I am right now; at a water station, hydrating, recharging and mapping out my next route.

What track are you currently on?

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This article was first published on Linkedin Pulse.