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Your Stories Don’t Define You, How You Tell Them Will

Jan 14, 2020

My dream is to create a sewing business around a design I created.
That’s terrific, Nancy, tell me about that!

"I’ve always loved to sew, and I’ve created a pattern that can be easily replicated and scaled to different sizes and materials. It’s such a cool design, and I have never seen anything quite like it. It’s functional, and every person I’ve given one to as a gift, or who has seen it has loved it and wanted more."

Very cool! What are doing now to make this dream happen?

"What do you mean?"

I mean, in the evenings, on weekends, and when you can get breaks during your workday, what are you DOING?

"Oh. Well by the time I get home from work, I’m emotionally and intellectually spent, so I don’t have the energy or even the creativity to sew. And with my mom’s health problems, and helping out with my grandkids, I just don’t have time to work on my own things."

Hmmm. Do you have space set up so that if and when you have a little time, you can jump right into creative mode and layout your next project - or start to sew?

"No. My sewing room is filled with boxes and stuff from when I moved last year."

Our conversation continued along those lines, an excuse for every suggestion I made:

  • Maybe start by setting aside 15 minutes when you get home from work to put your sewing room in order?
  • Schedule 15 minutes 3x each week to organize your fabrics and start planning projects?
  • Think about setting a small goal, like sewing 3 of your design to take pictures and start a portfolio?

She had a reason she couldn’t do those things – for every suggestion.
So I asked her:

How do you think that impacts your relationship with your kids, grandkids, and coworkers? Do you think they don’t know you’re unhappy, do you think you’re hiding it?

That’s when she walked away from me - I felt like I had failed my friend. She walked away with her shoulders slumped, deflated. My heart broke, thinking I had gone too far, hurt her feelings and maybe made things worse.

I gave it a few hours, and then sent her a text message saying: “I hope I didn’t go too far. It just makes me sad to see you so unhappy because you are such a generous and compassionate person. You deserve happiness.”

She didn’t respond to my message. When we saw each other over the next few months she’d smile at me and we would exchange small talk, but I could tell she was uncomfortable. A few months later I gave my notice, said my goodbyes, and moved on to another career path, following a dream.

A year after that I was in the building again and ran into my friend. Her face absolutely glowed as she bee-lined toward me and gave me a huge hug. I hadn’t seen her like that – ever – and asked what was going on.

I have been thinking about calling you, Sarah, but I couldn’t find the right time, and I felt weird about it, even though I wanted to tell you that I’ve been sewing again and have sold a few of my designs! My ideas are flowing and I’m feeling creative again, it feels SO GOOD.
I asked her: “What changed? What was the inspiration that motivated you to do it?”

Remember when you asked me if I would regret not doing something about this dream a year from now? You asked if we were going to continue to have this same conversation year after year? It took me a few weeks to recover from that conversation.

I felt like a loser. But then I remembered one of your suggestions, to schedule small chunks of time to make a physical, comfortable space for my sewing, to organize my sewing room to make it more inviting. And that’s what I did. It took MONTHS. But then, about a week after I finished, I walked into that room and was absolutely inspired to start a project.

I planned to spend 15 minutes on it, but walked out 1.5 hours later with a completed project and felt amazing. It was like a veil had lifted and my creativity returned.

Wow! I’m so happy to hear that! Has anything changed at work?
Yes! That’s the thing, I am finding my job a little more satisfying. Nothing here has changed. I still deal with the obnoxious attitude from you-know-who, and continue to have more work dumped on me than I can handle, but I look at it differently now that I’m making time for myself and having fun exploring my creative side again.

We hugged goodbye, promised to keep in touch, and I left the building as if I was walking on air.

We can talk about things we want to do, dreams we have, ideas we want to initiate and implement, but until we take a step that’s all those things are – dreams and ideas.

The only way we see change in our lives is if we initiate it or something happens to us. I would much rather be the one to initiate it most of the time, how about you?

4 Simple Strategies to Take Action

1.) Find Your Tribe – surround yourself with people who support and encourage you. Find a group of friends and peers that are doing things you want to be doing, people who will give you the hard truth about your dream and offer to help find solutions to obstacles. Make sure these are people you trust, and that you actually listen to their suggestions! You are unlikely to find support in people who have never done what you want to do, or who live with a low-risk, low-reward mentality, people who make fear-based decisions.

2.) Schedule Baby Steps – use the calendar on your phone or desk/refrigerator calendar to schedule short appointments for yourself, maybe 15 minute intervals to work on your dream in some way. If you spend 15 minutes every day being outcome-oriented toward your goal, you will see major changes in all aspects of your life.

What do I mean by outcome-oriented? Think about something you can complete in that time, like organizing a pile of papers on your desk, scheduling calls or coffee dates with people who can help you, and who you feel like you can help (accountability partners, for instance), or writing up a blog post.

3.) Say Yes – when opportunities present themselves, show up. Step out of your comfort zone.

4.) Change Your Environment – Periodically changing your environment keeps your brain limber, more aware, and creative. That means weekend road trips, walks, taking different routes to work, time in nature, traveling, and exploring alternative hobbies.

If you’re tired of the same conversation, year after year, and realize you will most definitely regret NOT doing something, NOT taking action toward a dream or goal, do something about it TODAY.

Join me and an extraordinary group of professionals at the 2020, 4th annual No Longer Virtual conference on March 12 & 13th in Chicago. When I say “find your tribe”, this group is what I’m talking about. The common characteristics of people who attend are curiosity, compassion, and an entrepreneurial mindset.

The agenda is full of relevant, engaging sessions, and you’ll be surrounded by some of the most wicked-smart, generous, creative, supportive professionals around. Limited to 50 participants, you’ll have the opportunity to truly connect and build strong relationships. And the best part? You’ll avoid the “after-conference hangover” by remaining in close contact with your network after the event.

Here’s a peek at the agenda:

  • Supercharge your LinkedIn experience, hosted by Shelly Elsliger & Zach Messler
  • Turning ideas into action by clarifying your why, prioritizing, action planning & increasing accountability, hosted by Kris Macc & Craig Thomason
  • Non-sales workshop to engage your audience and grow your revenue, hosted by Hannah Bratterud and Arlene Mendoza
    Achieving win-win relationships to improve your outcomes, with a field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago, hosted by Chris Spurvey & Megan Miller
  • Nurturing your emotional health to improve outcomes, hosted by Renee Smith & Kevin Strauss

Since early registration ended, here’s a $100 discount offer from the full price NLVFRIEND, and if you make arrangements with me to register two or more guests, I’ll offer a discount code for $125 off each of your registrations.

There are 13 spots left as of January 12, 2020!

I hope to see you at #nlvchicago2020, investing in yourself, taking the steps necessary to take action toward your dreams, and building and n