From August of 2007 (when I started my job as an Executive Assistant and my life coaching certification) through March of 2010 (when I became The When I Grow Up Coach full-time), I had the same routine: I left my apartment a little after 8, commuted to work, clocked in right before 9 and out right at 6, and got home a little before 7. In between, there was an hour for lunch.
The bulk of every day was the same – 50 hours each week traveling to and working at my day job.
During those two years and seven months, I got my certification. And engaged. And married. And launched my business. And got my first clients. And built up my coaching enough to give my notice during the recession and never have to look back.
Almost 7 years later (how is that possible?!), I look back on that window of time and think: “How?” How did I get it all done? How did my head not explode? How did I keep at it for almost 3 years without giving up and losing hope? How did I keep (most of) my friends?
Here are the things I remember making the biggest difference:
I picked a job that didn’t require overtime. The job I left not only had a bullying boss that made me psychosomatic, but it had needless travel and expected me to be on my Blackberry 24/7. While 50 hours/week ain’t small potatoes, knowing that I had my lunch hour and my time after 6pm – as well as my weekends – as my own was priceless.
I did something every day. Sending a tweet, leaving a blog comment (this was 2007-2010, remember?), writing website copy, updating my client consultation questions…if you have (make!) 15 minutes, you can get something done. 15 minutes/day equals almost 8 hours a month, which isn’t chump change! It also keeps your motivation up, because you’re moving *something* forward every day, and that keeps your business at the top of mind.
I worked on business stuff at work. About a year into my day job, I got transferred to an office space directly across the street from my manager. I had a more private work area, and could easily shift my monitor in my cubicle so nobody could see what I was working on if they walked by. Don’t get me wrong – I did my work, and did it well – but when I didn’t have anything to do and I could squeeze it in, I’d draft blog posts (but never published them during work hours!), create Twitter lists, do reading for my classes, etc. There is no shame in this game unless it affects the work that you’re being paid to do.
I took 2ish lunch hours/week for clients or classes. It wouldn’t be every lunch hour, because that would’ve made me way anxious. But taking 2 lunch hours each week to attend a class or coach a client (yes, I’d reserve a conference room and hope nobody would knock on the door!) or work on a collaboration went a long way.
I had a work buddy that was in on the whole thing. My buddy Deirdre was my anchor at work. She was a former actress just like me, she also wanted something More for herself, and she was a great listener and talker 🙂
I started with Phase One. Wanted to work with me? There was just 1 way to do it – 12 sessions over 12 weeks. My website was basic, designed and developed at first by my husband (who was neither a designer or a developer, discuss) and then, a few months later, updated with a new logo and a professional blog banner (fancy!). Having the site and the offer be Phase One – no bells, no whistles, no courses, no books – it made it easy for me to figure out what was working, and build on it, instead of sinking lots of time and money on what I thought it should be.
I said “No” in order to say “Yes”, mostly to happy hours. Most nights and part of most weekends were spent working or studying, so lots of the lesser social invites I got during this time got Nos. No happy hours, more than once a month or so. No birthday parties for acquaintances I barely knew. I got very selective, knowing each Yes I gave meant I was giving my business a No.
Other honorable mentions: Deep breathing. Breaks. Exercise. Not burning the candle at both ends. Remembering that your true friends will stand by you.
And remember: If this is what you have to do for a finite amount of time so you can do what you dream of full-time, it will all be worth it.