Discovering what you wanna be when you grow up is a process.
There are skills to identify, values to name, responsibilities to consider, questions to ask & get answered, truths to uncover, false beliefs to conquer, and tons of self-reflection to, um, reflect on.
It’s no quick fix, which is why my Discover Your Dream Business program runs for 8 weeks. That’s what it takes to not only figure out the What of being an entrepreneur, but to take a peek at the How, too.
Somewhere in that 8 week process, though – either right at the beginning if they’re impatient New Yorkers like me, or more towards the middle – my clients develop what I like to lovingly call “The Itch”. They’re telling themselves they’ve spent too much time figuring out what the pieces of their puzzle consist of, & they’re ready to see The Big Picture. The Dream Business. The Answer. The Key.
The pressure is on. The stakes are heightened. They want to know, and they want to know now.
It’s about that time in the process that I annoyingly & purposely ask them to “live in the questions.” But what does that mean? How can you let yourself do that? And why haven’t I been punched in the face yet?
Well, “living in the questions” is another way for me to ask you to consider all this:
- Make sure you have the up-to-date facts & figures. One of my clients had a love for interior design for over 10 years, yet didn’t bring it up as a viable option for a while. When I learned about it and asked why she hadn’t considered it for her business, she responded, “I can’t make any money doing that as a living.” When I asked her when she looked into it, she responded, “About 10 years ago.” Thankfully she realized that she might be way out of touch, & agreed to humor the idea for just a week or so & see what new developments had emerged in that field. What business did she wind up getting into? Interior design!
- Leave the jadedness at the doorstep & force yourself to stop thinking, “This can never happen,” just for a week. Yup, you can even put a reminder in your calendar to “Suspend Disbelief” & then “Reinforce Disbelief”, but for the time in between, let yourself dream & really ask, “Can this really work in my life?” and “How?” instead of shutting things down as per usual.
- Don’t worry – you won’t be committed. Some of my clients confess that deciding to even simply research a possible business idea has them expecting to be hauled away, forced to do that for the rest of their lives. “But I still want to explore the other options,” they’ll say, even though that’s exactly what we’re doing – exploring the options. Embrace the word “explore” & “experiment” & give yourself the space to do just that, pressure-free & without fear of jail time.
- Notice the things you keep coming back to. Many times, my clients will end up deciding to move forward with the business idea that’s been rattling in their heads for weeks or months or even – yes – years. For some reason, though, they’ve been discounting that option because it’s not “feasible” or “realistic” or what their parents are expecting them to do. Take the newly optimistic, exploration-filled you & ask yourself why this won’t be put to rest. What is it trying to tell you, and what are you scared of?
- Listen to your gut. It’s really trying to tell you something that you brain might not want you to hear, and it’s absolutely the most important voice of all.
- Only consider the here & now. Try to forget the past & not worry about the distant future. I know it’s tough. We seem to be programmed that way, right? Nobody has a crystal ball, so just consider what you want for yourself now and within the next few years. Also, take the old voices that told you that your finger paintings weren’t any good & the current voices that are saying that you’ll never retire on a finger painter’s salary & put them to bed, too. That’s all in the past, & in the unknown future.
- Don’t rush. When my clients shout “Eureka!” during week 1, I always wonder whether they came to that decision via desperation and fear or true honesty and clarity. If you can’t tell, let it sit for a while. If it’s the right fit, it won’t go anywhere.
I won’t lie. Living in the questions is scary. When we’re finally ready to find what we’re looking for – and devote the time, energy, & emotions to solving that mystery – we want answers & we want them yesterday. By allowing ourselves a bit of time to live in the questions, we’ll be able to live in the answer that much more fully, completely, & honestly.
So let yourself suspend that disbelief, even for a while, and give yourself the room to breathe, explore, dream, dig, be optimistic & listen to your instincts. Only then can The Big Picture take shape, The Dream Business become a realistic one, The Answer be shown & The Key unlock the door you want to walk through.
Until then, live in the questions. It’s a good place to be.