When I started my business almost 11 years ago my morning routine involved drinking copious amounts of coffee while jumping into my work. Eventually, I might get around to eating breakfast. Often it’d be lunch time before I would eat. And unless I had a meeting scheduled, I did what I felt like when I felt like it.
As a budding entrepreneur, I thought I was doing everything I should to succeed. I worked hard, invested in a logo, networked, got headshots, developed marketing materials and peddled my services.
It didn’t take me long to realize my routines were not serving me well. I often forgot to follow up with prospects. Sometimes weeks would pass before I delivered client work. And my decisions were driven out of fear - I often told myself I would fail unless I invested in this program or that group.
In a recent Co-creators in Conversation interview, Alison Daley wisely observed, "my brain as an employee isn't going to be the person that's going to build a very successful business, I'm going to need to break out of the last 10 years of my career and actively create, who I'm going to become."
I was in the same predicament. Most of the habits I formed as an employee were not going to help me become a successful entrepreneur.
In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear says, “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”
I have yet to meet someone that doesn’t have some sort of aspiration. One of the blessings and curses of our shared humanity is our innate ability to learn and grow. We each have something we want to achieve or change or improve about our lives, our work or our circumstances. Even a latent curiosity is an openness to a future that is different from our present.
The question is, which version of yourself are you voting for with your actions?
It’s one thing to say - I want to be happy. Or I want to build a successful business. Or I want to be an empathetic leader. Or I want to have more adventures. Or I want to be healthier.
It’s entirely different to do the things that’ll lead you to become the person, leader, parent, spouse, entrepreneur or partner you want to be.
I couldn’t wish my way into having an enduring business. Sure, my mindset and habitual thoughts play a role in shaping my experiences. They even lead me to action or inaction. But desire alone doesn’t create the change any of us seek.
We have to imagine who we want to become and understand how our day-to-day actions are setting us up to succeed or fail. Deepening our self-awareness in these ways requires a level of honesty with ourselves that is not taught in school. This isn't about chastising or criticizing yourself. Nor is it a matter of holding up a lofty self-image.
Getting honest with yourself so you may instigate the positive change you seek can come from a place of self-compassion. In fact, it's more sustainable when it does come from a place of kindness. Otherwise, we are apt to follow the pendulum swings of our modes rather than hold a more balanced view of oneself.
I couldn't continue to operate the way I was and expect to build a viable consulting and coaching business. I had to see how I was getting in my own way and take steps to change how I showed up. Beyond that, I needed the guidance of coaches and experts to help me accelerate the pace and trajectory of my growth. And I needed to commit to building upon my good habits, one small tweak or adjustment at a time.
My morning routine, productivity practices, thought patterns and habits around planning look entirely different today than they did 11 years ago. Navigating that change was a choice, one I’m glad to have made.
My clients are on similar journeys as leaders. They have a vision they are excited to execute. They are aware that what they're doing now isn't helping them be the leader they want to become. They know staying in a heightened level of stress, losing their cool or shutting down aren't going to give them the results they want. Yet despite their good intentions, the pattern repeats itself. They might have felt stuck in a vicious cycle, but they chose to take an exit ramp. Asking for the right help was a simple yet powerful action, signaling a vote for the leader they want to be.
Which version of yourself are you voting for with your actions?
Are you feeling stuck in a vicious cycle of stress, losing your cool or shutting down? Are you ready to find an off ramp to become the leader you want to be? Let's talk and determine the best route for you!