Exactly 3 years ago today I hit publish on the first post of my newly launched blog!
Today I wanted to sit down and chat about my reflections on 3 years as an entrepreneur, as well as share some advice that I have learned for other work at home moms or anyone who would love to pursue what they truly love to do.
Warning: this is a longggg post so grab a cup of coffee and let’s chat 🙂 Feel free to ask any questions or email me, I am an open book and love to help.
A recap for those who don’t know my story: 3 years ago I was a newly engaged and in college studying accounting. It had been ingrained into me my whole life that you go where the money is. Pick the career that will make you the most money. As a result, I chose accounting as my major (a clear choice I thought, as I was great at math and never struggled in school/always got high grades.) In October of 2014 I was starting my third year of college and newly engaged to my soon to be husband. I had been working at a highly prestigious nuclear plant as an accounting intern and making more money than any intern could hope to make with flexible hours. The only problem? I discovered after landing this coveted position that I absolutely hated what I did. Every single day was miserable and I looked around me and no one seemed happy. I knew then and there that I didn’t want that for my life. I didn’t want the 9-5 (or 6…or 7) life and more importantly I did not love accounting.
My husband and I were to be married December 20th and I quit my job several weeks before that. I still remember the experience and my boss (and just about everyone else) thought I was crazy. Why on earth would I leave a high paying job that any college kid would kill for? What they didn’t see was the unhappiness. I had panic attacks almost daily and was just incredibly unhappy and unfulfilled. I knew very strongly that it was not the place for me to be.
When I started my blog, I had seen other bloggers who had posted income reports and I realized that it was really a career and that bloggers all over were making money doing what they loved. I started my website as an engaged woman with the dream of being able to be a stay at home mom one day. Life is expensive and it’s really hard to make it on one income. My goal was to be able to grow my blog to the point where I was able to help pay the bills and be able to stay at home with my children (something that is very important to me.)
Several months later, I started a wonderful online job that I worked for a little over a year that helped me be able to contribute financially while still putting time and effort into my blog. Just two years shy of my 2nd blogging anniversary we welcomed our first son, and several months later I quit my second job, relying only on the income from my blog.
My third year blogging was 100% different than the first two. It’s when life got real. When I was not only building a business, but taking care of a tiny baby. Being a work at home mom is no joke! I have really struggled this last year with finding my groove. I’m sure moms everywhere can related the how difficult it is to accomplish pretty much anything with the unpredictability and demands of having children to care for.
As I sit here and reflect, I simply cannot find the words to say just how thankful I am that I get to call this career my job. The dreams that I had 3 years ago have come to be and I can hardly believe some days that this is my life. Nothing worthwhile is easily won, and my journey this year has been a difficult one. I have really felt it laid on my heart to encourage other work at home moms. (Disclosure: this post is not promoting one kind of mom over another: working mom, stay at home mom, work at home mom – you’re all amazing.) I want to encourage other moms who dream of starting their own business with my own advice and things that I have learned along the way. If you’re a work at home mom reading this I would love to hear your story too! My husband was the person in my life who supported me and really encouraged me not to settle for average. Not to stay at the job that I was miserable at. If you’re dreaming of breaking out of average to pursue your dream then this is for you.
You have to love what you want to do.
This one might seem like a given, but it needs to be said. If you want to work for yourself and build a career of your dreams, it absolutely needs to be doing something that you love. Otherwise you will most likely burn out and quit. It’s the passion for what you do that keeps you going when everything is going wrong and when you feel discouraged. Passion is what you’ll go back to.
You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do
But wait? You just told me I have to do what I’m passionate about? Yes, I did. But this is different. Everyone who has ever started working on a goal or dream doesn’t know exactly what that will look like. You just can’t. My goals and dreams for this blog have changed and solidified over the last 3 years. Don’t let the fear of not knowing your exact desired path stop you from beginning.
You’re going to have to do a lot of selective listening
There will be many (many, many) people in your life who feel the need to tell you that you’re stupid/dumb/will not be successful. While some of this may come from a genuine place of concern, in most cases it is something else. When someone sees you pursuing your dream and bucking away from average, it awakens this discomfort in them because deep down they know that they are not doing what they were meant to do. Whether it’s jealousy or concern, take what others say or think with a grain of salt. Don’t let their opinions override your gut feelings. Only you know what you should be doing. This is easier said than done. I am a HUGE people pleaser and one thing that I have most struggled with is the perception that the majority of people that know me think that I do not work. That my blog is easy, just a hobby, silly, etc. Does it hurt? Yes. Does it keep me from continuing my path? No.
You can’t be good at everything
This is one of many things that I learned from Jon Acuff’s fantastic new book “Finish” It’s one of the only books I have ever preordered and I am currently reading through it for the second time. The basic premise is that if you’re going to pursue any goal, you’re going to have to pick the things that you will be bad at. For me, that had to be dishes, cleaning, and laundry. Any stay at home mom knows how these things can take up all of your time and are never done. I am a clean freak by nature and I used to spend nap time cleaning or catching up on tasks. Now I have a strict rule that nap time is work time only. As a result, I am perpetually behind on all of the tasks of running a house. I do dishes while my son eats lunch in his highchair, I clean the house on the weekends or at night when my husband is home. Laundry gets incredibly behind and is often done in the evenings when all I want to do is relax. These are the things that I choose to be bad at in order to be good at my goal of producing more content and working harder and smarter.
Don’t compare your life or goal to anyone else’s life or goal or success
You’ve heard it a million times, but it bears repeating. This is a top reason that people do not succeed or feel successful in their goals. Only you decide what success means for you. No one else’s business is like yours. You are your own unique business and no one else is exactly like you. Nothing squashes happiness faster than comparing your dream to someone else’s. I have achieved success beyond what I could have dreamed 3 years ago. But if I compare myself to other food bloggers, I will come up short. I will feel less than. I will feel discouraged. YOU decide what success looks like and you should be proud of yourself. Comparing yourself to anyone else is always always a bad idea.
Listen to motivational Podcasts and read self improvement books
This one is big. If you’re one of those people that thinks that self help is for losers, I am here to tell you that it is not. I only have one life to live and I want to live it to the fullest. I want to be the best me that I can be and truly invest in myself. 2017 has been the first year that I really pursued self exploration and started to focus on the negative habits that I have or was taught, as well as stopping to think about why I am doing what I am doing. You will be surprised at just how many things your subconscious can affect. If you’re looking for a place to get started, I highly recommend every book by Jon Acuff (start, finish, do over, quitter) as far as business/entrepreneur related books. As far as podcasts, my absolute favorite is the Awesome with Alison podcast. Alison and her husband do the podcast together and she is simply a ray of sunshine and encouragement. I can’t fully describe every podcast episode, but they are free and amazing. Go to iTunes and type in Awesome with Alison and read the podcast recaps and give it a listen. Trust me, you’ll love it.
Don’t wait for inspiration to get to work
If you’re waiting for inspiration to do your work, you’ll be waiting forever. There are more days than not that I have exactly no desire to work. I am perpetually exhausted and haven’t slept through the night in 14 months. When I’m exhausted, haven’t eaten, and just spent a half hour fighting a cranky baby to sleep, the last thing I want to do focus the mental energy on working. Sure, some days I am all fired up to work. But that just isn’t the norm for me or many entrepreneurs. You have to push past “the resistance” and create work that matters. The book “the War of Art” by Steven Pressfield is a real eye opener regarding creative inspiration and life as an entrepreneur, I highly recommend this one too. When you’re struggling to work, you need to have a bag of tricks up your sleeve to get it done. For me, my go to is listening to a podcast while I begin editing my pictures for my blog post. By the time it is over, I am in a completely different mindset and ready to conquer my work. When my son took two naps a day, I would drink my coffee during each nap as a reward to motivate myself to get to work . More great ideas on this in Jon Acuff’s book Finish (can you tell I love it?!)
Never stop learning
Lastly, never stop learning. As with any profession, there is a period of time at the beginning where all you do is learn new things. For blogging, this period can be overwhelming and last 1-2 years or more. I feel like I know a ton but still have so much to learn. Now that I have the workflow of a post down, know the ins and outs of wordpress, have spent a lot of time photographing, and am fluent in lightroom and photoshop, it is easy for me to just do things the way I know how. But this means that I am never growing and never improving my work. I try to spend at least a little time each week improving my skills. Whether it’s listening to a business podcast, watching videos to improve my photography, or simply reading a blogging related article, I try to find some way to keep learning. This is called the concept of 1% infinity – improving your business or skills just even a small 1%…forever. It all adds up over time.The concept is one that I learned from Bjork Ostrom, and he talks about it in depth in this podcast episode.
If you’ve made it this far, you’re a rockstar! If you’re an entrepreneur or hope to be one day, I can’t encourage you enough to go for it. Find a way to make it work. My husband and I are both self employed and absolutely love our jobs. It’s a ton of hard work but it is possible to do what you love. If you have any questions or want to share your own tips for success, please leave a comment on this post or shoot me an email at email@example.com.
If you want to check out my previous yearly posts you can read them here:
- year 1 blogging recap
- Life as Entrepreneurs – Our Story
- year 2 blogging recap
- 5 years in – my career as a food blogger
And lastly, a big thank you to all of my readers. This blog wouldn’t be what it is without you. I love hearing from you and your reviews of the recipes! I can’t thank you enough for your support and can’t wait to cook up more recipes for you guys!