Life can be crazy and hectic sometimes.
The thing is, finding the right ways to learn while developing your expertise (and yes, adulting and doing life and family) can feel mind-boggling.
I’m beginning to realize that information and industry knowledge can feel so siloed. How do you know where to go to find the right solutions, answers, facts, and so on, to get from point A to point B?
At Palo Alto Software (makers of Bplans), we hear this from small business owners and entrepreneurs a lot too:
What will it take to get my business from where it is now to where it’s going to go?
What if what I really want is to go out on my own and start a business?
What is it like to start a business if I have a family and funding is hard to find?
The resources and opportunities to learn and grow are out there
The thing is, there are solutions. There are resources. There are places and tools that can help solve them. Take our tools LivePlan and Outpost, for instance, and our blogs, of course—we built these to help small businesses solve their pain points and grow.
If I’m looking for marketing expertise, I have my go-to newsletters, blogs, and podcasts.
If I want to learn about being a mom, I ask my family and friends.
If I’d like to get the best tips for staying healthy and active, I’ll lean on my local athletic club and stand out athletes in and from Eugene.
If I want to get inspired to get involved in the community, I find out what my local Young Professionals network is up to and the organizations they’re involved with.
Do we have to pick just one path to really be happy and successful?
The challenge I keep running into is asking myself—with all the possible places I can direct my attention, do I really have to pick just one? The foundations of a linear trajectory stem back to my childhood. The one question reiterated, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I selected my courses, extracurriculars, internships, major for one thing. I curated my choices to lend themselves to being good at one thing.
I can be the best job candidate, the best pick, the best teammate—so long as my development points to one thing. Everything else that doesn’t fit in the puzzle could arguably be a distraction.
But why can’t I be this and that? It’s similar to the questions we get asked each day from our community of entrepreneurs and small business owners.
With each publication, source, connection, and more the advice tends to relate to this thing or that thing. You can be great at building your business or your career if you focus all your attention there. You can be a great mom if you purchase all of the top recommended car seats and nursery items. You can be great at staying healthy if you work out at one gym and eat whole foods. You can have a great marriage if you read up on the five languages of love.
But, there aren’t always mentions of how I can try to accomplish this thing—be an X, do Y, and so on, while my husband is building a business. And while I’m still working full time, trying to schedule necessary appointments, and we’re volunteering on committees at lunch and after work. All this while trying to uncover just one single hour to ourselves for self care—and above all right now, while we’re figuring out how to be new parents for our beautiful baby girl.
Stop apologizing for seeking balance
So how do I figure out the balance in all parts of my life?
Again and again, I yearn to learn more, but I feel that different parts of me are advancing because I’m focusing my efforts on them—while others are getting neglected, or left behind. Sometimes it feels overwhelming and I just want to give up.
Until I got my hands on a book that gave me the pep talk I needed.
I finally realized that yes, I can be this and that—I just got stuck in a standstill because I couldn’t let go of apologizing for all the things I identified as. I can be a great mom and work full time. I can be a digital marketing whiz and creative dance instructor. I can be past me while I work on future me.
The book is “Girl, Stop Apologizing” by Rachel Hollis.
It’s fitting that my mom gifted me Rachel Hollis’ book for my birthday. I think through osmosis (O.K., but actually my lengthy talks on the phone with her) that she knew this was the book I needed at this point in time of my life.
Here’s the part that really stood out:
“It’s possible to pursue something for yourself while simultaneously showing up well for the people you love.
It’s possible to be a great mother and a great entrepreneur. It’s possible to be an awesome wife and still want to get together regularly with your girlfriends.
It’s possible to be this and that. It’s possible to decide that you’re going to be centered in who you are and what matters most to you and let other people’s opinions fall away.
Don’t buy into the hype or the pressure or the guilt that you’ve got to be one or the other.”
Rachel Hollis—you are speaking my language. I couldn’t have felt more validated in this one paragraph and it was just what I needed to read to feel empowered.
You don’t have to be just one thing or another
Trust me, my husband, friends, and family have all been incredible by giving me messages like this throughout the ebbs and flows of life. But sometimes you just need a moment of solitude and a book straight in your lap to have the exact words you’ve been wanting to see staring you straight in the face.
So here’s my rallying message and fill-in-the-blank template that I’d like you to complete.
“I’m ________ and _________.”
That’s it. It’s that simple.
Maybe yours is: “I’m running a business and sitting on a nonprofit board, or “I’m trying to get a loan to grow my company and I’m still working full time at a day job.”
Jot it down. Say it out loud in the morning to start your day with intention. Run it through your mind in moments of doubt and uncertainty.
I even give you permission to fill-in-the-blanks more than one time. I believe that versatility and complexity and balance can all co-exist.
Because for me:
I’m a full-time employee and a loving mom.
I’m an all-out extrovert and a quiet puzzle-doer.
I’m a gracious dancer and an absolute klutz in real life.
I’m a daughter, and a wife, and a friend, and a volunteer, and a supporter, and a giver, and a doer, and a maker, and…and…
…and you know what? I’m going to stop apologizing for it.
What are you going to stop apologizing for?