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I have been working remotely for almost three years now, and I need to tell you one thing – staying at home by myself didn’t do any good to me nor my business. There were days when I felt low, frustrated, left with my doubts, and challenges on my own although I talked to the clients and team members all day long on the phone, email, skype, zoom, Telegram, Slack, you name it. Something was missing in the equation.

Sometimes I would search for the right place with a ‘perfect aura’ in the house for a while before commencing my work – it could be my office (there are waaaay too many screens and my husband’s tech stuff there), it could be the kitchen (the main distractor happened to be the plants that were secretly calling for my attention and water), it could be the living room with its comfy couch that encouraged naps that only made me feel super lazy…

At some point, I realized that I do much less during the times when I stay home for work in comparison to when I go somewhere, change the environment to get a laser focus on my projects.

At home, I would get distracted by some chores that potentially needed immediate action, a new book I bought, and I have been dying to start reading. Sometimes I would begin indulging myself in some self- sabotaging and counterproductive activities like replying to not that important emails or tackling something I should have outsourced a long time ago.

It all belongs to the past, though. It didn’t support my goals nor business; hence, it had to come to an end.

I was thinking about doing something about it for a while, and then I realized that if there is no action following my thinking process, it’s all pipe dream.

I didn’t want to stay forever in the ‘I will find an office one day’ zone, as it was draining, unnecessary and got in the way of achieving what I had planned for the day.

How did I solve this challenge of mine? It happened in a few steps.

  1. I started going to the gym in the morning instead of leaving it for the evenings. I hit the gym at 6:30 am, and after I am done, it already feels that I left home (which I did) and did something productive. Then, staying at home by myself for the rest of my day became a whole new experience, a better one. You don’t need to be that drastic all at once. Perhaps going for a short 30-minute walk in the morning before you start your day would work for you?

  2. I decided not to stay home 5 days a week. I picked 3 days when I drove to a café and worked from there for 2-3 hours per day. I didn’t want to stay there for 8 hours, but believe me, being around people even without chatting with them was a 180-degree shift to my mind. After coming back home, my energy was already elevated!

  3. I joined a co-working space, which happened to be a game-changer. I can work from multiple locations (as It’s a chain); there are other professionals around me, occasionally I even get my problem solved after having a chat with someone at lunchtime. Magic happens when you open up and see opportunities whatever place you go, let it be a co-working space.

  4. I committed to having a little chat with at least 1 RANDOMLY selected person per day. Phone calls don’t count. I run my business 100% on-line so it would be too easy. I started talking to cashiers, people in elevators, people waiting at the street-lights, those pouring their morning coffee at the co-working kitchen… Although I was paralyzed to interact with total strangers at first as I much prefer talking with people I already know or do business with rather than ‘aliens’, I just went for it. It worked. It really did. There is something magical about having a conversation with another human being. It’s a process of exchanging energy; you should start practicing to feel the difference.

  5. I started reaching out to other coaches to get support and feel connected. Yes, even a coach needs another coach to stay on track. It’s like finding an angel investor who pumps money into your company or finding a personal trainer who will push you to your limits when you think there is no energy left to help you get things done.

Do whatever works for you, but remember one thing – if something doesn’t serve you, you need to change it.

Surrounding yourself with the four walls instead of people who can support you is a self-sabotaging strategy that may slow down your business.  Besides that, you never know if your next prominent investor or a customer don’t come from one of those little chats in the co-working kitchen or cafes…

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

I was recently reviewing investor materials for one of the startups I work with. I appreciated the concept, as it is close to my mind and heart. What I was surprised about was the lack of a road map for the next 12 months or at least one for the next several months. Not even one of those graphs, outlining the abolishment of the main competitor and a total takeover of the market, that are so popular among startups.

The first question I asked myself was “where are they going with this project?” Well, I ask this type of questions as a coach, but in this case, it was a purely business-oriented question that any investor who considers pumping their money into that idea will definitely ask as well.

It was followed by a lot more questions. “Where do they want to be in a year? How about two, or three years?”, ‘How will they know that they are on track?”, “What is the next milestone and when they want to achieve it?” It was all vague to me, with no defined gameplan.

This lack of a plan very clearly demonstrated why setting a precise goal and nailing it down to the steps one needs to take to achieve it is crucial, not only for a company but also for a professional. If there is no timeline, there is no plan. If there is no plan, well, there might be no results either. Everyone wants more money, but that’s just not how it works.

This is what I call – ‘I want something, but don’t know what exactly’ syndrome. At some point, you may get what you want (whatever it is), but since you haven’t defined it, you might be wandering around for years without even knowing how close to the success you are.

You might be so close that you could take a few steps to the right and be there, but since you don’t know where you are and what you are chasing, you just keep going in circles. It’s like being lost in the woods, where all the trees look the same, without a compass or an idea if you are searching for the closest village, or for the main road that will take to the nearest civilization or Ariadne’s Thread that will somehow take you to your destination. Frustrating, huh?

It’s equally irritating for my clients as it is for start-up’s CEOs and to the investors as well.

‘I need help, but don’t make me look at my problem’ Syndrome

What I discovered recently is that startup owners hate being asked questions as it makes them think twice before they self-proclaimed themselves the next Google, Facebook or you-name-it company. It makes them re-examine their idea.

How do you feel when you are sure that something will work and someone dares to question it? Pretty irritated, right? When working with a startup once, I learned that the CEO thought I asked too many questions. I was amused, but also quite helpless to do anything else. How can I help anyone achieve their goals if they don’t grant me access to the information about where they are right now?

Without exploring what they think about themselves, their ideas and what they perceive as their core value proposition, I don’t really know what needs to be addressed first. It signals to me that something is off and that they don’t want me to know where they currently are (is there some dead body in the closet?), and it becomes extremely difficult to figure out what strategy might be best for them as I don’t truly know where they are.

This is what I perceive as ‘ I want you to help me, but don’t ask me to look closer at where I am right now, as I might not like what I discover’ syndrome. It sounds quite scary, right? If fact, knowing where you are is quite comforting as you eliminate the ‘unknown’ factor.

Here is a process to follow to make the first move and get helped:

  1. The first step to get help is to acknowledge that you need it.

  2. Be eager to examine where you are and what baggage (your experiences, ideas, biases, actual events that happen in your life, etc.) you are carrying with you.

  3. Once you are aware of the fact that you need help and you know where you are, there are three options:

  • A) Act on it and change things the way you want.

  • B) Accept the status quo and make an informed decision not to proceed.

  • C) Suppress/eject the idea and pretend you know nothing.

‘I am scared to death of taking action’ Syndrome

The last syndrome I want to talk about is the fear of taking action. If you are stuck there, worry no more! The only solution is to start doing. Not thinking, but doing.

Remember when I mentioned at the very beginning of this blog post that I worked with a startup that didn’t have a 12 - month plan clearly outlined for its potential investors?

It would be just as bad for them to have a ten-year plan with no steps being taken to achieve it. The fear of the consequences of our moves stops us way too often, even though the majority of those fears are made up and will definitely not materialize.

To come to the same realization, think about the last time you were really doubting a course of action, where you were absolutely sure that your world would collapse because of something you were about to do. Chances are, the world didn’t collapse and everything was just fine. How silly did you feel when you realized that all the worry was unnecessary? I have been there, we all have.

The bottom line is this. Build a plan, and don’t let it stop there. Test your ideas in real life, instead of indulging yourself in a never-ending planning process. It only encourages you not taking action. Seriously, go and test one of your crazy ideas right now!

If you need help in nailing down what your next step is, write down your name in the comment section to let me know you want YOUR FIRST FREE coaching session done! I will conduct a free session for the first 3 people who write their names in the comment section 😊.

Side gigs have been gaining popularity lately. But why are they so valuable?

Side gigs provide a wealth of benefits even beyond the additional income. Pursuing at least two careers not only allows you to diversify your experience, but also comes in handy if you decide to leave either of them. Providing additional flexibility without losing stability or safety, side gigs are gaining momentum as more people want extra control over their careers.

Many of my colleagues, friends, and customers are among those with multiple careers. While they all have different individual specialties and skills, their side jobs all provide an additional income stream that sticks around if they are looking for (or designing) a new job opportunity.

The rarest type of person: the one who knows what they want

There are people out there who have dreamed about pursuing a very specific career path from their early childhood. You may even know someone who has always wanted to become a doctor, an actress, or an architect - lucky them! Yet, in the majority of cases we tend to follow the career path that seems to be the most reasonable – “Engineers are paid well, I will become an engineer’ or with which we are most familiar with – “my mum worked for the same company for 35 years, I will search for a stable employer that I can retire with”.

There is nothing wrong with either of those examples. The problem starts when you are pursuing a career that you thought was suitable for you, but in which you have no genuine interest.

It may have started when you enrolled in a university for a major that was trendy at the time, or close to the place you lived, or because your grandpa insisted on you going to the same school he went to, or any number of other ways. But when you find yourself in a job that isn’t fulfilling it’s time to break the pattern.

Perks of having a day job

Having a 9-5 job that pays the bills while developing a personal project on the side sounds like the way to go, especially for those who are considering a career transition. But this begs the question, ‘Do I need a 9-5 job at all?’ or ‘Why do I need to keep a job I don’t like?’

You don’t! You need to answer a few questions before you leave it, though:

  1. Do I have enough funds to support myself without a day job? If the answer is ‘no’, you may want to think twice before you quit it. You can start saving for the time you might not have a steady income, but you need a plan that will help you to secure the required funds for the transition period. If the answer is ‘yes’, think how long those funds will suffice for and what measures you will take during the transition period to land a new job or create a new opportunity for yourself (a new gig, your new company, etc) that will replace the previous income.

  2. What do I want instead? What career do I want to pursue?

  3. Do I have the skill set to transition to my dream career? What’s missing?

  4. How do I start the transition? Do I need any help in creating a game plan that I will want to implement?

Then you get to work! Remember, ideas without execution remain in the ‘wishful thinking’ zone, and you don’t want to stay there for too long.

As you probably know, pursuing a day job you dislike might be tough, but if you have an exit plan, you can not only make the transition period comfortable but also a learning experience.

Job security and other vicious cycles – will you break it?

It’s super common to want a job that provides security, a steady income, predictability, and a part of something bigger. That’s what we are being taught at school: get good grades, graduate, land a good job, save some money to buy a house in the suburbs.

Does it sound familiar? Well, it did to me. Is it the only option out there? I don’t think so.

From childhood until my mid 20's, I sincerely believed that my place was in a big corporation with very tight etiquette, very rigorous protocol, lots of procedures to follow, suits, and elegant dresses with high heels.

Side note: Before I entered the ‘corporate phase’ in my life, I wanted to be like one of the Spice Girls. But we will get to this story in a second.

When I got my first job at a mid-size firm with a very hierarchical structure, a culture that promoted treating its employees like servants rather than assets, and pushed for sales even if that meant misleading its customers, I realized it was not for me. So I left.

Did I have an exit plan and enough funds to leave? Sure I did.

The perks of having a side gig

Back in my corporate days in Poland, I pursued two jobs: my corporate 11-7 (a variation of the well-known 9-5), and a side gig performing with a group of like-minded artists, singers, and dancers, with a musical show. This was my passion project that brought additional income to my monthly budget.

It brought not only money and an opportunity to explore what a different career path might look like, but it boosted my confidence as well. One needs guts to perform in front of thousands of people who paid to see and listen to you, believe me. It showed me what can be achieved when we step outside of our comfort zone and work hard to excel at something. When I started, I was absolutely terrified before entering the stage, but as time passed and my skills became more polished, I learned how to turn it into a motivational factor.

Performing showed me as well that I wanted to keep the arts as a hobby instead of transforming it into a way of living. Moreover, it saved me from spending the rest of my life wondering what could have been. What a blessing!

Surprise, surprise!

For many of my friends and colleagues, having a side gig provided not only money but new skills and confidence. With time, some of them used their new skills to transform their day jobs into their dream careers, especially after they came to realize that their careers were not providing what they needed.

In a comment below, let me know what your day job and what your side gig is – the most unexpected combination in the next week will be rewarded with 2 complimentary coaching sessions! 😊 Good luck!