I did something yesterday that is kind of scary, but ultimately empowering... a vote of confidence in myself, if you will.
I released my Safety Net.
Joy of Energy (my wonderful business, passion project and the entrepreneurial face of my life purpose) officially opened in May of 2009 when I registered with the Oregon Secretary of State. In other words, I have been in business for over eight years.
...and for that entire time, I have had some additional form of employment, until yesterday.
My Safety Net was born when I graduated from college with no business plan, no business training and no idea what it took to run my own company. Naturally, I did what more and more young adults do these days when they want to enjoy a new experience, and I took off to live in a foreign country for a year. I worked at a language school in Spain, traveled all around Europe and perfected my Spanish. It was great!
When I returned to the US and started to think about considering building my business, I applied to a couple of local high schools as a substitute teacher and private tutor. After all, I figured it was a good idea to have a Safety Net as I tried to bring some clarity to the nebulous idea of what I was doing with my company.
During the first couple of years of Joy of Energy, my Safety Net paid to keep my business alive. I didn't make a lot of money as a substitute teacher and tutor, but it was a lot more than I earned from my business, and it allowed me the time and freedom to continue to grow personally and professionally.
The ratio of my sources of income gradually shifted, and for the last couple of years, I have been spending much less time working my second job. But even as my business grew more and more profitable, I still kept a couple of spaces open in my calendar to meet with high school students and teach them Spanish. I would explain myself to someone, listing the fact that I love speaking Spanish (true), I enjoy working with teenagers (true most of the time) and that I viewed it also as an opportunity to offer some mentorship and life skills to students who spend all day in their brains and out of their hearts (definitely true). But the hidden reason that I continued to hold onto my second job--the reason that I just discovered yesterday, when I felt a twinge of fear as I let it go--is that I have been afraid to lose my Safety Net.
This had been the plan all along: my business would eventually grow to booming success (still working on the booming part, but it's getting there) and I would get to devote myself completely to the work I love the most. I knew at the end of the school year this past June that I was done with my second job, and yet, I still felt a little jolt of fear yesterday when I informed the school that I would no longer be available.
I listened with a compassionate ear to all the concerns raised by my Fear Body (which is, after all, only trying to keep me safe). Here are some of them:
- What if I have a really slow month (or a few really slow months) and I can't pay my bills?
- What if all this amazing progress and momentum I've achieved stops?
- What if I really need those extra few thousand dollars a year I was making with my Safety Net and then I don't have it?
You get the idea. All of these fears essentially boil down to the core Fear of Failure. If I fail at my business, I no longer have a backup source of income.
In response to all these doom-and-gloom What If? questions from my Fear Body at the idea of releasing my Safety Net, I played my own What If? game with my Heart:
- What if my business continues to grow and become more profitable?
- What if the extra time and energy I have from not working a second job gets to go into my own work and creative projects instead?
- What if I trust myself enough to know that my business is already succeeding, and will continue to do so?
- What if my enjoyment of speaking Spanish, working with youth and offering mentorship gets to be met in a more fulfilling way than working with bored high school students?
- What if I allow my expertise and established work history speak for itself, and trust that more and more people will want to continue to work with me?
- What if I get to be paid lavishly to love my life more every day?
This second What If? game is way more fun, and ultimately more indicative of all the work I've done to get here. During these last 8+ years, my company and I have been growing up together. My Safety Net provided not only a financial airbag, but an emotional cushion that I am finally ready to release.
I no longer need the idea of a backup plan. I fully step into radical trust of myself, of my work, of my darling business (basically my 8-year old child) and of my ability to continue to grow and thrive.
Here's to soaring without a net! What If...?
I invite you to play your own game of "What If?"
We are all fairly accustomed to the version of this game played by our Fear Bodies, where the What If? questions usually end in worst-case scenarios.
But what if we were to use this same inquiry to imagine a healthy and positive outcome? (See what I did there?)
I introduce you to "What If? Up-Thinking."
Rather than using our What If? to give voice to all the ways in which something could possibly go wrong, let's use the power of What If? to up-level the perceived possible outcomes into eager anticipation, rather than anxiety.
Here's how to play the game:
- Begin by choosing your own adventure: You know that thing you've been holding onto some resistance, fear, anxiety or concern about? Yeah, that one. Breathe this situation into your awareness.
- Allow your Fear Body to voice their What If? concerns around the situation. Remember that your Fear Body exists to try and keep you safe, so it's trying to be helpful and keep you from getting hurt. Sit with compassion and allow it to do its job, and make a list of all the What If? worst-case scenarios it offers up for consideration.
- Thank your Fear Body.
- Read through this first list of What Ifs? and try to identify the core theme(s). What is the root of your Fear Body's concern?
- Take a moment to close your eyes and breathe.
- Drop into your Heart and invite it to share its wisdom with you.
- Allow your Heart to voice its What If? hopes around the situation. Remember that your Heart exists to inspire and propel you forward, and that part of its magic comes from dreaming bigger than you might otherwise allow yourself. Sit with whatever emotions arise as your Heart offers you its list of What If? best-case scenarios.
- Thank your Heart.
- Read through your second list of What Ifs? and try to identify the core theme(s) there. What is the root of your Heart's hope?
- Sit with these core themes from each list and notice how they inform each other. What do you feel as you contemplate the beliefs associated with each What If?
This game invites us to not only up-level our thinking, but to go deep into identifying the root of our hypothetical beliefs. The clearer the relationship we have with our What If? scenarios, the easier it is for us to create new patterns of thinking and choosing.
I'm curious to hear how this game goes for you! Feel free to let me know how it goes, or contact me for a consultation if you would like some support.