I've officially been an entrepreneur for over 5 years now. 🙂 At this point I can honestly say I've made it; I've reached many of the goals I had from the beginning and I am now literally living my dream life!
I can work from home (or from anywhere in the world), I have a flexible schedule, about 90% of what I make is from passive income, I make enough money to live a very comfortable lifestyle, and I get to do what I love to do the most every day (learn new things, stay active and be creative). I also live in my dream city of San Diego so I never have to shovel snow anymore! I am the happiest I have ever been in my life and am so proud of everything I've been able to accomplish. In fact, I'd just like to take a brief moment to recognize that!
*Good job, self!*
Now, the past 5 years have definitely not been easy; had I known about all the crazy the things I was going to have to go through before I made the leap, I probably would have chosen to stay at my job and continued to live a more comfortable, reliable and structured life.
But, as a girl who's always loved a good challenge, pushing the limits, and working on personal growth, this was one challenge I just had to do for myself.
Looking back, I am so glad I made the decision to just go for it because I have grown so much over the past 5+ years, not only in business but in myself as well! Entrepreneurship is seriously the best way to work on your personal development; you become much more self-aware of who you are, have a better understanding of how you operate and you learn what you're actually good at and truly passionate about.
That being said, I feel like a completely different person compared to who I was before I started. I'm living much more authentically, doing the things I want to do and caring a lot less what people think (that was definitely a major roadblock I had to work through.)
There are still some things, however, that I'm still trying to work through. One major thing that still kind of bothers me is the fact that some friends still don't seem to understand what I'm doing with my life. I've reached many of my goals, have a lot of time freedom and yet I still continue to work and stay busy. I know they wonder why and I feel like they are constantly judging me, thinking all I care about is making money and getting stuff done.
Isn't it funny how we feel the most judged by the ones we are closest to?
What I should be doing, according to them, is getting out there more and "really living life" or doing more of the things they personally love to do.
But that's all relative because not everyone has the same interests, passions, and goals. Maybe their version of "really living life" is different from my version of "really living life." Their way isn't necessarily the right way (my way isn't either) but we should each have the freedom to choose how we want to spend our time without judgments.
There are a lot of things I used to do with certain friends that I no longer care to do (at least not as much.) For example; drinking, partying, spending tons of money shopping, consistently going on get-aways, and eating out excessively.
As I've grown over the past few years, I've come to realize that I was engaging in many of these things because I was unhappy with my situation at the time and needed some sort of temporary escape or instant gratification, to help me feel some sense of happiness in the moment. I also did many of these things simply because my friends were doing them and it was just something to do to pass the time.
After spending a lot of time alone with just myself, and without the influence of others, I've discovered my flow and what I naturally love to do. I no longer feel like I need to use some of these things as an escape from my own reality because I am genuinely happy doing what I do every day.
All that being said, at this point I'm beginning to realize that people only understand from their own level of perception and the experiences that have shaped their lives up to this point. Not everyone is going to understand where I'm coming from because they don't share the same experiences as me or have the same personality type as me (INFP).
I don't want to have to spend a lot of energy constantly explaining myself... I'd rather use that energy for greater things, like continuing to do what I personally love to do while also building my dream life!
I understand that some people will probably continue to share their opinions, try to give me advice and judge me for what I choose to do with my time but I want them to know that I am completely happy living my life the way I'm currently living it. Maybe some things will change down the line, but for right now I'm doing everything I want to be doing and feel like I'm meant to be doing! We all have choices and I choose to do the things I'm passionate about more often!
I'm sick of thinking about this topic (and constantly feeling like I need to explain myself) so I felt like writing a blog post about it would help me get all my thoughts out and work through them so I can put it all behind me and keep moving forward. After all, writing has proven to be a great outlet for me!
That being said, if you're curious about how I choose to spend my time, keep reading! I'll explain a little more about what you can usually find me doing with my time freedom so you can get a better understanding of where I'm coming from and what I'm trying to achieve.
1. Learning something new
As a person who gets bored easily, I've found that I have a deep need for constant brain stimulation. I enjoy spending most of my time learning and gaining new knowledge, especially when it comes to personal development and business topics.
There's always something new I can educate myself on and improve on, plus the possibilities of what I can create and the kind of person I can become really lights my fire! I literally jump out of bed every morning, excited to see where the day takes me!
I've spent most of my time this past year intensely focusing on my own personal development; figuring out who I am, what I'm best at and what I truly want to be doing with my time. In fact, I pretty much stopped doing all client work for the entire year, just so I could focus on learning more about myself and helping myself grow internally.
Once I was able to figure some things out, I started making changes wherever I could. Not too long after that, I noticed more and more awesome people were coming into my life, and all the negative people were starting to slowly fade away.
I've realized that once I know more about myself, I am better able to make choices that are more in line with my goals. Anything that isn't in line with my goals simply gets cut out so that I can make space in my life for more good things to enter. By doing this more often, I naturally become a better, happier and more successful version of myself. 🙂
Personal development helps me make the changes I need to make in order to grow, both internally and externally.
In addition, staying on top of trends and acquiring new skills in business make me more valuable. When I become more valuable, I become more in demand, which means I won’t have to work as hard to find new clients or attract new readers to my blogs. Plus, I'll get paid more in less time, which means more time freedom and less financial worry.
Being smart = security. And don’t we all want to feel secure?
2. Building my Brand
There is always something I can be creating or refreshing to help make my brand better, so I spend a lot of time researching ways to do this, tweaking my content or creating new content to help me attract my dream clients and make their overall experience working with me BETTER.
Entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to improve something. Afterall, who wants a mediocre experience when you can have an AMAZING experience?!
3. Figuring out ways to automate and streamline my businesses and blogs
Time is money and I love finding ways to make more money in less time and with less work. I do a lot of research on these topics and have spent a lot of time reading books and investing in online courses to help me optimize my time in the best way.
In fact, here are some recent courses I've taken and books I've read that have helped me organize, automate and better streamline many aspects of my business and blogs... all of them have been worth every penny!
Organize + Automate by Nesha Woolery
The Complete Online Business Blueprint by Wonderlass
Create. Profit. Party! by XO Sarah
Dare to Blog by XO Sarah
Grow Your 'Gram by XO Sarah
In addition, I finally decided to stop trying to do everything myself and started hiring people to help me create content for one of my blogs, which of course is a whole new learning curve for me. Regardless, I see it as a learning opportunity and a way to grow in new and different ways! Plus I want to set an example for others why it's a GOOD thing to hire others, not because you can't do it all, but because you should be spending most of your energy doing only the things you are great at. The more you do those things with 100% focus and energy, the faster you will get to where you want to be.
4. Writing blog posts
These is one of my favorite content marketing strategies because it just works... and keeps working on autopilot! I have many posts that have gone viral and continue to make me passive income to this day!
5. Putting together new ideas on how to help others
I might be a few years ahead of someone so I try to come up with things I wish I had when I first started. I'm constantly thinking about content I can create that will help guide aspiring entrepreneurs in the right direction so they are able to reach their own versions of success faster.
My design and marketing business is slowly becoming the kind of resource I wished I had from the beginning!
6. Getting together with a group of fellow bloggers
I've been getting together every few weeks with a group of fellow female bloggers/entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship can be a really lonely road so having a support group who gets you is super important! Whenever we get together, we vent about our struggles in entrepreneurship and personal development, brainstorm new ideas together, bounce ideas off each other and just generally hang out.
I also try to help them wherever I can with the technical or creative stuff when it comes to branding, website design, WordPress or various tools they can use to grow their own businesses and blogs.
Since I love talking about all of this stuff, all of this is fun for me! It never feels like work when you're truly passionate about what you do!
7. Writing about things I've learned along the way
I love to analyze, document and help others learn from me. What’s worked, what hasn’t worked? I try to make time to document all of this because I genuinely want to help others. Plus, it doesn't hurt to have something I can refer back to as well!
One huge thing I've learned is that your successes can come in waves. There are time periods when you make a lot of money and then there are time periods when you hardly make any money.
You need to make sure you are mentally and financially prepared for this. Nothing is guaranteed.
I've had my own luck with huge passive income amounts in the past, but, as I predicted might happen, the amounts of money I used to make off of those passive income sources (Uber, Lyft, Herbalife, etc.) has dwindled down A LOT over time. This is probably because I have more competition now (from people copying my ideas... damn those monthly income reports!) but also because a lot of things have changed with those companies that are out of my control.
So I had to get back to the drawing board to figure out new ways to make money and in the most optimized way so I don't have to feel like I have to work all the time.
Ahh, the highs and lows of entrepreneurship.
Regardless, all the posts I write on this blog help me work through things and help me learn from some of my own mistakes... and hopefully, they help some of you out there, too!
8. Channeling all of my energy and focus on what I want and not on what I don't want
I've been trying to focus more on the things that I want and forget about the people and things that bring me down. I want happiness, abundance, financial freedom, time freedom, and success, so I try to do more things that will get me closer to any goals I set for myself.
A year and a half ago, I started making a lot more passive income and so I decided to take a 6-week break from my work in the middle of summer. I tried to just sit around and watch TV, go shopping or go to the beach alone (since no one else was around because they were all at their jobs working) and just ended up getting bored.
As I said before, I need constant brain stimulation so I need to constantly be creating something, learning something or working towards something. I've always been a super busy person in general, involved in a large variety of things, so I'm realizing that the need to stay busy is just the way I'm wired!
9. Working out and staying active
I make time every week to stay active; I go for walks, hit the gym, play soccer, go hiking or just do something that helps me stay fit and healthy!
I want to take care of my health so that I can be the best that I can be. If I can’t take care of myself, how am I going to be able to take care of anyone else? If I don’t take care of my health, I’ll be leaning on someone else to have to take care of me, and is that fair to the other person?
10. Having an introvert day
As an introvert, sometimes I need to take a day to myself to recharge and take care of myself. The need for this happens more often after spending a lot of time with other people or after working on many different projects at once and having that overwhelming feeling, like I'm being pulled in a million different directions/everyone needs my help with something.
Scheduling in alone time is something I never knew I needed until I became an entrepreneur, but I've found that it's absolutely essential in order to maintain healthy energy levels, patience, low stress and a proper work/life balance. That being said, Sundays have become my so-called "Self-Care Sundays" where I spend pretty much my entire day in solitude, doing whatever I feel like doing. It's become a day I truly look forward to every week!
In addition, I also enjoy working from home alone; I can still connect with people online if I want to, but I can also keep them at a safe space away from me if I need to. Plus, many of the activities I do, like designing and writing, feel very soothing and enlightening to me... that's probably why I spend a lot of time doing those things! They never feel like work and they always make me feel good. 🙂
I love to travel and go on adventures to new places so I try to schedule a few trips a year.
This has been tough to do while I've been building up my businesses over the past few years as I haven't always had the funds for them. In fact, I used to go on so many vacations when I first started my business (out of stress/feeling like I needed a break from work/this ego thing I had going on that I felt like I could do whatever I wanted since I was my own boss), that they actually became one of the biggest contributors to my debt!
Of course, this ended up causing me more stress, which, in turn, ended up causing me to spend more money that I didn't necessarily have on things like food and partying (more instant gratification escape routes), which ended up causing me to gain weight, feel like shit, and put myself deeper and deeper into debt (40k to be exact.)
At some point, I started to realize that I was in a vicious cycle of unhappiness and stress. After some more time and thought, I figured out that I was the person responsible for my own unhappiness as I was the one making the choices that contributed to this cycle.
When I realized that all of my struggles were self-inflicted, I decided to break the cycle by making some changes, and I started by making some more responsible choices.
Once I started making some major sacrifices in regards to my standards of living (cutting back on the vacations, the eating out, the partying, etc.) I was able to start focusing more on paying off my credit card debt. It was hard to get through but it worked and I am now officially debt free!
I am now looking forward to doing more traveling and seeing more of the world!
Well that, in a nutshell, is what you can usually find me doing with all my time freedom.
Yes, I still "work" a lot (if that's what you perceive it as) and stay busy, but it's all for a good cause; I'm helping others create their dream life while continuously helping myself create my own! Plus I'm continuously keeping my brain stimulated.
In addition, being an introvert in an extrovert's world (50-74% of the population) means I naturally behave a bit different from "the norm." It's important to understand as a friend or family member that I am happy doing what I do every day, even if it's different from what you enjoy doing or the way you choose to live your life. There's no need to worry about me, try to change me or keep giving me advice... if I want it, I will come to you and ask for it. 😉
If I don't like something (whether that's something I do or something I think about) I try to let go of it and focus more on the things I do love and feel passionate about. I try not to judge other people for what they choose to do with their lives and hope others can learn to do the same. I understand that some people are just trying to help, but not everyone has the same interests or wants the same things so it's important to just let them be free to make their own choices, judgment-free. 🙂