Visualizing Your Self-Employed Life, with Erin Bradley

Episode 60:

In 2007, I became self-employed in pursuit of “freedom and flexibility.” Unfortunately, I did so with no game plan and no safety net to speak of. By 2008, I was so broke, I had to ride my bicycle to meet a new client as I didn’t have money for gas. When my card was declined for a small coffee as the client walked through the door (and bought my coffee), I realized something had to give.

I spent the next 3 years studying the habits of highly successful entrepreneurs, and ultimately developed a strategy to promote my value in a way that felt authentic, easy and FUN! We also started investing in real estate, which now affords us the opportunity to live our dream life, in our dream home. (It’s easier than you might think!)

By 2012, I’d gone from broke to 6 figures… and I promptly burned out. I had no systems in place to manage the growth and found myself trading my time for money. Pregnant with our second child, I was drowning in life, and in business. I tried convincing myself to be “grateful” because we finally had money to pay the bills, but I was ready to throw in the towel altogether.

Luckily, I didn’t quit! I sought help, built systems, and started hiring. By 2015, the business had doubled again. Today, our business continues to grow and I do much less in order to do much more. I focus on the essential and show others how to do the same!

What You Will Learn:

  • Why systems are the key to your success
  • The power of a “brain dump” to clear your mind
  • Visualizing what you want your life to look like
  • Planning your schedule to include both the essential “rocks” and “white space”
  • Setting simple rules for your daily, weekly, and monthly activities
  • How  and why you need to set boundaries, and honor them
  • How a small amount of structure is more liberating than restrictive

Additional Resources:

Leaving Your J-O-B

So you’ve finally done it; you’ve taken the leap in pursuit of the “freedom and flexibility” of self-employment! Congratulations! Welcome to the world of the footloose and fancy-free! Now it’s time to decide exactly how you want your life to look and feel, and how you’re going to create your business to be a vehicle to support this vision, rather than rob you of it!

I see far too many people struggle to find success, and work 24/7 in pursuit of achievement, and once they reach some level of success, they allow that success to be the excuse to continue working around the clock. Next thing you know, the freedom you were seeking becomes seemingly impossible to enjoy, because you’re terrified of losing traction. If you never designed your ideal life before you started, it will be difficult to change course once you get rolling. So before you take one more step, I urge you to get clear about what the heck you’re actually seeking from this journey. In order to do this, I recommend what my coach refers to as a “brain dump.” Set a timer for 20 minutes, silence your phone, and start writing EVERYTHING that’s on your mind…projects, to-do lists, everything. Your brain is designed to process information, not store it. Once your mind is empty, it’s time to start envisioning your dream life and business.

Spend the next 20 minutes free writing about what you really want. At the top of the page, write “A year from now, I am celebrating…” And don’t limit yourself! No goal is too big, no dream is unrealistic. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. Don’t worry about how you’re going to get there. Just let your mind wander. The path will unfold only once you’ve DECIDED what it is you want out of this life!

Being Proactive With Your Vision

Now that you have clarified your vision, you can start planning your business to support the lifestyle you want to create. The key to this is proactivity. If you are used to spending your days consumed by the reactive, it’s time to take back control. Remember, you wanted to be your own boss. It’s time to BE the boss! There are a few strategies I recommend to help you take the wheel of your life and business.

The biggest is to set simple rules for your days, weeks, and months…rules to live by that make it crystal clear when you’ve won the day, and when you haven’t. This can be setting aside a chunk of time to answer emails every day while otherwise staying out of your inbox (email reactivity is the enemy of progress!) It can be programming time into your day to make client phone calls or even taking time to relax. It can mean scheduling all of your proactive meetings on certain days of the week. This does NOT mean attempting to schedule out every hour of every day. By design, your business will require you to be reactive. Personally, I like to schedule chunks of “white space” in my calendar- time specifically left open to be filled with the inevitable reactive.

The goal here is to add some structure to an otherwise liberal day. For many of us entrepreneurs, we are escaping the shackles of the 9-5, and find ourselves avoiding structure…but a small amount of structure is incredibly liberating! Because once you’ve accomplished the essential, you’ve won the day. You’re one step closer to your goal, and the reactive can fill in around these blocks in your schedule. Embrace the simplicity of some rules in your schedule. Set the boundaries, and honor them. Take the wheel! We are all put on this earth to serve, but if you allow the needs of everyone around you to creep into every minute of your day, you’ll find yourself stuck, held back by the ‘busy-ness’ of the day. You know what you want. You know how to get there. No more excused…you’ve got this!