For me, 2020 has gotten off to a good, but slow start. It’s good because mentally and emotionally I’m feeling better than I have in months. It feels rather slow because I’m still trying to get my footing as I climb the mountain of entrepreneurship instead of seeking a sense of comfort in the valley of employment. This week I’ve received much needed encouragement and guidance from several different people. I know the value of supportive actions and sound advice so I’m sharing four things from four different people that have helped me build momentum this week. I hope this helps you too.
At the end of our weekly bible study, Kendra, a member of my church, asked about my job hunt. I told her that I’m no longer trying to work for others. Instead, I’m dedicating my time, talent and sincerity to my own family’s businesses. I explained that Sheaux Fresh Sustainable Foods and Legacy Builders are companies my husband and I started and that I’m refocusing all of my efforts on building those businesses for us.
When she asked how it’s going I spoke honestly about my challenges, which include all of the common tasks of building new businesses. I also shared that I’m homeschooling two children, commuting across town to bring one child to one of the best schools in the city, while managing the stress, anxiety, and sadness that set in since losing my job.
She shared a few of her challenges, which in some ways mirrored a few of mine, and stated that to keep track of all she has to do, she schedules everything. I keep a large written calendar with my family’s plans at home, a daily planner in my purse, and an electronic calendar on my phone and computer, but they weren’t like Kendra’s. She showed me the calendar on her phone, full of color-coded blocks from morning until evening.
Every space was full and every moment was accounted for. She said that’s how she stays on track and I like it. It’s like a zero balance budget. Just like we should budget every dollar, to be sure we don’t misuse or lose our money, it’s a good idea to budget every hour. That includes time for entertainment, rest, and self-care.
Today I scheduled everything that I know I must do for the next four months. Documenting all of my tasks allowed me to see how much I’ve already been balancing. I also see ways to improve my use of time. As my husband pointed out, it shows that I’ve been working full time for months, regardless of my unemployment status.
Network, Network, Network
Karla, one of my closest friends, recently shared a social media post about how networking has worked for her in ways she could not have predicted. Basically, over ten years ago she started an online business and befriended a blogger who introduced her to a television broadcaster, who years later invited her to a fundraiser. At the fundraiser Karla met two executives who invited her to sit on an advisory council where she met the vice president of a bank, which then gave her the best financing deal to close on a life-changing business deal. Phew!
Who do you know? Who do the people that you know know? Who do they know? Do they know what you do? Do they trust and respect you? Would they collaborate with you? Have you ever helped connect people that you know with each other so they could collaborate?
These days people have extensive social media connections but often lack interpersonal connections, which are far more important and effective. In addition to creating personal connections, it’s important to nurture and maintain those relationships because you will need information, access, skills, and guidance to be successful at most endeavors. Likewise, people may need your talents and connections to reach their goals. A strong, supportive network is often the difference between sucessfully executing a plan and struggling as plan falls short.
During a text conversation with my dad this week, I was reminded to keep fighting for what is important to me. When he was about the same age I am now, my dad began implementing major changes that I’m certain have benefitted his health. He started exercising regularly, swimming almost every day. He stopped eating red meat, then poultry, then all meat. At times he has been vegan. He prays, meditates and does the things that bring him joy, such as jamming on his drums or flute in his basement. He recognized the importance of taking good care of himself and made that a priority.
During the past year my dad has been working through a few health issues that caused him pain and resulted in a few hospitalizations. While encouraging me, he also updated me on how he’s doingand said, “I’m still fighting for my health.” That stuck with me. He’s been fighting for his health for over 20 years, remaining focused on avoiding foods that are known to cause illness. He has been fighting by exercising to make sure his body works like it should. He didn’t just start fighting when he discovered a problem, he’s been fighting for his health all along.
Through it all he continues to love us unconditionally, offer his guidance, and crack a few jokes here and there, all while staying on the path to his goals. I’m inspired to consistently fight for what I value. I want to be as diligent as my dad is, consistently training myself to be stronger and better.
Let Gifts Be a Blessing
Earlier this week I volunteered to lead bible study at a nursing home with a group of my church members. It had been nearly a year since I was terminated from the job I loved, being a nursing home administrator. I hadn’t set foot inside a nursing home since. I’ve had job interviews at assisted living facilities and apartments for senior citizens. I’ve continued to attend the meetings of the New Orleans Council on Aging. My first client for my business, Legacy Builders, is an elder. Yet for almost a year, I avoided nursing homes the way one would avoid an ex after a sudden, painful breakup.
During the bible study, my husband Thaddaeus, called me. Instead of answering, I texted him, telling him where I was. I smiled at his reply.
He reminded me to consider my gifts and to recall how they have blessed people. In a year when I’ve constantly asked myself, “what did I do wrong?,” it’s been difficult to recognize all that I’ve done right. When my mind and spirit stumbled into dark, sad places, I’ve had to remind myself of my gifts and make myself use them in new ways.
Beyond smiling and thinking, “he’s so sweet,” I didn’t think much about the message at the time. Thad has been encouraging me since 1996, when I was afraid to share my writing at college poetry slams. It wasn’t until a day or two later, when I really considered the importance of prayer, blessings, and gifts, that I gave more thought to his quick message. Have I been a blessing? Am I really utilizing my gifts? Do I even understand the talents, abilities, and miracles that might be dormant inside me, just waiting to be activated for the benefit of my community? I’m paying better attention now. I’m determined to be a good steward of my gifts so that they will be a blessing.
January 2020 felt like the longest month ever. For me, that’s been a blessing because it’s the first time in a long time that I’ve truly felt like myself, as opposed to constantly trying to feel better. The slow start has been good for me. I think I’m ready to pick up the pace. I’m gaining momentum. Scheduling everything that matters, nurturing my networks, staying in the fight, and making sure that my gifts are blessing the community will help me as I continue to build a legacy while balancing this life.