Ever fall into that trap of one-story thinking?
(if so, keep reading. there's a fix in here.)
I have. My own experience – when I launched my biz – was this “ I’m a CPA, so I need to talk, act, and offer services like a CPA.”
Never mind that I’d built and staffed departments (in tax), used my accounting career to scratch my travel itch for 10 years (in tax and audit), and installed my own kitchen sink during a remodel (among many other DIY projects). And nevermind that I didn't even like doing normal CPA stuff.
I was stuck in my one story.
And all the coaches and marketing experts and sales consultants that I’d hired (and there were many)...
They didn’t get it. They didn’t get me. They didn’t get that I wanted to be more.
Yes, they agreed I was stuck in “I’m just a CPA, I need to act like it”
But they couldn't help me replace it with something meaningful, that I could connect to.
They couldn’t help me get to “If you’re more than a CPA, than what are you? Who are you? Why are you so good at being Wendy? Because quite honestly, Wendy’s accomplished some pretty frickin’ amazing things for a shy girl from rural Wisconsin. I think Wendy's amazing and can't wait to know more about her.”
(Honestly, I don’t know who could have helped me uncover all that. Is that a life coach question? A career coach type of question? A branding expert question? Or just a question that a more experienced coach would ask? Let me know if you have the answer)
I might be inventing a new industry right here…
OK, back to the task at hand.
I had pigeon-holed myself. And nobody could help me break out. It was all up to me.
Good thing I like assessments and deep thinking, or I wouldn’t be able to share this exercise with you.
I had to figure out ME all by myself.
It took me a while to figure these out. I had to reverse-engineer a bunch stuff in order to figure out that THESE questions were most important for me to get results in my business.
These questions piggy-back off of your positive experiences. You’ve been successful before, so I know you’ve got the right mindset to be successful again. You’ve also got the tools (though you’ll use them differently as you redefine what success means to you).
I also talk about success a lot (the word count on “success” here is insane). Define it as you wish. Don’t resonate with “successful” as I’m using it here? Try “fulfilled” or “satisfied” with your work, your career, or your life instead.
- When have you felt successful in the past? Think of career moves. It’s OK if your definition of success has changed over time, and prior successes required you to sacrifice free time. Don’t ignore the sacrifice, but look for clues as to how you operate when you’re successful.
- What conditions were present? Think of the people who helped you (or who you helped), the energy level, the physical space, the budget.
- What about successes OUTSIDE of your career? Weddings, home-renovations, volunteering, hobbies. These unpaid successes provide clues to what motivates you to action.
- What kind of accountability helped you get things done? Deadlines? Weekly or daily checkins with your boss/friend/accountability partner?
- What motivated you to be successful? Praise? Pay? Personal satisfaction? A sense of accomplishment?
Spend some time with these. If you’re a deep thinker (like me) then you’ll want some time for these answers to roll around in your brain before solidifying like a July 4th Jello & whipped cream dessert.
So…. Now what.
So, they say that success leaves clues. So, what clues do you see?
To provoke your brainwaves, one of my own examples:
My husband and I bought a home in Maine. It was a life-long dream of mine to have a second home. Market forces collided and we got a great deal on a fixer upper. With some (a lot of) tweaking, we converted it to a 6-bed, 2 bath vacation rental home. To afford it, we had to furnish and rent it out within a few months. Which meant lots of paint, contractors, shopping, and driving over 4 hours each way. We were both working full time in demanding professional careers.
This was a labor of love for me. I love home reno, cottage style, and Maine too. Decorating was fun, as was building the dining room table and built in banquet (yes, I did that!). The windows are huge, so even though we worked 16 hour days to get the home ready, it felt like I was in the woods. It was peaceful (even over the table saw noise). The before & after was striking. I was really proud of everything we had accomplished. (While I did this with my husband, make no mistake, I was the project manager in almost every aspect of this transformation).
We hired contractors to help us finish. There was no other way. We had to delegate. We also started running out of time. Some of the “make it pretty” projects turned into “make it decent” or “make it not-so-gross” or even “next year.” As a result, the budget ran away a little bit (ok, a LOT). But we were able to rent it out right away. And cover operating costs.
Moreover, the introverted CPA (moi) also booked loads of potential renters, created a website, and setup systems for checkin/checkout. All firsts, and I was really proud of my creations. And how I could ask for $2500/week from strangers!
We did this all in 4 long weekends onsite. And I happened to be pregnant too. Seriously, this was one of the most fun times of my life.
So, what does this reveal about what makes me tick, about how I arrive at success?
- Being creative with decorating and making my home beautiful, especially with the limited budget (I got really creative!), was very energizing and exciting.
- The woods energize me, constantly.
- With the right goal – and doing what energizes me – I am unstoppable
- I thrive under a timeline (and I don’t mind working more if I’m really engaged or connected to the goal). Without a fixed deadline, my mojo withers.
- It wouldn’t have been possible without our team of contractors, and deep pockets afforded by two professional salaries.
- I love the intensity of a short term project.
- I love a lot of work.
- I love a challenge, a big one.
- Seeing the makeover gives me a thrill and motivates me too.
Did I realize all this as it was happening? No, I couldn't see past my happiness at decorating.
Did I see myself or my accomplishments as remarkable? No, I thought I was just a (relatively crazy) home-improvement addict who happened to be a CPA.
Only with hindsight do I see the clues, my strengths, my values, my motivations. They show up in other areas of my life, constantly. They’re part of my nature. They’re part of what makes me, me.
And you’ve got strengths, values and motivations that shape who you are.
You just have to start looking for them.
Actually, can you please start looking for them?
And using your strengths, your values, and your motivations to your advantage?
Because when you act like you – not somebody else – all the things you want flow toward you as if by magic.
When you put a lid on you, that’s when unfulfilled, dissatisfied, grumpy and depressed show up. Among other things, not being yourself isn’t very client attracting…
Because under the right conditions, you thrive. Your business thrives. Your personal life thrives.
Under the wrong conditions, you wither. And that’s no fun for you or the people around you.
Are you ready to drop the story that you're just a _____ and start working with everything that makes you tick?
There is so much more to you than you think. You offer so much more than you think to the world, your family, your clients.
Do yourself a favor.. Take the long weekend. Answer these questions while you’re at the beach, on a walk or bike ride, or waiting for the fireworks. Journal, talk, think.
Tell me how you have succeeded, thrived, at various points in your life. Tell me what you've learned about yourself.
Over the next few posts, we'll build on it. Turning insight into aligned action. Turning aligned action into happy money.
In the meantime, I can't wait to hear from you.