Who Are You and What Brings You Joy?

Newlywed Chronicles: Entrepreneurial Burnout

Have you ever had a talent that grew until it defined you? For example: a doctor, a lawyer, a therapist, a concert pianist. I never defined myself as any one career role because I’ve done so many things throughout 26 years in business.

Yet, there is one role that has defined me — an Entrepreneur — someone with a talent for making money by her wits.

Lately, I’ve gone through so many major life changes that keeping up with all the hats required of an entrepreneur has left me overwhelmed and burnt out.

Because I’m tired of it all, my “energetic stance is off” (as my mentor Carolyn Cooper would say). I need to make money. But I am exhausted with all the processes involved.  Unless an entrepreneur is well established and has delegated thoroughly, she rarely gets to focus only on the things she loves or does best.

I’ll be honest, my energetic stance is self-sabotaging to say the least.  On one end my bank accounts demand filling and on the other side I’m ready to go on strike. As James 1:8 says, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” That comes across to people whether you want it to or not.

As a result, I’ve seriously considered taking a long sabbatical and letting my information products sell what they sell. Perhaps I need a radical change. Thus, I’ve been applying for jobs where I can either do something completely different or focus entirely on one area of expertise. It could be quite liberating to pack all those hats away in a box.

Even considering such a move is an emotional process. There’s the loss of dreams and plans for the future. There’s also the legitimate concern that if I step out of this fast-paced world for even 6 months, my skills will become obsolete.

Sitting Down with Yoda

Over breakfast Saturday morning my wise husband (whom I lovingly refer to as Yoda) said, “So what if you never make six figures again? Will that make you less of a person?”

I found myself answering, “Yes!”

He gave me an incredulous look, and I explained, “It would mean I gave up; I quit; I let my fears keep me from using my talents to their fullest. I’d be an ‘unprofitable servant’ even in God’s eyes, because I wouldn’t be all I could be with my talents.”

Chris lifted a single eyebrow, “You honestly believe the amount of money you make defines your value?”

I shrugged.

“I didn’t marry you for your ability to make money. You have intrinsic value no matter what you do or don’t do for a living,” he said.

Holding Oneself By a Higher Standard

I know he spoke the truth. After a bit of thought I realized that I do NOT value or define others by their job, salary or ability to make money. I’m the only one I hold to that impractical standard.

I’ve seen my ability to make money as a major talent like a concert pianist’s ability to tickle the ivories. I’ve done it so long that it defines me. Yet, lately I’ve lost my Midas Touch and can’t seem to regain it.

“We usually don’t realize the thing that is defining our identity until that thing is taken away.” – Tim Hiller, Strive: Life is Short, Pursue What Matters

Saturday, with Yoda’s help, I identified an underlying belief that’s running the show. I believed that if I don’t somehow adapt and figure this money thing out, I’ve somehow failed as a human being.

But if the pianist had a brain tumor that eliminated his ability to play, would he hold less value as a person? Certainly not! He would most definitely mourn the loss though!

I began to think of other talents I have. These several abilities are every bit as important as my ability to earn money. More so, really, in the grand scheme of things

It’s as if entrepreneurship has gobbled up my identity. Without it I feel worthless, even hopeless. So many dreams have been tied to it that without it, would I lose my future along with everything else I’ve lost?  An infinite number of possibilities would die. Yet as an entrepreneur, I’ve been frustrated, burnt out, and feeling more worthless by the day.

A World Without Measurements Can Be Scary

As I’ve entertained the idea of completely walking away from entrepreneurship, I’ve realized something else about myself. Entrepreneurship is a results-driven, measurable world. And I’m all about results. Making money has always been a sign that I’m doing it right. I’m reaching my market, I’m offering something people need and value, I’m being of service to others. What I’m doing matters….. I matter!

Yet, with my double-minded energetic stance, I’ve made less money. Then, I feel worthless.

Finally, I asked myself, “What really brings me joy? What if money was NOT an object?”

What Brings You Joy?

Here’s what brings me joy:

  • Being with those I love.
  • Receiving inspiration and sharing it with others.
  • Helping people feel safe, hopeful and able to move forward with their heart’s desires.

So I’m pondering these questions:

  • Do the things that bring me joy have to be tied to my career?
  • What if I set aside my talent to make money for a season like I’ve done at other times with piano talents? Or sketching? Or basketball?
  • What makes “making money” a talent that deserves to gobble up my joy and identity?
  • Who am I at the core — no matter what I’m doing or being?

The closest I’ve come to articulating my core is “A woman who loves people and offers a safe, nurturing and inspiring space for them to thrive.” I can do that whether I choose to be an entrepreneur or work for someone else or retire completely.

What about you? Who are you? Has your identity been tied to something you do well?

Disclaimer: This blog is what’s on my mind at the moment. They’re ideas I’m entertaining, but not necessarily plans I will follow through on. I’m just trying on things for size to get to the root of my identity as a person. So if you’re one of my clients, don’t wig out. I don’t plan on disappearing on you.

 

Jennifer and Patrick Youngblood

When Two Strong Willed Entrepreneurs Are Married

Jennifer YoungbloodMy friends Jennifer and Patrick Youngblood are one of the three couples who modeled to me what a great marriage looks like. These two are both very opinionated and strong-willed. They’re also both successful entrepreneurs in their own right. Jennifer is a bestselling author and Patrick is one of the most brilliant branding/packaging/marketing minds I know.

While interviewing Jennifer today for the summit and book, I got a good laugh out of her answer to my question about communication tips. At one point she said,

“My husband is the most persuasive man on the planet. If we have a disagreement and we start discussing it, I tell him, ‘Look, I don’t care how right you sound, I know I’m right.’ He can convince anyone of anything, so I’m like, ‘I don’t care! I know you sound right, but I’m right.'”

Want to hear Jennifer talk about communication? Listen below:

      JenniferYoungblood-Pt7-Communication

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