In a previous blog post Be The Best You, we talked about how, although you can't choose the circumstances you're faced with, you can choose what you do with them. While that remains true, there is always one thing that tends to hold us back from achieving what we want: ourselves. Whether it's setting up your own business, exercising more, giving up cigarettes, taking the risk to go travelling or just about anything, there's always that voice in the back of your head that says "that's too expensive" or "now's not the time, there's too much going on" or just about anything else to deter you from your dreams. We call that voice Reason, when really it's nothing more than a lock on the door to your future.
These intrusive, negative thoughts can be difficult to identify and often disguise themselves as real work blocks. "I can't afford it;" "I don't have the time;" "There's too much competition out there, I'm not good enough." Some might argue argue that all the positive thinking in the world couldn't add more money to my bank account or hours to the day, but would they be right? Both Donna and I have had to overcome our own blocks to get where we are today, and these blocks were personal and down to external factors. We're here to share some of our own blocks with you now.
I had no money when I started my business, in fact I had less than none. I was £2,000 into my student overdraft, and after a year of an exhausting, regular office job that just covered my rent and bills, I hadn't saved a penny to get myself out of it. I enjoyed my job, but the corporate world wasn't for me, and it wasn't my real passion, which was writing. So I quit, moved back home, and I started over. With my last £10 I paid for the first month of my website - borrowing a laptop to do so because mine had been stolen the year before and I'd never had the money to replace it - and worked on getting my first clients. With those first clients I funded the next month of my website, and things built on from there.
Branching out on my own had so much significance for me. It was the chance to work on my own terms, according to my own morals; it opened the door up to creative expression that I felt I had been knocking on my entire life; it struck the right balance between following my own passion and still helping others. I was always taught from a young age that there were no morals, no passion, no creativity in business. That to be an artist, or to be kind and supportive of others, was a poor man's business. There was no way I could live my dreams and still eat every day. They were wrong. It was time for me to take the pen into my hand and write my own journey of life.
There was a time when I would have been frozen in fear at the thought of doing what I did, thinking that moving back home was a sign of failure in the Adult World, and setting up own my business was too risky to contemplate. In fact I had considered going freelance long before I started my regular job, but the idea of doing so was too daunting and I quickly gave up. But not this time. This time something was different; I'd stopped listening to those negative thoughts. So now I have a great, rewarding career: a steady income from some incredible clients all over the world, and the chance to help others achieve their goals. All because I stopped holding myself back and broke through those mental barriers.
And there were a lot of mental barriers. Just 12 months ago I was telling myself:
- "Normal" people like me don't get the chance to take control of their own lives and follow their dreams. We work to help others achieve their dreams, and that's it.
- I'm not a good enough writer to make money from it. No one would pay me for my writing.
- It's a miracle I even have a "normal" job, I'm not cut out for any of this, I'm not talented enough in anything.
- How would I even pay my own tax? That's far too difficult. I can't do it.
- I don't have the self-discipline to work from home and actually work. I'd just end up being lazy so I should play to someone else's tune, at least they'll keep me in time.
- I can't afford to start out on my own, it's too expensive and I need a stable income.
The trouble is, you tell yourself things like this every day, and they become true. Henry Ford was quoted as saying "Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't - you're right." The truth is, every thought you let pass through your mind unchallenged and unquestioned, will eventually become a reality. So I stopped letting these thoughts control me, I started challenging my thoughts, and I wiped the slate clean.
Now, looking at that list of negativity is laughable to me. I let myself be held back for so long, and let this negativity pass through to my subconsciousness uninterrupted and I let those thoughts become a reality. But by challenging them, by pushing them out, I began to see how possible things really were. Even money issues, which I always took as an uncontrollable fact, began to be more manageable. And now I'm living my dreams, and helping others live theirs.
Fear was my block. Fear was the reason I started my business so late, the reason I put it off for so long. My fear was of the most irrational and ridiculous things. It finally got to a point that fear would hold me back from saying yes to most things. Then I did the unthinkable I watched a classic Jim Carrey inspiringly ridiculous film called Yes Man, with its simple concept of just saying “yes” to things and going with the flow. I decided I needed this in my life, that I needed a change. I wasn’t happy with my own limiting outlook on life and if that was going to change I needed to find that change within myself. Saying Yes to the scariest things was the most terrifying thought, but it changed me and I can’t go back.
Since I embraced this new way of looking at life I feel like the world is my oyster and I can do whatever I dream. The key is to embrace the Yes, and from there you can figure out the route to take you there. The key is the Yes, not the automatic drilled in No approach that so many of us take on so readily. This key will make you think about life in the polar opposite way “I have to say Yes, so let’s do this and I’ll figure out the death defying fear along the way”.
The journey of mine is a story for another time, but I can tell you that since having to start again in my life where I was working as a waitress at the age of 28 and finally deciding to say YES to myself in 2010 all of this wonderfulness has happened:
- I have set up my Photography business Iris Aperture Photography despite thinking I wasn't good enough on my own, always petrified of the tax man and making mistakes.
- Travelled to Perth, Australia on my own for an amazing shoot. The "No" Donna would have been too held back by the fear of travelling alone, and the anxieties of working completely independently on the other side of the world. The "Yes" Donna went for it, and had a phenomenal experience.
- Exhibited by myself, my work, in public.
- The most empowering yes I've said to date is accepting the job of lecturing at university. There could have been so many blocks along the way to that yes - was I good enough in my own career to help others? Was I actually a good teacher? It didn't matter, I was "Yes" Donna, so I launched into it, figured it out along the way and now I'm living the dream.
- Meeting wonderful inspiring people inspired many more through the Prince’s Trust and being nominated Young Achiever of the Year.
- Saying yes, and asking for what I was worth for my photographic work after too long thinking "no-one will ever want to pay me this, I am not good enough." How wrong I was!
- And now I’m living my dream setting up That Alternative Hub, empowering people to do the very same thing, which is essentially embracing their own life, and truly living.
Yes isn’t necessarily the right answer to everything, but No is most definitely not either, and the power of Yes has made my world so much more magic and inspiring. I encourage you to do the same, what is the worst that can happen? Nothing isn’t manageable, with the right attitude everything is an inspiring lesson.
In the last 5 years my life has completely morphed and grown into something really special, I can’t wait to crack on with the day and face what it has to throw at me, I’m living my life the way that I want free from fear.
Start living and never stop learning… in the mighty words of Nike, Just do it!
Now It's Your Turn
We want to help you do the same. Donna and I will be working together to bring you a series of mindfulness and meditation classes designed to help you identify those blockages in your mind, and how to break through them to discover your own infinite potential and power to control your reality.
We'll be starting on Easter Sunday with our Unblock Your Mind class, designed to do just that. In this 90 minute session we'll talk you through techniques to recognise that intrusive voice and challenge it. You'll be invited to share your own blockages with the group (though not obligated to) and we'll give you the tools to answer that voice back and how to change those thoughts from blocks into the first steps to achieve anything you want.
We're also offering a meditation class on Sunday 3rd April, where we'll take you through a guided meditation to help recognise your own potential, and [need to fill in details on class].
Both these classes are introductory classes into long term courses and as such cost just £6 each. Email Donna@ThatAlternativeHub.Com to register for the course and find out more here!