The first time I tried to start a business, I was ten. My parents had just bought me a book called, How to Draw Animals. After a week of doodling wolves, lions, and horses, I believed myself to be a true artist.
So I taped a sign to my bedroom door with a list of my drawing services and fees.
Alas, this business model was doomed to fail. My mom turned out to be my only client, who paid me a dollar to draw her a giraffe.
And that was the start and end to my decidedly unsuccessful career as a freelance wildlife artist.
But it makes me wonder if perhaps I have always been an entrepreneur at heart, before I started putting limitations on what I thought could and couldn’t be achieved.
Not that I believe entrepreneurism (yup, I’m making it a word) is an inherent personality trait, but I certainly had some great role models. My Dad was a pioneer in SEO training and built a successful business from the ground up in the early nineties with nothing more than self-taught strategies and a drive to succeed.
All this comes to mind because this month marks the one year anniversary of The Fit Careerist. Hard to believe, really. It seems like just yesterday I was scratching my head over WordPress themes and trying to figure out what the heck a widget is.
I am still very near the start of my journey, but hitting this milestone inspired me to look back at how different things were when I first started experimenting with blogging and freelance.
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“Bumblin’ Knit”: A Yardstick for Progress
The Fit Careerist is actually my third crack at blogging and freelance. My previous blog, Corrie’s Stories, was more of a personal “fun” blog, and prior to that I had a small knitting blog called “Bumblin’ Knit”.
While riding a wave of nostalgia the other day, I went back to check on that silly little knitting blog, which is still live despite having no new content in years.
Go ahead and check it out if you want to laugh at how silly it is. I’ll wait.
And even though my blogging prowess was even worse than my knitting skills back then, visiting that old blog turned out to be an empowering experience.
You see, lately, I’ve been overwhelmed with how much I still have to learn about blogging, freelance, and online business.
I’m getting serious about SEO for the first time ever. (Dad would be so proud!) The course I’m taking (Simple Stupid SEO) is a goldmine of knowledge, but it’s a lot of information! And due to time constraints, I’ve only been able to slowly chip away at it.
But when I visited ol’ Bumblin Knit the other day, I felt more empowered than ever to move forward.
Regardless of what kind of journey you’re on – whether it’s your business, fitness, career, or art – know that there is power in looking back to move forward.
So the next time you’re in a slump and lacking motivation to chase your goals, take a trip down memory lane and ask yourself the following questions:
How much have you learned since you started?
Sometimes we get so hung up on how far we have yet to go that we forget how far we’ve come.
How long has it been since you started your current journey and how much have you learned since then?
What was the most important lesson?
When I look at that silly knitting blog, that person is an ocean of experience away from who I am today. The gap between where I am now and where I want to seems like a chasm, but when I compare it to how far I’ve come it seems so much more achievable.
The most important and amazing thing I’ve learned is that if you just keep working at your goals and refuse to give up, you will surprise yourself with how much you are able to achieve.
Does it remind you of your Why?
Do you remember why you started your journey in the first place? Did you write those reasons down anywhere? If not, try writing them down now. (I find there’s something about seeing words on a page that makes thoughts and ideas more real.)
Remember how excited you were when you first started out on your journey? Remember why you felt that way.
How do you feel about it now?
It’s okay if things have changed or if you realize you don’t really love the same things you did then. This isn’t a bad thing – it can actually help you recalibrate your goals.
For example, my “Why” was simply to have a creative outlet, and my knitting blog was just that. But the more writing I did, the more I wanted it to become a part of my day to day life, so my Why evolved.
Although I still like to knit, I discovered something I liked doing better that took over: freelancing and blogging.
What failures did you overcome?
When we see others succeed at something, we almost never see how many times they failed in order to achieve that success. Even with our own success, it’s all too easy to forget all the things we failed miserably at before we got it right. (Especially when you might want to forget!)
But remembering those failures are important because without them we would never grow.
Simply put, success is born from failure.
Personally, I fail far more often than I succeed in life, but there’s value in owning that fact, and even taking pride in it.
But when you finally overcome that failure, it’s the best feeling ever!
Plus, it helps to you remember not to take yourself too seriously. Sometimes our mistakes are good for a laugh later. (Although they usually don’t seem laughable in the moment!)
What were your greatest successes? (And how do you define them?)
When asking yourself this question, remember that “success” is subjective. If you look back and say “I don’t have a greatest success”, then you need to shift your mindset.
Because you have seen some success.
Whether that success is when you got that job or promotion.
Or when you made your first dollar online.
When you ran your first 5k.
Or volunteered your time or funds to a charity that resonated with you. (Because isn’t life is all about helping people?)
Or whether that success is simply that you did Not. Give. Up.
The reality is you succeed all the time. So take time to honor that about yourself. Write down at least five things that you feel were your greatest successes in your journey so far.
Then feel encouraged because there are greater achievements to come yet!
Try looking back to move forward because the past has value
Our pasts contain painful experiences, valuable lessons, and beautiful memories. But I firmly believe those memories serve a purpose. So how can your past help you achieve your goals in your health, career, or personal growth?
I see this meme on my Facebook news feed every now and then that says something along the lines of “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.” While I understand the sentiment that you don’t want to get hung up on the past, sometimes retrospect is just what you need to learn from your mistakes and reignite your motivation.
Not to mention your gratitude for the present!
What journey are you on? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!