Not everyone has 24 hours in a day.
Yep. You read that right. Stop beating yourself up about it.
Before I get into explaining that controversial statement, let me tell you where I’m coming from.
Back in 2014, I left my corporate job with much hope, and bravado. After years of dreaming and wishing and planning, I was finally stepping into entrepreneurship. I’d been on the sidelines for years – watching, learning, helping.
I saw friends quit and create startups, chase VCs and funding, hit the jack pot, and make it big. I also saw some shut shop to cut losses.
In 2010 I had backed the then-husband as he quit his job and lived his dream – opening a gaming lounge, spending the day playing and talking everything ‘gaming’. I handled the back end for him – never coming to the fore. For I had a day job, a 2 year old to take care, a day job, and a house to run. But I learnt how to create and handle all the tech stuff – setting up the website, the Facebook page, Google Adwords, Facebook ads, graphic design, copywriting… all the behind the scenes stuff, silently hoping and waiting for the day I’d get to go after my dreams. For now, as breadwinner, as mother, I needed to stick to my job.
In 2014, I made a $100k USD down payment on a house that felt perfect for our ‘forever home’. I signed on a $100k in mortgage. I had one high client lined up – whose monthly invoice matched my salary and then some. While I worked a few hours a day, from home. I had *everything* lined up, just right.
So when I finally quit the corporate world in 2014, I was all pumped up. I knew what I wanted to do, I knew how to do it, and I knew it was just a matter of time. I was all set to soar.
Then the world crashed around me.
One fine day, after we’d been working together for 3 months, the client (a large corporate) decided the would no longer pursue that particular marketing avenue. So I suddenly had no income.
The then-husband backed out from his share of paying for the house. Or household expenses. Or mortgage. The relationship had been bad for quite a while, but without my income, things blew up. Shit hit the fan. Instead of talking and working through things, he got violent and then took off. I later found I’d been conned big time. He’d been lying to me every-single-day for the last 2 years. He’d been ‘let go’ from his job 2 years ago. Which meant he’d been employed for only 2.5 years of the 7 years we’d been married. I won’t get into the emotional abuse & gas lighting. I still can’t talk about that part.
Exactly 3 months after I’d quit my well paying corporate job (where I was due for a promotion) with a fool proof business plan (or what seemed so) and everything mapped out for my transition to an entrepreneur, I suddenly had no income, no job and was a broken, single mom. With most of my savings gone and a $100K mortgage for a house that’s still under construction and wont be ready for another few years.
Lesson: The ‘perfect’ plan doesn’t always work. Things can go from ‘perfect’ to shitty in a second.
Just before shit hit the roof, I’d signed up for ZeroToLaunch from Ramit Sethi, whose philosophy resonated with me – it seemed like the perfect program to take my freelancing, to a 6 figure business. I’ve ALWAYS been an ace student. I didn’t think it’d be any different this time around. But boy, was I wrong.
I couldn’t make it through the program. I spent my days crying. I watched silently as one after the other ‘students’ posted their wins – the clients they signed up, the media mentions they got, the money they made. It made me feel worse about myself. I hadn’t even told people I knew, what I was doing after I left the corporate world. I’d gone into hiding.
It felt like everyone else was moving ahead on steroids – while I just sat crying in a corner. And I beat myself up even more about it. Because you know, “everyone has the same 24 hours in a day”. Everyone has challenges in their lives. And yet everyone on that program was crushing it. Except me. Or so it seemed. And they were the only people I was in contact with on a daily basis (via FB). I’d shut myself out from everyone else. No real life contact with people ( I hadn’t told any one that the then-husband had left. I pretended he was travelling, or that I was busy. It took me another 8 months to pull together the courage to acknowledge that I was a ‘single mom’ to myself, and to the world.)
I felt like a total failure. Absolute. Total. Failure.
I still put on a brave face to the world – thankfully, I had very little contact with the outside world.
And for my son.
At the absolute rock bottom, I signed up for Marie Forleo’s BSchool in 2015. I was clutching at straws. I was hoping this program would magically change my life, my business, the way it had done for all the women who’s testimonials and videos were showcased. Turned out, I was right, and I was wrong. Things changed, but not in the ways I’d imagined.
When the modules came around, my FB feed was full of women cheering and celebrating and moving forward. I couldn’t. I was still stuck. Heck, I already knew most of the stuff about Business, Internet Marketing and the works – I’d been studying it, and writing about it for years. But I didn’t have the heart to actually do it. I was still grieving, and hurting, and healing.
My time and energy were taken up with the mundane things of everyday. Buying groceries. [I’m still amazed (and grateful) by the amount of fruits my 7 year old consumes in a week]. Calling the plumber. Paying the bills. Cooking. Finding activity classes. Arranging play dates. Crying. Staring into space. Wondering why me. Beating up pillows. Binge watching TheGoodWife. Binge eating. Throwing myself a pity party. Picturing end-of-the-world-scenarios where I suck as a mom. Feeling I’d failed. As a wife. As a mother. As a daughter. As an entrepreneur. You get the picture, right?
I’d hit rock bottom. And I stayed there for a really really long time.
A few months after BSchool, I got a major health scare. Had to be admitted to the hospital. That’s the first time I told 2 neighbors that it was just the kid-and-me and I needed help. To go to the docs. To take care of the kid. It took me about a month to recover.
Once I got back, I had this session with Kim Williams. She’d offered a free card reading on the group. We connected. But it was more than a reading. It was the first time I told someone what had been happening in my life through the last year. I opened up. Her reaction was “OMG.. darling, you’ve walked through the fire and now look at you! You’ve done an awesome job.”
And then the healing began in ways I hadn’t expected.
I ‘announced it’ on FB. And in BSchool. I was scared of what people would say. But I had to. I’d been hiding for too long. Time to get on with life. It was symbolic for me. My way of acknowledging that I was now a single mom.
Then the unexpected happened, people reached out to me. Expressing solidarity. Support. Something I hadn’t experienced ever.
Women from across the globe, many of whom I’d never met, reached out to support me. To tell me that they were inspired by me. Me?!? I felt like a total failure at this point. To tell me that they believed in me. To tell me they’d been following me on BSchool and were inspired by my story. That they loved my work. That they loved the pieces I posted about life, business & tech. That they’re there for me, if I ever need help.
Through their eyes, I was able to see how far I’d come.
That through all the crying and grieving, I’d still managed to put together a really cool life for the kid and me. The house we stayed in had a gorgeous view of the hills, and a garden where we’d harvested everything from pumpkins, to beans to tomatoes and more. Even if it was rented. I was there for the kiddo, every day when he came home from school, and through summer vacations. We baked together. We cooked together. We read together. I taught him to ride his bike. I heard about his escapades as he learnt to skate. I watched from the sides as he learnt to swim then went on to 3 different styles – 20 laps each day, 5 days a week, in a 50 meter, 20 ft deep pool. I taught him multiplication tables, in the car, on the way to swim class each day. The iPad he figured out by himself.
And while I did all this, and cried my heart out, I also managed to keep my business going, enough to pay the bills. And the mortgage. And the taxes. And the rent.
It wasn’t easy. It took a lot of determination. And late nights. Because my work-days were limited to 4 hours or so. On the good work-days. The everyday chores take up a hell lot of time. And the emotional ones – like going to court – would leave me drained for days.
As I write this, it’s been 1.5 years since the Ex left.
I’ve kinda gotten the hang of this single mom thing. Though many days I feel like I’m just getting by on a wing and a prayer.
It’s only now that I’m stepping into my power. The person I am inside. The person I’m meant to be. Minus the tears, doubts and feeling cheated by life.
It’s only now that I’ve acknowledged my strengths, my skills and my zone of genius – enough to launch MY dream business. Empowering other women.
But each time I see a post talking about multiple 6/7/8 figure business my contemporaries are running, the hustle they do, and the ‘motivational’ posts they share around ‘productivity’ and everyone having 24 hours a day… I cringe. I hurt. I kick myself for not being at par with them. For not hitting the 6 figure a month mark.
Until a wise woman, aka the wondrous Bushra Azhar, pointed out – that not everyone’s 24 hours are equal.
Today, I’ve sat back and looked at how far I’ve come. In the last 12 months while others have made millions, I’ve made a life. For myself, and the kid. The kind we don’t need a vacation from. That’s a lot to say for me – I’ve planned so many arm chair vacations. I used to be ready to travel at the drop of a hat.
I’ve found myself again. After what feels like 30+ years. I find myself changing back to the girl I used to be a loong loong time ago. Before ‘life’ took over.
I’ve created a business I love.
The kind where clients turn friends.
Where I wake up to amazing posts and emails from clients saying I rock their world.
My work-days are still very limited. Most of the 24 hours of my day are spent in the everyday stuff of life – the kind that you can’t quite outsource. (Heck, I’m a great believer in outsourcing as much as you can, so you have time to do the stuff you love!) But you can’t quite outsource a 7 year old’s homework, or doctor trips, or feeding that swarm[‘ of little boys who randomly troop in after playing the garden. I don’t have family nearby. And in India, we don’t have baby sitters. There’s no one around to hand off responsibility to. With just the 2 of us, I don’t feel comfortable hiring live in help. Having the house to myself, the luxury of quite solitude, has been a very big part of my healing, and my business. That’s something I’m going to have to figure out soon.
So though my days are also 24 hours…. my choices in what to do with those 24 hours are quite restricted.
Restricted in the sense that no matter how much the business and productivity gurus preach about getting-things-done — I know that my work schedule depends on my son – and his schedule. That I will get just 3-4 “good” hours of work done in a day.
And that’s ok. My priorities in life are different.
2015 for me was the year of healing. And creating stability for the kid and me.
2016 is the year of growth for me – personally, and in business.
I don’t believe in hustling. I’ve built my business around ‘flow’. What comes easily.
And that’s ok.
I don’t have to be bothered by the fact that 90% of what business gurus preach is NOT possible, or applicable, for me as a single mom in business. That I have to find my own meandering path.
But I’ve found the freedom, and the courage, to be me.
I’ve been able to create a life and business, that the kid and I love. (He sometimes joins me on client calls, he knows my clients, and their websites!)
My story is not the typical rags to riches transformation business gurus talk about. Heck, my story isn’t the kind that most people share.
I did not have to overcome extreme poverty, bankruptcy etc to be where I am today. Though it sure felt like it.
What handicapped me for most, if not all, of my adult life, were limiting beliefs planted in my head from a young age. The limiting beliefs about what I should and shouldn’t, could and couldn’t do as a girl, as a woman. That as a woman, I wasn’t enough. I was not worthy.
It’s been a heck LOT OF UNLEARNING these last few years. I still come up against upper limit problems, but now, I can see them for what they are, and get over them.
I know this is a long story. Not all of it has to do with 24 hours. And yet it does.
24 hours. One day. That’s what our lives are made of. Every.Single.Day.
We each have our own choices to make, things to do, experiences….Not everyone’s day is the same.
We each have 24 hours. To do the things we want to, the things that need to be done.
As a single mom, with full responsibility and no support, the sheer logistics of things take up a large percentage of my time. Even after I’ve out sourced as much as I could.
What I’ve learnt, is that I may not have a choice in ‘what’ I need to do. But I do have a choice, in ‘how’ I do it. With love and grace OR anger, grief and frustration. That simple choice, makes a big difference. It changes how ‘effective’ my 24 hours are. It changes how I feel at the end of the day – accomplished, joyful, grateful OR angry, bitter and frustrated.
This is a long rambling post. But I needed to write it.
For closure. To acknowledge how far I’ve come – to myself. Even if I’m not doing 6-figure months.
To stay real. I’m tired of pretending, putting up facades, of smiling when things are bad.
Because that’s also how I want to show up in my business – raw, real. Women have too many unrealistic role models and expectations thrust on them. I want to change that.
In my work, I help clients stay real, be true to themselves, while creating the kind of life, and business, you want. That’s why they turn into friends. That’s why the relationships last.
Are you ready to fast track your business?
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