Happy 3 Year Business Anniversary Mr. Elderpreneur! Another Year of FEAR and JOY has come and gone. What do you have in store for YEAR 4?

 In Entrepreneurship

It has been 3 years now since I decided, at the WISER age of 50, to launch my own business, for the first time in my life.
I am now referring to myself as an “Elderpreneur”.
By eldenpreneur, I am referring to someone who has never launched, nor built, nor nurtured, nor maintained, a business of their own prior to the age of 50+.

For some more background and context on this new endeavour of mine:

  • I decided to focus on service offerings that I had almost no experience with
  • I decided to do it while I was a single parent with two young (and very beautiful) children to take care of
  • I decided to focus on helping people make positive changes in their lives. (Turns out to be tough business than first thought. People want change but are not always ready to invest in making that change happen) ☹
  • I decided to do it while I was in the middle of undergoing a huge transformation in my own life (i.e. my mid-life transition or, as some like to call it, mid-life crisis)

Going through a mid-life crisis?. Good time to launch a business buddy! ☹
O.k. Maybe that last decision was not part of the decision criteria but more of a lack of awareness.
I thought that I had already gone through all of my non-business related changes and crises when I decided to launch my business but boy (I mean Man) was I wrong!

I ended up spending almost as much time on Learning about and Growing MYSELF as I did on Learning about and Growing my BUSINESS during the early years.
But, since I was, and still am, technically speaking,  the CEO of my business, I guess that was a good investment of time.
Invest in your people they say.
I am not sure WHO they are but that approach has served me well.

Oh! One more piece of context, a big piece.
I did not grow up in an entrepreneurial environment (i.e. culture and/or family).
In the environment that I grew up in:
You grew up, You went to university, You climbed the corporate ladder , You collected your salary, You retired, and then, and only then, You lived happily ever after!
You did not build your own ladder and fund your own salary, and you certainly did not do it at 50+ years of age. Yikes!

All right, enough background and context.
Where am I now?
I am not sure, but one thing is for sure.
I am certainly not where I thought I would be when I set out on this venture 3 years ago.
I thought I would be a whole lot further along my new path.
I thought that I would be in maintenance mode on the business front.
Back to making the same type of cash as I was in my old job and living the same lifestyle.
Well, I am nowhere close to being there.
I am not even sure where THERE is anymore.
I have changed that much in three years.

In hindsight, my expectations of how things would play out on the business front were not realistic at all.
But then again, how could they have been.
As I mention in my book, “we don’t know what we don’t know”.
(Yes, I published a book this year , it is called MONDAYS Don’t have to SUCK! but more on that later).
How could I possibly have known where I would be when first embarking on a journey that I have never embarked upon before?
Oh well, lesson learned.

Apparently, I am not alone in learning that lesson.
The same phenomenon has happened to many others that I have connected with.
Many have said that if they had known what it would take to get to where they wanted to go, they probably would not have undertaken the journey in the first place.
They were glad (and so am I) that they did not know then, what they know now
(i.e. the amount of time and effort that it takes to make and maintain change, and how scary it can get along the way).
because they might not not have had the courage to embark on their journey.
A journey that for many of them has been one of the most incredible and rewarding experiences of their lives.

Too late for me now.
I made the leap.
I am now making the theory a reality.
Now I know that starting a business from scratch takes a lot of time and effort and money.
There are no shortcuts.
And that it can be pretty scary at times and very, very scary at other times.
I also know that It can be very rewarding and enjoyable and fun as well.
And when I look back on my journey so far, the moments of JOY have greatly outnumbered the moments of FEAR.
That might have something to do with me making it to year 3.

In my anniversary blog last year:
HAPPY 2 YEAR BUSINESS ANNIVERSARY, MR. ENTREPRENEUR. YIKES! WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO?
I spoke (I mean, I wrote) about FEAR as well, but I also wrote about COURAGE.
And the importance of courage in being able to keep moving forward.
How my Captain Courage was showing up more often than my Captain Comfort zone.

This year, I would like to introduce another C word to the mix.
One that played a prominent role in helping me to continue to move forward.
That word is COMPASSION.
When times got tough, and they did at times, and Captain Courage not only wanted, but needed a break,
a break from my INNER CRITIC, among other things,
It was nice to have Captain Compassion show up at the door and help him out.
Help him out and watch over him when he was scared and/or lonely and/or just plain tired.

It has been quite the year:
Lots of action.
Lots of connecting.
Lots of FAILing (a.k.a. First Attempt In Learning).
Lots of learning.
Lots of growing.
Lots of celebrating.
Lots of pictures (I share some on my Happy 3 year Business Anniversary Collage on the cover of this blog).
And of course,
Lots of CHANGE.
Change is supposedly the only constant in life.
So I better get used to it.
And change is often scary,
So I better get used to that as well.

So in honor of CHANGE,
and my first book, which is all about change:
MONDAYS don’t have to SUCK! How small changes can make a huge difference.
One man’s unintentional journey of life-altering self-transformation.
I have decided to share my Year 3 Top Lessons Learned this year by……
Leveraging the TOP 10 Change Enablers that I have listed in Chapter 27 of my book.
I can’t think of a better way to test them out and learn and grow from them.

BTW. The TOP 10 Change Enabler list is also available in a complimentary Ebook format in the HOME section of my website at www.davewcoachingandstortytelling.com
It is aptly called  “TOP 10 CHANGE ENABLERS: Making Change and Making it stick!”

Are you ready?
Here we go!

#1: Maintain your mindset. A positive one!
I can’t overstress how important this one has been to me.
MAINTAIN and MINDSET both start with the letter M.
And so does MOMENTUM.
Momentum can be pretty powerful.
And it can be either Positive or Negative.
Before you know it, momentum can become something even more powerful, a habit.
Again, a positive or negative one.
Either way, the direction is up to us.
So choose your direction wisely.
EASYer said than done but I continue to make progress.

It has been a bit of a battle between my Inner Coach and my Inner Critic at times.
Self-awareness has been quite helpful to me in winning those battles.
Most often but not always. I throw in the towel sometimes (and that is when Compassion comes into play).
But I am starting to get to know my inner critic a lot better now and especially when he likes to come out and play.
And that has helped me big time in keeping him at bay.

#2: Connect with the unique you. Often
Connecting to oneself includes getting to know oneself better (I.e. what makes us tick).
I though that I knew myself pretty well this year.
I thought I was connected, but as it turned out, I still had some more connecting to do.

In my case, connecting with something we DUDES are not great at connecting with, our EMOTIONS.
In my case, one of those emotions, that reared its nasty head, was FEAR.
As previously mentioned, this was my first go at starting a business and I was going it alone.
And that can be, and was, and still is, pretty scary at times.

At first, I tried to ignore those fears and hoped that they would go away.
But what ended up happening was that I did not end up ignoring them.
I ended up ignoring me.
I ended up listening to others and observing others on how they built their businesses.
And I stopped listening to myself and observing myself on how I was building MY business.
And before you knew it, I was doing things that I did not want to do and which were, more often than not, things that did not work for me.
They might have worked for others but they did not work for me, they actually felt foreign to me.
And the result  was that I was doing less of the things that worked for me, a lot less.
And then momentum would start to turn on me and……
Before you knew it, I had let fear (and my inner critic and others) allow me to deviate from my path.

I am back on track now and I do not blame anyone, not even myself (Compassion again).
It was a learning experience for me and I learned it pretty quickly (Kudos to me).
So, moving forward now, I always ask myself the following question “Is this something that I WANT to try or something that I feel I “SHOULD” or “NEED” to try?”
I have also asked my two coaches (Shawna and Diana) to keep me honest in that department and help me come up with what works for me.
So far, the WANTS have won out more often over the SHOULDS and my journey has been a lot less scarier since.

#3: Connect with others. The right others.
As I mention in my book and many of my blogs, I love movies.
“Home Alone” is one that comes to mind as the holidays approach.
Home Alone, the movie, is one thing.
Working from home, always ALONE, is quite another.
My business model might be a sole-proprietorship model but that does not imply I have to fly solo.

We gain energy from spending time with others.
I have already experienced what happens when you don’t connect enough with others.
You start feeling down and then momentum takes you to feeling depressed.
In my case, about a decade ago now, momentum took me to becoming clinically depressed.
Been there, done that, and don’t want to go there again.
To that end, I am constantly on the lookout for opportunities to connect with others.
The RIGHT others!

I set up a peer coaching group.
I am a member of a mastermind group.
I do some leadership facilitation on a subcontract basis from time to time.
I collaborate with other peers.
And I connect, as often as possible, with the people in my network, both in person and virtually.
I connect with people often and from all around the world (go! technology go!)
How cool is that?

As I mentioned in one of my previous blogs on maintaining one’s personal balance sheet , my network (a.k.a. my community) is one of my biggest assets. (I am one of the others ).
And let’s not forget my clients. I am blessed to have such caring clients.
I learn and grow and get just as energized as they do from our interactions.

I even keep a database (in Microsoft Excel – paper works just as well if you want to leverage the idea) of some of the kind words of inspiration and appreciation and encouragement that I have received over the years.
I have 127 Loving and Caring entries and counting.

#4: Just get going! Today, not tomorrow!
As mentioned previously, we don’t know what we don’t know.
The only way to turn the theory real is to TRY it out (i.e. try it on for size).
We are all unique and in unique situations.
What works for others won’t necessarily work for us.
And that, despite what everyone is telling you.
There are no cookie cutter approaches out there or everyone would be using them.

The only way to find out what works for us is to go ahead and try stuff out and make the theory real.
Sometimes we Fail (First Attempt In Learning) and sometimes we don’t.
We always learn, if we want to.

Moving forward today and not tomorrow is hard to do at times.
But the longer I would procrastinate in making something happen.
The more time and energy I wasted because what I had been working on was usually moving in the wrong direction.
Again, we don’t know what we don’t know.
Things I thought I would like, I ended up not liking.
Things I thought others would like they ended up not liking.
Etc..
I have spent a lot of time going back to the drawing board.
But as long as I was trying things out, I was moving forward and creating momentum.
I like to refer to my daily ritual of just doing something as planting seeds.
The more seeds that I plant today, the more potential opportunities will grow from those seeds tomorrow or the next day.

#5: Don’t give up. Call on your GRIT! (Grit = Passion and Perseverance for long term goals)
PASSION. It feels like Joy on steroids for me.
No better way of crowding out my fears.
But sometimes, more like often, it takes time for the passion to come out.
For example, my coaching service offering.
It seems like it took forever for my passion to come out (and stay out).
In hindsight, that now makes sense.
It took a lot of practice, practice, practice.
There were lots of new skills and processes and theories to learn and apply.
The more I practiced, the more comfortable I felt in my own skin and the more my own unique and AUTHENTIC style of coaching started to come out, and then, the passion was not far behind.
Before I knew it, the passion was pushing away the self-doubts and the fears that came from those self-doubts (or “Doubting Dave” as I refer to him).
Good riddance to “Doubting Dave” (at least on the Coaching side of things, he is still there on the Storytelling side of things, for now but not for long ).

It took time to stoke the fires of my passion on the coaching front, well over two years in my case,
and that is where the PERSEVERANCE came in handy
Over two years adds up to a lot of days.
A lot of days when I would have to pick myself up off the ground after falling off my horse and keep moving forward.
A lot of days where persevering was just getting up on that horse in the first place.

They say that 80% of businesses fail before they reach 5 years.
I am not surprised, that is a lot of days.
A lot of perseverance.
Thank goodness for passion.
Without it, I would not have had the strength and courage to continue.
But passion can be fleeting at times, especially when you are tired and low in energy.
And I still have a long ways to go.

As one of my good friends, who has experience in this area, mentioned to me recently.
It takes time Dave. You are building something and it takes time to build something.
Keep at it! Don’t give up!
Just keep knocking on doors.
So to that end, I have taped a note on my bedroom door.
It says quite simply “KEEP KNOCKING ON DOORS”.
And that is what I do. That is how I start my day.
Connecting with others.
I can’t think of a better way to start my day.

#6 Manage your energy level. Wisely.
Again, we are all unique and we receive our energy in different and unique ways.
How do I receive mine?
I came up with a simple tool to use (feel free to steal the idea) to figure that one out.
I drew a line through the middle of a piece of paper.
On the left side, I listed all the items that GIVETH ME energy.
On the right side, I listed the items that TAKETH MY energy away.
Guess which side of the paper I try to focus on?

MY self-awareness once again came in handy in executing on this approach.
Whenever I feel my energy level running low, instead of trying to fight it, I would call it a day, move onto something else and live to fight another day.
Another day, when I had more energy.

And to help me out on the self-awareness front and the self-awareness for my coaching clients front.
I came up with a list of questions to help flush out some of those energy GAINERS and/or DRAINERS  (again, feel free to steal away).
There are SEVEN questions to ponder. Like my hero, OO7, James Bond.

  1. SLEEP – Did I get enough? (if not, What or Who – i.e. my Inner Critic coming after me in my sleep-  was responsible for not getting enough)
  2. EAT – Was I eating healthy? or eating S**t?
  3. MOVE – Was I getting enough exercise in?
  4. Drink – Was I intaking too much on the high sugar and alcoholic beverage intake front?
  5. CONNECTION – Was I spending enough time with others? Bonus points for quality time!
  6. MINDSET – Who was showing up most often. My Inner Critic? or My Inner Coach?
  7. EMOTIONS – Who was winning  on the battlefield of LOVE vs FEAR

And, let’s not forget the most important question of all
If I did not like my answer to any one of the 007 questions. What was I going to do about it?

#7 Take good care of your foundation. Regularly
If the only constant is change, then taking care of your foundation requires constant care.
Be wary of maintenance mode because it can become unravelled quite EASYly.
In my book, I shared how I was able to make many significant changes on both the Inner Dave and Outer Dave  fronts (Including losing 100 pounds of body fat).
I had started slowly, built positive momentum, and before you knew it, I had established a lot of new healthy habits which resulted in a much healthier Dave.
I was able to maintain them through thick and through thin, for well over two years.
One of the tricks that I used was to make taking care of my personal and professional foundations EASYer on myself.

But then, year 3 on the business front came along.
I felt more pressure and anxiety this year than I had in the past.
And that anxiety impacted me and by definition others who were close to me on many other fronts.
And before I knew it, my making it EASYer on myself approach seems to have fallen through the cracks.

Before I knew it, I was spending more time taking care of business on the business front and less time taking care of ME and my foundation.
Before you knew it, my level of energy and mindset started to dwindle and my productivity and level of engagement went with it.
I was working more hours on the business front but accomplishing less and not enjoying myself as much.
Not exactly making things EASYer on myself. ☹
Oh well. Lesson learned and good catch!

Note to self and my life Coaches (Shawna and Diana):
Keep me honest on the making it EASYer front when it comes to taking care of my foundation (and everything else)
On both the personal and business sides of the equation (a.k.a. at work, rest and play).

#8 Love Yourself. 24/7!
This is where my newfound appreciation for COMPASSION really comes into the play.
Despite leveraging all of the GRIT that my Passion and Perseverance could possibly provide.
Despite doing everything I could to maintain a positive attitude (i.e. positive affirmations, being grateful etc.).
Despite constantly reminding myself that failing was all about learning.
Despite constantly reminding myself NOT to take things personally.
Despite all of the other techniques that I have been using to keep moving forward and be happy while doing it.
There are still times when I end up feeling discouraged, scared and alone.
And that is where my compassion (one of my new best friends) comes into play.

“Remember Dave.
You are making serious progress on the business front and learning and growing every day.
Rome was not built in a day.
You are a single parent.
You are doing your best.
There are going to be scary and lonely times in one’s life.
You are going to get stuck.
According to Hugh Culver, you are going to want to quit.
That is part of life.
Now cut yourself some slack and go have some fun”.

O.K. Thanks Buddy! Thanks for that reminder.
I think I will take a break.
I feel a James Bond movie coming on. Or maybe Star Trek!

#9 Trust in yourself. Unwaveringly!
As mentioned, there were more than a few times when things got scary for me this year.
I had to keep reminding myself that this was a process and not a means to an end.
I really want to enjoy this process and this journey. i.e. My Life Journey.
I am only on this planet for a short time in the larger scheme of things. I want to enjoy that time.
Enjoy that time with myself and the people who are near and dear to me.

When one is on a journey, it helps to have one’s compass.
Well, I had my compass at the ready (i.e. MY VALUES).
But what I really realized this year was that there was another enabler that was key to helping me along my way.
And that enabler was TRUST. To trust myself.
It is one thing to believe in oneself and one’s quest but there were times when I became a non-believer.
But what kept me going was the trust that I had developed in myself.
To trust myself that I was leading myself in the right direction,
It took me a while and it took me lots of effort and self-reflection but building trust does.
But wow! Has it ever served me well.
TRUST now trumps BELIEF as far as I am concerned.

I trust myself. I know that I have my own back.
That gives me so much more strength and courage to persevere.
And to trust that my newfound friend Compassion will be there along the journey as well, bonus!

#10 Remember who’s in the drivers seat. YOU!
At the end of the day.
At the end of every decision.
I am the one calling the shots.
Every decision is mine to make.
The responsibility for the outcomes is mine and mine alone.

I began my journey of change more than eight years ago by getting a better handle on who I was and what I wanted to do.
And then doing it!
Prior to that, I was listening a bit too much to what others thought I “SHOULD DO” based on what they or others had done.
Prior to that, I was listening a bit too much to my inner critic who kept trying to convince me of everything I could NOT do.
My new approach to following my own unique path forward has served me well over the years.
Yet, as mentioned, I diverted from it a bit this year.
Was it a moment of panic?
Who knows?
Who Cares?
I don’t!
I deviated from it but I realized quickly that I had taken a wrong turn and I am back on track. My track.
I don’t blame anyone for the deviation, including myself.
I made the decision and I learned more about myself because of it so it actually turned out to be a good decision.
One of many decisions I have made and will continue to make.
And learn from and grow from.

Well there you have it.
My ideas and lessons leaned from YEAR 3 of my Business as shared through the lens of my Top 10 Change Enablers.
If I were to summarise  those steps into one simple acronym (I love acconyms ) it would be  CCM.

Connect with YOURSELF. Your AUTHENTIC self. And try and stay connected. Remember change is constant. Keep up or fall behind. Your Choice!
Connect with OTHERS. The RIGHT others (and that does not include your inner critic) . Let them energize and inspire and accompany you. Don’t let them SHOULD on you! Your Choice!
Maintain YOUR momentum. The POSITIVE kind. EASYer said than done but, once again, Your Choice!

Those are my lessons learned.
I hope you found them helpful.
Please feel free to share any of your lessons learned with me.
I Love to Learn and Grow.

What is in store for YEAR 4?
Who knows?
We don’t know what we don’t know.
I look forward to finding it out and reporting back a year from now.
Until then,
I hope our paths cross at some point soon.
I hope that you enjoy your journey, wherever that may end up taking you.

Thanks for your encouragement and support in helping me help others make and maintain positive changes in their lives.

Oh! and MY book?
It is about finding YOUR TRUE and AUTHENTIC self and the COURAGE and COMPASSION to be yourself and lead the life that YOU want to live.
Not the life that Society and your inner critic want you to live. The one that YOU want to live!
It is available on Amazon.

If you would like some help in making an important and meaningful change in YOUR life
Join me for a complimentary one-to-one 60 minute Life Changing Discussion
514-886-1732
daveawalker123@outlook.com
davewcoachingandstorytelling.com/contact

Cheers,

Dave
Life Coach. Serial Storyteller. Change Champion.

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