Changes have happened all around us this year—we’re observing them and living them. The harsh closed signs, endless commercial spaces for lease, and out-of-work artists, musicians, servers, retailers, teachers, and flight attendants with nowhere to go. Many of us had to change our life direction this year, whether we liked it or not. We feel lost and maybe we feel found as well.
If you are changing directions with your job, your business, and/or your passion, today I’m sharing three difficult steps that have worked for me this year. I say “difficult” because none of them are easy steps to take.
It’s probably more like 300 steps rather than 3 steps by the time you work through everything. Anyway, I hope this helps if you’re in limbo right now.
1. Sit with it.
At the beginning of April, I was literally sitting on my brown faux-leather couch when I realized my new business, Clove Travel and Wellness, was over because of COVID. I had poured all of my energy into launching this travel wellness content platform in 2020, not knowing that travel would be canceled.
Mr. H had built me an exquisite website. I hired a team of writers to produce great content. I had interviewed 13 guests for the podcast over the past six months. As the reality of the pandemic escalated, I kept delaying the launch.
Maybe next week…okay, maybe next month. How about…maybe never.
About a week before this couch realization, I had already been “sitting with it” in the moving van as me and Mr. H drove across the country during the lockdown. The highways and hotels from Oregon to Wisconsin were deserted. It felt like the end of the world and we were driving through it—with all of our shit, plus two unhappy cats, in tow. I remembered The Stand all too vividly, and shuddered every few hundred miles or so.
During those four days on the road, I figured me and Mr. H would talk through the future of Clove at some point with all of that downtime. We didn’t bring the Clove launch up once. I pretty much knew it was over. He did too, but he didn’t want to break my heart.
From a young age, so many of us learn to move on a little too quickly. Buck up, chin up. I still remember that “Chin Up” song from watching Charlotte’s Web (circa 1973) as a kid…
Chin up, chin up
Everybody loves a happy face
Wear it, share it
It’ll brighten up the darkest place
Let a little sunshine in
You’ll be on the right side
Looking at the bright side
Up with your chinny-chin-chin
Take the time to mourn your loss—your job, your business, your passion. Don’t just try to move on quickly without a mourning period, because you won’t. Sit with it for a while. Think of it as paying respects to yourself for the time and energy you spent over those months or years.
2. Decide what’s next.
By the middle of April, I knew what I wanted to do next. You’re thinking…two weeks after the couch meltdown, Britt? Yes. The world had closed around me, closed my business before it opened. And that opened doors to a different passion project that had been in the back of mind for many years (not two weeks).
Because I did the work of sitting with everything, and now I was locked down in my apartment sitting with it longer, I just blurted the idea out to my husband with that day’s tears still wet on my cheeks…What if I start a podcast based on The Life Enthusiast Chronicles?
Mr. H said: “There you go.”
The Life Enthusiast Chronicles was a popular guest series I ran on this blog for years, where I asked people to answer one question…What makes you enthusiastic about life? The series slowly disappeared in 2016.
I always wanted to do something else with The Life Enthusiast Chronicles and I was already hell-bent on hosting a podcast. Everything came together to form my podcast that launched in June, Love Your Enthusiasm.
What if I do [insert next direction in life here]?
This is a question I highly recommend asking yourself. After you hear the answer, ask someone else the same question. That someone should be someone you trust with your life. They won’t steer you wrong.
3. Give it your all.
On April 27 at 9am, I recorded my first Love Your Enthusiasm podcast with Juliann Wetz of Browsing the Atlas. Juliann had been a guest that was supposed to be on the Clove podcast. And because she’s such an amazing human, she was all for doing a Take-Two to support me in my new venture.
Because the idea for Love Your Enthusiasm was so new, I felt drunk on the idea for a while. I had a nice buzz, but I felt disoriented. I wavered back and forth between thinking “You’ve got this” to thinking “You’re completely full of shit” (otherwise known as the dreaded imposter syndrome).
Which is why, once you’ve decided on a new life direction, you have to give it your all. And, that doesn’t just mean throwing yourself into it. You also need to make a long-term commitment. I committed to two years with Love Your Enthusiasm and I made it an LLC, a legit business—not a hobby or a whim.
I compare this long-term commitment to that time I cut off all my hair into a pixie back in 2016. When I decided to do the hair chop, I committed to a year of having super short hair. I couldn’t just cut it all off, get bored with it, and want all of my hair back two months later. Growing out my hair was going to take a long time and it was going to be really fucking awkward.
Ironically, I was making space for something new in my life by getting rid of the old when I got that haircut on a springtime Saturday. Well, it worked—I got laid off a few days later.
My old job that I loved was gone. I started consulting right away and that consulting path turned into a new business with Mr. H. Superneat Marketing is still going strong four years later. Getting laid off positively changed my life direction.
Sometimes, we want to make space for new things in our lives but we don’t know how. Sometimes that decision is made for us by completely uncontrollable circumstances, such as 2020. If you feel like you were forced to pivot your life this year, I encourage you to see this as a new direction you may not have considered before. Give it your all and see where it takes you.
This week on Love Your Enthusiasm, Lauren Popish, the founder of The Wave Podcasting is on the show. “Let the doing be the teacher” is just one of many gems Lauren shares in this episode.
Is it a podcast about podcasting? Yes, but I do also think this episode is highly relevant for bloggers and content creators. So, if you’re thinking about starting a podcast, already podcasting, or if you want to refine your storytelling voice…this one’s for you…listen now.