This post will help you find your own perfect timing for making big moves and purchases, rather than blindly chasing after more.
At the very least, it will tell my tale of finding my own wise response to an all-too-common story in the world of business ownership: The pressure of bigger, better, shinier, faster.
Here’s how it begins:
Years ago, when I was still a musician, I saw Marianne Williamson speak. She shared a random story about her early success. When her first book hit the bestseller list, she felt pressure to begin “playing the part” of the best selling author. This meant – among other things – moving to a bigger home. She described the chaos and stress this created, concluding with her lesson: (which I’m paraphrasing liberally)
When you become successful, there are so many moving parts and so much you’re getting used to. Adding even more change will also add more complexity (and more expense) to your recently more complicated life. Think twice when you are about to jettison yourself forward into new external trappings.
If Some Is Good, More is Better
At the time, I gave this no thought. After all, I wasn’t planning on turning into Beyonce anytime soon. I had zero pressure to move into a bigger anything.
But years later, when I started a company, it did get successful. I found myself in circles with people who were running multimillion dollar businesses, some of whom had several homes, private jets and other assorted goodies. Also, some of my close colleagues were now spending millions on their homes, posting photos on social media, and entertaining clients very publicly.
That’s when the pressure started. It wasn’t blatant pressure. No one was telling me to do it. It was just one of those “This is what you’re supposed to do, right?” kind of things. Time to get a big new shiny house and play the part of the successful entrepreneur.
In a culture that trains you to consume from the day you are old enough to say “Mine” – it’s often easier to just do what’s expected of you. Get more stuff.
After all, “If some is good, more is better.”
If you can get an A, work a bit harder to get an A+.
If you’re going to Gentle Yoga, why not go to “Hot and Painful Yoga” instead?
If you can do 20 minutes on the treadmill, then 60 minutes will make you that much healthier.
If you have some house, then more house will make you happier.
And this is where Marianne Williamson helped me press pause. Not because her story made me turn my back and say no. Instead, it called me to ask a few questions and examine this pressure more deeply.
Getting methodically clear about everything from your current circumstances to your needy ego will help you extricate yourself from the blind external pressure for more. It will help you make a choice that is authentic and pure.
In other words, there is no recipe. You have to be self aware, be willing to pause with yourself, and listen.
Here are the guidelines I used. Consider them, and step back before taking the next leap into the next big anything (house or otherwise)…
1 – Honor your personal circumstances.
When my business first took off, I had – up til that time – spent 15 years as a musician. The year I broke the $100K mark as a songwriter was a big honkin’ deal. So, yes I had been successful, but I wasn’t sleeping on mattresses of cash.
And just because I was now running a 7-figure business didn’t make me Warren Buffett. It just meant that I’m good at this one thing I do. I was 15 years behind a lot of my peers in terms of making extraordinary revenues. There’s no shame in this. After all, I got to play music professionally for 15 years. I’ll take that trade off. But it meant that my IRA had about 26 cents in it. So I had some catching up to do.
Also, my husband has his own business. This puts both of us in the “unpredictable” category. (Though, these days, I think we are all in the “unpredictable” category. But that’s a whole other blog post.)
2 – Know Yourself
I teach my entrepreneurial clients a myriad of tools for self-understanding – from the enneagram to the Kolbe A Index to Strengthsfinders. This level of self-awareness helps them build better teams, understand their clients, and most importantly, understand themselves.
So, on the Kolbe A Index, I’m a 2 out of 10 on “Fact Finder” – which means that “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away” is an entire semester of history for me.
Yes, I’m great at coaching and getting to the core issue of any challenge quickly and intuitively – but I’m not your girl for due diligence on home purchases, let alone all the taxes, inspections and fees. (I’d bet money that Marianne Williamson has a similar Kolbe.) I honor this about myself and make sure there are people on my team who excel at this tedious work.
But for me, big purchases require extra support. I had to weigh whether or not the added stress was worth my time and attention with an already full schedule.
3 – Know your Ego
Self-awareness means you’ll encounter your ego. More often than not, when I am pushing myself into something that doesn’t feel right, I’ll uncover a broken part of me that is 100% preoccupied with what other people think of me. Oh happy day, there she is again. If I realize that she’s behind the curtain running the show, it’s up to me to then navigate this tender territory and gently steer in a better direction.
Ego will try to convince you of all the things you need, the people who will leave you behind and judge you if you don’t get those things, and all kinds of other unpleasantries. At the end of the day, however, ego should be left out of your decision-making process.
Here’s the best question for cutting to the chase: Is this a decision I’m making out of fear or out of love? If you’re willing to be honest, you will hear the answer immediately.
4 – Know What Matters
Do you know – really know – what truly matters to you? This isn’t a question that can be ticked off quickly – like your daily task list. This is one of those things you explore. Which is what I had to do.
To my core, what matters most to me is having free time and plenty of space to create. I never want money to rule me. I never want to have to keep a toxic client because I need money. I never want to have to do anything for the money.
And while I drool over amazing design and beautiful homes, I value learning and coaching more than stuff. I ended up buying the 3500 square feet of downtown office space that is now Uplevel World Headquarters. I paid cash because I could. And also, I wanted a space for team and coaching and learning, the things I value most.
Authenticity, not Minimalism
So I chose to stay in my tiny house that I love – at least for now – remodeling and redesigning it along the way.
My friends often remark that I am “Zen” or “minimalist” when they see how I live my life. If I am either of those things, it’s not because I am naturally wired that way. I’ve created this lifestyle because I’ve confronted the many places inside of me that are decidedly not Zen.
And I’m not a minimalist. (If you don’t believe me, ask the guys who check in my luggage whenever I fly.) My choice to stay in my not-so-big house is not a minimalist choice. It is simply an authentic choice. Which, ideally, will be every choice you make in your business as you grow.