Happiness Lost

Ranee Parker blog

I’ve forgotten how to be happy.

This past year has been a struggle. As I left the corporate world to join the ranks of brave individuals who have set out on their own I thought I had a good handle on what I wanted and how to get it. I was on track to making my business into what I knew it could be and was excited about how it would grow.

A few months into this new journey, something changed. I started to feel like maybe I wasn’t doing it right. I got caught up in how entrepreneurs are supposed to act; what they are supposed to read, who they are supposed to follow, how they are supposed to market their business, and everything else I saw in the not-so-realistic world of Instagram. Suddenly, I was obsessed about signing up for webinars and religious about implementing all the information I was receiving. I spent all my days and hours studying worksheets and how-to guides and doing my best to stick to the advice given on every one of them. I tried to get up early (because everyone knows that’s what successful people do). I created a schedule and did everything I could think of to stick to it exactly, getting angry any time my day got away from me and I had to veer off-course.

I realize now that it is deep within me to never feel like I have enough knowledge to be considered an expert. And because of that, I went from booking clients and doing the work to obsessing over how I could become more knowledgeable so people would see me as an expert in my field (because that’s how you’re supposed to get the clients).

I was filling my days with things that weren’t working for me but I thought this was how to be an entrepreneur so I forced myself to ignore my intuition and continue down a path meant for someone else. And in all that learning and planning, I lost the reason I wanted this in the first place. I forgot why I worked so hard to start my own business. I forgot why I want to create beautiful websites in an online sea of not-so-pretty ones. Why I want to reach clients and help them before they go through the pain of trying to create their own websites or hire someone cheap they found listed in some online want-ad. I lost sight of everything that lights me up about the work I’m doing.

And because of that I didn’t just lose my happiness, I lost myself. I was so focused on what I thought I should be doing that I wasn’t being true to who I am. I was attracting the wrong clients because I was acting like the entrepreneur the Internet told me I should be: someone who loves to wake up early and stick to a strict schedule. Anyone who knows even a little about me knows I am not a morning person and even a moderately strict schedule can make me feel so confined I fear my only way out is to bail on everything. And, in the end, all the things I did because they were supposed to make me successful didn’t help me achieve my goals because none of it made sense for me.

For the past year I’ve been so caught up in doing what doesn’t work that, now that I recognize the insanity of it, I’m struggling to fight my way out of this rut. To find my way back to the me who knows what I want, who attracts the right clients because I’m doing the things that make sense for me. I mean, isn’t that a large reason why I wanted to have my own business in the first place? To succeed on my own terms, not by getting paid to sit in a windowless office stressing about trying to keep up with an ever-growing inbox and feeling overworked and under-appreciated because I was just a cog in the corporate wheel?

Even with the understanding that I need to refocus my goals and do things in my business that are aligned with who I am, I still keep hearing that voice in the back of my head telling me I have to get up early and stick to a strict schedule and shove my business down people’s throats because that is the only way I can succeed. And, I mean, those things obviously work for some people. Which is why there are so many books written by successful entrepreneurs who say the secret to their success is waking up early and sticking to a strict schedule. But in reality, they aren’t successful because they get up at 5am every morning. It’s more likely they are inherently most productive in the early morning, which means that waking up early is the key to their success. But I can guarantee you 5am is most definitely not the key to my success.

And we probably all know by now that trying to be something or someone we’re not isn’t in our best interest. Living our lives trying to be what we see on Instagram isn’t going to make us happy. And listening to all the podcasts and reading all the books that tell us what we need to succeed won’t make us successful.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still reading books and listening to podcasts about business, but I’m very picky about what I give my attention to and I’ll only read and listen to what makes sense for me.

Because, the truth is, only after I find my way back to being truly me in this business will I find my lost happiness.