We’re not waiting on the world to change. We’re setting out to change the world.
The Poison of Isolation
The biggest killer to our potential is isolation. You don’t have to be a solo entrepreneur to experience isolation. It can sneak up on you and take you by surprise. While everyone else out there seems to have a well laid out path to follow, we’re here blazing a new path. With all of these unknowns, we can start to feel really lonely. We may find ourselves working alone a lot. We may start to feel misunderstood and isolated from the rest of society, even our family and friends.
You are not alone. You are enough. There are a few practical ways that I have used to combat my own feelings of isolation:
Join an Online Community
Because I’m working on my laptop from home most days, I have joined a couple active online communities. The Rising Tide facebook group is one of my top favorites. Each day fresh inspiration can be found there and I’ve found other creatives that help to keep me accountable for my goals. I know this community will not only encourage me but also challenge me to be my best self.
On the second Tuesday of each month, I attend my local Rising Tide Society meetup. Through this group, I’ve scheduled a few coffee dates and met creatives to collaborate with.
Are you using the Shapr app yet? Shapr is an app that behaves like Tinder, but it’s strictly for networking with likeminded professionals. “Connecting regularly with inspiring individuals is the key to a more meaningful, fulfilling, healthy existence. And that’s why we made an app.” —Shapr I’ve already connected with several fellow entrepreneurs and creatives through this app here in Denver. Initially we connect through messaging back and forth and then we typically set up a time to have coffee.
Work from a coffee shop. So what if you’re fitting the millennial persona from that viral song about millennials? You’re doing what’s right for you. Work from a library. I find that many libraries have great wifi and quiet study rooms to work in. When I need a break from what I’m working on, I walk around and choose a book on a random topic and spend ten minutes reading. Did you know that reading can help you feel more connected? It also encourages new ideas and provides stress relief. Work from a local co-working space. This is another great way to connect with local entrepreneurs. Get inspired and be productive at the same time by working from a creative office for the day without the distractions of a public coffee shop.
For someone who never meets a stranger, this one isn’t hard for me. I love making friends. However, as I’ve gotten busier with that entrepreneurial hustle and being a single parent, I’ve made excuses for why I don’t have time to hang out with my friends. Now I have realized that I can’t afford to skip out on time with people in real life.
The key is to find the right people. Don’t have friends just for the sake of friends but as my aunt always says, choose your friends wisely. Think quality over quantity. Jim Rohn famously said, “You become like the five people you spend the most time with.” It’s true.
Through sharing your journey with others, you can connect with others who are on a similar journey. Interacting with groups like the Rising Tide Society will instantly help you feel more connected and less isolated.
I’ve learned that when I feel bored or miserable in my business, I’m trying to get more than I’m
trying to give. (Paraphrased words from a quote by Derek Palizay, The Modern Marketer.) Dropping a handwritten note in the mail, messaging someone to check up on them, or surprising a neighbor with a thoughtful gift are wonderful ways to delight someone else.
On an even more practical, micro level of giving, practice “giving” on social media for at least 15-30 minutes each day. Write as many genuine, thoughtful compliments as you can and share inspiration with your followers. Each time we pour out love, we also fill our souls with more love and inspiration.
I use an app called Charity Miles to track my daily walks. Each logged mile earns various monetary amounts for your nonprofit organization of choice. Because I am more motivated to do things that also benefit others, this always motivates me to get my mile in for the day. My brain tells me, “If you don’t walk this mile, those kids won’t get new shoes, a mother won’t have a safer delivery, and our country’s problems with childhood obesity and homelessness will get worse. You can do something about it, Meg. Go walk!”
Walking or hiking are also great activities to do with someone else. There’s an option in the Shapr app, that I mentioned earlier, where you can specify that you prefer meeting up for a walk over meeting up for coffee.
2. The Poison of Hesitation
When I was learning to drive, my instructor told me that if I hesitated when it was time to go, I would lose my chance. He was right.
When your door of opportunity opens, take it. Don’t hesitate. Right now is your time!
Besides hesitating, we also have this conundrum with hesitation’s cousin, “Almost.” You are ALMOST doing the THING.
You have amazing ideas that you talk about. You might even write about it and make videos about what you want to do. You might be in the Modern Marketer community telling everyone about your latest business model.
You ideas and potential business models sound amazing. They really do. But what are you actually doing?
You want to replace your income with your own business…. but you haven’t started taking any execution steps. Steps like putting the plan on paper, budgeting to replace your income, sharpening your skills, gaining wise counsel and investing your resources, etc.
People say, “It’s the thought that counts.” Sorry boo, I’m afraid they’re wrong.
You’re going to have to act on your ideas. Here’s a suggestion: Instead of talking about what you want to do, why don’t you just start working and let your work speak for itself?
Start doing something today.
3. The poison of comparison
Creatives struggle with something known as Imposter Syndrome, which is worsened significantly by the act of comparing yourself, your product, and your journey to someone else’s. Comparison is a poison to your potential and a distraction from your highest calling.
Here’s what you can do to make sure you don’t get poisoned by comparison:
- Get off social media for several hours or better yet, the weekend. Get your focus off of yourself for a while and off of the unrealistic highlight reels of others’ lives. Listen, none of our lives are full of love and rose petals.
- Learn a new skill which could be a new hobby or a skill you need to grow your business.
- Do Yoga. Through practicing yoga, you’ll learn to love and appreciate yourself which combats the tendency to compare yourself to others.
- Get artsy. Attend a local art class. Start an art journal. There are so many great YouTube tutorials that teach simple techniques that make art journaling fun and easy. I love to start my day off with ten minutes of art journaling in the morning. Picasso said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
- Volunteer on a regular basis. Whether it’s the local Boys and Girls Club, the American Red Cross, or a volunteer trip abroad, helping others will allow you to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes so to speak.
- Start a gratitude journal. Each night before you go to sleep, write down three things that you are grateful for or three good things that happened during the day. By focusing on what is good in your life, you have less time to dwell on what you don’t have.
We are hustlers. We all work hard for everything we’ve got.
We don’t expect to be able to eat whatever we want and stay healthy. We don’t expect to sit on the couch and have opportunities handed to us. Neither can we allow poisonous thoughts to gain traction in our minds and attack our potential to change the world.
So while we’re hustling, we need to be in touch with our true potential. Recognize it. Own it. Nurture it.
It’s all too easy to let yourself get isolated when you’re working hard. It’s all too easy to hesitate instead of drive things forward and learn from your mistakes. It’s all too easy to look at what others have accomplished and question your own worth.
We can’t afford to not guard our potential with the same tenacity that we use to go after our dreams. Remember, always, that your dreams are an extension of your potential, so do everything you can to keep it healthy and nurtured.