Use that Radio / by Michelle Cowan

I am not in this alone.  None of us are. 

In this new venture of self-employment, I sometimes feel like a sailboat out to sea.  I’m not a sailor, but I can imagine it would be pretty scary to ride the winds out into the middle of the ocean, until you can’t see any other ships, only to have the wind suddenly stop. Okay, the ride out there is great, but once you're there, what do you do?  Wait until the wind starts back up? What if it doesn't start blowing?  Do you get out oars and start paddling, even though you don't know exactly where the shore is?  What do you do?

Life feels lonely like that at times, mostly because I spent so long in a regular 9-5 world.  It’s fun, believe you me, to wake up each day and get to choose which projects to pursue, which avenue to search.  It’s like having that giant wind at my back, propelling me out into the ocean.  The possibilities are endless.  I am capable and confident that I will make this work, that new clients are coming, that I am going to make a new album, find a great place to live, and have all sorts of adventures along the way.

That wind keeps me moving, keeps me actively sailing. I stay preoccupied with the wind, managing the wind, enjoying the wind.  But then, periodically, the wind stops.  It’s a lot less fun out there on my own with no wind. When I get tired, or my mind starts playing discouraging loops, or I start believing old lies about how I never do anything well enough, I feel alone and momentumless.  It’s not that I lack hope; I just get tired. 

I have to rest sometimes; I know that. But I avoid rest because when I rest, fear bubbles to the surface.  I'm not alone in wanting to avoid this. Fear can paralyze, but it can also motivate. Today, I choose to use the energy of fear to fuel me moving forward. Fear can stop my motivational wind from blowing, leaving me feeling stranded. But if I can move past the fear, I think more clearly. I think of alternative solutions, or I might look and discover a backup motor on my boat to keep me going.

But what about when moving past the fear doesn’t work?  What about those times when I keep trying to work and only feel like I’m going in circles?  Although I don't always use it, I think I've figured out the secret: I reach out.

In my little, stalled boat, I use the radio.  Yes, the radio.  I ask other people what to do.  I ask for help.  That is the secret of success. Sailing solo is great, but I will never get anywhere without help. I have to ask other people how they run their businesses.  I need financial advice.  I need leads on new clients.

I saw a financial counselor last week, and our simple hour-long discussion gave me tools I certainly didn’t have before.  Some elements left me feeling a bit overwhelmed by all I have to do, but mostly, I felt empowered because at least I now know a few steps to takes.  I don’t have to do them tomorrow, but I can start thinking about it and planning for those steps so that I am ready to do them when they get here.

So many of us who strike out on our own have long histories of getting things done ourselves.  We have false notions that we should be able to do everything on our own, that it is a sign of weakness to ask for help. But frankly, how are we supposed to start up a wind on our own?  It’s impossible.  We need help to get to where we want to be. 

That’s what I’m doing, asking for help.  It’s essential.  You can do it, too.  No matter where you are in life, it’s always good to know how other people have tacked situations so that we can tackle them with as much information as possible.

After asking for help, my next step is trusting myself to act on that information in my own time.  I don’t have to implement everything today or follow the suggestions at all.  I can wait until the time is right and my heart knows exactly what is best for me.

Reach out today!  You won't regret it.