This is a guest post from Stacey Curnow.
Pursuing your dream can be a bumpy ride.
In fact, it can be so challenging that you forget the excitement and wonderment you had when you first visualized your goal.
As a midwife and mother, I’ve experienced the joy of birth. But just like a dream, it is only once the baby is born that the real challenge begins.
Now, my experience is helping me with another dream of mine: my new business.
I’d like to share with you 5 lessons that taught me how to nurture my dream as I nurtured my own baby.
1. If your dream is important, it will take more money and time than you expect
Just like when I had a baby, I really had no idea that a business would take so much of my time and money. When I started out, my husband and I looked at our savings and agreed that I would use $5K to launch my business.
When that was gone, the business would either be profitable or I would give it up.
Oh, that makes me laugh now to think of it! To date, I’ve spent more than four times that amount and countless hours of my time. Whilst it brings me immense joy, when you look at it in black and white, it’s not even profitable yet.
But dreams are very rarely in black and white. They exist as vivid and mouthwatering visions. That’s what makes our hearts beat a little faster when we think about them. It’s what makes them so important to our lives.
If your dream is important, you make plans to adapt and give it the support it needs to grow. For me, the plan is that I keep my business going with current income and stop fixing upon a date by which it must be profitable.
I spent tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours to become a nurse/ midwife. I never put a time limit on when I needed to “succeed” as one. I simply pursued it because I was passionate about it and loved the work.
Your dream does not come with an expiry date or a price ticket. It is about the journey you take to pursue it. For as long as my dream brings me joy, no amount of money or time will stop me following my heart.
2. Listen to the experts, but be prepared to throw away the guidebooks
Whilst there may be excellent resources to learn from, sometimes you need to accept that you will achieve your goal by going your own way.
When my son was an infant, my husband and I would check various growth and development baby books and make ourselves nutty with thoughts like, “Hey! He hasn’t developed the ’pincer’ grasp yet!”
But he did develop it, at his own pace.
We might still use books for guidance but we know that every child is different, just as every dream is different.
With my business, it’s tempting to ask myself: “How can I be sure my business is not supposed to make more money yet?” The reality is that there is no definitive answer, no blueprint to tell me how to build the business of my dreams, because it’s my dream.
I’m going to do everything I can to create the conditions for the optimal growth and development of my business, but I’m not going to sweat it if it doesn’t hit any hoped-for markers of “success.”
3. Love the challenges and the lessons they bring
I made a lot of mistakes as a new mama, and I’m making a lot of mistakes as a new entrepreneur.
There’s no success like failure – and it just gets easier and easier to accept that “failure” is necessary for success.
It’s like Thomas Edison said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.” If I thought something would work and it didn’t even after I gave it my best shot, well then, I’ve always learned something of value.
And I’ve also always found that I’m much closer to success after failing than I was before the (so-called) failure.
Whether you’re just starting to make your dream a reality or you’ve been working hard at it for years, cultivate the feeling that there are no mistakes, just more learning opportunities.
The more bumps in the road there are, the more you will learn, the more agile you will become and if you really learn to embrace the challenges as invaluable lessons, the better you’ll sleep at night!
4. Remember your “why”
If you are feeling that your dream is elusive and unattainable, it’s vital to focus on why you created your business.
I often remind myself that I created my business in order to help more people give birth to a life they love. And when I see that I am doing that, the spectre of money diminishes considerably. This thought alone has gotten me through many rough patches.
The best reason for pursuing your dream is because you want the joy of making that dream a reality. When you focus on what your heart wants you to achieve, your mind is open to more possibilities and ways to tackle the unanticipated and often undesirable obstacles that dare to get in your way.
5. Share the burdens and the joys of your dream
There is a saying: “It takes a village to raise a child.” Ditto that for any great project or goal. Don’t underestimate how even just a few hours of help can make a difference to your ability to cope and enjoy the journey to your dream.
When I started my business, one of the first things I did was hire an assistant. Now I have 3 assistants, a business coach, and a membership group in an online marketing forum – all for a business that isn’t yet profitable.
But you know what? I wouldn’t enjoy my business without the help. I started my venture to bring to life my passion so I don’t even think of going without it. I care for my business just like I cared for my baby, and I will continue to do so because it brings me joy.
After all, who looks at their baby and says, “When was the last time you helped pay the rent?”
What about you? Have you encountered any bumps on the journey to your dream? What methods do you use to tackle them?
I’d love to hear more in the comments below.
Stacey Curnow runs a series of coaching programs to help women give birth to a life they love. Read more from her blog and sign up to her newsletter over on Midwife for Your Life.
Great advice Stacey!
To focus on joy and always remember the why are the two parts that resonate with me the most. Wishing you continued success. I’m sure profitability will follow ; it will be the icing on the cake :).
Thanks so much for letting me know which parts resonated with you most – those happen to be my two favorites, too! And I really appreciate the well wishes! Here’s to cake with lots of yummy icing! Thanks again for your comment and take wonderful care! s
I can’t say that I know that building a business is like having a baby (yet!), but this makes sense and you did it very clearly, even for a young not-yet-a-mommy kind of gal like me. 🙂
“I care for my business just like I cared for my baby, and I will continue to do so because it brings me joy.”
I sincerely hope I that I can get to that point with my business. 🙂 Nice article!
Arvind and I were hoping that this article would resonate with all “creatives” – not just the mamas – and so your comment is especially appreciated!
I’m sure you will experience joy with your business soon – but right now it sounds like you may be overwhelmed, like I was with my newborn. (Readers, please note: I only have one child because I don’t like feeling overwhelmed!)
Right now you may just want to focus your appreciation on the fact that you have successfully traded boredom for stress – surely the lesser of the two evils. 🙂
Thanks again for your kind comments and here’s to *your* success! Take wonderful care, s
Not that I want to get into my life story here – but in between my regular, creativity-sucking full time job AND my wedding in just over a month, it’s been a very interesting beginning to my new business!
But y’know what? The fact that I *made* those first steps gave me such an incredible boost of confidence and happiness, that I don’t mind being a little bogged down at the moment. I can coast along until the wedding, improving things in my spare time, then go full throttle after wards!
If we wanted to go back to the baby analogy, it’s like knowing – even when the baby keeps you up all night – that there’s that lingering joy in your heart just for the fact that it exists. A baby in and of itself is pretty amazing – and so is seeing your business slowly start to come to life.
Thank YOU for your kind comments. It got me thinking about some nice things, and I appreciate that.
I almost missed your very kind follow-up comment! Thanks so much for coming back here and continuing the conversation!
Yes, the great news is, unlike a baby, a business or any other passion is generally forgiving of time away. In fact I think time away, especially in solitude, often “fills the well” and ultimately feeds the passion more. So I hope you will be relaxed and light about the time you’re devoting to your other priorities and know that your business will thrive when you get back to it.
Thanks again for continuing this conversation and I wish you great joy in your marriage! s
Getting back in touch with my “why” keeps me going when I hit big bumps in the road. And I really do feel like my business is my baby. It’s going to take time for it to get big and strong. Then, it can take care of me when I’m an old woman 🙂
Thanks so much for your comment! You really made me smile! I love how you ran with the metaphor! Let’s check back in a few decades and see how our babies are doing! Thanks again and take wonderful care, s
“The best reason for pursuing your dream is because you want the joy of making that dream a reality. When you focus on what your heart wants you to achieve, your mind is open to more possibilities and ways to tackle the unanticipated and often undesirable obstacles that dare to get in your way.” ——- As a visual artist this speaks to me on so many levels. In the past with my art…..the visualizing ended with the completion of each piece only to begin again with the next. Recently, I have begun to see tentacles extending from those pieces (metaphorically) to reach a wider audience. That is just a beginning! Your message is so inspiring because I see that when the energy around a new vision is ignited….it becomes unstoppable…..regardless of the outcome. I
I love that you share your process as an artist in such a compelling way! Yes, I completely agree that our creative work goes out into the world and takes on a life of its own!
Your comment reminds me of lines from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They came through you, but not from you. And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you…You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”
Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment and take wonderful care! s
Pursuing our dream takes time, dedication and perseverance. Unfortunately, the virtues I have spoken are difficult to follow considering our propensity for instant gratification. Our first challenge when pursuing our dream is to be aware of our negative tendencies. 🙂
Yes, the virtues you mention are difficult to follow, but not impossible. I’ve found that seeking encouragement *and* accountability from a coach and like-minded peers has helped me so much in that regard. Arvind, of course, is a *great* source of support! Thanks so much for your comment and take wonderful care! s
This is a wonderful perspective, and I wish more people would pay attention to it! It’s definitely worth the time, energy and money to live the life you want. You will be handsomely rewarded in the end, I’m sure:)
Luck and success to you,
Thanks so much for your note! I appreciate that you think I will be handsomely rewarded in the end! What’s the old saw? “Love what you do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”? I love the idea of making lots of money from what I do, but, like you said, living the life I want *is* the best reward!
Thanks again for your comment and much luck and success to you! (Oh, and here’s another great quote: “I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Thomas Jefferson) Take wonderful care, s
I love the message of this article, particularly about running a business because it brings you joy. Quite often, people judge you and your business by the amount of money it makes, when that’s no real measurement of success.
If you love what you do and believe deeply in your business, regardless of whether it is profitable yet, you have already found the hardest part of success!
Best of luck with it!
Thanks so much for your kind comment! It’s so true that people will judge you and your business by the amount of money it makes. It is the norm, for sure.
I believe the current crisis in the Gulf was caused by people focusing more on profits than safe and sustainable practices. Now BP will have to spend billions of dollars to address the problem. Perhaps the crisis will help executives rethink their business plans. (And help everyone rethink our dependence on oil.) Perhaps not.
I just think it is wonderful and extraordinary that there is a community *here* that wants to put the focus on doing good *and* feeling good! Thanks again for your kind and insightful comment! Take wonderful care, s
Love the Thomas Edison quotation – that is really inspiring. Reminds me of a similar one – if you’re not failing 90% of the time, you’re not trying hard enough. I think your advice is spot on – there is no such thing as an overnight success – it takes clarity of vision, focus, hard work, and investment of time and money to bring your dreams to life. If i’ve learned anything it is patience – my business is starting to get good traction after 18 months, and if I’d given up at the first (100th) sign of trouble I’d never be enjoying where I am now. Thanks for an inspiring post.
Thanks so much for your kind comment! I love the quote you shared – I never heard it before and its message is so important. I really hope the more we hear that there is no such thing as failure, the more it will stick! I’m delighted that you can report good traction after 18 months at your business! Of course, 18 months seems like a long time when you’re “in” it, but it’s really not long at all. This point reminds me of one of my favorite saying about parenthood, “The days are long, yet the years are short.” Thanks again for sharing your comment, experience and insight! Take wonderful care, s
Hi Stacey, I love your tips – I am just going sit back and digest them, certainly a lot to think about in order to get to the stage of the dream being born. I am looking forward to the joy it brings 🙂 and tossing out the guide books.
Thanks so much for your kind comment! I’m so glad that you are honoring the time to sit back and digest – conception and gestation are necessary before a dream can be born!! And all parts of the process can be joyful if we put our focus there. Thanks again for your comment and I hope you will check back in when you find yourself “expecting” your dream! Take wonderful care, s
What fantastic and inspired advice, Stacey. All of it rings so true. Throwing away the guidebook is a big one and really connects to “why” you are doing what you’re doing. I constantly have to balance my excitement to learn, soak up and use what I’ve learned with a healthy dose of “but is that me” or “will that work for me”. Great reminders and tips. Thank you Arvind for your continued strong and wise offerings.
Thanks so much for your kind comment! I’m so glad that the messages resonated with you! I, too, struggle to assimilate all of the great advice with the *doing* that makes sense for me. I think I’ll be learning how to strike that balance my whole life! Thanks so much for sharing your experience and your appreciation for this article and Arvind!!! Take wonderful care, s
Real intelligent link between dreams and birth here Stacey. A clever but profound comparison. One day the baby (dream) is born but the conception is a critcial phase. Was it done with love? Are you prepared for the commitment? Do you possess patience to bring it into this world whilst taking care of yourself too? Is it nature or nuture? Our dreams are babies we carry with us and one day they blossom to arrive on Earth. Then we are complete. So, now I ask myself…. is it time for my family of hopes? I think so….thanks to your help. My midwife wise wife!
Wow, thanks for picking up the metaphor and running with it!!! I love your insights and reflections and hope you grace us with a birth announcement when your baby arrives! Thanks again and take wonderful care! s
This post has some great points. I have struggled with some of these ideas myself and think that dreaming big definitely comes with some resistance. I particularly find it relevant that sometimes we need to expect the unexpected and be willing to persevere and adapt regardless of if it’s in-line with our plan. It’s definitely important to hold our vision through thick and thin if we really believe in it, and begin learning to push through and grow from setbacks.
Thanks so much for letting me know which points resonated most with you! I love this conversation and I know it will help me hold my vision, push through, and grow from the setbacks! Thanks again for your thoughtful comment! Take wonderful care, s
I live my dream. It seems like it started with writing down what my ideal day would look like. Before long I found myself living that life.
I call it my two hour plan. Each day I (loosely) spend two hours meditating, two hours gardening, two hours exercising and two hours writing. I have gotten very good at saying no to many things that I don’t want and my husband and I live very simply.
In reality, it started way before that when I had to learn to love myself, forgive, (myself most of all), and stop unconsciously trying to punish myself. Then I was open to receive.
Thank you so much for your comment! I love the idea of writing down the ideal day and it’s evident that this practice brought extra resonance and power to its achievement! I also appreciate that you shared that learning to love, forgive and not punish yourself laid the foundation for you, as you said, receiving your dream. Love, love, love that! Thank you SO much for sharing your process with us! Take wonderful care, s
I really enjoyed your post. I can see how starting a business is very much like giving birth. Watching your baby grow and feeding and nurturing it are all part of the joyful experience of being a mama.
I hope to be able to give my baby some extra-helpings to encourage a growth spurt!
Thanks so much for letting me know you enjoyed my post! I love the image of you giving your baby extra helpings to encourage a growth spurt! Thank you for that smile! Take wonderful care, s
Wonderful post, Stacey!
Thanks so much, Michele!
Having doula and midwife during pregnancy can do wonder, I know so.
I like your tips #1, important the dream, harder we try and it may take longer and cost more money. I have been there so it is so true, but sticking through it all is tough but it is all worth it.
I also like #2, listen toe expert but following your gut feeling is best way to go, because what works for some expert may not work for you!
Congratulations, your subscriber count is increasing. I am so happy for you! I am one of them.
Thanks so much for your comment! I really appreciate your positive response for doulas and midwives – it’s really wonderful to have a guide who trusts the natural processes, especially when we go through a challenging event! Thanks again and take wonderful care! Stacey
Thanks ZenGirl – much appreciated!