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The Encore Entrepreneur



Have you ever felt like you were losing your passion for your business, and you're worried that you won't get it back? We can all feel this way when things aren't going the way we expect them to. It's totally normal, and we all face this at one time or another. If this is happening to you, and if it hasn't already, it probably will. We dive deep into what might be happening when you feel this way, and we encourage you to answer six key questions to help uncover what's actually going on.

Why Aren’t Things Going Your Way?

[01:29] Deirdre Harter: So, I think one of the first things when we're talking about this losing our passion is we really kind of have to determine why things aren't going our way, because there can be many reasons, and if we aren't very specific, it can just feel like nothing's working, right? Have you ever had that feeling where just like, nothing I do is right, nothing is working, and that really isn't the case? Kind of have to dig down a little bit and figure out why things aren't going our way. I think one of the first places to start is to look at whether or not you've set a goal that you didn't reach. And is that the reason that you're feeling this way? Was it a big goal? Was it a really important goal, and you've really been working toward that, and you just simply didn't reach it?

[02:17] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: And the next thing to ask yourself is, did you track your activities to help ensure success? So it's one thing to set a goal, but then we have to backtrack or reverse engineer the activities we need to take to reach the goal. And did you measure your progress along the way? If not, how do you know that things went wrong? Or how do you know what went wrong? If we don't set the goal, track our activities, and measure our progress, then what is it that's telling us that something went wrong? How do you know?

Is It a Story, Or Is It Fact?

[02:51] Deirdre Harter: And I think one of the keys to this, too, Carmen, is that we have to ask ourselves, is it a story or is it a fact? And we always have to check in with ourselves and in what we're believing. So when you're believing something, you have to ask yourself, is this really true? And that is really a great first step to exploring what's going on. And this story versus fact; gets a little murky and muddy there, right? Until we really stop to figure it out. And that's why one of those first things we said to do is determine why is it a fact? 

Like, if you did set a goal and you didn't reach it, well, that's a fact, right? But if it's just kind of this pervasive feeling of nothing is working and I'm really frustrated, well, that could be a story. So we kind of have to dig down a little bit deeper to figure out which one is it.

[03:50] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah, what you say is so true because the reason it gets murky is because the human mind is so good at telling us things, right? And so we can believe things that are stories, but we can think of them as facts. So you have to work on self-awareness here a little bit. It's so important in entrepreneurship. 

We are put through the wringer in a whole bunch of different ways, whether it's achieving goals or making your revenue or launching a new thing, or whatever it is. We have so many things going on all the time. So we need to find out what stories are we telling ourselves and what are we believing. Because we can talk ourselves into or out of anything, it's actually a really good exercise when you lean into that. 

So if you think something is a fact or if something happens and you list out all the reasons why that is, we asked a second ago, Is this true? Deirdre said to ask yourself that. It's a great thing to do, so let's ask yourself what makes it true, but what makes it not true? There's always two sides of the coin. And I think if we don't stop to examine both sides, that's where we get into trouble. Because we can say, well, yes, it's true because blah, blah, blah. And then we're just leaning into our bias, and we're not getting objective. 

We need to lead with curiosity instead of thinking, well, either we are failures, and it's not working, and so that's why things aren't going. It's like we have to look at why, ask ourselves why, find out, is it a story or is it fact? And then list out why things could be true but why they might not be true. Look at both sides of the coin so that you can gain some objectivity. 

The next thing we want to do is set expectations. What does good look like? What does things going your way in your business—what does that look like for you? We need to know that too. And if we're just heading off full bore in things and taking action taking action, taking action without having a strategy in place, well, then where are the expectations? Where are the guidelines for us? We need to figure that out as well. 

[06:01] Deirdre Harter: And I think a lot of times when we get in this situation, and we're thinking, okay, things aren't going my way, things are not going as planned. And then it becomes this rabbit hole that we can really go down. And a lot of times, this is just a general feeling and an idea. And that's why it's so important to define exactly what isn't working and define how we know it's true because we can get carried away with emotions. And so that's again why we said, is it story or is it fact? 

Stories really come from the emotional side of us. Facts are the metric side of the business, and as entrepreneurs, we have a mix of both of those things going on all the time. We have our emotions going on, and then we have the logical side of things and the tasks that we're doing. So we really have to figure out if this is just a feeling or is there something that is supporting this?

Are Emotions Driving You, And Do You Have A Plan?

[07:02] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: It's so important to do that because it's true. We can get taken away by our emotions, and part of it that can be contributing to this feeling that things aren't going my way is maybe you're thinking things aren't happening fast enough, and time is always a factor. I think it's the thing that we as humans and entrepreneurs forget about first because we think, well, I'm doing all this stuff. It's going to happen, it's going to happen, and it is. We just don't know when. 

So we have to really be able to set realistic expectations about when something's going to happen and what does fast enough look like? Do you have to do something? If it's a revenue goal, then we want to be able to do that. But again, we need to set a plan. So are you clear on what you want to happen? 

It's not enough to say I want this to happen within three months or I want this to happen within this year. We have to know what exactly is this thing that we want to happen, and then we have to set a plan for that.

[08:01] Deirdre Harter: Carmen, one of the other things, too, I know we talk a lot about this, and we hear this from our clients all the time. Nothing ever happens fast enough because everything's instantaneous these days. And I think part of this is not only do we just want it; that's really our passion. So that passion fuels that desire, and that's actually a good thing. 

The other part of this is that we have to front-load the work a lot of the time. No matter whether it's the very beginning of your business, whether you are bringing out something new, you're creating a new conversion event or a new offer, there's always a heavy lift in the beginning when we are building assets for our business. And I think we think, well, I've put in X amount of hours, time, and energy that should equal the result, right? Because we just did all this work. 

But when it comes to entrepreneurship, especially when it comes to the marketing and the sales, we never see the results right away. It's always going to take time for that to get going and to gain momentum and traction. So the work you do today, you're not going to see the result for 90 days, sometimes 180 days. It really depends on what that strategy is.

[09:17] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah.

[09:18] Deirdre Harter: And I think this is where we have to rely on our plan. When we have a plan, we have to say, do we even have a plan? And are you working the plan? Because that plan, when you've laid it out, and if you know that you're working the plan, you're doing exactly what it says, then that's where we can put our confidence there that we're doing the work. And then there's a little bit of faith involved that by doing the work and following the strategy and the plan, we're going to end up with the result. 

Now, is it guaranteed? Of course not. But it's something we can control. We can control the actions we take to get to where we want to go. We can't always control every result that we get. We can only create a strategy that we think is going to get us there and most likely will get us there. And I think when this feeling of nothing's going my way, and things aren't working in this business, a lot of the time, at least I know from my own personal experience, if I look back and say, ‘did I do absolutely everything I know to do to make this happen?” The answer has invariably been no. There were always things I did not do, or I didn't do the way I should have done them, or not consistently enough. It comes back to me. So I really have learned that I can't say something isn't working if I didn't work that plan as it was prescribed.

Carmen’s Story

[10:48] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah, such a good point. And the other thing, when we talk about a plan, a plan is like your starting point; it's your guidelines. So you can change the plan, but what you first have to do is have a plan and work it to see how it worked out. Did your plan work? Because then you have something to work with. You can say this part of my plan worked out really well. This part didn't go so well. 

If we don't set up guidelines for ourselves to follow, we're really vesting our emotions into all this. We're really emotionally invested, and that ends up creating an energy drain. Having the plan and working the plan is so important. 

The other thing we know that happens when we're tight, let's talk about being emotionally invested here, is, are you overlaying personal events and experiences onto your business events and experiences? And what do we mean by that? 

We have much more going on in our lives than just running a business. And sometimes, the lines get blurred. So if you're experiencing difficulties in your personal life, that can color your view of your business. 

Recently, I experienced a sudden lack of confidence that I realized was cropping up from past experiences and family drama. The lack of confidence that I was experiencing affected how I felt about my role in our business and in my life in general. It was really a bummer. It was a downer. And I'm like, a glass is half full kind of gal. So it was really unusual. And it hung around for a little while, and I thought, what is going on? 

I realized I needed to get help to explore why things suddenly changed. Why was I feeling this way? So I chose to begin therapy to resolve these issues. And it's made a world of difference. It's so important to identify: 

  • Does it keep coming up? 
  • Is it affecting your confidence? 
  • Is it draining your energy? 
  • What is the thing, and then how can you resolve it? 

And the reason I share this is because I think it's very important for people to seek out expert help when they need it. The fact that I honored myself and sought out professional help gave me an immediate boost of confidence, and it gives me the knowledge that I'm going to work through this, right? I'm working through it. We're exploring different things from my past, current, present, and future, looking at what things could be affecting the way I'm viewing things because most of it, when we get back to, is it fact or is it story? 

What story might be cropping up for me that colored how things were looking for me? The human mind is so interesting. So it's a matter of being able to step back, get help if you need it, and then explore what's happening in a way that you can uncover these things.

[13:38] Deirdre Harter: Yeah, I think that is such a good point, Carmen. And as entrepreneurs, we are the major asset in our business, right? And it's personal. This is our personal business. We're starting it, we're growing it, and then at the same time, the business is a separate entity. And it's messy in the middle there, right between the two, because we can't compartmentalize everything because we are our business to a point. But the business is also separate. And so doing this work and being able to understand that we have to pause and really get to the underlying issue, I think, is so important.

[14:24] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yes, 100%.

Deirdre’s Story

[14:25] Deirdre Harter: Now, I had an experience also where I was allowing my personal circumstances—I was laying it onto my business, and I was thinking that the business was the problem when it really wasn't. And what happened? 

This was several years ago. My husband and I and our kids, we were renting. We rented for several years before we bought the home that we're in now, and the owners were not taking care of it. We were having some major issues there. They weren't taking care of things. And it was making life really difficult for us to the point of even becoming a health hazard because there was water leakage and there was mold getting in the wall. So it was a very bad situation. 

And trying to get everything taken care of, it was taking up a lot of my time and energy to resolve this. The end result was we had to find another home to rent. So then that was a whole nother thing, right? Finding another place, getting out as soon as we can, moving everything. And back then, I was coaching entrepreneurs in the e-commerce space, but I was also running my own e-commerce business. And what that meant is I had a lot of inventory, and the house that we were renting had a full basement, so I had plenty of room. I had my whole setup done. 

Everything was working like clockwork. And then this upheaval and transition where I had to move to another home. It was a completely different layout. I didn't have a basement anymore, so it was unbelievably frustrating. It was exhausting to try to get everything moved. And the whole thing made me question the viability of my business because that interruption had thrown me completely off course. 

Then having to rethink—and there's always that pressure when we're behind, right? Like, we're like, oh my gosh, life threw a curveball at me, and now I'm behind because I could barely keep up as it was. And then I had to reconfigure. And I wasn't in a mental space that was ideal for being creative and figuring out how to reset this whole thing. 

So I was really beginning to just say, you know what? I don't think that this is the right thing for me. I don't think I should be doing this anymore. The business is going to fail. We just immediately go there. 

So really, it was a combination of a whole bunch of things, but it was all about me and our situation, not about the business. What I did is I used that experience, and I figured out that there was something wrong here. I decided that I was being very negative about it, and I needed to be positive. I kind of flipped the script on it. I started looking at it as a fresh start as opposed to how I was originally thinking. Like, I'll never catch up. Everything is doomed. And so I think a lot of times when we can recognize where this is coming from. And then I've always used this flip-the-script idea that what is the opposite? If it's a negative thing we're thinking and feeling, what is the opposite of that? And can we adopt that?

[17:25] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah. And it's so understandable how you would get to that: “I'll never catch up, and it's not even worth it.” Because, with your story, I can just hear all the different things that you were hit with. I mean, you could look at it as one event, but when you really look at it, and you break it down, it's a whole bunch of events:

  • The issues with the home, the landlords weren't responding. 
  • Then you had to move, you had the perfect setup, 
  • And then you had to figure it out. 

When you get those one-two punches over and over again, those help erode your confidence and your energy. So that's what happens. 

And that's why we wanted to bring this to the forefront with this episode. We have to pay attention to what's going on and not look at that one thing as, “well, that's just one episode.” Honestly, it was a traumatic episode. You guys were put in the position of your health was at risk, and then it ended up where your business was potentially at risk because it affected your mental health. I mean, that makes sense, and that's what happens to us. 

One of the reasons and the ways that we can help when this is happening is connecting back to your why. Why did you start the business? Think back to when you were a bright, shiny, brand-new entrepreneur, and you decided that you want to help people in the manner that you want to help them. And how exciting was that? 

That has not gone away. 

Sometimes things have happened in our lives that kind of tarnish that shine, but it hasn't gone away. So we need to reconnect with that. Connect back to why you started this in the first place, connect back to that original spark of passion, and explore that as well. Do you still feel the same way? Do you still want to help the same people doing the same thing? And look at it. So a lot of this is about looking inward and discovering and uncovering what's happening for us.

[19:18] Deirdre Harter: I think that's such a good point, Carmen. And I remember you were going through that situation recently, and we were talking about it, and I remember you saying, “I love what we're doing, and everything is going good, so I don't understand where all this is coming from.” It's very confusing.

[19:34] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: It is.

Reconnect With Your “Why?”

[19:37] Deirdre Harter: And when we say, Go back to your why. I know you guys have heard that before, but it is keeping it in the forefront I think that's really the key here because we forget. We write it down, we do our vision boards. We might look at it once a year when we're doing our annual planning and so forth, but it's kind of like tucked away somewhere. And I think having that statement of why do we do what we do? It's just as important and probably more important than telling people who we help and how. But let's keep that “Why?” Why are we doing what we're doing? 

This can actually be part of your messaging as well, but we should at least have it up on the wall somewhere, right? So we can look at it every day. And this is really going to help because it's easy to get tired when we're doing something new. So whether it is, I'm sure we all remember how tiring it was. It was exciting and tiring at the same time when we first started our businesses. But as we grow our businesses, it doesn't really ever end because there's always a new challenge in front of us. There's always a new level in business. You might have a new launch, a new conversion event, a new offer, or one marketing strategy you've been using and has been working along all of a sudden, it isn't working anymore. 

And that's normal because the marketplace changes, especially when we're using digital marketing, right? Platforms change, algorithms change, and all sorts of things change. And as an entrepreneur, new challenges again are a never-ending part of the process. So it's not a one-and-done. And I think that's another reason we wanted to have this conversation today. Because we know it's going to happen for sure, and it's probably going to happen more than one time. And we want to equip you with these tools that you can use to really figure out what's going on and to work your way out of it.

[21:36] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: And I think the biggest tool is awareness, really. I mean, don't you, Deidre? It's like if we're aware of what's going on, if we learn to be aware, we can then react accordingly or even become proactive.

[21:50] Deirdre Harter: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I think it's like the thing the first step to resolving a problem is to recognize that there is a problem. And I think that's really where awareness comes in.

[21:59] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: That's right. And when we talk about the new challenge in front of us and entrepreneurship, it's a never-ending process of new challenges. If we think about it, and if we're honest with ourselves, that's probably part of the reason we were drawn to entrepreneurship in the beginning. We are ambitious people. You wouldn't be an entrepreneur if you weren't ambitious. It's like it's part of the DNA. 

But when you're doing the heavy lifting and things aren't going as planned, or you're hit with the one-two punch like Deirdre explained in her story, those things can just keep knocking you down, knocking you down, knocking you down. And while we have a lot of ambition and fortitude, we only can do so much. We're still human. It can be exhausting. 

Getting back and connecting with your “Why?” and keeping it in the forefront is just a way to help re-fortify your foundation. It's like, I'm here for a reason. Let's just make sure that we're focused on the reason, and we'll get through these things. 

Sometimes we have to know that we have to go through it to have it be behind us. When I've had difficult things in my life in the past, I'm always like, I can't go around it, I can't go over it, I can't go under it, I have to go through it. And sometimes it can be just a feeling, something that's nagging us about our business or whatever. 

We just have to go through it. And we don't want to just say, well, we'll just white knuckle through it. We want to look for why is this happening? Is it true? Why are we doing what we're doing? We want to reconnect to all these things to help fortify us to get through it.

[23:31] Deirdre Harter: I love that you said that, Carmen. That phrase about going over it, around it, or going through it. That's actually the ending statement on my personal vision.

[23:40] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Oh, awesome. Yeah, I said that many times, honestly, for so many. And it's a great reminder because it's true. It's saying you can't skirt the issue. You've got to go through it. There's no way around it.

The Importance of The Right Support System

[23:53] Deirdre Harter: That's right. And I think our perspective on it is what really makes the difference. Because we can either go through something and be battle worn when we come out the other side, or we can actually come out and really feel victorious about it, and it's all about how you're perceiving it as you go through it. 

Because if we know that this is something that's going to make us stronger and wiser, and it can actually, as Carmen said, fortify your reason, it can make you even more determined, and it can fuel the passion even more. But we have to recognize it and use it that way. 

Another way that we can help ourselves when this happens. And this is both something that can help, but this is also preventative. We can't prevent everything, but we can take some measures to kind of eliminate some of the difficulties that will come through when we start thinking that things aren't going the way that we want them to go. That is by surrounding yourself with other entrepreneurs who are passionate, positive, and purposeful. And I want you to pay attention to those three words because we can find other entrepreneurs. There's plenty out there. There are lots of social organizations and groups and so forth and networking. And all entrepreneurs have at least one of the three, or they wouldn't be an entrepreneur. But not every entrepreneur has all three characteristics. So we want to make sure that they're passionate about what they're doing. 

I know I've met entrepreneurs, and it was like they were slogging through their business. Their passion is not there, or at least it's not obvious. And then we want those that are positive about it that they recognize, yeah, this might be difficult and challenging, but we're looking at it in a positive way and then purposeful, that they understand their purpose and they do things on purpose. And when you have all three of those, that's when you've got someone who can really be your ally. 

And I know as a solopreneur, it's easy to isolate ourselves and to not have the counsel of our peers or just not make the time for it because we get so busy, like networking or being part of a group. Sometimes we do it in a utilitarian way. We do it because we're supposed to do it, or we do it because we know we're supposed to meet other people, and they could potentially be a prospect or a collaborator or a referral partner, but we're going into it without thinking of the other benefit of this, and that is to really find peers and even friends. 

I know I've got some wonderful women that I've met that, if I just simply just having a conversation with them for 15 or 20 minutes on Zoom, can totally lift me up. And we need those people in our lives, too, because it is critical to have a support system of people who understand entrepreneurship. Because, let's face it, not everyone does.

[26:57] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Exactly. Yeah, likely your husband, family member, ex-coworkers, whatever; they probably don't get it. They can do their best to support you. But we need to have that support system of people who get it. That's so true. 

The Power of Self-Care 

The other thing we need to do is to prioritize self-care, and that, as women especially, we tend to put ourselves last. And it's a practice, I think, to learn how to put ourselves first. And it's essential because if we don't give ourselves the care that we need and create balance in our lives to the best of our abilities. And that word balance, I think, is overused, too, because I don't think it'll ever be 50-50. 

You're going to go through ups and downs on either side, but the point is that you're paying attention. You can have a season of a sprint. It could be a 90-day sprint, it could be a six-month sprint, whatever it is, and then you know that I better build some self-care in there. 

Or you could have a season that is all about self-care, and we can create those as seasons or as shorter periods of time. The practice of self-care and maintaining balance can look different from person to person. Or for ourselves, it can differ from week to week. So that's what I'm talking about. 

One week you might be able to fit in your morning walks or yoga or coffee shop meeting with your girlfriend, or a date night with your husband or your partner or whatever it is. And then maybe the next whole month, that all goes out the window because you've got so much going on. So it's really a matter of, again, we go back to that word “awareness,” because once you're aware of what's going on, you can look at it and say, okay, well, I know that this is going to be busy. I have a busy month coming up, so where can I carve out some time? We have to be proactive here so that we don't end up just burning out.

[28:52] Deirdre Harter: Carmen, I love how you said it can look different from person to person. We hear a lot about self-care, right? And when I used to think of self-care, when I first started hearing it, I'm thinking bubble bath with a glass of champagne in my hand, right? And I just wasn't that kind of a person. 

To me, it was just going to be work because I was going to have to clean the tub first, and then I was going to have to go find the bubble bath. And who knows? Do we even have champagne? I'll probably have to go to the store. So I was exhausted just thinking about it. And so I was like, well, darn it, I can't do self-care.

[29:32] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: I love that.

[29:34] Deirdre Harter: But now I understand so much more about it, and I think that we all need to have that permission, right? For me, one of the things of self-care is actually weeding my garden. And I know that sounds insane to some people, but to me, that is for me, it's wonderful. I'm out in nature, and I'm getting some exercise done. It's like it takes care of a whole bunch of things for me all at the same time. And so that is my self-care. And that's what I do pretty much every single weekend I'm out there weeding the garden. So you do have to find whatever works for you. I think that's the bottom line.

[30:09] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah.

[30:10] Deirdre Harter: And sometimes this balance that we're talking about, and like she said, it's like a seesaw, right? There are two people on the seesaw. Very rarely are you both—you might start off equal, but then it's up, and it's down. It's up, and it's down, right? And everybody takes turns. 

It's the same way for us with our schedule and with this balance that we have to maintain. A couple of things—I know these work for me. One of the things for me is having things lined out on my calendar. I have to put in, I actually have to put the word “dinner” on my calendar every day. Not that I'm going to forget to eat, but it helps me visualize how much time I really have. 

And when I put in all the things that I know I have to do for myself, it gives me an overview of what time is realistically available. Because when we have our work time, but there are things that have to happen on a daily basis. There are things that have to happen on a weekly basis. These are the recurring things. So by the time I get in me-time, personal time, family time, all the things, then that really gives me an idea of, well, do I have enough time to do the things that I know are priorities for me this week? 

And if the answer is no, and it can be, that's when we go back to what Carmen was talking about that I love, is the whole sprinting/season thing because it helps us make the choices we need. So I might say… We just came off of a workshop last week, and so I know on workshop week, there's not going to be a whole lot of me-time. There might be a little bit of me-time, but there's not going to be a whole lot. But then I know I can build that in later, but I'm fine with it because I know it's coming. I know it's on the calendar. And so I'm totally fine with working on a Saturday, for example, which is not something I typically do well.

Setting Boundaries Protects Your Energy

[32:00] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: And I love what you and I have done too, that I also love to share, and that is creating our schedule in a way that helps build in balance to the extent that we can. 

Deirdre and I, our calendars are blocked off for the most part on Mondays and our Mondays are our CEO dates, where we get together, and we work on our business and we forecast, and we touch base with what our clients are doing, and we plan, and we do all those kind of things. And then Friday is our focus day. That's our focus day. No one can get on my calendar on a Friday. If something comes up, I can let someone on, but typically not. 

And then, the fourth week of every month, I have that blocked off as well. And we only see clients the first three weeks of every month, so that fourth week is an automatic breather. Now, if something happens and our schedule is compressed for some reason, we can add things in there. But the other thing that does is having that blocked off every single month, It doesn't mean we're not working, but if something comes up and we have a chance to go on a vacation that isn't already planned, or we need to take time or whatever, and we have a choice about it, it's easy because it's like, okay, well, I'll do it at the fourth week of the month because we've already got that set off. 

No one is getting on my calendar unless I've scheduled something on my own. And so I think we've done a really good job of that. And people don't think about that in general. Entrepreneurs don't, especially when you're trying to figure out, well, I need to make my revenue goals, so I need to make myself available as much as possible for all my clients and to get more clients. And what happens is you start building out a job and not your dream business. 

And it's not that we can go on the other end of the spectrum where it's like, well, I'm only going to work from 10:00 AM To 02:00 PM, because that's something—you could do that at some point, but you’ve got to build up to it. So it's a matter of the season that you're in. It's being realistic, and it's honoring yourself and blocking that time off.

[34:08] Deirdre Harter: I think it's such a good point. And that's going to take us to our next part, which I love this one. And it's about setting boundaries.

[34:15] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Yeah. Just like fences make good neighbors, boundaries make for happy people on both sides. And I think people don't think about that. They think a boundary is that you're putting up a block for someone, but that's not necessarily it.

[34:30] Deirdre Harter: Yeah. And what you were talking about, Carmen, with the calendar and the time blocking, and those things are a part of setting boundaries. A lot of this is we have to go through the mindset part of this and convince ourselves that we can do this. Because I think that what happens is in a service business, and that's what we are, and that's what you ladies who are listening, you're in a service-based business, and serving means doing what the other person needs for us to do. It's what we want to do, and we want to give the best service we can. But sometimes, we can go past where a boundary should be because we're hesitant to set that boundary. We think we're denying others in some way. In actuality, we need to protect our time and energy so that we can give the best that we have to others. So that example you gave Carmen was perfect, and I know at one point I was there, right? I'm like, I'm going to open my calendar wide open. It doesn't matter if it's 08:00 PM on a Friday night. If somebody wants to have a consultation call by golly, I'm going to do it! 

But that was the wrong thing for me because it's like you can never turn off. You're always just on I also think it sends a message out, even if it's only energetically to others. It's like, I've got 35 spots available this week; pick one. And they're like, well, gosh, doesn't she have anything to do? 

Yeah, so that's the other side of it. If we don't set these boundaries, we will continue to push ourselves beyond our limits, and that is what leads to burnout.

[36:07] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: That's right. What you just said reminds me of I was in a group one time where they did a live they called Friday Night Live every Friday night, and it was 08:00 PM. Eastern, but I'm in Pacific, so it was 05:00 PM. Pacific and Friday nights had been designated by my husband and me as date nights. So I was always conflicted because these people were great and their content was excellent, but I had to be okay with, and I can tell you it always felt uncomfortable not attending because I felt like I'm not doing everything I need to do to be successful with their program, et cetera, et cetera. 

But what was more important to me was carving out time for my husband and me. So sometimes, the boundaries we set most of the time, I will say it's our own boundaries within what we think is possible or what we should do. It is totally the mindset thing like you said. 

This whole episode is about how to stay passionate when things aren't going your way. And as an entrepreneur, we rely on our passion for our business, perhaps even more so than passion for a career. Our passion sparks our business, and it's the energy we want to maintain to keep our momentum going. It takes so much more of ourselves to build a business than to work at a career. And if you think about that, the passion as the spark, that really kind of illustrates what we're talking about here. And that passion is something that burns, right? “Burning passion,” we hear. And we want that passion, but we can't always have it. And so we want to make sure that in order to keep that passion, we stay connected to our ‘why?’ and we block off our time and energy, or we set boundaries to protect our time and energy so that we can also protect our passion.

You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

[37:57] Deirdre Harter: Yeah, I remember thinking through this whole thing, too, when I had my career in public accounting, I got to that point of “you've lost that loving feeling” several years in, but I didn't think much about it because I didn't really have to have passion to do it. And I did enjoy parts of it, right? I enjoyed working with clients. I did not enjoy talking to the IRS, but it was like, well, you got to take the good with the bad. But I really could do that job without too much passion. 

But as an entrepreneur, you're exactly right. It's the spark. And if that spark builds a flame and a fire, we have to keep that going. However, we also know that there are different levels of passion in different seasons of our business. Your flame is burning brightest at the onset, I think, because it's all brand new, right, and you're so excited. But we don't have to maintain that level of passion. 

There's an ebb and a flow to everything in life, and that includes our passion. And it's totally normal. Just because your passion might feel like it's in an ebb, it doesn't mean it's lost, and it's going to flow back again because passion is emotion, and it is energy. And to expect yourself to have that same level all the time is completely unrealistic. 

One thing I can think of, too, it's like, do you remember those of you who've been in a relationship or gotten married, what was it like before you got married? When you were dating, and you were thinking about getting married? The passion, the emotion, the energy, all of it was at its peak, right? And then, if you're still in that relationship 15 years later, does it feel the same way? Not every day!  It's still there, but we do go through those ebbs and flows. For me, that is how I think about it. 

There's a difference between a temporary and a permanent state of being. So we have to recognize that. Yeah, there are times when a passion can go away like you just don't have it anymore. And being able to recognize it, I think, is really the key. And knowing it's normal to phase in and out of passion temporarily. Now, if it becomes chronic, then that's when we need to explore what's happening and get down to the root cause of it.

[40:25] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: That's right. So if you're feeling this way, take some time to answer or journal on the following questions. Ask yourself:

  1. Is it true? 
  2. Do I have a plan? 
  3. Have I followed my plan? 
  4. Am I mixing up personal issues with my business? 
  5. Do I have a support system? 
  6. Do I have clear boundaries to protect my time and energy?

A Supportive Community Can Make All The Difference

[40:55] Deirdre Harter: We encourage all of you to write those down and keep it near you. That, along with your “why?” Remember, we said to post that up on the wall somewhere so you can see it. So if you're looking at your “why?” every day and you have these questions, whenever you're beginning to feel like, when you hear yourself think or say, things are just not working, things are not going my way, then that's the time to go through these questions and figure out, is it a story or is it a fact? 

And one of the things we were talking about today is having that supportive community and having that group of peers that you can lean on, gain inspiration from, and get support with. And that's exactly the reason why we built the Empire of Unstoppable Women Facebook group because it is filled with supportive, like-minded women. 

We built that community because that's what Carmen and I knew. We knew how important it was, and we wanted to have a community like that. We didn't really find the exact community we were looking for, so we built one. And we invite you to join us there because it is a community of women who are there to lift each other up and because we all want to grow, and we grow faster together. 

So if you're not already a part of the community, join us at encoreempire.com/community

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