Being self-employed is not for the faint of heart. You’re constantly moving from one task to the next throughout your day, many of which are not your specialty. First, you work on designing a living room – that’s easy for you, but then you have to review your financial documents to make sure you’re ready for tax time, then you have to look over your marketing plan to see what you should be doing next, then you have to update your website, and oh yeah, while you’re there, make sure to post on social media too – and make sure it’s interesting, unique, and able to grab the attention of your ideal client.
It can all be a little bit much. So much in fact that at times you think, “Should I just quit? What if I just gave up? Would it really be that bad? What would happen if I did? I mean, is all of this pain really worth it? I’m really not sure if I can keep doing this….”
What if I Can’t Do this Anymore?
Back in mid- January this is exactly where I was at – except it wasn’t about my business (although, trust me, at the beginning of starting this business I was there just like everyone else), it was about going through labor without an epidural. Now I had done it before with Weston, and I wanted to do it again, but when I was hours in and going through excruciating pain, I just didn’t know if I could make it.
Now everyone always says when you’re doing something tough, start with your “why.” I had plenty. First, I’m highly prone to experiencing side effects from medicine. So risking the possibility of a multi-day horrifyingly painful epidural headache is not something I wanted to risk. Second, I just couldn’t handle the idea of a needle that large going in my spine. No siree, that ain’t happenin. Plus there were reasons three, four, and five. So, unmedicated was the answer.
But, I didn’t know if I could do it again. What if the first time was a fluke? What if it was just beginner’s luck? Maybe that time was easier and this time would be much harder? Sound like anything that’s crossed your mind about your design career?
Keep Going, Even if It’s Painful
As this labor started with my water breaking, rather than ending with it in Weston’s case, I knew from the get go that I was in for a painful ride. We had learned from our childbirth class that labor with your water broken was a lot more painful than it was if the water was intact. Boy howdy, were they right. But there was nothing I could do other than grin and bear it. Although, let’s be honest, at no point was I grinning.
But even though I knew the extra pain would be there, it didn’t make it any easier. After a few hours of laboring at the house, we left for the hospital. As I started to walk through the lobby to get to the elevator, I was already in tears. I remember thinking, “Uh oh, I don’t think I’m going to make it. If I’m already crying and we haven’t even made it to the labor floor yet, how am I going to make it through?” Then once we settled into the room and the nurse told me to sit on a yoga ball to move things along, it got worse. I kept thinking, “I don’t think I can keep going. This is too much. I can’t do this. I can’t make it. I think I’m just going to give up.”
Then eventually, it got bad enough that I started to share it with Aaron. “I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I might have to risk the epidural. There’s no way I can keep going. I can’t bear this any longer.” Aaron reminded me, “Ashley, this is what you want. Remember, we don’t know how your body will react to the epidural. It could be even worse than this. But if you stick with this, it will be over in a few hours. She’ll be out, and then it’ll be done. But the headache could go on and on. We just don’t know. I know you want this. You can do it.”
Then I got a combination of mad and hopeless, “Well, I think you’re stupid. You should just let me have it. Please…. Please… I have to make this stop.” Aaron, “Just try to hold on.” He went to get the nurse, told her what was happening, that I was really struggling and saying that I wanted the epidural, but he knew I didn’t actually want it. He asked her to check my progress. When she did, she said I was done – just a few more contractions and I could start pushing. And I was just about ready to give up…
Success is Just on the Other Side of Giving Up
This process is called “the transition phase.” When you’re nearing the end of your painful labor and are transiting to delivery, for some strange reason you also start saying that you want to give up. That you just can’t do it anymore. Not sure why, but it happens. They talked about it in class so I knew it would happen but when I actually experienced it both times, all I kept thinking was, “I just can’t do this anymore. There’s just no way.” You know what the best thing about it was though? I didn’t have to. Being ready to give up actually meant that well, I could give up – because it was over.
Guess what. The same goes with your design career. For some reason, right when we’re just about to experience some success (although we don’t know it yet) we want to give up. We just want to say, ” Whatever, I can’t take it anymore! I can’t do this. Screw it all – my preparation to get me to this point, my hard work, my determination. I’m just throwing it all away. I have to call it quits. I can’t take it anymore. I’m officially done.”
If you think back on your career so far, you may notice the same thing. Right before you experienced the next level of success, you almost gave up. Or maybe you’re in that season right now. You’re not making the money you want to make, or getting the clients you want, or giving the kind of service to your clients that you so desire. You’re pulling your hair out and wondering if things are ever going to get better. Or if you’re always going to be in this perpetually painful and challenging state. And you’re seriously considering closing things down.
Drag Yourself from One Day to the Next
I’m here to tell you, “Don’t. Don’t give up. Don’t close things down. Just keep going.” If you’re facing some of the biggest challenges you’ve ever endured, keep going. Just keep on going. Drag yourself from one day to the next if you have to. Just keep on going.
And then, find someone whose willing to drag you even further. Find someone who will take the heat as you kick and scream and cry at them while you say you just can’t do this anymore. Find someone who will endure it all and keep you focused on what you want, because they know you can make it.
If I hadn’t had Aaron keeping me in check and focused on what I wanted, there is absolutely no way I could have made it. And although I know it was extremely difficult for him to tell me “no,” he knew it was ultimately what I wanted and that I’d thank him in the end – which I did. I don’t know if I could have been as strong as him, but I’m so thankful he was. Find someone who will do the same for you.
Whether it be your spouse, your best friend, or your sibling, find a support person who won’t let you give up, who won’t let you walk away from everything you’ve worked so hard to build. Rely on someone else’s belief in you, when you don’t have any left for yourself.
Then, when you’re telling them you just can’t do it anymore, even with their support, you’ll get your break. You’ll get that call. You’ll get that email. You’ll get that note of thanks. Some how, some way, you’ll get that reminder that this is what you want. This is what you were meant to do. And you can’t stop now. You’re almost there. So just keep going.
Write in the comments below, have you ever been close to giving up? What kept you going? What happened after you continued on, despite wanting to give up? I’d love to hear!
And if one of the areas that you’re struggling with is delivering a service experience that you’re incredibly proud of, check out the listing of guides and resources available to you here!