I'm about to explain how I've been operating as a fraud this year, and I can't say I'm excited about it, but this letter has been marinating in my heart for a while.
These words are demanding to be written.
So here we go.
This is the time of year where I reflect on the goals that I set back in January, what I’ve accomplished, where I've fallen short and what to do about it moving forward. I’ve been looking in particular at “marketing strategy” and “brand” and "stories" all to the end of growing my network of students and clients. Which is exactly what a business like mine should be doing.
The more I'm examining what's happened this year, and not, and how I've been showing up to create my own life with my own thoughts, feelings and actions, it is clear that the stories have all been forced. They were shaped by a desire to have everything that I present to you and the rest of my audience be the perfect, put-together package rife with all the answers and zero hint of the humanity and struggle that is a part of committing to this business that I love so dearly.
And by putting out material distorted through the false lens of perfection, I've been a fraud, through and through. This lens distorts what I'm saying to you into something that wasn't, and still isn't, authentic to me right now.
I've been wanting to show a story of relentlessly achieving, spinning any absence from email or social media communications as self care, when in reality is was avoiding some painful truths that I didn't want to do the work on myself and certainly not share with you.
There are a lot of fears around sharing what I'm about to share:
I've been processing a lot and trying to be okay with things that are frankly not okay with me.
So here is the truth:
In 2017, the year I started my business, I made $60k. This was only over the course of eight months. I was very pleased with this. It was only up from there.
In 2018, I made roughly half of that.
As I write this email, my business has generated just shy of $12k in revenue ytd in 2019.
My inclination is to focus on the positive as the pain of the reality carries with it such heavy shame and anger. Focusing on the positive is one of those pieces of advice that dangerously floats around out there in the self-development ether, laying the very dangerous foundation to not properly relate to and process "negative" emotions. Bypassing the unpleasantness that occurs with life's disappointments causes misalignment. It causes a dishonesty with self and others that you interact with (ever done the "I'm fine" script?).
For me, it caused a withdrawal that was a protection from having to acknowledge the sadness and shame that I felt around my revenue trends. No matter if I had "really good reasons" or not. I was protecting myself from looking at the truth of the unconscious dance of value and ego and business and worthiness that were going on and how it was inviting me to hide and believe that if this was my truth, if I was contracting in my business, then no one would ever want to enroll in a course, become a client, be a part of this dream that I have for the world of people who are living true to who they are and experiencing prosperity as a by-product.
But I wasn’t living true to who I am - my two top values are integrity and authentic connection - and every time I sat down to post on social media or write an email I was presenting myself as someone who I thought I should be in that moment instead of the self that I'd created in that moment for better or worse. I repeatedly chose an amalgam of those that I admire and who, in my eyes, are totally killing it. And it shows as I scroll through some of my social media from earlier this year. There is an aberration, something not quite there.
If I am to be in integrity and have an authentic connection with you, then I want to tell you that even as a success coach, there are times when I’ve been on fire in my business. And there have been times like this last year where I’ve pored over my numbers and genuinely wondered if I should give up what I was doing.
Then I would do the toxic thing where I would look at the bright side and rationalize everything:
"I am a new mom." "We moved to a new state and I managed most of the move." "It takes a while to settle into a new space." "I’ve made significant shifts in my business structure and there’s been a learning curve."
But even as I look at all those stories, as true and as valid as they are, and I’m proud of myself for being very intentional with the work that I do and am grateful for being able to be at home with my son (do you see me continuing to "find the bright side" here? It’s insidious), it is just as true and just as valid that there is pain and shame and fear around watching my business shrink.
I say it to my students and clients all the time: the negative emotions (pain, shame, fear) are an indication that something gets to heal, shift, resolve or release. And the pain and shame that comes up around all of this is not the truth, it’s not permanent, it’s simply information.
Information that (and this is a list of what gets to heal, shift, release or resolve for me; this is where my work is right now):
Can you relate to any of this?
Have you ever carried the weight of your doubt in yourself and been so exhausted by it that the temptation to collapse under it and give up was more powerful than the pull of the dream that put you on the journey in the first place?
Yup. Me too. I've been brought to my knees multiple times in the past year.
So what am I trying to say through all of this? Is this the going out of business announcement?
But I do have some other announcements.
Despite everything that I've just shared with you I've made some decisions about my future and the future of my business.
Within the next six months, I will have generated my first six figures through my business.
By the time I’m forty years old, I will be a millionaire. (I turn thirty-eight in 25 days.)
You might be wondering: how could this be? I just told you that ytd I’ve generated $12k through my business. That’s a huge leap.
But it’s all about a decision. The decision that this year is an indictor of future years is simply a thought. The decision to move powerfully and show up vulnerably, powerfully and authentically and do this thing that has literally been in my heart since I was counseling my friends on the playground in third grade is also simply a thought.
Both thoughts take the same amount of energy to have.
They lead to different kinds of actions.
One set of actions: shutting down the business might seem easy. Logistically it would be. I’d be stepping off the rollercoaster, no longer signing up for the high highs and low lows, but I know deeply about myself that leaving the ride is stepping onto the walkway to a life of quiet desperation, one that in the past almost lead to me taking a bottle of oxycodone's with the second bottle of wine.
The other set of actions from the thought and decision to:
Continue to walk with the truth and the dream, when it's painful and when it's joyful, Keeping the business open, Being vulnerable, Being truthful about the ups and downs, Doing the work to check what unconscious beliefs are showing up as reality, Deciding that magic is right around the corner Actually, no, the magic is right here, right now, in my fingers, listening to this song, watching people embrace after a long time of seeing each other at this coffee shop, the smile from a stranger at the table next to mine, the magic is in deciding it’s safe to write from a place where blood pumps to a rhythm that was determined before I ever breathed oxygen, To show up and do what I can every day to the best of my ability, Those require a different set of thoughts and actions.
But it is the latter that I'm taking a stand for. I've been the person dreading the sea of gray cubicles and matching Banana Republic argyle sweaters and the requisite sarcasm around living the dream and the numbing out of happy hour culture to wake up with a clouded mind the next day so I wouldn’t have to think of the Pink Floyd line wasting away the hours that make up a dull day (though it was always a whisper)…
And deciding for myself what I decided for my clients and students when I started on this journey in the first place - that no matter what’s happened in the past that I am safe, I am worthy and I was born knowing the whole time. I am coming back to what I’ve always known, as that rhythm was forming in my heart, before the first breath of oxygen was ever gasped, before the first fear ever experienced, before the first cutting of faith, knowing that my desires are sacred and given of a force larger than myself and that I am being divinely guided when I listen to my heart.
I'm taking this stand for me.
And I'm taking it for you, too. I'm not going to claim to be perfect. Or to have it all figured out. I can't claim that once you learn the tools that I use and teach that you're ushered into a state of perpetual bliss. And I can't promise you that you are impervious to the pain of the ups and downs as you evolve as a person, and your dreams and ambitions evolve with it.
This is what I do claim:
The tools that I have learned and use will help you clarify your future and boost your confidence, energizing your forward motion toward what it is that you want to do with your life. What I offer is a new way of thinking, of relating to your past so that you can intentionally create a future that you are so joyful about and wake up every day grateful for - even when you are brought to your knees by obstacles on the path. I will carry my principle of showing up well-meditated and aligned in my classes and client sessions to my communications. I promise to continue to move into the highest self that I can be, creating space for intuition and energy so I can fully serve anyone who says yes to this journey with me. This is something that I've always done, but I promise that I'll continue. The destination is always just a little bit in front of us.
I hope you join me in 2020 on a journey of celebration of all the things. Of looking at the imperfection, fears, shame, worry, doubt, progress, miracles, serendipity, breakthroughs, healing and transformation. Of the painful and joyful transformations that deliver us to the other side where quiet desperation is replaced by a joy so palpable that your heart is cracked open and you know that this spin around the sun is one that could genuinely change your life. If this is something you're desiring, I hope you join me for Creative, Prosperous & Free 2020. Details and payment options are available here: http://bit.ly/ProsperousArtist
Truly, thank you for reading.
Erin Vazquez is a master certified NLP Coach, Timeline Therapy™️ Practitioner and hypnotherapist who works with clients and students all over the world.
Her passion is helping creatives design a life that lets them dance in the intersection of creativity and wealth by helping them heal spiritual wounds, build an unstoppable mindset, then roll up their sleeves and get down to (creative) business.
She hosts Ask Erin on her YouTube channel. If you would like to submit a question to be answered, simply contact us and subscribe to the YouTube Channel!