A message to my dear friend and to myself: You are not wasting your time.

A couple of weeks ago, I checked in on a friend of mine who, like me, made the transition from a full-time career to entrepreneurship. We were in a coaching group together last year and have stayed in touch ever since.

This woman is an amazing, kick-booty, beautiful soul. She is driven, successful and determined. She is also on the entrepreneurial rollercoaster, experiencing exciting ups and frustrating downs day-to-day or even minute-to-minute.  It can be exhilarating and exhausting. Sometimes fear and frustration take a momentary hold when the coaster takes a curve and she can’t see where it’s going.

She is my friend but she is also me.

When I left corporate, I had ideas about what I would do. I had a plan. I imagined a nine-month runway to learn what I needed to learn and to lay the groundwork to become a highly-sought after coach with a six figure take-home income. I hear your collective giggles. I shake my head a bit myself when I look back.

There was so much I didn’t know:

  • How to set up a website
  • What I wanted to name my company
  • Who my ideal client was
  • The “one thing” that would make me different from the mass of coaches out there
  • How to prospect
  • How to close deals
  • That my network needed to be 10x its current size for any real marketing to take place
  • How to be the visionary, strategist, developer, salesperson, accountant, admin, marketer, pr agent, coach and speaker all at the same time

I didn’t even know how to use my Mac as anything more than a glorified TV.

I could have done it differently.

I could have built a side-hustle. I could have saved enough money to delegate the work I wasn’t naturally gifted at doing. I could have taken some classes to help get me started. I could have done a lot of things to prepare for this transition, but I didn’t. Instead, I spent a lot of time learning as I went.

On bad days, it’s been easy to feel discouraged.

It’s easy to focus on the hard parts of this three-year journey, wondering (off and on) whether I have enough passion, drive, and magic dust to make it. I look at all the time I’ve put into this business and wonder: has it been wasted?

But wasting time is a lie.

What if you and I stopped for a moment to look at it differently?

It’s true I haven’t yet earned a million dollars (admittedly, a little unrealistic). What’s also true is that focusing on how far I have come is so much more important than focusing on the time it took me to get here.

The greatest truth, and the harder one to focus on, is none of this time has been wasted. The time has been spent learning how to make the next best decision.

In three years I have:

  • Discovered more about what I’m made of than I could have ever known before
  • Become adept at learning new tech tools to help me move the business along
  • Met hundreds of interesting people and made many new friends
  • Been amazed that, despite the change in income, my family could still be living in the same house, clothing our kids well, providing extra curriculars, and still have enough to donate to our favorite charities
  • Shared meaningful messages with people who were able to change their professional lives because of something I said
  • Reconciled the faith I said I had with faith in action

And so much more.

The most important result of this period of time is that I have been able to show my kids it’s okay to take a risk.

One day, in their 20s, maybe they will say “yes” where I said “no.” Maybe they won’t be as scared as I was or for as long as I was.

You and I have a decision to make.

Dear friend, you have not wasted your time – we have not wasted our time. Whether spent trying to move forward in a career that has stalled or building a business that hasn’t taken off yet, we are learning, growing, and setting the stage for our next best decision. We are showing someone else the way.

Let’s agree to set aside the impossible demands we set on ourselves, the timeline we gave ourselves, and pause.

Let’s do what’s best for our families and us whether that means pushing pause on the business or pressing the gas.

Let’s commit to letting our intuition win and stick it to the fears that hold us back. Let’s make our next best decision with confidence.

Tara Lynn is a leadership development speaker, Fascinate Certified Advisor, coach, and writer. She brings polished, insightful ideas to companies and individuals, helping them clarify their unique value and rise to higher standards of success. The practical tips and tools she shares get her clients from point A to point C while solving for the mysterious point B. The practical tips and tools she shares get her clients from point A to point C while solving for the mysterious point B.

Hear Tara’s story and follow her at taralynnfoster.com, on linkedininstagram  or Facebook.