According to an article by Entrepreneur entitled “How to Conquer Your Fear of Starting a Business,” it is important to be courageous and just step out. The article also shared one must set a goal and have a plan to start a business. I thought I had a goal and a plan but realized lacking courage made for a difficult experience.
As a former over 30-year career educator, it felt good to close that door in order to begin another segment of my life. However, I did not adhere to the well-worn advice, “Retire to—not retire from.” In my mind, I assumed I would “Retire from work, but not from life.” (M. K. Soni)
The first several months were glorious because there was no alarm, no meetings, or deadlines to meet. At least no deadlines that pertained to a busy, bustling life of a former administrator in a high-achieving school. After several months of resting, I decided it was time to plan my next phase. I began by enrolling in an exercise program for 50 and over. This was great because my energy increased and I met new people. My mindful meditation practice increased since more time was available. In addition, I wanted to give back in some way and also wanted to start my own consulting business. One person I met at the gym invited me to join her organization. I attended several meetings and agreed to join. I enjoy being involved and working with female high school students in helping them plan for their future endeavors. However, something was still nagging at me: What is my consulting business going to look like? Time passed and my courage lagged.
A year later, I attended a Women’s Business Center workshop to learn more about the steps to set up a business, checking to see if the name is being used, etc. I was excited and ready to go through the steps. I did go through the steps and suddenly stopped before hitting the button that would establish the name of my business. What was still holding me back? Fear of the unknown? Self-doubt? Negative thoughts about failure? The risk was too big? I was at a loss and could not explain my reluctance to move forward with my plan.
Throughout the last few years, practicing mindfulness became part of my routine. However, I did not make the connection, that during some of my sitting sessions, it would be helpful to use the time to deeply think and contemplate on my future and the business I wanted to start. Moreover, thinking about how to make the leap from working for a company versus working for myself would involve finding ways to be courageous. I thought this was already proven to me through my abilities and prior experiences. Nevertheless, I understood a whole new world was being explored and I needed to understand how my prior experiences and skillsets could be adapted to starting a consulting business.
One afternoon I was scrolling through LinkedIn and saw an opportunity to participate in a vision board presentation. I was reluctant to attend but something intrigued and encouraged me to sign up. The presenter started the afternoon with a five-minute mindfulness session and gave a personal account of her experience in starting her business. It was a great decision to attend because I appreciated her experience and encouragement. I also learned a few things about myself and was able to spend quality time thinking and finding ways to communicate my interest and future plans. It was also wonderful to hear other women sharing their dreams and plans. Each one of us also wrote down one thing we vowed to do within two weeks after the session. I did not want to lose what I learned and thought this might be the catalyst to get me started. However, I returned to my doubts and fears.
One may ask what is mindful meditation and how could this practice help to build courage? Mindfulness is being aware of the present from moment to moment. It also uses the breath to help one stay in the present. Being mindful is also about not judging your thoughts or feelings. Mindfulness can be done anywhere and it can be as simple as brushing your teeth, eating, taking a walk, listening to music, etc.
Meditation, on the other hand, concentrates on the breath, a mantra, or a visualization; and usually requires a set time and place but also focuses on being present. The two intersect because they both focus on being present. Tygielski (2019) states, “Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s being scared, worried, unsure, and ready to run, and yet still finding a way to do what you really want to do, what others need you to do, or what you believe is right—despite all that fear.” She continues by stating several ways to not be afraid of fear which include, fear to become your friend, embracing courage as a mindful response to fear, and choosing to be bold by simply taking action. Ron (2017) provided similar ideas about building one’s courage. He shares, “put all remote possibilities out of your mind, face your fears before you start something and imagine the alternative.”
All of this is great advice. Now I just need to continue to follow these ideas and may eventually realize, when I practice mindful meditation each day, my mantra can be the famous quote from Glinda the Good Witch to Dorothy, “You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”