Hey everyone. You may not know this, but I’m a 16 year veteran of the animal welfare industry. As such, when Sarah and I first talked about this Social Media for Animals website, we talked about how we could help others get is, but also STAY IN this space. Frankly, we’ve seen far too many bright young minds leave the industry because of lack of help, opportunity and, often, hope. (Compassion fatigue, anyone?)
So I wanted to share this with you. A recent and deeply personal piece about the power of how and when to ask for help. No, it’s not about animals, but it IS about my personal journey and what I have and have not been able to be happy with in this space. Trust me, I’ve learned this lesson over and over again—most recently when I threw my back out.
Ignoring the Obvious: A Path to Imbalance
About two and a half years ago I jumped off the corporate ladder. It was a big and scary leap and absolutely necessary for my growth, personally and professionally.
When I left, I set the intention to take on projects and work with people that I truly love. I wanted a team of experts devoted to helping pets, pet parents and pet businesses. By launching ‘cause Digital Marketing, I was able to create that team— folks willing to go that extra mile without needing a lot of on-boarding, people who had already developed their craft, knew the pet space and could happily apply those skills to help passionate pet businesses do good by doing well.
So, when my friends and former colleagues and all these awesome people I’ve met along the way asked me, “How are things? What’s new and exciting? What’s going on?” I was that super boring person who always said, “Great. Thing’s are great! They’re going well.”
Really now, I started to worry: Could I have any credibility as a human if my life was always so great?! Would people even believe me after a while?
But it’s the truth. Since leaving corporate America, things have been gangbusters with my business. My team is growing. My work is expanding. Loving my partnership with Nichole and the Working With Dog petpreneurs. My life partner and I are in sync. Everything is sincerely great.
But isn’t life about learning and growth? If everything is great, then where am I growing? Where am I truly feeling challenged?
Then I threw out my back a few months ago and realized there is an area of my life where things weren’t so great and I had been ignoring it.
My health and well-being.
Refocusing & Re-Centering: Acknowledging What Had Been Left Out
See, while growing a new kind of business was my passion, I had set other intentions when I left the corporate world that I had forgotten – to take better self-care and to provide a space and mindset for me to take care of my own mental health and well-being. Taking care of these needs in the corporate world was tremendously difficult for me. I had neglected a lot of them often and, in fact, developed problematic physical issues, including gaining weight.
Leaving the corporate world gave me the opportunity to reprioritize aspects of my life and I had let these goals slide to the wayside yet again while I ran my business.
Thank you, Back, for the small and powerful reminder.
Moving Past Easy and Into Uncomfortable Growth
I am a total workaholic and, honestly, don’t mind it. Starting and running my business were no-brainers for me. When excitement and passion hits me on a project, I sprint to the finish line, sequestering myself from the outside world and hitting the project with laser focus. Unfortunately, that’s not sustainable. Fast bouts of intense energy are totally needed at times but my body can only go so fast and so far.
This really hit me in the corporate world. The ineffective habit I’d adopted of pushing myself in my work brought early success, but quickly made what was fun and exciting feel like…well, like work. Work was no longer fun and playful. Instead, I’d find myself wanting to go to the beach rather than work on my latest corporate challenge. But it’s not because I don’t enjoy or love or find value in my work. No, it’s because my body was being pushed too hard and I could no longer work with ease and grace.
I left corporate America to give myself the space to recognize when I needed to take a step back. Re-center. Take care of myself. Focus on me and take on only those clients and projects I could feel excited about. But then I got off that ladder and still sprinted – because each client project was so fun again. The business took off, exceeding any goals I thought possible, let alone those in the first two years. Our clients succeeded too, and referred us to others. I ran and ran and ran but…
My back was determined to slow. me. down. and confront me with the fact that I had not kept my promise to myself. I did not focus on self-care and taking time for myself.
So I decided to take action. I found a personal trainer to hold me accountable and began working with her to strengthen my body.
Accountability & Not Needing to Know Everything
It’s been an awesome experience. I can now dig in the garden, lift heavy things and not worry about hurting myself. My back is stronger and I’m feeling great. I’m moving and enjoying my life in ways I hadn’t in years because of the work I’ve done with my trainer. These early successes helped motivate me to continue the work.
I knew going forward I needed to set larger, bolder goals. I knew I needed something to focus on, to keep my eye on the prize, to keep my energy going in one direction. I needed to give a revamped purpose to my training sessions since I had healed my back and gotten strong enough to enjoy everyday activities without fatigue.
It was time to dig deep and be super duper honest with what I truly wanted.
Like the, “is this okay for me to want” honest? The “I-don’t-believe-I-can-have-it-so-I-never-dreamed-it” honest.
Frankly, I wanted to feel better in my own skin and part of that meant dropping the weight. I wanted to feel stronger, healthier. I wanted to feel good about myself, about my body. I wanted to feel sexy and confident. I wanted what so many people want and it took me a while to even admit that to myself.
The Lies We Tell Ourselves
My weight gain during my corporate years was written off as the way it is. My family all gained weight as they aged and they didn’t lose it. I believed I was fated to this same outcome. At least, that’s what I told myself. I was always going to deal with health issues, weight gain, and my body would be my enemy.
When I realized these were not facts, they were beliefs, I knew I needed help to rewrite this part of my life story. To rewrite my thoughts, my actions, and eventually, my physical body.
My trainer set me on an unexpected path to help me reach this goal. We increased my caloric intake by 800 calories a day and kept my exercise routine the same. I started losing weight and seeing success.
But then—a wall.
I felt resistance bubbling inside, wanting to buck the calorie counting, wanting to forgo the entire process. Why couldn’t I eat more than 2,000 calories? Why can’t I have ice cream? And not just a scoop of ice cream, I mean the whole pint.
The first time I felt that arise, I wrote it off as a fluke, but when it happened again, I knew I needed to explore. I tried to logically figure it out. What my trainer asked me to do was not unreasonable in any way, shape or form. It was doable and yet suddenly, I felt she gave me limits and all I wanted to do was buck them.
If nothing else, I knew I needed to be honest with my trainer about all this because how would she be able to help me if I wasn’t telling her what was going on? I talked about this feeling with her and, while doing my crunches, I told her, “I think I need more help and support with this.
“GREAT! How can I support you?” she replied. Her enthusiasm and sincerity were…surprising. Because even though I knew that’s what she did for a living, helping in the field of health, I still had ideas of rejection and failure bouncing in my brain.
“I don’t know yet. But tell me the ways you help other clients.”
We’re still exploring ways that she can support me on my way to my target weight and I am glad to have her in my corner. I am glad I was able to be vulnerable and courageous and honest. I’m glad I asked for help because now I don’t have to go it alone.
And neither do you, petpreneur.
Here are my key takeaways from this experience.
1. Asking for help helps others. Most people genuinely want to help and will put forth more effort than you may imagine.
2. Know when you can’t do it alone. Empower yourself to recognize when you can’t do it alone. Knowing when you need more support and when it’s time to ask for help is a huge key to being successful in anything you do.
3. Ask the right person for help. If you don’t feel comfortable or safe with the person, you’re probably not going to be willing to ask them for help. Work at finding the right person that fits your personality and style and can offer you the type of support you need.
4. Pobody’s nerfect, erm, nobody’s perfect. And that’s a big benefit for us! Moving towards perfection, however we define it, is a noble goal and should keep us moving ever forward. Forgive yourself for perceived flaws and keep on walking.
5. There is power in asking for help. Being authentic and vulnerable is a relief. Instead of holding on to problems, anxieties, stressors and whatever else pops up when you try to do something massive alone, you have people walking the road with you.
Say it with me, petpreneur:
“I don’t have to do it all alone. In fact, it may be better if I don’t.”
Let this be your affirmation for the week. Let it seep deep into your mind.
We’re here to support you how we can. And I can guarantee there are people already in your life ready to support you. All you have to do is ask.