Last week was my birthday. I turned 45 years old. I’m stating the number because there were so many times where I wasn’t sure I would see this birthday. I’m like a cat who’s not quite sure how many lives they have left after too many close escapes, but pretty sure there aren’t many — if even one of them — left. But since I’ve come to peace with the fact that I’m actually going to make it well into middle age and I have this whole life to live, I’ve realized I might as well decorate. I mean, since it is MY LIFE to live, I should decide what that looks like.
Which is interesting because per the forthcoming relaunch of the site, I had been struggling with what that looked like. It’s why it’s taken so long to get back here and talk to you. I knew I wanted to do something different, but it wasn’t until my friend Kristina Libby challenged me to do a business plan that I figured out exactly what all that meant.
I’ll spare you the business details of it, but a business plan is essentially where you sit down and put the big rocks and essentials of your business on paper. You put some stakes in the ground as to who you are, what you do, how you operate, how you plan to progress, how much money you make and want to make, etc. It is an arduous exercise, and it takes time. Real time. It also forces you to put on your Big Girl Pants and get super clear on who you are and what you want your business to be. Granted, when I started this site seven years ago, I had a good idea what I wanted to create from the editorial aspect, but I had never thought of it as a “business,” per se. I don’t know if that’s because I was unsure of myself, but it’s the truth.
So, I sat down and got very, very clear on what all this is: what I do, how I do it, how big I want it to be, and what that means for both you and me.
I sent the first draft over to Kristina, pretty pleased with what I had done. She told me she thought it was a good start, but that I could think bigger than what I’d sent over. What would I like to do if I was unaware of barriers, fears the dreams were too big, or that I could fail?
Think bigger, she challenged. Don’t play it small.
Which is what I’d recently realized I had been doing for a very, very long time. Because…well, here’s a question: when did we get to a point as adults where dreaming became dangerous? When I was a little kid, you could hand me sheets of white paper and colored pencils, paints, chalk, crayons…whatever, and ask me to draw what I wanted to be when I grew up. I could go for hours dreaming up all the amazing things I would do; all the fantastic adventures I’d have. When did aspiration become a paralyzing exercise? Is it because failure leaves a mark? Is it because we’ve had experiences where people told us we couldn’t have whatever we wanted? Did something or someone reinforce a feeling of fear or taunt us at a loss? What does that do to a person? Because I’ve realized during this process that it had never occurred to me that I could dream bigger.
Let me repeat that again: it had not occurred to me as a fully-formed adult that I could dream bigger. I have been sitting here, crying/upset/dejected while surfing through perfectly-architected nose thumbing on social media, all while unknowingly holding thousands of blank sheets of paper, surrounded by every color pencil and crayon and medium imaginable, with this Divine Being called Inspiration patiently waiting for me to pay attention so it can ask me, “What would you like to be? What kind of life do you want?”
I realized that this business plan was the blank canvas on which I will create the way I express myself and make money for (hopefully) the rest of my life. You’ve got to be kidding me. I LIVE FOR THIS STUFF, I thought. GIMME. ALL THE COLORED PENCILS. ALL OF ‘EM.
And so I sat down with that very concept in mind, the idea that I can really have whatever I want, that my life can be as big as I can dream it to be. I wrote the concept for an entirely brand-new business. The ideas go beyond, “The blog posts will look like XYZ.” It’s SO MUCH BIGGER than that. WOW, is it big. But I wish for you what just happened to me, which is that I got my dreams back. I put them down on paper, and then took it a step further: I looked myself in the eye and checked for any sign of doubt. None. Not a sliver of it. And that’s when I knew that I had just created the destiny I know is mine.
I sent Kristina the second round of the business plan, much bigger and MUCH more ambitious. Like, whoa, big. I honestly thought she would come back and say, “I said ‘bigger,’ not crazy.” But with just a few changes to verbiage (like maybe 7-10 sentences stricken or words corrected,) she said, “Yep. This looks great. This is what I was talking about.”
Well, alrighty, then. I guess this is happening.
So, I say all of this to say that it was a great birthday. I blew out multiple candles, and spent time with my beloved #LuckyGuy and my friends. But, truth be told, this was the best birthday of my life because I gave myself the greatest gift of all: I know exactly who I am, and precisely what I want to do with myself. I’ve been behind the scenes working on how to pull this off, so while all the changes will be rolling out over the next few weeks, not everything will change at once but a lot of it will be changing. I’m about to hire my first person, so there’s a lot happening over here.
I say all this to thank everyone for their amazing birthday wishes, and I wanted to pass along my best wishes for you. I want you to know that you can start your life over at any time, that you have dreams and they’re worth exploring. Inside your soul are blank pieces of paper. You can create anything you want. All the pieces are there. You don’t need money. You don’t need “stuff.” You don’t need to drop 10 lbs. You need Imagination to figure out what you want, the balls to set it on paper, and the ambition to see it through. Everything else will follow. I’m quite certain of this.
Our dreams are worth something. Make them real. I am proof positive that you can completely change your life and dream a bigger dream. It’s my hope to show you how I — and many women just like me — have figured out how to do just that.
We’ll talk later this week. Promise.