We’re Supposed to Change

As I’ve navigated the first few months of being 30, I’ve noticed a constant dialogue surrounding the idea of change. Our friends, our family members, our co-workers, our old hometown/high school acquaintances – I’ve encountered the same old phrase consistently: “wow, you/he/she has really changed.”

This is usually commented in an off-hand, slightly negative way, with the underlying meaning seeming to be, “wow, you’ve let life change you. wow, money/success has really changed you. wow, you’ve lost your way to yourself because of a/b/c.”

My reaction to this type of comment is usually, “what do you mean by that?” to which I almost never get a response, since people don’t tell you that you (or someone else) have/has changed as a compliment. What they’re doing is trying to say something they don’t feel comfortable saying without actually saying it, and assuming you’ll understand the meaning so they can wipe their hands clean of their intent.

I’ve never understood our cultural resistance to change in the first place. When someone states, “wow, you’ve changed!” my internal response is “you haven’t?” We should change in significant ways over decades of time. We should learn and grow from our mistakes and heartbreaks and mishaps – that’s the whole point of living a life in the first place. If we’re not changing over time, than what on earth are we doing?

In theory, change should be a fluid and celebrated part of life. We should ebb and flow on our way to who we really are, learning lesson after lesson as we encounter mistake after mistake. I realize that people usually mean “wow, you’ve changed!” to indicate that we’ve somehow betrayed ourselves; by changing our political views, our values, integrity, personality, or what’s most important. But I’ll argue that those things too, should be subject to change as we change as people over time.

First of all, the only person that knows our internal values, morals, items of importance, etc. is us. Ourselves, only. Not our friends, or peers, or co-workers or even family members or parents. No matter how we are raised or what values are instilled in us, we are still individual human beings that have a duty to uncover those gems for ourselves.

Secondly, if we are not supposed to change the big-ticket items, who is determining them? Where do our unchangeable morals and values come from? We start off as children and are taught those things by our parents, teachers, friends and society. We should not be beholden to the values of other people that we were instilled in childhood, and never be able to think critically enough to decide them on our own.

Lastly, we are changing, whether we want to recognize it or not. Over time, your cells are changing. Your brain is changing. Your hormones are changing. Your body is changing.

Just like they do for every. other. species. on. planet. earth.

Even at just 30 years old, I’m changing rapidly. Being a business owner – especially during a pandemic – has been like an internal-change pressure cooker. We’re learning so much and learning to deal and endure so much that it is logistically impossible for us not to change. Change is still scary, but so is everything else. We have to learn to deal with fear and change in order to move towards a better world.

The next time someone says, “wow, you/she/he has changed!” I’m inviting myself to openly answer, “of course I/they have. That’s life. We’re supposed to change.”

If it Don’t Make Dollars, it Don’t Make Sense.

Let’s keep it real: businesses are designed to make money. Sure, there’s childhood dreams, life-long aspirations, passion, talent and love involved – but the purpose is positive cash flow. The whole idea is to make money in a different way.

Dreams & passion aside, we all need income to survive. To pay bills, keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. We don’t always like to talk about it, but it’s true.

When you start a business, the scariest leap is the financial one. Will this business make enough money for my life? Will I go into debt? Will I lose everything?

We were lucky that our business was pretty cheap to start. We had cleaning supplies, our real estate licenses, some software and a shared laptop in a one-bedroom apartment. That was it. As the business started to take shape, though, we constantly came up to the same obstacle:

This would be great for our business, but does it make financial sense to do so?

The answer to this question popped up as a lyric from one of our favorite groups: if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.

We wanted so many things: a luxe office space, all organic, locally made cleaning products, sustainable/fair trade cotton linens, and a third person to help us out.

We settled for a new laptop, a cheap desk from Walmart, and generic cleaning products/linens from amazon. It was what made financial sense at the time, and it was absolutely the right choice.

Two years later, we’re moving into a beautiful three-bedroom home so we can have a proper office. We’re still working towards our third person, but for now, we’ve started contracting out the cleanings and laundry work, so we can focus on accounting and growth.

It’s what makes dollars and sense, where we are right now. And that’s what has empowered our business to grow and improve without putting us into debt.

So keep in mind – if it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense. You have to put YOU and YOUR business first. Before all the partnerships, collaborations, and shiny, attractive services you can’t quite afford yet. It doesn’t mean you have to give up on what you really want – it just means that you have to take your time to get there.

Busy is a Blessing

It’s b6a696ed0eb058faacc909f2b48a04f48een a little over a year since we quit our office jobs and jumped into our business with both feet. In the beginning, the workload was light, every small success was exciting, and we envisioned a laid-back, beach-filled future where we outsourced most of the hard stuff to other people and managed from afar. We pictured freedom, happiness, and bliss.

What we’ve learned, though, is that when it comes to being self-employed, things are always complicated.

It turns out that the hard stuff makes the most money; small successes and growth come with a heavy workload and re-adjustment period; people are difficult to manage, and good people are even more difficult to find. We’ve discovered that every seemingly small choice and action are multi-faceted, and each decision carves out where our business is headed and who we are as a company.

In the midst of the busy fire, it’s easy for us to get lost in the crazy and forget that we want this. We worked for it, prayed for it, and sought it out – and we got it. Yet, it’s still hard to step back and reflect on how far we’ve come, and how we dreamed of being this busy back in the beginning.

Our personal goal is to keep in mind that busyness is a blessing, and that we are grateful for every small step forward – no matter how complicated it might be.

 

 

Entrepreneurial Thoughts: TAXES

I’ve encountered some scary situations in adult life, but none have been as daunting as filing corporate taxes for my small business. It’s our first official calendar year, and we handed over our beloved binder of taped and scanned receipts, expenses, and hand written notes to our CPA. We do all of our own accounting, but since we’ve never filed corporate year-end, we hired an affordable CPA willing to help guide a small business through this hurdle of terror.

As we walked away from his office, we found ourselves relieved. Little fear, no anxiety – just general curiosity about what we’d hear back from the IRS. We’d budgeted and prepared for this every day for the last year, and kept meticulous records of every penny we spent and earned. We knew this was coming, and we were as ready as we could be.

Ironically, many people in both our personal and professional lives had warned us about his moment. They told us that we would never be able to handle our own accounting; we weren’t disciplined, experienced, or possibly capable of running our own show. It was too difficult (it wasn’t), a CPA would be way too expensive (he wasn’t) and the business itself would be too confusing (it wasn’t).

2160c8ba6a06427711207386e42aeb10We had people we both respected and trusted tell us firmly, even aggressively, that we’d never make it out alive. Yet, here we are – moving along into the next year with year-end taxes being a small financial and clerical blip on the radar. I wasn’t sure if I felt lied to, or misguided. Why had people discouraged us so vehemently?

I realized that when you have an idea or new business, you have to be very careful who you listen to. We’ve always been open to advice – in fact, we still are – but this journey has taught me that people can be very defensive of the path they’ve chosen. When they’ve spent 15 years climbing the corporate ladder and you decide to deviate from the status quo and build a set of stairs, a few feathers can easily be ruffled.

Keep in mind that how people meet your idea or new business says more about them than it does about you. Maybe they are terrified of accounting and taxes, and that has deterred them from starting their own business. Or they’ve even had a bad (or terrible) experience with a CPA or the IRS, and are dutifully passing that information on to you to help you escape a similar fate. Or, they might be upset that you’ve chosen to reject the status quo when that status quo is their life – their past, their future, their choices.

Whether you’ve been building your own business for years or considering starting, there’s two things I’ve learned in this first year:

  1. anything is possible with enough research and phone calls
  2. No one – literally no one – really knows what they’re doing.

So, you might as well pursue your dreams – taxes and all.

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom: Grow through it

dont-go-through-life-grow-through-life5

When you’re going through a tough time, navigating the choppy inspirational-quotes waters of Pinterest can feel like a restless, maniacal chore. Like everything else on the internet, the good and true often get lost in the shuffle. And in the case of get-up-and-fight-back-isms, we can keep it old school with a timeless gem from poet Robert Frost: The best way out is always through.

875d5f0d12bcdb70aaf1913a4fceb9c4

No matter what we’re dealing with – financial struggles, heartbreak, loneliness, or general struggle – all we have to do is get through. Whether it’s just today, this week, or an entire situation, there’s wisdom to simply putting one foot in front of the other. When we push forward, we take the focus off of the problem and place it on ourselves instead. We’re not consciously trying to heal, but we do.

As time passes, the pain subsides or we have the mental clarity to figure out a solution to whatever’s plaguing our happiness. We don’t just go through the hard times, we grow through them. In the process, we cultivate a thicker skin, resilience, and greater sense of self.

 

Turning 23: The Adultness Creeps In

BeFunky_487644_4196380340753_106528456_n.jpg

Entering the 23rd year of life has simply been weird. This birthday is different because, unlike my last ones, I don’t feel like I have much to be excited about. Turning 21 was an awesome, celebratory welcome into adulthood. Turning 18 just meant I could vote and therefore serve jury duty (lame); turning 21 meant I could drink. Almost anywhere, whenever I wanted and as I damn well please.
Turning 22 just felt like a second anniversary of turning 21 – I was still very young, and the world was my drunken oyster. But 23 already feels much, much different.
To be fair, a lot has happened – and changed – over the past year. I graduated from college, which translates to  hunting for a grown up job that will hopefully lead into an adult-appropriate career. I’ve seen some of the world and traveled to far away places. I’ve grown farther apart from my family and more confident in my independence. I’ve been paying my own rent and some bills for a few years, but I now have student loans, health insurance and car payments to contend with. All without a solid grown up job, at least for the moment.
So 23 feels like a significant and less-alcohol-filled step into my future. And since I’ve spent most of it at the airport trying to catch a flight home (I fly standby) its given me plenty of opportunity to think. My plans have been rather disrupted, if not rendered impossible, but I don’t really mind. I know that I have plenty of adult birthdays ahead of me – and as I become  more comfortable with growing older, I’m sure I’ll feel like I have more to celebrate.