Besides the fact that motherhood seems to be a launching pad for many women who start their own business, the similarities between the two (early stages of motherhood and early stages of launching a business) aren’t that obvious, at first glance. But as I reflected on my own experience so far, I started to find MANY.
So here I am, currently in the newborn phase of my business and the preschool phase of motherhood (my daughter is 4 years old as I’m writing this). Even though I know there’s much more for me to discover on these journeys, I felt called to share some of the lessons I’ve learned so far. You may well find they’re relevant to whatever life or work phase you’re in, right now.
The good old instruction manual does not replace intuition
Yes, it’s important to educate yourself, but also learn to connect to your intuition: it provides invaluable guidance.
When my daughter was born, I wished there was a parenting guide out there that would help me navigate this uncharted territory. No amount of instruction manuals was going to cut it though: I learned to trust my intuition with motherhood, as I did with birth. As much as I prepared for it, I also embraced the opportunity to let my body and my instincts guide the way. And the results were quite powerful.
I had a similar experience when I decided to launch my business: this constant feeling that I wasn’t quite ready yet, that there was something more I needed to learn, that I needed to find THE instruction manual to launch the perfect business in 3 easy steps. But the hard truth is: it’s impossible to know everything before you START. By all means, sign up for a course and upskill yourself but at some point, follow your intuition, experiment and see what works. Dive into ACTION and learn as you go.
We all have access to this powerful navigating device called intuition. Very often, it speaks to us through a sensation in our body: we feel something in our heart or our gut. When it happens, practice “listening” to the sensation. Take a deep breath and connect to it: is there a message, a word, an image that comes with it? With some practice, you can create the space for your intuition to bloom and become a trusted ally in your life.
Welcome advice, selectively
Well intended advice is just what it says on the box…well intended but not necessarily useful.
As soon as I got pregnant with my daughter, I started receiving a lot of (mostly) well-meaning advice. From close friends to the random guy I picked up a piece of furniture from one day, everyone seemed to have their opinions as to what I should and shouldn’t eat, where and how I should deliver my baby, and more.
When I decided to quit my corporate job to start a new adventure, well-meaning advice came flooding in once again, from all sides. I quickly realised that if the advice didn’t come from someone who had “been there, done that”, chances are what people offered was just an educated guess, nothing else.
Everyone will have their unique perceptions of a situation, shaped by their values, beliefs and experiences. If you are going to use someone as a source of information and advice, pick a person who’s been in the trenches, so-to-speak. Someone you admire for what they’ve achieved and what they’ve gone through, someone you trust and respect. Then, sift through the information they share and find the nuggets of gold you really want to take away with you.
Beware of the comparison trap
Comparing ourselves to others distracts us from making progress on our own path.
This one has been a steep learning curve for me! It’s far too easy these days to look at curated family pictures on social media and assume that others are doing a much better job at parenting than we are. Or observe other mums at the playground and “fill in the blanks” with our imagination: we assume that their lives are more glamorous, easier, more fun…even though we have no way of knowing what happens behind closed doors.
It’s a similar story when we envy people who talk about their 6 or 7 figure business, when we’re just starting ours. We have no idea how long they’ve been at it, how hard they’ve worked for it, whether they’re talking about sales or actual profit in the bank account. We extrapolate and see reality through the lens of our assumptions and beliefs, somehow feeling like we’re failing, or not good enough.
As Eleanor Roosevelt wisely said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” So, if comparison constantly gets in the way of your confidence, you can either put your blinders on for a little while, so you can focus on your own progress, or you can be more discerning with the people you look up to (refer to my previous point about welcoming advice, selectively). I also suggest you check out my article “Allow yourself to be a beginner”, so you know how to reign in your tendency to compare apples with oranges.
Progress is not linear
Two steps forward and one step back is still progress.
As a newborn mum, I was always looking forward to getting out of a phase: sleepless nights, teething, nappies. But I soon discovered that progress, with parenting, is not linear. Yes, at some point my daughter slept through the night…but it was short lived. She just turned 4 and has been waking several times a night for the last few months.
As I launched my business, I was expecting to make steady progress, each day. I got caught in the same mindset of looking forward to the next phase: when it will be easier, when I won’t have to spend so much time on marketing, when I will be more successful…but hey, what about having more clients and spending more time in customer service? Isn’t it when I will need to hire a team of people and be responsible for more than just me? You get the gist.
Don’t waste your time thinking that it’s all sunshine and rainbows on the other side of that phase you’re going through right now. It’s not (always) up, up, up and away. Life is a succession of phases, and we have much to learn from each of them, if we accept to. Most of the time it’s up and down, up and around, up and up and down again. Rollercoaster style. But if you take time to enjoy the ride, it can be exhilarating and rewarding.
Your output will only ever be as good as your input
If you don’t take care of yourself first, everyone and everything around you will suffer.
This one comes last but definitely not least. If you don’t fill your cup first, you won’t have anything to give to your family or to your work.
I’ve often noticed that when I’m stressed and tired, there’s a palpable tension that rubs off on my daughter: she’s irritable, as if she’s holding a mirror up to me with her behaviour. The same is true with my business, the more I push myself and forget to replenish, the less creative, responsive and performant I am.
I’m not saying this to make you feel guilty, rather to make you realise how important your physical and emotional wellbeing are to achieve the results you want in your life. If you truly believed that your children and your work were a reflection of how well you look after yourself, what would you do differently? You can watch this video for some inspiration.
Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.Arthur Ashe
I would even tweak the second part of this quote to say “the being is often more important than the outcome.” There aren’t many journeys I’ve been on that are as wild, challenging and rich as motherhood is for me right now. Except perhaps this other journey of launching my business that I happened to start around the same time. And no matter where they end up taking me, I am forever grateful for the insights, the lessons and the opportunities for deep growth and change they’ve both provided so far.
Every stage of your life is the foundation for what’s coming next. Make the most of the learning. The journey IS the destination. We all need a good support team to cheer us on: if you’re looking for guidance through this period of transformation, you may like to check out the Mama Rising circles I facilitate throughout the year. A 4-week journey for you to redefine what it means to be a mother and a woman. A soulful adventure with like-minded mamas to get to know yourself better in this season of your life so you can navigate it with confidence and trust. Find more information here.