It’s an interesting shift when people see that what you’ve spent years building up to is beginning to pay off. They start asking about it, and then ultimately ask for your answer to the million-dollar question.
My husband and I have spent the past several months in Arizona and are now back in Minneapolis. As a few friends have put it, we are basically young “snow birds,” except as I point out every time, we are not “retired” and very much still need to work to make money. We’ve managed to make enough to spend the mild winter in Arizona and the summer in beautiful, green Minnesota this year.
The questions are generally around “So what do you guys actually do?” to “Is it really for real?” and “So, how do you make enough money?” They may not ask in those exact words, but that’s really what they’re asking. As if these questions are something that can be covered in casual, passing conversation.
I don’t mean this in a condescending way.
What gets at me is that these people are in such disbelief. And I suppose if they’ve never heard of anything close to this, it’s understandable. It just makes me squirm in discomfort and annoyance though, because I’m still not very comfortable with it myself yet.
In some ways, I’m still a little unsure of how everything will all work.
After all, this is a fairly new development. Towards the end of last year, I was still working full-time. I wasn’t even planning on leaving full-time work for at least a couple years until a family emergency popped up.
It was a bit earlier than we (mainly I) had planned.
By nature a long-term thinker and planner, I had thought it would take another three to five years to get where we needed to be for both of us to work on our own business full-time. But here we are, forging ahead with both of us working full-time building our own media and video production company.
For the most part, the past several months have worked and what we’re doing will likely continue to work.
But it’s still fresh. And I’ve found that receiving questions and scrutiny about it hasn’t sat well with me the few times it’s happened.
What I’ve always struggled with is dealing with uncertainty—of remaining confident and adventurous even in the absence of knowing. That is the case here.
I realize I have an opportunity to further grow in this aspect. And I will, in more time.
But as far as I still have to go, I have also come far.
Several years ago, I wouldn’t have even dreamed that I’d be doing what I’m doing now. It shows that what you consider big, out of scope or outrageous is simply based on your current perspective. What is impressive or crazy to you may be the normal for someone else.
I think it’s worthwhile to learn about how other people live their lives across different parts of the world. I’ve always enjoyed watching documentaries or reading articles about different groups of people. It’s broadening for your perspective, and it simultaneously reminds me to be grateful for all that I have in my life while understanding that my life can also be much more than I think is possible.
With that said, that means that I could be even more comfortable talking about what’s going on in my life. Who knows, maybe my story will inspire someone else to reach for goals outside of what they think is possible.
But what’s key for others to understand is the importance of taking action and the next step despite not knowing how it’s going to work.
That’s how my husband and I got to where we are today. We didn’t know which of our website ideas would stick and end up working, and we’ve had several of them over time. Over the past few years, one of his has grown steadily each year—but we couldn’t have foreseen that when we started.
This is why when I’m asked, “So how did you guys get to where you are now?” I really don’t have an answer to the million-dollar question.
The only answer I can think of is that we simply just started one step at a time, and did what made sense for us at the time. While I understand why someone would find such a response unhelpful, it’s the true answer.
There are many online businesses that claim to break it down in an easy, step-by-step guide. And they do work for some people who go through these courses; there are certainly a number of spectacular success stories. But for the majority of people, it can take many years to come to fruition, and there are also thousands of people who never make it.
Because what worked for someone else may not work for you.
It’s a mixture of luck, learnings from past failures, authenticity, finding your message, timing, connections, hard work and persistence. The million-dollar question is something that’s hard to break down into a fail-safe, step-by-step guide. There are certainly guidelines and general frameworks that work, but there are no guarantees.
I think that many entrepreneurs, creators, business owners, actors and authors also went through a similar experience. It’s part of the process—the uncertainty. Taking one step forward without knowing what’s next.
So if you feel a yearning to do something different than what you’re currently doing, what I’d encourage you to do is to simply take one step towards whatever it is that feels intriguing, scary and freeing to you.
Ask others what’s it like and how it worked for them, but don’t be discouraged if they don’t give you a satisfactory answer, or the advice you think you’re looking for. Your path will likely look and turn out differently anyway.
Start without needing to know how it’s going to work or expectations on how it should go. And then take another step, and then another. Don’t be afraid to take a detour, say no to something that doesn’t feel right or try something new.
That’s really how it works. At least that’s what I’ve heard from others, and what I’ve seen happen for us and for many others over the years.
Some of you may also ask, “Is it worth it?” I think so, but only you can know that. Some people simply aren’t cut out for the uncertainty that such a journey will likely involve.
Only you can know if taking another step forward is right for you. You may need to take a wrong step and learn from it in order to take another step that moves you forward. One step will be right for one person and not right for another.
What I can tell you is that the process likely won’t be easy. There will be more than a few challenges along the way. It’s quite the adventure, but ultimately it’s your job to learn to enjoy the journey and in doing so, experience a fuller range of life than you would otherwise. What I can tell you is it’s a process that has been more than worthwhile for me.