Work is Always Going to Feel Like Work

Work is Always Going to Feel Like Work

There’s this popular saying that goes like this: Find what you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life. Do you know that one?

This phrase is inspiring and motivational, but it oversimplifies the reality of building and running a sustainable business. Yes, it’s so, so important to do work that lights you up. If you’re reading this blog post, it’s likely you’ve already found it. You know that working with clients and equine partners, in a natural setting, to facilitate healing is what you were called to do here on this earth. That part of the popular saying makes sense to most of us.

It’s the second part that’s a little tricky. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love what I do, and it still feels like work every single day. In fact, I’d say I work even harder as a business owner doing what I love to do than I ever did when working for someone else.

Debunking the Myth

When I talk with people who stick it out in this field, no one claims that it doesn’t feel like work. People leave soul crushing corporate jobs or other roles that don’t fuel their passions in order to start a business offering Equine Assisted Services. Before they know it, they’re working harder than they ever did in that corporate job, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s like parenting. Parents say there is nothing that’s so exhausting as having a child—no job has ever been harder or more stressful, they’ve never had to worry about finances the way they do as a parent, they have sleepless nights and experience constant worry. And in the same breath they will say, “Oh, but I would never have it any other way.”

That goes for us in this business, too. It’s extremely hard, it creates stress and worry sometimes. It feels like work. But there’s nothing more mindblowingly worth it than this.

Work the Business, Don’t Let It Work You

The difference between people who succeed in this field and those who don’t make it is learning to love (or at least tolerate) running the business. This means finding enjoyment in the things that make the business hum, whether that’s contracts and insurance, marketing, human resources issues, or grant writing.

If the only thing you love is doing the work, your best bet truly is to go work for someone else. But if you want the flexibility and freedom of running your own business, then you have to figure out how to make your business work for you, so it doesn’t work you over.

When the business is set up correctly and running smoothly, you get to do more of the work that lights you up. Making sure your business is sustainable, profitable, and compliant is a necessary part of continuing to do the hands-on work that feeds your soul.

Built to Last

While the saying “Find what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life” is comforting, it’s not the reality for most of us. Building and running a business is hard work, even when it’s rooted in your passion and purpose. The key is to love what you do enough to embrace the entire journey—challenges and all.

If you would like support in creating a business that is built to last, I invite you to check out our Business Building Master Class. In this 15-week course (there is also a 6-week version of the course), you’ll learn what worked (and what didn’t work!) for Shannon Knapp and yours truly, in our EAS businesses. You will also learn from many other successful EAS business owners who have maintained their own businesses for decades. Shannon and I have helped many equine-assisted practitioners build businesses across the country and throughout the world, and are so excited to make this course available to you.

Building a business is hard work, but it doesn’t have to be done alone. I hope you’ll join us.

Developing Secure Attachment with Your Business

Developing Secure Attachment with Your Business

This Sunday we celebrate those who mother – all of those who have given birth to beautiful new things and nurtured those already in existence.  Those who have fully embraced and bravely unleashed the kind of creative, nurturing energy that supports, grows, heals, and then releases.  

I am a mother in the more traditional sense and I do very much love this role, but my children are not the only ones I mother

Lately, with the release of the Business Building Master Class, I have been thinking a lot about this business that Tim and I birthed back in 2010.  I have thought about the birth pains, the growing pains, the complete bliss, and the utter heartbreak that this child has brought us. 

In one of the interviews we did for the Business Building Master Class, Sara Sherman with Discovery Horse shared some of her thoughts about how we build a secure attachment, a healthy relationship, with this being called. . . our business.

Attachment Theory & Building a Business

I LOVE attachment theory.  When it comes to being a mother, wife, therapist, sister, friend, daughter, and animal steward, the attachment world is my guiding light.  BUT the first time I heard  Sara mention this idea of having a secure attachment to our business, I lost my breath for a moment.  The attachment theory lens had not yet extended to my role as a business owner.  I think I said, “Sh**!  I’m totally enmeshed with this baby!” 

For so many of us, our EAS businesses are passion projects, and they can become all consuming.  We can unwittingly become profoundly anxious, entangled or enmeshed – terms often used to describe one type of  insecure attachment – with our mission, our vision, and our business.  For others, the overwhelm we feel can lead to more avoidant behaviors that cause us to freeze, procrastinate, or check out – a more dismissive attachment to our business.  

Separating Your Business from Your Own Identity

Sara’s first suggestion, as we begin to practice secure relating with our business,  is that we let the business truly be its own entity.  What do I need? What does the business need?  These are separate questions and each has different answers.  In conversations with employees or funders, these are also separate.  “The business needs. . .”  When someone does not meet this need, it’s not personal.  This small shift has been powerful for me.

I am still trying very hard to practice secure relating with this entity called Natural Lifemanship, this absolutely stunning being we have lovingly birthed, nurtured, attuned to, and grown.  It’s a work in progress for sure.  The soft flexibility and balance between nurture and structure, closeness and distance, attunement and differentiation, and discipline and delight takes so much grit, and such a vulnerable exploration of our own story.     

Listen First, Then Respond

In a conversation I recently had with Tamasin Thomas, who Shannon and I will be chatting with in a webinar next week called, “Money Mindset:  How Business, Money, and Your Story are Uniquely Connected” we discussed the importance of attuning to our business.  We birth the business, and then in order to build a secure attachment with it, we first and foremost must protect it and then attune to it. (The first 2 pillars of secure attachment from a book I love called Attachment Disturbances in Adults).  

Tamasin said, “Our business will tell us what it needs to grow and thrive if we listen to it.” We must first listen and then respond, and this response will certainly require that we employ all of our skills,  knowledge,  life experience,  and so much heart and soul.    

AND this is why we created the Business Building Master Class.  It is our desire that you have the information, knowledge, and support you need to be responsive and flexible in your relationship with your business.  

Mothering transforms us  

While many have had spiritual awakenings at the top of a mountain or in the depths of the sea,  I think the most profound metamorphosis happens in the grueling dark of the night, with an inconsolable baby, yet another dirty diaper, an aching body that can hardly move, and the kind of exhaustion where you really think you might die. Those nights when you can’t feel your fingers for the cold, or the heat is crushing your body, when one more fence is down, one more horse is injured, one more client struggles to stay alive, and for you to make payroll or purchase another load of hay will require a miracle.  

Those nights when we think that there is no way to carry on, but our love, our purpose, and our connection to those who have come before us, those who are in it with us, and those who will come after us, somehow helps us show up when we staunchly believe we can’t.  

Those nights transform us.  

In those moments, when we know that we are not alone, we become stronger and softer, and more secure in our attachment.  It is in those moments, when we have the support we need, that we become part of an army of Mamas that are making this world a better place.

If you are looking for support and guidance as you mother your own business, take a look at our Business Building Master Class. We were not made to mother alone – it takes a village.  

Mothering is, by far, the highest calling.  Happy Mother’s Day to all of those who mother.  Today, I honor you.