During the holiday season, I always think of that old John Lennon song, “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”, with the lyric that says, “So this is Christmas. What have you done? Another year over, and a new one just begun.” This song is deeply idealistic and inspiring, but there is also a hint of admonition to the lyrics – the song asks us to look inside ourselves and make a moral reckoning with whether or not we have done all we could during this past year to create a better, more peaceful world. “What have you done?”
As I get older, every year seems to pass more quickly than the one before. It seems like just a few hours ago that I was taking my oldest son for his first waterslide ride at the swimming pool on a brilliant summer day – but that was over four months ago. And now all of a sudden it’s late December and the daylight hours are growing so short.
Each New Year is a time to reflect on what we’ve done (and left undone) during the past 12 months. If we’re not careful, another year will slip away from us without experiencing and achieving the things we want to get out of life.
This is nowhere more apparent than in our careers and our business aspirations. If you have the urge to start a business, there is no time like the present. Next year will go by even faster than this one did. My wish for you is that the quiet holiday season and the new light of the New Year can give you the confidence to take the first steps toward your entrepreneurial dreams.
How do you feel about your career? Are you getting closer to your goals, or are you just getting older?
Do you have enough time with your family, enough fulfillment, and enough exciting experiences?
Would you like to have more money, more travel, and more time?
Do you feel underappreciated or overworked or unfulfilled at your job?
Are you ready to reinvent yourself and make this New Year one to truly remember?
I still remember when I decided to start a business. It was January 2009, at the lowest depths of the Great Recession. I was totally fed up with corporate life. I had a job that I didn’t like but felt afraid to lose – and the economic news kept getting worse with each passing day. I felt underpaid and under-challenged and underutilized, and I didn’t see any of it getting better anytime soon.
But at the same time, with all the lousy economic news, it seemed like there were no other “jobs” waiting for me out there. I felt stuck. I couldn’t move up at my company and I couldn’t move “out” to a different full-time job. So I needed to come up with something new.
Instead of wallowing in depression and self-pity (which is all too natural when you’re stuck in the wrong job), I finally decided to take the first steps to starting a business. For me, those first steps were going online and finding some clients so I could start working as a freelance writer.
One dark, cold Saturday night in January 2009, I stayed up ridiculously late and set up a contractor profile on Elance. I filled out dozens of forms and boxes, posted my professional resume and writing samples and a photo. I wasn’t 100% sure of what I was doing or whether it was going to be worthwhile in the end. In fact, I almost quit before I fully got started.
“Is this really going to work?” I asked myself. “Am I really going to be able to make something of this business idea, or am I just wasting my time?”
Now here it is almost 3 years later, and I’m succeeding beyond my wildest dreams from where I first started on that winter night. In July 2010, I quit my corporate job. I run my own business full-time, working from home. I spend lots of time with my kids. I’m immensely grateful for the life I have now, and I am so fortunate to have been able to create this life and this new career on my own terms, starting from nothing.
If you’re struggling with whether to start a business, how to start a business, or wondering if your entrepreneurial dreams are just a waste of time…don’t quit before you give yourself a chance to truly start. Take the first step. Now.
Give yourself the best Christmas present and the best start to the New Year that you could ever wish for: a business of your very own. When you start a business, you are building a lasting asset that can grow and evolve and keep challenging and rewarding you like no “job” ever could.
Do it this year. Start now. Take the first step.
Then next year, when you hear John Lennon ask, “What have you done?” You can answer, “I took the first step toward building a better life for myself and my family.” I wish we all could say the same.
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.