We talked about the idea of DrivenWoman all morning yesterday. We met Elizabeth who will host our first meet up in her gorgeous apartment in Hyde Park. We got so excited explaining what we want to build: a service that will help women to do what they want. It sounds like a big promise. But why not! We don’t have to change the world in a day. Past two weeks have been spend on doing homework and having a lot of conversations with as many women as possible. We try to understand the obstacles that are holding women back and how we, women as a community, could become more powerful and live more driven lives?
We talk to women with very different backgrounds and problems. Some have a clear idea what they want to achieve but for a reason or another have not been ready to go after their dream or don’t know where to start. Some have been so consumed by their family responsibilities that there has been very little time to think about their own aspirations. In many cases the common theme that emerges is a perception of risk a new direction in life would bring.
‘I want to start something for myself, but I don’t quite know what to do. It is such a big risk to try something.’
Where does this idea that trying something is risky come from? Is it a fear of failure? Or is it because women compare themselves with some imaginary perfect people? Successful women may be role models but they can have motivationally negative effect as what they do seems so out of reach.
So it is safer to keep things exactly as they are. Not to shake the boat. You don’t want to upset people around you with new ideas, with ideas they might not agree with. ‘Starting up’ sounds such a mountainous task anyway. And you probably don’t have the right skills anyway. Why take the risk?
What if you didn’t know you were starting up something? What if you didn’t know you where turning a corner? What if you just begin something that you enjoy? It could be writing a blog about your favourite artists or it could be asking your neighbour if she needs help with her orchids.
Starting a blog might sound too adventurous but exploring the internet and being involved is an excellent way to do research and find out what you like. Being a mere spectator is not as powerful as getting involved and that is why blogging is so great. It helps you to develop your own thinking.
If blogging sounds too scary, why not take a baby step to create a Gravatar in WordPress and start reading what other people say about your favourite artist or orchid. Then start commenting on other people’s posts. Perhaps one day you would be ready for your own blog… and who knows, an online membership site for orchid lovers offering tips for orchid care. Some membership sites make quite a bit of money too. Who knows. I’m just saying.
Now you can’t tell me there is any risk taking a step. The first step might be to talk to someone about your idea, or to talk to someone that you would like to find an idea. It might be to start reading different sections in your daily newspaper. You could follow podcasts. You could talk to someone you don’t know in a cocktail party. No risk! If you knew that talking to that person or listening to that podcast would lead to you setting up an oline-store would you not do it? Well, you don’t know what future will bring so there is no need to worry about the end result. Just take that one step.
Why do we batch our ideas and projects into such big lumps that they become almost impossible to swallow? Especially women think that if they ‘start something’ they will have to carry it through to the bitter end. Like there was already an idea where that project should finish and if it doesn’t, they failed? It is the mind that builds up all the expectations before anything happens. And then nothing happens.
You might have a feeling you should change something but are you afraid to dig deeper? You might think the question that needs answering is ‘who do I want to be when I grow up?’ and that simply is too big of a task for most of us to answer. But what if the question you could answer right now was ‘what can I do today to get me moving’. Movement is much more important than direction when you find yourself stationery.
Back to the perceived risk of ‘starting something’. After our very energetic session in Elisabeth’s lovely apartment we concluded that ‘risk’ can be erased completely if we think of life as a sequence of small little steps. You can always take a little step, test how it feels and then take another step. Forget goals. Forget changing your life. Forget becoming a better person. Forget doing something for yourself. Just start exploring.
Jennifer puts it like this: ‘I can’t think of myself sitting in the same spot as I’m today in five years time. That would be a disaster! I rather keep moving and see where it takes me. Many people just procastrinate and over evaluate all the options without doing anything. They are still sitting in that same spot in five years time!’
6 steps you can take to start something today without taking any risks
1) Stop treating internet as a place to read news and share baby photos
There is so much more to the web than the news and Facebook! Reduce your Facebook time and start reading other people’s blogs and other interesting websites which are a little bit outside of your daily routine and comfort zone.
2) Create a Gravatar in WordPress and start a blog
If you have a topic in mind by all means start a blog page. You don’t have to advertise it to all your friends if it feels awkward. Just start writing for yourself.
If you don’t have a topic and you are still looking for your calling, just get a Gravatar and start following people and commenting on their writing.
3) Open a Twitter account or start using the one you have properly
Twitter is a great media and an easy way to find interesting information and follow people who might share something that might interest you. If you don’t know exactly what you are looking for as your next phase in life, Twitter is a surprisingly fun way to bump into new ideas and people.
You should not be lazy Twitter user if you want any benefits out of it. And with ‘not lazy’ I don’t mean tweeting every 20 minutes about what you are up to and what your cat is doing. You should spend time to find interesting people to follow and then read what they have to say. Skip your friends, in most cases friends add very little value in Twitter. Click on the links and retweet if you find something interesting. Learn how to use #hastags and how to reply to @people. It is not very difficult. If you tell me you can’t use Twitter, then I tell you you are just plane lazy.
4) Identify two people who might be able to support you
Try to find someone who is in the same position as you are. Whether you are still looking for your purpose or if you know what you want, find someone who might be interested in similar type of topics or activity. If your dream is to run a marathon, find someone who also wants to do it. If you want to start a business, try to find someone with similar level of expertise and ambition.
The second person you need is someone who can help you, not just support you. A mentor can bring you new ideas, introduce you to right people or offer practical advice on the topic of your interest. If you want to take a little more risk, try contacting someone who already lives the life you want. Remember, the worst that can happen is that they say no.
5) Do something in the real world
If your dream is to run the marathon, start training. If you want to start a restaurant, go walk around and see what retail property is available. If you want to eat clean, go to your cupboard and throw out all food products that contain added sugar, white wheat or E-numbers. Sounds silly but so many people have ideas in their heads for years and they don’t act on them on the lowest level. Something simple like this might just get you started.
6) Build a moodboard about your life or business you want
Buy a bunch of magazines from the news agent. You should have at least 10 magazines to do this and be sure to buy a diverse bunch! Then sit down with a cup of tea and leaf through page by page ripping out pages as you see something that interests you. Don’t analyse too much, just let your subconscious work for you. If you are building a business it is also useful to rip out the images that you don’t want your business to be. Make a collage of the images you collected and write a couple of words to describe what you want or don’t want.
Bonus idea: come to our event!
We will be discussing risk and how to make a start to move to the direction you want in our event on 8th of May 6 pm in Central London. There is no risk, just hit ‘comment’ at the end of the post and we’ll send you more info!