Why am I not in bed, nice and warm under my blankets on this relatively cold South Florida New Year Day morning like my neighbors? It was a question I asked myself for the past three-plus years. Each year came with obstacles that kept me boxed in a career that paid well but did little for my soul's growth. Do you know what I'm talking about here? You show up to work, give all you have, and still leave feeling unfulfilled. I’d mastered the skills necessary after the second year, confirmed by the first morning that brisk New Year Day when this question whispered in my right ear.
January 1st, 2019, I had promised myself was the last time I’d be a hamster in a wheel doing the same robotic tasks. Getting up before the crack of dawn for many years on that day to complete an assignment which saved the company a good deal of money, having not to get outside consultants involved, but one which left me dreading the approaching new year. I’m not an early bird; for me, this was torture.
I had plans. Plans that included pivoting the company brand I’d been building since March 2016 into the venture I dreamed it would be. Books waited for me to complete them. Several authors were waiting for an email indicating that my company was offering new author agreements. Yeah, no, that was not happening. Instead, I was in that 9 to 5 rut performing a job going nowhere. Adding salt to the wound, positions I hoped to have an opportunity at getting were scrapped due to company restructuring. Well, I could go places (as in doing jobs that would allow me to utilize new skills I’d out of curiosity), but they required relocating to another office or up to the Corporate Building. All of which meant winter in another state, and not the South Florida kind of winter either—pass. Something had to give that something was me.
What did you say you can relate? Indeed, I know many who are reading this can. Maybe you’re the single earner in the house, and the budget is tighter than the seal on a bank vault. You may be a single parent. Or maybe you’re one who has to take care of a sick or terminally ill spouse. Life may have tossed you a curveball, and now you’ve become the spouse left behind after your love has died. Then some think they’ve gotten too old to start something new. I hear you, loud and clear, making excuses! That’s right, excuses, because I’ve walked in those shoes listed here.
How did I stop making excuses? I got busy, cried, and screamed when needing to vent, then got back on track, head down pushing forward. By December 26th, 2017, staring at my work’s wall calendar, I purposed that in the year 2018, I’d give my vision all I had, which meant I needed to deal with myself. This period resulted in taking a thorough inventory of my life, allowing for the necessary time to understand what I could live with and live without. During the first few days of January 2018, I looked over the only vision board I’d ever created and hacked away mercilessly for the next six months. As the seasons melded into each other, near the end of 2018, my outlook on life had changed. All the hardships up to that point tried and proved to me that I was more than able to birth my vision.
For the first three months into 2019, I took pen to paper and jotted down ideas and ways to tap into niche areas within my company’s business market. Always the consumer, I decided to scratch an itch too long unreached. I needed to take my company mobile. I needed an app—and not just a drag and drop programmable app. No, Readio required intricate coding to fit the needs of those with that same itch. Pause, if you’re reading this, you most likely want to be empowered, learn how to stop making excuses. Fine, this is how I did both.
Taking inventory of my life pointed out the skills I already had. Even though I know how to write code in a few computer languages, the level of expertise my company’s pivot required was more than I currently possessed or had the time in which to gain them. A more effective way to hire the best help your budget can afford is to have some understanding as to the tasks you require completed. Like a dog chasing a bone, I purchased an online course to learn coding iOS and Android apps. I paid less than $20.00, seriously, getting it during a fantastic online sale event. You can not let your lack of understanding be an excuse in reaching your goals. Once I’d gone through several online course modules, my level of experience was to the point I could weed out developers enough to know who not to hire.
It’s very easy to reach a roadblock, throw your hands in the air, and shove your dreams in a box. Worst yet, totally give up. Time and money were against me, but with some focus, determination, and money management, I was able to keep moving forward. During the early months of 2019, something reinforced in me to continue connecting with a few more people who also have an unwavering passion for what they do. Such individuals can become great encouragers whenever we feel like it’s hopeless. Especially when we think no one will support our business, purchase our product, sign up for our service. Shoot even when others we expect, don’t merely share a social media branding post.
Have the eighteen plus months since deciding to no longer make excuses been easy? No, but that is what it takes to get through change, grow, and reach the next plateau of your life. We indeed do value things more when we’ve had to work for them. I’m talking about turning off the television, losing a lot of sleep—no eating out at restaurants, socializing with friends, missing baths. Let’s be real here. When people say they put their sweat, blood, and tears into something, I believe them!
You may not be getting into a tech business, but the principles remain the same. Learn all you can about that goal just off in the distance. There are now many options that exist to help one learn a new skill, expand on one already familiar, all of which can be done for free. You can also assess college and university level courses online, some for free if taking the traditional higher-learning route is not an option. I’m all about getting the knowledge any way you can. For me, the first place I look at is social media. Just about every company is marketing on one or several of the platforms, many of us log into daily. From there, it’s off to YouTube. Listen, don’t knock the YouTube University education (okay, so there isn’t such a university). Still, with all of the professionals having channels on YouTube, teaching whomever about what they do, you may as well take advantage of these free resources. Learning is learning. Just get it in your brain, apply what you need to your vision and keep pushing forward.
What made me appreciate all the groundwork I did before hiring an app development team was learning the language, understanding the workflow. Communicating with the development team about how I envisioned the Readio app to flow became easier, the more we dialogued. The lead developer noticed my understanding level, commenting on how great a researcher and developer I was. You better believe it! When they tried to say what I wanted was something they weren’t sure how to execute, I searched Google and other programmer sites I use and looked for code the developers could modify. Next thing you knew, I had that free source code integrated into my app. The excuses of others should also never stop you from achieving your goals.
Yet with all of your pushing forward, do remember to take some time for yourself. Take a day off at least every week to help you relax, revive, and laugh. For me, I get away from my home office and cell phone. I go outside and garden, watch movies, sleep in late, cook, pester my child by invading their room and lounging on their bed, or enjoying one of the many books I’ve been stockpiling. Self-care is vital when you are venturing into the unknown. The journey to reach your goals in and of itself can wear you down both physically and emotionally.
I can say that this current journey is by far one of the most challenging, yet rewarding adventures of my career (but not of my life). Before the inception of my company during the first six months of 2009, I had to push through writing my first book while taking care of a terminally ill husband, in a new state, with none I could call a friend. My family was miles away and in another country besides my middle school attending child. And oh yes, I had a full-time job while taking online university courses to obtain my bachelor’s degree. Again, I made no excuses back then about reaching my goals.
It didn’t matter what anyone else thought I could do. All that mattered was my faith and belief in a vision tailor-made just for me. You have one too! Take inventory of what you have available to you right now. See how you can use those things, skills to help transition your vision into reality. Don’t let excuses for not having enough money, time, intellect, poise, connections, and access remain your roadblocks. Many before you had to deal with a myriad of issues, but they were determined. Let determination be the fuel that drives you forward.
The next time you find yourself surfing the Internet or scrolling through a timeline on one of your social media pages, take note of what you are spending the most time watching, liking, commenting, and sharing. Are these things that will bring you closer to the influencers you desire to connect with, learn from? Are your online actions connecting you with your target audience or customer base? If not, stop wasting so much time being entertained and learn to be the one entertaining others.
The expression, “go hard or stay home” was one I repeated a lot to myself from the fall of 2015. It had been almost one year since I started to work again on my first long since published book. Nearing the end of the first draft, I was running out of gas. I was tired of the long days and writing marathon weekends. It was noticing other writers become published almost daily on social media that caused me to shout that expression to myself. So now I’m “shouting” it to you, “go hard or go home!” Understand, your journey to realizing your goal won’t always be so stressful. You can accomplish what you set out to do because others have and are doing so right now.
Are you ready? Good. Now get a notebook and pen, or open a writing document on your device of choice to start typing out an overview of your vision. Assess your current skill levels in areas your vision needs to become a reality. Search online to find resources to help develop the necessary skills you lack, or to help you be competent enough to have a conversation with those who do. Research your ideal customer, and hang out either in person or virtually where they are. Expand your circle with like-minded and driven people. Don’t forget to give back more than you take, because someone else is where you were moments before you read this book.
My associates and I now say whenever we are venturing into a new area of expansion, “sleep when it’s done!” I am confident you will come up with your encouraging phrase. Know there will be moments when you want to throw in the towel, give up. It will be at those times when you’ll say your phrase out loud and become rejuvenated to keep going. No success is overnight, but all success requires there to be no excuses. Okay then, one more time, “what’s your excuse?”
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