If you had told me when I was 18 years old that I would own my own business and live in Colorado Springs post-grad, I would have laughed in your face. Knowing my anxiety-ridden brain, I probably wouldn’t have laughed. My reaction would have been to curl into the fetal position and sob. That plan would have made no sense to my 18-year-old brain.
Sure, I had tried Pure Barre by age 18, but I was just becoming interested in working out outside of my dance studio. My life plan had always been a career in musical theater. At that age, I was on my way to Nashville to start as a vocal major at Belmont University. I had never been to Colorado, let alone considered moving there. At age 25, I can’t explain to you all of the twists and turns that brought me to this place on my own, but hindsight is 20-20. There’s a reason God doesn’t let us in on His plans on the front end – we can’t handle the overwhelming truth that life has more unknowns than we could ever imagine.
Just like life, owning a business and jumping off the deep end into a career plan without security can be full of unknowns. My studio has been open just under two and a half years, and very little has gone according to my plan. Recently, I was asked to give a group of aspiring entrepreneurs a piece of advice I wish I had known before I opened my studio. My answer was simple – have lots of goals, but few expectations.
Goals are healthy and keep you reaching higher, but expectations are a sure-fire way to drown in worry, and they often stop you from seeing the good things God gives you.
Things often turn out differently than you expect, but that doesn’t mean it’s for the worse. It could just mean your expectations were off-base. Living in the land of expectation makes me slow to pivot when things don’t go according to plan. And while that is a beautiful sentiment, I’m sure many of you who are in the thick of starting your venture, are still asking, “But what do I do with all this worry I’m carrying?”
I recently read The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines, and Joanna said, “It is no easy thing to trust in God, to walk away from a career, to give it all up not knowing if you can ever get it back or even come close. But I did it. I heeded His voice, and somehow I found peace about it.” While it would be easy to look at her story from the outside and think that everything went according to plan, if you read it, or any entrepreneur’s story, you will find that every good journey is full of twists, failures, and misplaced expectations. Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, wrote, “Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” In reality, everyone who has taken a big risk understands the terror that comes along with putting yours dreams on the line.
So, for those of you riddled with anxiety about your life or your business, I understand. Many days, I’m still there myself if we’re honest. The only thing I have found that can break my mentality of fear is to lean into the unknown and realize that few destinations make sense before you walk the road to get there. Trusting God doesn’t guarantee you’ll be an overnight success, or even that your business will be successful, but it does guarantee you’ll be better at pivoting and listening to His direction.
In my leadership classes in college, I read the book Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. He said, “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” If you followed God into your current venture, I would bet you were on a hunt for purpose. It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers and the feeling of not measuring up, but your purpose is so much greater whether you are working a 9 to 5 or have hundreds of employees. Often, purpose gets lost when we become impatient, and then we can easily feel our circumstances are unbearable. Shift your perspective to the purpose you were originally chasing when you launched your dream, and make that the forefront of your game plan. Circumstances may not change, but you are always capable of moving forward and leaning into the unknown, even when you don’t have all the answers.