My heart is full and I have so many people, experiences and life circumstances to be thankful for as I look to Thanksgiving 2014. As we approach this holiday focused on the spirit and power of thankfulness, I thought it would be appropriate to share some of my past with you to set the stage for my abundantly thankful heart this season and inspire you to share your story.
It’s easy to see someone’s highlight reel and compare yourself. It’s easy to lose sight of or not think about the fact that the little glimpses into someone else’s life (or a person’s happy Facebook status updates) aren’t representative of the whole picture. We often miss the struggle, heartbreak, failed attempts and private victories through the lens of an outsider.
So, today I’m sharing a little insight into my past as a reflect on how far I’ve come and give context for the immense thankfulness I now feel. I hope this glimpse into my behind-the-scenes helps move your forward into deeper thankfulness this season as you look back and appreciate how far you’ve come and look with expectancy to the future.
Struggles = Future Success if We’re Willing to Push Through and Risk
Several years ago, I worked for a high-performing advertising agency where I was working 90 hour weeks and killing myself without realizing it. As a team, we were expected to secure media coverage on a daily and weekly basis for clients on an average of 25 – 40 opportunities per week, all while managing multiple client accounts and projects.
It was not healthy and being an overachiever, perfectionist and people pleaser — I just couldn’t turn things off. I was doing the work of several people and the environment was extremely hostile … I would get up hours before work to check email and get ahead of my day, then I’d be in the office for 9-12 hours and then come home and work more for fear of falling behind and being “called out” in front of the team. Turnover rates were high and so were performance expectations.
After a little over a year, I hit a wall. Hard. I would come home exhausted and in tears almost daily. I gained 20 lbs. My husband was patient but our relationship was strained due to lack of time spent together and emotional exhaustion on my part. I missed events with friends and consistently skipped our weekly small group on Wednesdays. There was no extra time for anything other than sleep.
I finally hit my limit and turned in my month’s notice (I was too worried about everyone else and afraid of my boss to give anything less) without a solid job prospect.
I was exhausted, hurt and unsure of what my future would hold.
Thankfully, my husband was super supportive no matter the position I took next — he wanted me to be healthy and fulfilled regardless of pay cuts. A good friend connected me to a position working for a true leader. I took a 20k pay cut and went into the nonprofit sector assuming I would never go back to public relations. My new boss was truly a blessing as he protected my time by only allowing me to work 35 hours per week, knowing that my past and personality would cause me to overwork myself.
After 8 months of 35 hours a week — I was able to recharge, reflect and found myself longing for the excitement and challenge of the PR world I left.
I began consulting while working at the nonprofit and blogging every day. I quickly realized that it was time to move back into PR — but this time on my own terms.
In April 2013 I founded Belle Communications without funding or past experience in running a company. I completely bootstrapped my business from being just myself to now having a team of four full-time employees and will be hiring another full-timer in the next couple months.
Since I experienced the pain of poor management, being overworked and undervalued, I can better protect my team and lead them the way I would want to be led. We learn together, laugh, dance on video and work smart to help our clients THRIVE.
I will be 30 in April and this has been, by far, one of my grandest adventures to date.
Now, looking back, I can see the many lessons learned from hard-earned experience. I’m happier, have lost considerable weight, my marriage is exponentially improved and I work from home on my terms with a team and clients I absolutely love.
That’s a part of my story and why I am so thankful today. It’s only a part of my story but I hope this look behind the scenes helps you to share your own story and appreciate how far you’ve come.