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my journal

Why Do Some People Have The Courage To Pursue A Dream & Others Don't?

Why Do Some People Have The Courage To Pursue A Dream & Others Don't?

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. With 2020 on the horizon, people are starting to reflect on the year that's coming to a close and plan for the year ahead. If you don't want to be in the same exact position next year at this time, you have to take a long, hard look at what'll motivate you to make a change. I'm seriously fascinated by this topic. Why do some people stay stuck year after year? Why do some people have the courage to take a big leap? Why do some people die with a big dream in their heart, while others believe their dreams are worth pursuing? I heard someone speak about this on a podcast and he said that people are generally motivated by one of two things: pain or inspiration. (You can listen to the full podcast here). I couldn't agree more.

Unfortunately, most people don't make a big change until something bad happens and it's their only option. This was the case for me! I was 100% miserable in my career as a lawyer for about 11 years when my father passed away. He was just 65 years old. After processing the grief with the help of a therapist, I decided that I needed to make some changes. Life is short. And it's certainly too short to feel stuck in a career that brings me nothing but anxiety, stress, and unhappiness. My dad worked his butt off in a corporate America job, saving for retirement with the hopes of moving to the beach in his golden years. He never got there. What a cruel joke, right? Work your whole life with the promise of a happy retirement, only to die one month after turning 65 years old. The pain this caused me motivated me to make some big changes. I didn't want to wait until retirement to "start living" like the American culture teaches us.

Pain is a motivator for a lot of people. Think about it. There are so many famous authors, actors, etc with a rags to riches story. There are so many stories of people who had a near-death experience like a very serious a car accident and completely changed their lives after it. So many stories of people who hit rock bottom and then turned it all around and fulfilled their dreams. Why does pain motivate us? It's simple. When the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of making a change and stepping outside of your comfort zone, you'll make a change. Read that again. Do you get that? It's a math equation: Pain of Change < Pain of Staying the Same. Generally speaking, humans are creatures of habit. We feel most comfortable in familiar situations. We don't particularly like change. Even if your current situation doesn't make you happy, at least you're in a predictable routine that you can rely on (and that does bring comfort; albeit negative comfort). We'd rather be with the devil we know than the devil we don't. But when the pain of that situation becomes too heavy to bear, and the pain of getting out of our comfort zone is lower, we'll go ahead and choose to get out of our comfort zone. 

The other avenue to big change is inspiration. My message to you is to not wait until a tragedy strikes to make a big change. Move from a place of inspiration instead. When you are inspired to make a change, it can happen more intentionally. For example, you can choose the timetable (you're not acting when tragedy unexpectedly strikes), you can save money for it, you can put together a plan. 

So the question is: how do you get inspired? I think the most powerful source of inspiration is to connect with people who have already made the change you're dreaming about. You can do this in person or, if you don't personally know anyone, you can find books and podcasts by people doing what you'd like to be doing. I think this is the most forceful source of inspiration because these people are real life examples of what can happen if you gain the courage to make the change. 

It is with this idea in mind that I've decided to start offering some support resources to all of you who have found my story inspirational. I get messages to this effect all the time and I've realized that many people are craving a change (whether that be a career change or something else) but just don't know how to make that leap. I love connecting on this topic so much. It's been a big part of my messaging since the first day I launched grace + hudson. Right now, I'm contemplating small group coaching, a private Facebook group, a virtual book club to discuss some of the books that I found most helpful on my journey, and one-on-one coaching. I will definitely keep you posted on these offerings as things unfold, but I know one thing for sure: the mission of these offerings will be to inspire you to make a change, and not wait for pain or tragedy to be your catalyst.

For now, let's say a cheers to reflecting on 2019 and thinking of all that might happen in 2020!

xo,

Stacy

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How I Used My Thoughts To Change My Reality And Go From Lawyer to Business Owner

How I Used My Thoughts To Change My Reality And Go From Lawyer to Business Owner

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In last week's Journal, I told you the #1 thing I did to change my entire reality and go from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In short, I became aware of the thoughts that were directing my life and learned how to direct them to what I want. If that sounds really esoteric or "woo woo" to you, it really just boils down to living super intentionally and I encourage you to read the entire journal entry here. It takes a lot of practice (ok, TONS of practice) to live this way, as 99% of us were never taught how to do this and grew up with very different mental programming. Programming that focuses more on what's lacking from our lives than what's abundant, on what can go wrong instead of right, on our weaknesses rather than strengths. Sound like you? This sounded a lot like me until just a few years ago. In this journal entry, I'm going to try to convey to the best of my ability how I got myself out of the mental rut I found myself in when I was a lawyer and how I created a new reality for myself. This is really mainstream stuff at this point, so while I'll convey what worked for me, know that there are hundreds of authors writing and speaking about this topic these days and you can and will find one who resonates with you.

One last thing. This is something you need to learn how to do, which necessarily means you're going to need to study it and practice it. And oh will the universe/God* send you tests to quiz you on what you've learned! (*I use these terms interchangeably depending on whether or not you have a religious practice). We also have a tendency in this day and age to want immediate results or else we claim it doesn't work. That attitude is going to stop you before you even start. For me, it took about 18 months to really see major shifts (smaller shifts came more quickly). You know how yoga teachers always refer to yoga as a practice? What I'm sharing with you today is also a practice. It's something you need to choose to do day by day, even minute by minute. And just like yoga class, you get better the more you go. While you won't be able to do a headstand on day 2, with practice you'll get better and better at it. And again, just like yoga, you'll continue your practice over a lifetime. You never "graduate" but rather you realize with each new level you reach, there's different things to learn and new areas of your life to apply it to. Maybe you'll first apply it to your career, but in a couple of years you'll start applying it to your romantic and familial relationships. It's more of a pathway and a journey than a final destination. Whew, ok, after that long introduction here is the general pathway that unfolded for me.

1. Become aware of your thoughts

If you're not aware of them, you can't change them. If you're running like a crazy person through life full of too many demands and weeks that leave you on "E" with no gas in the tank, chances are you aren't even aware of your thoughts on a deep level (this was me). Instead, your mind is an endless stream of thought after thought, some of which are anxious, and you're constantly focusing on what needs to get accomplished due to the demands on your life. So the first thing to do is simply observe your thoughts. Try this: when you're sitting in the car, or on a train or plane for work this week, take a 2 to 3 minutes each morning to observe what's going on up there. What thoughts are swirling around? Do those thoughts tend to be anxious, hopeful, meaningless, silly, positive, harsh, judgmental? Just watch and generally take an inventory of what's going on. If you have time, write down a few of them in your notes app on your phone. At the end of the week, notice if there are any repetitive patterns or themes. There are probably going to be a few negative themes. This would include thoughts that are filled with self-doubt (ex: I can't believe I messed this up again, I'll never be able to do this correctly), self-deprecating (ex: I'm not smart enough to run my own business), angry (ex: this stupid client hasn't even replied to my email, what nerve!), and judgmental thoughts (example: why did she just post that picture on Instagram - her product looks awful in that lighting!).    

2. You versus your thoughts

If you did step #1, did you feel like an outsider in your own mind? Or at least an observer? You probably noticed that there was YOU and then there were the THOUGHTS (I'm going to continue to capitalize these for ease of reference). By deduction, this means YOU are not your THOUGHTS. YOU may have even felt that YOU had no say in what THOUGHTS were popping up. They just flooded in and covered an array of topics. Can you see the division? This is really important to understand because it sets you up for step 3. 

I think the most influential author on this topic is Eckhart Tolle. He wrote the book The Power of Now which is written in question and answer format. He also wrote a second book called A New Earth and I highly recommend them both. Oprah is a big fan of Eckhart and has done a lot of interviews with him. Sometimes this is easier than committing to a book - check them out on YouTube and on her podcast Super Soul Conversations.

3. YOU are more powerful than the THOUGHTS

When you realize you aren't your thoughts, this can be a little confusing. Like, wait, there are two of me? One producing the thoughts and one observing them? Which one is me? Yes, that's exactly right. Some authors will refer to the producer of the thoughts in your head as "ego" and to the person observing them as "spirit" or "soul." It doesn't matter which terms you use, as long as you understand that (a) YOU are not your THOUGHTS and (b) YOU are far greater than the THOUGHTS you have. In other words, spirit is more powerful than ego (if you choose to use those terms).

Same goes here - Eckhart Tolle is probably the most influential writer in this space so I'd check him out if you're struggling with understanding points #2 and #3.

4. YOU can control your THOUGHTS

If YOU are more powerful than your THOUGHTS, this means you can control your thoughts. For all you perfectionists out there (I'm a recovering one), you have full permission to control here. In fact, I'd argue that this is truly the one and only thing we have full power to control in this lifetime. Say it over and over again - "I can control my thoughts. I have power over my thoughts." Claim this, own it, repeat it, set it as an alarm reminder on your phone. Every time there's a negative thought, call it out! It can become a game you play - like "hey I see you negative thought!" Don't worry about making your thoughts more positive yet. For now, do all you can to feel powerful, in charge, and confident about your ability to control your thoughts. Feel it in your bones! 

At this point, you might start to ask yourself, how in the world are we not taking care of our minds like we are our bodies? How are we not taught this? I just love the analogy to working out. A lot of us place working out high on the priority list for the week, but we do absolutely nothing about our minds. And our minds are far more powerful than our bodies. What goes on in our minds all day long literally creates our reality. I think this is part of the mental health conversation. In any case, be thankful that you are willing, interested, and able to become in charge of your thoughts.

5. Change the thought 

Once you fully commit to your power over your thoughts, you can start to change the thoughts. Remember this though: if you're like the majority of the population, negative thoughts bombard you all day long, so recognize this is a moment-by-moment choice. It is not easy, and you don't need to do this perfectly. It's a practice. Right now, you just want to build up your muscles. Eventually, you will naturally think more positively and dispose of the negative thoughts. But right now, it's going to be a struggle and that is completely normal. Liken it to working out - the first time you get in the gym is awful, but by month two you're in the routine and starting to feel pretty good. It takes a ton of practice, but stick with it.

This is how I like to change the thought:

(1) a negative thought creeps in my head;

(2) I call it out; and then I either

(3) flip it around (example: if the thought was "I feel like I never have enough money to pay my bills", I say to myself, "I always seem to come up with the money I need to pay my bills on time. Thank you universe for the abundance you show me!")

or

(4) I say a little prayer to myself, "I surrender this thought to the universe/God. Please take it from me." When the negative thought is a tough one - you know, one that really stings or stabs you in the heart, I tend to use the prayer method because it's more effective for me. Say this prayer as many times as you need. Eventually, you'll feel strong enough to flip it around and make it positive.

6. Enough changed thoughts add up to a belief

Last but not least, it's not enough to change the thought to a positive one. You need to believe the more positive thought. You need to believe the universe/God is taking your negative thought from you, or you need to believe how you re-framed it into a positive. For example, in the paying bills example, it's not enough to say "thank you for the abundance you show me." You truly need to believe in that abundance and feel grateful for it. The universe/God can tell when you're faking it! This is the most challenging step for sure, but know that the more times you call out the repetitive thought that is holding you back and replace it with a positive one or pray for help to take it away, eventually you're going to start to believe it.   

For me, the most persistent thought that was holding me back was, "I can't make enough money doing something I love. I can either do something I'm passionate about and struggle to pay bills, or I can do something I don't like and be financially secure. The two are mutually exclusive." I started to call out this thought, then I would say, "I can earn more money having a jewelry business than I ever did as a lawyer." And I eventually started to believe it (it took a few months). I hope you'll start to feel the same way about your business idea. It is possible. 

Of course there were 100s of other things I did on the journey from lawyer to business owner and I hope to share them all over the course of this Journal. But by far, the most crucial thing I did was stop being such a negative thinker. It held me back in so many ways. It kept me stuck. It made me feel helpless at times. And worst of all, at one point in my life, I wasn't even aware that I had so many negative thoughts. So, cheers to becoming more aware this week! That is certainly the most difficult part.

xo,

Stacy

 

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The #1 Most Crucial Thing I Did To Escape My Job As A Lawyer And Start My Own Jewelry Business

The #1 Most Crucial Thing I Did To Escape My Job As A Lawyer And Start My Own Jewelry Business

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. I always get asked how I managed to quit my job as a lawyer and start my own jewelry business. I'll admit it was a drastic leap - going from a "prestigious" profession to a creative job, from a big paycheck to an uncertain financial stream, from being employed by a large company to being my own boss. A lot of people tell me they want to do the same thing but "How?! How did you do it?!" they ask. And believe me, I get it! It seems so far-fetched that this actually worked out. I still look back in shock and surprise sometimes. But I've finally determined the #1 most crucial thing I did to quit my lawyer job, start my own business and have it succeed more or less. You probably aren't going to like the answer because you probably want a step-by-step list of instructions and hear about the number one thing on the list. But it's not about the list. It has nothing to do with the "practical" concerns related to starting a business. It's about you

Let me try to make an analogy. Think about the woman who wants to get pregnant. She does everything right - she reads all the books, sees all the doctors, gets all the tests, passes all the tests, uses all the tools and resources, takes all the vitamins, and yet she struggles to get pregnant despite all the conditions being optimal. She stresses out about it and it's actually her frantic energy and negative cycle of worry that pushes away what she most wants. It's the same thing with a business. You can do all the things. But unless you are in the right headspace for it, it's not going to work out. It just won't.

I know this because I had a business in 2010 and it failed. And the reason it failed despite my best efforts is because I was not in the right headspace. This was subconscious at the time but I see it clearly now: I didn't believe I could make a living selling jewelry. I was used to a big law firm paycheck and I just didn't believe I could earn a similar wage doing something I love. Now there's plenty of people making millions selling jewelry, so jewelry wasn't the problem. I was the problem. I didn't believe I deserved a life doing something I enjoy. And sure enough, the universe closed the door on my first business and I went back to being a lawyer (i.e. doing something I didn't like, because that's what I thought I deserved).

The universe, God, the divine (whatever name you want to call it) is very simple. It operates on clearly defined rules. And those rules aren't based on your education level, your income, your gender, your race. The universe doesn't see those things. In short, you tell the universe what you believe and the universe delivers the right set of circumstances to fulfill that belief. It really is that simple. The problem is, we aren't aware of the defeating, negative, critical beliefs we hold, nor do we know how to effectively change them to something more positive. You might say you believe you deserve to work in a job you love, but do you really believe that in your heart and soul? If you haven't seen the changes you're desiring, chances are "no." You say you do, but you don't believe you do. And that's what causes us to feel like victims - you know, the "I'm a good person, why am I stuck in this stupid job where I get treated like crap?" or "I'm doing everything right, why won't this business take off?!" Until we accept that our thoughts are powerful things that create our reality, and that we have to learn how to control them and harness them for good, life is going to continue to feel unfair. 

Let's face it, most of us aren't taught how to be aware of our thoughts and direct them to what we want. But that's ok. We can teach ourselves. I taught myself! It takes a lot of practice, but I promise you it's the #1 thing I did to change my entire reality - it's the #1 thing that helped me go from lawyer to jewelry business owner. Think of it this way, we workout multiple times per week to improve and strengthen our bodies, and we need to do the same thing with our minds. Otherwise, those thoughts are just running around in circles up there and those circular, defeating thoughts are creating our reality. But just like working out, slowly but surely we get stronger, we get better at the exercises, and before we know it we're running a marathon.  

If you're new to mindfulness as well as living and thinking intentionally, I know this entry was a lot to digest. So I'm going to stop here and in next week's Weekly Journal, I'll tell you how I taught myself to get out of the negative rut I was in and how I learned to control my thoughts and make them more positive. For now, try to accept that if you are in a job that you do not like, your thoughts got you there. But also accept that once you change your thoughts to be more positive (and this might take months) you'll see that you're no longer a match for the job you hate. It's seriously fascinating stuff. And it's becoming really mainstream at this point so there are tons and tons of resources and authors out there to connect with and learn from if you are wanting and willing to do the work.

You've probably heard me say this before: work on your mindset more than your website and you'll have a successful business. And this is exactly what I'm talking about! Cheers to becoming more aware of the thoughts that are (literally) running your life and the new power you can find to control them.

xo,

Stacy

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Are You Willing To Do What It Takes To Make Your Dream Come True?

Are You Willing To Do What It Takes To Make Your Dream Come True?

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal I'm sharing some real talk about making your dream a reality and I promise I won't sugarcoat it. The dream is the easy part, making it come true - not so much. Whether your dream is to start your own business, find the love of your life, move to an island and open a yoga studio, have a child...we all have them! To dream about our wildest hopes coming true is part of being human. But the real question is: what are you willing to do to make your dream come true? This is where most people get tripped up (and again, I think this is part of being human!). It can be scary, uncertain, and risky to take steps towards manifesting your dream into real life. It also can require a lot of work, a lot of discipline, and a lot of sacrifice. Few are willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work, and many want it handed to them on a silver platter. What's that quote I'm thinking of? Nothing worth having comes easy. Yes, something like that. And the bigger your dream, the more it's going to take. So where does that leave you? 

First and foremost, you have to make friends with the fact that some sort of sacrifice is going to be required. Maybe you need to invest a lot of time into your dream, maybe it's money. Maybe you're going to need to get a little uncomfortable for a while. Maybe you're going to need to work really hard on your mindset to make your dream come true - you know, change the negative beliefs that are holding you back. You get the idea. I truly think *this* is the main sticking point that most people can't get beyond. People want things to change and they want their dreams to come to pass, but they aren't willing to change anything about their current situation to get there. Let me give you an example. I hear from a lot of lawyers who want to leave the practice of law and start their own business of some sort, but many of them say, "Well, I don't want to change my standard of living though." Code for: I make 6 figures now, I have gotten used to a cushy life and I'm not willing to give that up. Really? Not even if it means seeing your dream come to life? Here's the deal: making some sacrifices now for a little while could potentially add up to a lifetime of happiness. Isn't that worth the "pain" of giving up the lifestyle you're used to? Let me tell you from firsthand experience, it is!

When I left my lawyer job in 2017, I was at this crossroads in my life: buy a condo or quit my job and try to make my dream come true. I had saved enough money to put a nice down payment on a condo in downtown Chicago, but there was a nagging thought in the back of my head that I should use that money to quit my job and start my own business. I chose the latter, which means I still rent and I don't own a home (and I'm 39 years old). That's the main "sacrifice" I made to start grace + hudson (I use the term "sacrifice" loosely as I realize some people never even get the chance to buy their own home). I am so glad I made that decision for myself because it gave me financial flexibility - I am not handcuffed to a certain income level in order to pay a hefty mortgage each month. And you know what else has come of it? The money I make now feels good - it makes me so proud to earn a living from something I love to do and I know it's going to feel so good to buy a home someday. The money I made when I was a lawyer didn't feel good, and I know the home I bought with that money wouldn't feel good in the long run either.  

The point I'd like to leave you with is this: everything is a decision. Everything. When it comes to the dream of business ownership, you can prioritize home ownership or luxuries like expensive coffee and weekend trips away or you can prioritize saving money for your dream by, for example, downsizing to a smaller apartment so you can quit your job. Realize that the power is in your hands. It is your choice. Own it. Own your choice. It'll empower you, even if you decide to choose the stable paycheck over business ownership. And for some of you that might be the reality. So when you embrace the fact that you're choosing a stable job with a nice paycheck over the risk of business ownership, you can let the business dream go and be happy where you are. And maybe a different dream, like adopting a child into your stable home, will come to greet you. In either case, decide, own your decision, and stop pining for what you don't have. The grass is always greener...until you decide to let yourself feel empowered by the choices you have made.    

xo,

Stacy 

 

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Overcoming Perfectionism (And Why It'll Block You From Starting Your Own Business)

Overcoming Perfectionism (And Why It'll Block You From Starting Your Own Business)

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. By request, in this week's journal I'm talking about overcoming perfectionism. It's something I've struggled with in the past and worked really, really hard to overcome. I'm also going to tell you why being a perfectionist will ultimately block you from starting your own business.

What is perfectionism anyway? Some people joke, "Oh I'm a perfectionist ha ha ha..." but there are deep rooted issues underlying perfectionism. My definition is striving for unattainable ideals because we feel we are being judged by others and want to please them to prove our own worth. Ouch. You may have never thought about it that way. People can strive for perfection in career, in relationships, in their physical body by working out, in all sorts of things, but there is one common denominator underlying them all: a feeling of unworthiness. We think that if we are "perfect", we are proving to ourselves and more importantly to the world that we are worthy of {insert your desired achievement, emotion, outcome, etc}. A lot of times, we are trying to be perfect to prove to the world that we are worthy of love - and that's not just romantic love. It could be love in the form of admiration of the people you work with, for example. Or love in the form of approval from your parents.

Let's get real about perfectionism for a second. Perfection is unattainable! Read that again. Unattainable. It's a manmade trap! Why? Because there is no such thing as perfection! Humans are not intended to be perfect, they are intended to be themselves. Authentic and real and true. And that's going to look different for everyone. So striving for perfection is in and of itself a manmade trap because you can never get there...perfection does not exist. And you'll only continue to beat yourself up...thereby continuing the cycle of not feeling worthy...by trying to attain something that is not attainable.    

Now, to really rock your world...did you ever consider that our imperfections are what make us real and authentic and true? When we learn to embrace our imperfections, we often grow in tremendous ways. We begin to see how they make us different, special, and unique. Our "imperfections" might cause us to see the world a little bit differently than the person sitting next to us, and that unique viewpoint - for example - might cause us to come up with a solution to a problem, that leads to a business idea, that leads to a thriving company. Also, admitting we have imperfections allows us to connect with people on a real, true level. How many times have you connected with a friend or coworker because you both are struggling with the same thing? The times are too many to count! There is beauty in imperfection.

For me, in particular, I think perfectionism came from childhood and schooling. I grew up with an excellent education, but school does teach you that you should strive for perfection by getting 100% on all of your tests and projects. In the real world though, there are no tests, gold stars, and 100 percents to be given out. I also grew up with a father who rewarded success at school. It was hard to get his attention and "approval" (i.e. love) in other ways, but he usually praised the 100%. So I think I grew up thinking that I need to get straight A's (i.e. be perfect) to gain the "love" of my father. Totally false, but as a kid you don't know any better. It's all subconscious. And then that belief ultimately translated into: let me get into an Ivy League college, let me go to law school, let me get the best six-figure lawyer job I can...all to prove I'm worthy...all to earn the "love" of my father (and all of this was subconscious of course). Perhaps you have a similar experience with one or both of your parents. Ironically, I started to uncover all of this false thinking in therapy after my father died. I went into therapy to process the grief from his death, but boy did it unlock a lot of other issues. That's a post for another day. I'll leave it at this: if you're anything like me, you might find really deep seated emotions at the core of your perfectionism, and it might require therapy to work through. I'm the biggest proponent of therapy - I don't think I'd be standing where I am today without it. The self-discovery that occurs is absolutely amazing and I'd highly encourage you to at least give it a try for a few sessions.   

So, do you now see how the focus of perfectionism is earning love and respect from others by trying to please and impress them? I hope so. If you do, it's easy to see why perfectionism will stop you from starting your own business. Starting your own business 9 times out of 10 requires you to go against the grain. Let's look at an example: Mom loves your 6-figure job as a doctor because it's stable, prestigious, and she's oh-so-proud to say she has a daughter who's a doctor. Well, when you tell mom that you are unhappy with your doctor job and want to start your own business as a clothing designer or baker or fitness studio owner (or whatever it may be!), she's probably not going to approve of it 100% out of the gate. It's easy to see why - it goes against what society deems "normal." It goes against the "traditional" career paths we are encouraged to take in school. Mom might withhold her approval for a while, and maybe even forever. And a perfectionist won't have this. Mom's disapproval is too heavy a burden to bear. And the perfectionist daughter will stay at her doctor job to earn and keep her mom's love. 

If you are struggling with perfectionism, I hope you found my experience with it to be enlightening. It can be overcome with some work. And it's incredibly freeing on the other side. Instead of striving for perfection, strive to be YOU - authentic, real and true.

xo,

Stacy 

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What Is Your "Why"? And Why It's So Important To Have One

What Is Your

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal, I want to talk about your "why" and why it's so important to have one. If you want to start your own business (or make any significant, big life change for that matter) you need to identify your main motivator for doing so, the main driving force behind your desire - in other words, your "why." Without it, it'll be hard to stay the course. Your "why" is what you come back to time and time again when you have a bad day, a bad week, or just want to throw in the towel. Starting your own business might be the hardest thing you ever do and you need a significant "why" that strikes a significant emotion within you. This emotional driver will keep you on course when you feel like jumping off course, or when it feels tempting to quit and just get an office job that pays you consistently every two weeks. 

I personally have two "why's." The first thing that motivated me to start grace + hudson was the death of my father - he was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 64 and passed away about 10 months later (one month after he turned 65). Losing a parent at a relatively young age really makes you understand that life is short. Like really, really short. My dad was always saving for his 401(k) and looking towards the future, and I can't help but wonder how he would've lived life differently if he knew that he wouldn't get to retirement. What an awful joke, right? You slave away at an office job, saving for retirement with plans to retire near the beach, and you pass away before you even get there. This made me question the way our culture looks at retirement, but that's a whole other topic for another day. In short, it made me realize that I need to live for now and do what I want to do now because no one is guaranteed a retirement. Heck, no one is guaranteed tomorrow. And for me personally, I couldn't image anything worse than slaving away at my lawyer job for the next 30 years to fund my retirement at the beach, and then get cancer and die one month after I turned 65. The emotion this idea strikes in me is so incredibly strong that it keeps me going on the hardest of days. It is "why" I am working so hard to make grace + hudson a success. I enjoy what I do each and every day. If I were to die next week, I wouldn't have any regrets about how I spent the last couple years of my life. I pursued my passion. I put my special gifts and talents to use. I tried to make my dreams a reality. And there is no better feeling.

My other "why" is something I'll refer to simply as freedom. When I was a lawyer working at large law firms, I felt like my life was not my own. Large law firms pay you a large salary because they basically want to own all of your time, nights and weekends included. Client needs something at midnight? You are expected to reply to the email. Boss needs you to finish a court filing and you need to miss a close friend's wedding on Saturday as a result? Yep, that happened to me too. I felt so chained to my job, so tied down to my desk and to my phone that I could never enjoy life. I was always checking my email to make sure no one needed me to drop everything I was doing and respond to them. The anxiety this created was overwhelming to say the least. My law firm owned my schedule and there was nothing I could do about it. When I started my own business, escaping the lawyer lifestyle was certainly one of the reasons why. But then I discovered the real emotion behind this reason and it is a powerful one. It's the emotion of freedom. The freedom to do what I want to do with my life, when I want to do it, for the reason why I want to do it. The freedom to say "no" to projects I want no part of.  The freedom to plan a vacation and not bring my laptop. The freedom to sign up for a workout class after work and not have to miss it. The freedom to make dinner plans and not show up 45 minutes late because of a work assignment. You may have heard me talk about this before, but during the first week of 2018, I came across a "mantra" that I should use for the year which was based upon my astrological sign. It was, "There is security in freedom." At the time, I had no idea what it even meant. But by the end of 2018, which was the first full year I worked on grace + hudson full-time, I totally got it! I never found security in a large, regular paycheck from a law firm (in fact, it was quite the opposite as I was constantly anxious). Rather, I found security and stability in my freedom away from that law firm with the big paychecks. And that feeling, let me tell you, is like none other.

I hope you have identified your "why" for starting your own business (or making any big life change) and that the emotion that "why" strikes in you is strong enough to motivate you on the hardest of days. Connect with that emotion regularly, let it support you, and let it motivate you to stay the course when you're about to give up. 

xo,

Stacy

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Why You Shouldn't Just Up & Quit Your Job To Start Your Own Business

Why You Shouldn't Just Up & Quit Your Job To Start Your Own Business

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal, I want to tell you why you shouldn't just up and quit your current job to start your own business. I'm often asked how and when I quit my job to work on grace + hudson full time. I actually quit the legal profession two times, so I have two experiences to draw from. The first time was 2010 and I quit to open a brick and mortar jewelry store in Morristown, New Jersey, near where I grew up. The second time was 2017 and I quit to start grace + hudson, which is an e-commerce business with no brick and mortar storefront. Both times, I started working on my business during nights and weekends before I quit my full-time lawyer gig (think: designing pieces for my collection, working on a website, designing a logo, etc). I want to tell you 3 reasons why you should do the same.

First, it's important to dispel a myth. I think a lot of people think you have a viable business the minute you set up a business Instagram account and a free website. But it takes a whole lot more than that. Most importantly, it takes time to build a legitimate, profitable business. On average, I read that it takes about two years to start earning a profit from a new business. This means that most people will need to keep their full-time job while they are in the start-up phase of their business. Sure, it would be great to get a business idea on Sunday, quit your job on Monday, establish your business on Tuesday, and start earning revenue on Wednesday, but unfortunately this isn't the way the world works. Don't put pressure on yourself to be different from the norm, as this will just create a lot of frustration and unrealistic goals that you probably won't be able to achieve. Bottom line: if you don't have enough money to pay your bills for two years, then don't up and quit your job the second you decide you want to open a business. Rather, start working on your business plan during the nights and weekends while you continue to collect a regular paycheck. As your business grows, you'll know exactly when you have enough business revenue to support the business and pay your bills and only then should you quit your day job. Remember you can always go part-time too when your business starts to earn revenue but not quite enough to support 100% of your expenses. Current job won't allow part-time? Perhaps you can get a low pressure part-time job (think: restaurant server, receptionist at a medical office, virtual assistant, etc) so you aren't stressing out meeting the demands of your day job and your new business.

Here's the other thing about starting a business - it costs money. Lots of it, depending on what type of business you'd like to start. My online jewelry business was relatively inexpensive to start, but something like a new restaurant can be extremely expensive. Regardless, you'll need the funds to pay for a logo, inventory, state/county business registrations, professional photographs for your website, etc. This is another great reason to keep your day job while you work to get your business idea off the ground - you can take some of your paycheck and allocate it towards your business start-up expenses.   

There's one more reason it's important to keep your day job in the beginning. You might not like having your own business! I know that seems crazy, but it's true. Running your own business isn't always fun. In fact, it's really, really hard. You might work on it for two or three months and say, "You know what, this isn't what I expected." How awful it would be to quit your day job too soon, only to find out that you dislike running a business. This happened to me in 2010 after I opened my brick and mortar jewelry store. I quit my day job in January and by June I was bored out of my mind. Sitting in a store all day, it turns out, was not my idea of fun. A lot of my time was spent on administrative tasks I didn't particularly like, and designing jewelry was such a tiny part of running a brick and mortar store. Let me give you another tip: if you dislike marketing, you probably won't enjoy running your own business. You can have the best product or service in the whole entire world, but if no one knows about it, no one will be able to purchase it. Marketing is a huge part of running a business, especially a new one that no one knows about yet. 

Cheers to having a side-hustle for a little while!

xo,

Stacy

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What I've Learned From Living Without A Regular Paycheck From An Office Job

What I've Learned From Living Without A Regular Paycheck From An Office Job

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal, I'm talking about what I've learned the past two years living without a regular paycheck from an office job. One of the biggest blockages to opening a business is money and one of the biggest worries is living without a consistent paycheck. And if you don't plan ahead, you'll be stressing so much about money that you won't even be able to focus on building a good business. So what is it really like to live without regular, consistent pay every two weeks? It's been interesting in surprising ways. It's taught me so much about money, about what truly fulfills me, and it's actually given me a greater sense of joy.

When I quit my lawyer job in February 2017, I had a good nest egg saved up so I planned to live off that while my business got off the ground. But unlike weekend mimosas, no savings account is bottomless! And I would say my living expenses are higher than the average joe because I still pay a large sum towards my law school loans each month. When I first quit my job and started working full-time on grace + hudson, I didn't change my lifestyle all that much to be honest. I didn't want to make any drastic changes like moving into a less expensive apartment -- what if I wanted (or needed) to go back to an office job in a couple months? In other words, I wanted a little transition time. A little breathing room. I highly recommend this. You might think you want to run your own business, but three or four months in, you might feel differently. You might not like it! (Yes, this happens!!) You might run into unforeseen expenses. You might encounter an unforeseen life change (like illness, divorce, or pregnancy). There are a hundred other reasons why you might want to "go back" to your office job after just a few months, so I recommend you wait before making any huge life changes. 

Once I made it past this transition phase, I started to notice something. I was spending money differently. In particular, I noticed that I wasn't buying as many clothes from J.Crew. Sure, I didn't need to be in a law office wearing spiffy new clothes anymore but I realized something more significant than that underneath the surface. I realized just how much I spent money to make myself feel better when I was a lawyer. After a long day or a long week, I would often treat myself to a new outfit, or something from Sephora, or new shoes from the Nordstrom Rack I passed on the way home. I didn't need to do this anymore. My job no longer created a figurative "hole" inside me that I needed to fill up with things like new clothes. I was now getting daily fulfillment from my work instead. At the end of a work day, I often feel satisfied, accomplished, and excited about what I am working on. I never felt this way in my attorney job. In short, I have a greater sense of joy as a result of doing work I enjoy.

The other major shift I experienced is respect for money. When the regular lawyer paychecks ended and I started to make money from my business instead, I respected each cent. It was amazing to me that I could earn money doing something I truly enjoy. This was a very foreign concept to me as I hated every second of my 11-year lawyer career. I was so grateful for every dollar, which in turn caused me to spend money more wisely. When you respect money, I feel like more money comes your way. You know that phrase, "what you appreciate appreciates"? It's true. 

I never fail to include some "real talk" in my journal entries, so I'll conclude with this. I'll be honest, when you first open your business, you'll be looking at job listings a lot more frequently than you anticipated. You'll have a bad day and say to yourself "it's time to get a 'real' job." This is normal. In fact, I did this the first two years of business! As time goes on, you'll look at job listings less and less but it still happens now and then! Having your own business is hard. Supporting yourself with your own money is hard. It is not for the faint of heart. Here's the reality - you can always "go back" to your office job or one just like it. And maybe you will. Or maybe you'll decide to get a part-time job on the side to help make ends meet. Either way, you'll figure it out. I'm confident that if you're reading this post, you have enough smarts about you that you'll never be without the ability to pay your bills. 

Cheers to starting your own business!

xo,

Stacy

 

 

 

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Feeling Frustrated? If You Want To Start Your Own Business But Don't Know How, This Post Is For You

Feeling Frustrated? If You Want To Start Your Own Business But Don't Know How, This Post Is For You

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. This week's journal entry addresses a question that I've heard over and over again. It goes a little something like this: "I know I want to start my own business, but HOW?" (*insert exasperated tone*). The reason you might be feeling lost, frustrated, or just plain confused about where to start is because there is no checklist, no road map, no one-size-fits-all guide to starting a business. Think about it, we grow up in schools that give us outlines on what we need to do to achieve an A+ and then we work in jobs that come with bullet-pointed job descriptions and very clear performance benchmarks. But no one hands you a checklist when you start your own business. And even if there were such a thing, no one could guarantee that if you checked all of the boxes your business would be successful.

This brings up three really important points: (1) it is completely normal to feel lost, confused, and frustrated when you begin to embark upon your entrepreneurial journey, (2) you'll need to get comfortable living outside of your comfort zone for a while if you decide to start your own business, and (3) you have to accept there are no guarantees that your business will be successful (i.e. make money) even if you pour your whole heart into it. The first one speaks for itself. If you feel frustrated and lost, know you aren't alone. It might help to meet some other entrepreneurial friends - you know, people who are forging ahead on the same path as you. Nearly every city has entrepreneurial networking groups these days, so just Google around in your city and check out one of their events. There are a lot of women entrepreneur groups popping up these days, too. 

The second point (living outside your comfort zone) is not quite as easy to tackle. If you're someone who only feels secure, stable and grounded working within the boundaries of your comfort zone, being an entrepreneur might not be the best choice. My advice: accept that and move on! Not everyone is meant to take the entrepreneurial path and that's not a bad thing. BUT, if you can handle the fact that life is going to feel uncertain for a while (I'm talking at least a couple of years), you might just find that you thrive outside your comfort zone. That's what happened to me. I was a lawyer (i.e. a risk-adverse, type A control freak) but after I quit the profession to pursue my jewelry business, I realized that I actually enjoy living outside my comfort zone. Now, I tend to thrive in new situations - I find them exciting and challenging, and I love how much I've grown as a result. So be honest with yourself - only you know whether your personality is or isn't suited to entrepreneurial life. And if it isn't, there is a better path for you and I know you're going to find it!

The third point is where a lot of people get tripped up. The reality is, if you start a business and give it 110% every single day for two years, there's still no guarantee that it'll be successful. And it's this fear, it's this risk, that holds people back. I get it. It's a hard one to bust through. But here's what I want you to reconsider: how are you defining "successful"? Making money, right? That's how everyone defines success when it comes to a business. I challenge you to have a different perspective and adopt a different definition of "successful." See, I had a business a few years before I had grace + hudson and it totally flopped. Would I call it a failure? Absolutely not. I learned *so* much from that experience, and I'm convinced that the lessons and knowledge I acquired from my first business made me successful now, with my second business. So in that sense, my first business was a "success" in my eyes. I walked away a richer person, full of knowledge and experience and skills I never knew I had - skills that would prepare me to open my second business 6 years later. The point is this: even if your business "fails" because it doesn't make enough money, you'll develop skills you didn't think you had, meet people you never would have met, learn things about yourself you didn't know before, and on and on the list goes. This, my friend, is hardly "failure"!

The last point I want to leave you with is this: no one out there starting their own business really knows exactly what they're doing. There is no one-size-fits-all guide like I said before, which means that everyone who started their own business just started SOMEWHERE and kept going. They tried different things and established what works and what doesn't. So start somewhere and start small - maybe for you that's doodling a few potential logo designs on the back of a napkin, or brainstorming a price list for your services or products. And then the dominoes start to fall and you're led to the next task, and the next, and the next. And before you know it, you have a functioning business that's generating revenue. You'll need to do lots of research along the way, but we are living in an unprecedented era where you can Google just about anything and find an article, book, webinar, or online course on the topic. Have a little patience and know that it takes time. Brick by brick the foundation of your business will come together. And, in the end, even if you "fail" by traditional standards, you will have succeeded in developing a lot of new skills and you will have grown tremendously as a person.  

I wish you the courage to start somewhere! Anywhere! Just start.

xo,

Stacy

 

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How To Deal With Negative People And Criticism

How To Deal With Negative People And Criticism

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. This week's journal entry is about the negative comments and criticism you are going to encounter if you decide to open your own business (or make a big career move, or make any huge, significant life change) and how to best deal with it. No matter how much you believe in your dream to own your own business or decision to make a big change, there are going to be a lot of people who won't. Heck, some might even laugh in your face. And some of these people might be close friends or family members (cue the tears and self-doubt). Starting a business or making a huge life change is scary and takes a lot of courage, so if you aren't prepared to encounter a few doubters, haters, and criticizers, you may quit before you know it. Instead, I want you to know ahead of time that this is completely normal and just part of the journey. And if you're opening your own business, I'd call it the first real test you're going to encounter as an entrepreneur. If you can move beyond the criticism of your friends and family, you'll be able to move beyond the criticism of clients, customers, or onlookers (because the bigger your business grows, the more criticism you'll encounter). 

Let me tell you a story about my first business - a brick and mortar jewelry store. I was 29 years old and had only been practicing law for about 3 years when I quit my job to open this store. The economy was crashing (it was 2010) but I didn't want to hear it. I was going to open this jewelry store no matter what - that's what my heart was telling me to do and, come hell or high water, I was going to make it happen. My mom wanted to just about strangle me. She did not have the opportunity to go to college and the idea that her daughter with a law degree would throw it all away after 3 years and give up a six figure job was too much for her to handle. She just couldn't understand and I don't blame her. We have two extremely different perspectives on career and, now that I think about it, money too. We argued and shouted about this a couple of times, but I proceeded to quit my lawyer job and open the store without getting 100% support from her. That was tough. But no one, and I mean no one, was going to stand in the way of the dream that was placed in my heart.

The point I'm trying to make here is this: you need to believe in your business dream or the decision to make a big life change so much that not even your closest family member can steer you off track. This requires a knowing intuition that this dream or decision is your life's path, your purpose, the reason you are here. You can't, for one second, imagine doing anything else. I don't like the word obsession, but it's kind of appropriate here. Anything less than full on obsession isn't going to be enough to get you through the hard, trying times and the nasty, ugly criticism.

Allow me to make a distinction among the negative comments you're going to encounter, especially as you begin to talk about your business idea (or big life decision) for the first time with others. There are negative comments worth ignoring, and there are negative comments worth listening to. I like to call the latter category "market research." Let me illustrate with an example. You're a millennial. You tell your millennial friends that you want to open a bookstore downtown that targets millennials. Each and every one of your millennial friends tells you they can't remember the last time they were inside a brick and mortar bookstore, and encourages you to abandon your business idea. You run away each time, questioning their friendship. Here's the deal: if someone you ordinarily respect responds with negativity that also contains some rationale or reasoning behind it (here, the fact that they can't remember the last time they saw the need to go to a bookstore), you'll want to file their rationale away as "market research" and consider it later after you've cooled down. In this particular case, you'd want to look into a few things if you hadn't already done so: (1) research the age of the average bookstore consumer, (2) identify whether or not your bookstore is going to offer something innovative and unique to draw millennials inside, and (3) research the profitability of brick and mortar bookstores in the Amazon Prime era we live in. Do you see the difference between negative comments, and comments that appear negative but have some value and should lead to market research? With this in mind, the next time a friend questions your business idea or big life change, rather than run away or get ticked off, just reply with "thanks for your concerns - I'll look into some of the things you suggested." 

Now, let me talk about the negative comments you're going to hear that have no value, reasoning, or rationale behind them. These are more difficult to handle in my opinion because they can't be researched or reasoned with, and are just plain hurtful. But my advice to you is this: remember that the people who reply in this manner are acting from a place of fear. For example, in my case, I knew my fellow lawyer "friends" who talked about me and my jewelry dreams behind my back were acting from a place of fear and dissatisfaction with their own career. The fact that I was moving on to an exciting entrepreneurial journey was threatening to them because they didn't have the guts to make a move and seeing someone else do it brought up some deep rooted emotions. But you know what? They're still complaining about how much work they have or how late they stayed up to finish an assignment, and I'm over here making pretty jewelry. I know this sounds kind of crazy, but every time you encounter people who hand you these negative comments, do two things: (1) silently wish them happiness and (2) say a word of gratitude that you were blessed with the courage to make a big change.

There's one more thing you should be prepared for and I already hinted at it. When you make a huge life change, oftentimes your friendships are going to change. Some friends will be incredibly supportive. Some will call you crazy. And it's very hard to predict which friends are going to do which (you'll be surprised here). Friends might distance themselves from you because they don't want to deal with the emotions your journey and your courage is stirring up inside of them. And that's ok. You can't take it personally and it's best to accept that your friendship was meant to last only for a season. On a related note, YOU are also going to want to make new friends - friends who are on a similar path as you.  If you're starting your own business, you're going to want entrepreneurial friends to bounce ideas off of, friends who understand your challenges as a business owner, and friends who have a similar schedule as you (adios 9 to 5! hello midday breaks with new friends!). I've said it before and I'll say it again - the entrepreneurial journey demands your own personal development and growth. You'll evolve so much as a person and - no matter whether your business fails or succeeds in the end - you'll walk away a stronger, wiser, more interesting person. 

Cheers to making big life changes that get you closer to the life you've always wanted to live!

xo,

Stacy

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