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. The other day I was thinking to myself, "What is the single most important skill you need to make the leap from ordinary job to owning your own business?" I quickly came up with critical thinking. So in this week's journal entry I want to dive into why critical thinking is so important, and it's probably not for the reason you think. This is a heavy post with a happy ending so I hope you'll take a read.
Here's the bottom line - there are powerful societal expectations that rule all of our lives and most people accept them blindly, never stopping to critically think whether they actually believe them or want them to apply to their own lives. The people who often succeed in business ownership have the critical thinking skills necessary to dismantle these beliefs and replace them with more powerful, intentional, and authentic beliefs.
Let me give you an example - have you ever stopped to think about retirement in the United States? Most people believe that it's "normal" to work at a job you don't particularly love so that you can pay your bills and save enough money in a 401(k) and then hopefully retire when you're about age 65 which is when you'll really start to live your life. WHAT?! Have you literally ever stopped to think about whether that actually even makes sense? It's absurd to me. Maybe that's because I've heard one too many stories of people who never even make it to retirement. Take my father for example - he passed away one month after he turned 65. He was Mr. 401(k), always being responsible and saving money for retirement. He worked an office job in information technology in New Jersey and had dreams of retiring to the beaches of North Carolina. But he never even got the chance. What a horrible, cruel joke. Could you imagine spending your whole life working hard with the dream of finally living life at age 65, only to pass away? This was probably the biggest realization that pushed me to finally quit my lawyer job after 11 years and pursue doing something I love instead. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow, let alone a retirement, and I'm sure not going to wither away over the next 30 years doing a job I cannot stand.
Here's another example - have you ever stopped to think about America's "TGIF" culture? Why does that exist? Well, it's because the majority of America doesn't like their Monday to Friday job and they can't wait until the weekend. Have you ever stopped to think about that? It's so sad! We spend the week wishing for Friday so that we can live for 2 days? And then we repeat this week after week? It's the same with the question, "How was your weekend?" I kind of laugh to myself when people ask me that now because I want to say, "I live all 7 days thank you very much. My life is no longer limited to just Saturday and Sunday."
Many people never really stop to critically think about what they're told to do, what's "normal", and what their parents or others expect of them. Instead, they just blindly follow along. And they wonder why they aren't happy and they aren't fulfilled. The answer is simple: you have given up all of your power and you aren't making any intentional decisions to live the way YOU want to live. There is a complete absence of critical thinking as it relates to work and the trajectory of your life. You haven't stopped to think about what makes sense for you and you can't even define what you want because you never stopped to critically think about it.
Now let me apply this concept of critical thinking to starting your own business. When you have the desire to start your own business, you must dig up all of the societal expectations currently controlling your life and essentially defeat them and bury them for good. What's the number one societal norm that has to be torn apart? That your worth depends on your job title, the company you work for, and your salary. When you quit and start your own business, you're not going to have those anymore and it will be disorienting unless you have already done the work around the concept that "you are not your job." How do you do this work? Critical thinking of course. Critical thinking allows you to ask yourself, "Do I really think that I'll crumble and not be worthy if I give up this prestigious corporate job? Do I really think my worth is inherently tied up in my job title? My salary? The company I work for?" Sadly, many people don't even know that they're basing their worth on these things, let alone have the awareness to examine them, tear them apart, and intentionally decide differently. This is powerful, life-altering work and you might even need to enlist the help of a therapist to accomplish it. Dismantling beliefs you grew up with and blindly followed for 5, 10, 15, 20 years is not easy. It takes time. It takes careful examination. And then you need to replace those beliefs with NEW beliefs about what is possible, where your worth stems from, and what type of work you want to intentionally perform in the world.
I know this was a heavy journal entry with a very "tell it like it is" attitude, but it just saddens me so much to see so many people - women in particular - feeling so incredibly stuck in jobs that are stressing them out and draining all the light from their eyes. That was me once, so I know exactly how it feels. People ask me all the time how I was able to escape my lawyer job to do grace + hudson and I have to tell you that 95% of the work is mental. Most of the work is what I talk about right here. Building a website, learning how to do online marketing, etc -- all of that is easy in comparison. The real hard work is dismantling false beliefs and replacing them with new beliefs about a new life that is possible for you. It's transformational work and it's hard. It requires you to get out of your comfort zone and question many of your own patterns, habits, and thoughts. And for that reason, most people don't want to do it. Or they start, but then they stop. It takes real dedication to change the direction of your life. And you're going to be outside your comfort zone for a very long time. But ohhh is it worth it. And the person you'll become - that person that's waiting on the other side of all this work - she is so happy. She is so at peace. She is so unshakeable. Because she knows who she is. She knows that nothing outside of herself can determine her worth. And she knows that anything - absolutely anything - is possible for her if she does the mental work to get there.
Think for yourself. Don't blindly follow. Be your own person. That's the pathway to happiness and peace in your career and in life.