When To Let Go Of The Entrepreneurial Dream

And why doing so could lead to massive freedom

by Kris Ward

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counterintutive-steps-to-relief

I have a client I just gave some pretty radical advice to, and it changed everything.

In one call she went from forcing, resisting, feeling like a failure, and constantly beating up on herself for not devoting enough time and energy to the building of her life coaching business, to feeling relief, hope, clarity, and greater self-acceptance right where she is––business or no business.

Whenever these big breakthroughs happen, I either write a blog post about them or infuse the aha’s into my programs so that more people can get free.

Here goes with the blog post about my client (and YOU, and ME, and well… all of us that give a shit about this topic):

Girl experiences life, and life stimulates girl to birth a powerful desire for sustainable joy and freedom in her work, relationships, schedule, and finances.

Girl meets yoga and all kinds of other philosophies, tools, and outlets for personal development and starts living her life as positively as she can. So far so good.

Girl starts teaching yoga, then her whole life begins to wrap itself around the consumption, implementation and teaching of empowering messages and techniques. Without meaning to, girl takes some of the self-help teachings to the extreme and puts a ton of pressure on herself to always be positive and always be striving to live up to her full potential.

Girl makes a lot of meaning about what her ‘full potential’ should look like, part of which includes becoming a massively successful entrepreneur who can call her own shots, career and schedule-wise, while enhancing lives all over the planet doing work that lights her up.

Girl becomes a chronic student of conscious business, lifestyle design, and all the things that she believes will help her reach her goals and find fulfillment.

Girl believes in the law of attraction and has interpreted it in such a way that she cannot acknowledge and feel (and therefore broadcast and multiply) her feelings of sadness and discouragement.

Working on herself to become happier, more successful, more productive, and fulfilled has become an addiction––she literally can’t stop.

If she stops, she fears she’ll get lazy, become a victim, probably get FAT. She won’t be attractive or lovable. She’ll never find her soulmate. Her life coaching business will never get off the ground and she’ll be doomed for mediocrity… and that is something she just can’t bear. She’d never forgive herself.

Not when she had the power to make her life EXTRAORDINARY!!

Can you see how dangerous this way of thinking is? It’s so much PRESSURE.

I think we all kinda do this to ourselves in one form or another. We mean well, but we’re ridiculously hard on ourselves and we make things way harder than they have to be.

I definitely thought this way not that long ago. Honestly, I thought you weren’t living unless you were an entrepreneur, creating your life by design. (God, how comically egotistical!)

There was a part of me that quietly looked down on the chosen lifestyle, habits, and values of stability and certainty-loving, employee-minded 9-5’ers, seeing it all as a somewhat sad display of commonness––lacking creativity, drive and bravery.

But then (talk about CONFLICTED!) I’d also secretly envy these same people for their seeming contentment, ease, simplicity, and ability to settle for whatever hand they’re dealt in life.

They’d go to work and then come home and that’s it––work stayed at work. They get home, they’re free to really be at home chilling out. Make some food. Watch some TV. Call and chat with a friend. Relax and do it all again the next day.

As an entrepreneur, I eat, drink and sleep my work. I’m a little obsessive about it.

Less so since I’ve become a mom, but still, the tendency is there.

Because my work is my passion. I turned my passion INTO my work.

While I’m really proud of that and I wouldn’t change it for the world, the danger with that is that, you’re never off work. You take your passion (your WORK) with you everywhere you go. Even to bed.

Which is why entrepreneurs have to work 10 times harder at maintaining self-care and getting in that time to just do nothing.

Otherwise, we literally lose ourselves in our work.

Thankfully, this inner conflict of mine (yes, the hypocritical judging of all the 9-5’ers on the planet) turned out to be a huge blessing––for me AND for my clients. It was this conflict that lead me to several ‘dark nights of the soul’ where I was forced to do exactly what I just told my client (aka “girl”) to do, more or less:

  1. Look at the lies you’re telling yourself. Look at where you’re comparing yourself to others––making some “better” than you and making you “better” than others. Examine all the hierarchy, all the “should’s”, all the assumptions, all the things you’re telling yourself you’re “supposed” to be doing differently. All the things that you believe “should” be different about you and your life. Especially notice the “should’s” that feel scary to let go of––like you’d literally DIE (or at least your ego would) if you stopped believing them.
    1. Every one of these lies defies reality as it currently is. And that means what? That they’re all fucking bullshit. Indulging and believing them just makes you suffer. And you’re the author of that suffering, no one else. So see what happens if you just stop indulging them, just for a second. Pretend, just pretend, that you could let go of them. Do you feel relief?
    2. If so, don’t pick them up again. They’re not even TRUE. They’re not your truth. You picked them up somewhere, but they’re not yours, not right now. Shake ‘em off. Shake the dust.
  2. Take it a step further. Just for a minute, stop trying to measure up, fix yourself, better yourself, or live up to any of your self-imposed expectations and ideals. Observe what changes. How are you different? How does your life look differently? Lean into whatever takes the pressure off and gives you room to fully accept yourself and your life situation as it is now.
  3. It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s when you take this step that the REAL magic in your life that really DOES make you special and uniquely valuable jumps out at you––and you can do something meaningful with it that doesn’t make you feel icky, inauthentic, or bad about yourself.

Case in point:

I told “Girl”, my client, to give up on trying to be the shining life coach entrepreneur extraordinaire.

This is someone who completed the coach training I offer, so she was quite surprised that I’d give her this advice. But I knew from personal experience it was the only thing that would help. It was the only thing that felt “downstream”. Everything else just triggered more resistance in her.

Here’s what I told her, specifically:

All of your marketing feels to me like you’re trying to attract clients who will like you and be inspired by you because of the traction you’ve made in your life coaching business and what they’d take that to mean about how you can help them to quit their job and start their own business doing what they love.

But here’s the thing: That story doesn’t state, embrace and celebrate what IS, AS it is now. Because that’s NOT what is. What IS =

  • You’re still working a full time job to pay the bills.
  • You’ve suffered for a LONG TIME because you believed that until you had your own gig as a life coach, you weren’t living your best life and living up to your full potential. But that is changing.
  • You’re starting to realize that your REAL work (where your TRUE sense of happiness comes from) is in making friends with your life as it is now, and pulling the best out of it as it is now––not putting your happiness off until you reach some goal that may or may not be in the cards for you.
  • While you’re yet to have a paying life coach client (and you feel bad about yourself every time you compare yourself to other graduates in the coach training program who are generating clients and doing coaching), you DID successfully complete the training and you know you’re a great coach. You got, and continue to get, plenty of practice coaching friends and others in the program.
  • You’re ready to coach a paying client, you just don’t feel right about coaching someone who’ll expect you to coach them out of a job they hate into a business they’ll love––because that’s not been YOUR path, not YET anyway.

For now, let’s meet you where you are. And remember, you can only teach what you’ve lived… what you know from personal experience.

Continue your efforts to love the shit out of your full time job.

Continue putting your attention on what feels genuinely true and real, i.e. you’ve told me that when you’re honest with yourself, you really DO like the security of your job and you really don’t want to spend all your free time trying to grow a business. You want to spend it with friends, taking care of yourself, and enjoying your life as it is.

AND, you’re learning that the more you learn about what it takes to run a business, the more you realize you might not be cut out for it. You might just want to REALLY learn to love your job and bring the best of who you are TO that current job until you find yourself in another job you’ll enjoy more.

You’d like to grow your coaching business, but only if it feels doable, realistic and authentic.

I do think that’s possible.

Here’s how I’d approach it if I were you:

If and when you find some free time on the weekends, you get a wild hair and want to take a step to pick up a coaching client or two (just for fun, and just for YOU), try this:

  1. Post an ad on craigslist that says:

    Free life coaching for wannabe entrepreneurs who are done beating their head against the wall and ready to fall in love with their life as it is NOW.
  2. When prospects email you for more info, set up a call with them where you tell them your real story. “You too were a wannabe entrepreneur for a long time. As a result, you were always under an immense amount of self-imposed pressure to become something you weren’t (not yet anyway)… and you really weren’t nice to yourself. You’ve since learned how to take that pressure off, trust yourself and your life, take better care of yourself, and find real contentment with your life and career as it is now––business or no business. That contentment has rippled out into your being able to find creative ways to start a little something on the side, but without jeopardizing your job or missing out on much needed play time and downtime. It’s evolving into you working within this very specific niche and helping people in this very specific way. The more you coach, the more you learn, and the better you get at helping people in this situation to find the same fulfillment they THOUGHT they’d get from entrepreneurship in their CURRENT life and career. Essentially, you show them the shortcut to happiness and fulfillment, without all the risk that requires they leave the stability of their paying job behind. Whatever they do with that happiness and fulfillment, whether they stay in their job and LOVE IT or they too find creative, but pressure-free ways of starting a little something on the side, that part is up to them… but at least they won’t be suffering and feeling bad about themselves and their lives anymore.”
  3. If, after they hear your story, you hear theirs, and you’re both genuinely interested in working together, offer to give them 1-3 free sessions. You’ll give them so much value during those sessions (because you’re so passionate about this subject) AND you’ll extract so much learning and experience from those sessions YOURSELF, it will catapult you to a place of more clarity and confidence than you are now. More will be revealed, then you can take it and use it.
  4. Do this a few more times and, if you’re liking it, keep going. Gather testimonials. Document some of your coaching techniques and formulas as they show themselves to you. Let things grow organically, word of mouth, one foot in front of the other, one client, one conversation at a time. Soon enough, if you want to start offering more specific coaching packages and charging for those, by all means, do it! And if you want to start blogging about the conversations you’re having and the work you’re doing, go for it! Just don’t put the pressure back on by comparing yourself to others and what they’re doing.

After that, I could hear it in her voice. It was as though a thousand pounds had been lifted off her shoulders.

She felt met, and understood.

She could feel proud of her life exactly the way it is now. She no longer had to strive or paddle upstream.

She was free to love and be herself, wholeheartedly, and use her life experience to help others she could genuinely relate with.

The ironic part (and the moral of the story):

By letting go of her entrepreneurial dream (and the pressure she was attaching to that dream), she might’ve actually removed the only thing standing in the way of her fulfilling that dream. At the very least, she removed the only thing standing in the way of feeling the way she’d always hoped she’d feel once she achieved that dream.

This way, she gets to give herself the greatest shortcut of all––a straight shot to feeling the way she wants to feel NOW. Free from bullshit stories that made her feel bad about herself. Free to love herself, find her own way, and trust the unique and ever-unfolding adventure that is her life.

What greater freedom IS THERE than that?

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Kris Ward
Kris Ward is a Lifestyle Design Coach™ Trainer and the president and founder of AbundantYogi.com. She has helped to educate and inspire over 100,000 people worldwide out of painful conflict around money, self-sabotage, and inhibited self-expression into having the freedom and abundance to do what they love every day, and ...read more

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Read 19 comments

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  4. Carisa Holmes
    says

    Hi Kris,

    Thank you for this post, which I’m finding simultaneously relieving and alarming. I am currently entertaining the idea of giving up on entrepreneurship altogether so I can survive. Unfortunately, every time I go to update my resume or apply for a job online, I find myself in tears and unable to continue: a bit of a conundrum!

    In the past, I always had a side job or had my passion as a side dish to a full time job, but I recently reached a point in my life where I could not physically force myself to work jobs that are not in alignment with my purpose.

    In those days, I could easily force myself to focus on and be grateful for shitty work. Now it seems I have inconveniently lost that ability without first gaining the ability to succeed as an entrepreneur. Despite having a constant waterfall of ideas and a broad skill set to draw from, I continue to make offerings that are not seen or received.

    Being an aspiring entrepreneur has certainly called me into deep self work, looking at my own shit, facing my shadow, discovering and processing old traumas and limiting beliefs, and other fun. However, it seems all my hard work has profited me nothing from a business standpoint.

    Now I sit with a question: do I set my life purpose on a back burner and find some kind of way to mind-fuck myself into accepting and appreciating some job, or do I keep working and find the block that is keeping me from being a successful entrepreneur?

    The idea of letting go of my dream feels like letting go of a drowning child’s hand and watching them sink to the bottom of the pool. Not sure I can do it!

    Is this what they call resistance?

    I’m grateful for this platform and for your guidance.

  5. Cortnee
    says

    Really great article Kris!

    It is amazing to me the pressure we put on ourselves to make our entrepreneurship path match what we believe was the path of those we admire.

    I found myself forcing going fully freelance in my photography & design business two years ago because I had this story about how I wouldn’t have a “real” business until I did. Listening to that story ended in a lot of stress, debt and a complete lack of creativity (not exactly conducive to running a fledgling creative business if you know what I mean ;))

    So last year I finally broke down and decided to take the pressure off, by getting one of those dreaded J-O-Bs again. And wouldn’t you know it… I have had my most financially successful year in my business yet. I also crushed some big goals of dream clients, got more clarity on what I am really meant be to creating (clear your cookbook shelves! ;)), co-organized my first retreat with some amazing women (www.thepleasureretreat.com – come ladies!) and felt a lot more relaxed along the way. And I got to do all of that while collecting a sweet paycheck and benefits from a company I am really proud to be a part of. Awesome.

    All in all its exactly where I am meant to be at the moment. No thanks to monkey mind, since the little voices in our head can be nasty. Even now – knowing all of that listed above – I still hear that “you need to quit and do your business full time or you’re a fake” repeat in my head regularly. So I just have to remind myself – as one of my great teachers (hint: It’s Kris!) once told me: “I know what I’m doing. I’m doing this. Here I go!”

  6. Silvia Murphy
    says

    Dear Kris, i really can relate to this article and would like to paint the picture about why…i am a small business owner (a personal training company run and done by ME only , paired up with a skin care/nutrition network marketing company that i love and that goes well with what i do) … and this is how i got to this point: I was a stay at home mom for about 5 years raising my 2 kids ,a wife of a diplomat (very career oriented)…then i divorced, while being stationed overseas, spent almost a year in Slovakia before moving back to the USA…with not much at all… me, kids and a few suitcases…worked my ass off, then decided to quit and open up my biz..its been a year and i achieved what i wanted : being able to walk my kids to and from school, have more time and energy for them… So here i am , working out of home, and lately feeling just like your client… not good enough, my biz isn’t thriving as i want it to, and the more pressure i put on myself to work harder, do more, the more paralyzed i become…i am literally stuck…the difference between “Girl” and me is that i don’t have a fall back full time JOB that i can love and embrace, hehe…. i love being home with my kids (am a single mom) not worry about money… so my only option is to just push through it and get it done or just chill out and get to the stillness of self, get to the point that i can slow the F down, as you say, connect with myself and just listen… My problem is, i need income to keep my life going …. There is this post somewhere that says something like this:
    I am sick and tired of people telling me what i should do… I know what to do, I just don’t want to do it ! lol…. that really expresses where i am …. I SHOULD study and develop skills to redo my web to generate leads for both businesses…. I SHOULD practice more self care… I SHOULD do this and that…. i just don’t want to … So i wonder in situations like this , what is one supposed to do…. and guess what… i love my life as it is now, time with my kids, working out of home, being my own boss…the only catch is that if i don’t do something, i won’t be able to sustain this because of not enough clients…
    I really don’t mean to bring anyone down but since we are being authentic and real, i hope you understand ….
    I am a very positive person and been through a very rough time the last 3 years and came out on the other end still standing proud and strong.. am just tired … lol….
    I love your fb page and hope to get some kind of feedback on this… its another day in paradise , right ????
    silvia

    1. Kris Ward
      says

      I hear you, Silvia. And thanks for sharing so honestly. I have an ongoing class I teach called ‘Taming the Self Saboteur’ that dives into this specifically. It comes with our LifeLaunch course (check our products page: https://abundantyogi.com/products/) as of now and we’ll soon be making it available as a stand-alone program. So stay tuned for that. But in the meantime, I’d say you need to sit yourself down and distinguish between needs and desires. Needs, i.e. paying the bills, tending to your basic health, taking good care of your kids… these have to come before desires. If you go chasing desires before putting a clear plan together to get needs met, you’ll only feel confused and scattered, maybe even panicky. Having needs met grounds you. Once your needs are met, you’ll be on a lot more stable footing to then prioritize which desires you genuinely are willing to pursue that don’t make it so you can’t get your needs met.

      Hint: Sometimes we think desires are needs. And sometimes desires do eventually become needs. Other times needs become desires. How you can tell which is which? Can you go without it and still have a sense of well-being? Can you live just fine without it?

      Again, we can let go of desires if it means we’ll get our needs met. But we can’t let go of needs in order to get desires met. It’ll come back to bite us later then the stress and overwhelm come rushing in.

      Hope this helps. XO

  7. Caroline Frenette Intuitive Leadership Coach
    says

    Wow. I love the HUGE dose of authenticity and keeping it real in this post.

    Your advice to your client (and the fact that she felt immense relief) truly shows that fake it ’til you make it just ain’t cutting it. It’s a nasty trap.

    Bottom line, sometimes we have to get real with where we’re at before we can move towards our future and our dreams.

    XO.

    1. Kris Ward
      says

      you said it.

  8. Erin Schroeder
    says

    So helpful to read this, Kris!!! I like to think, as you said, that the ironic part is when we stop all the pressure, and get back to the joy of life wherever we are right now, things will actually start to open up in the way we had wanted with our businesses(or in a new, better way). I have many moments where I feel beaten down, still not much money to show for what I have been doing…and with so much being thrown at me, about what I NEED to do RIGHT NOW to have a successful business…all the MUSTS about Twitter, Facebook Linkedin, etc that I can hardly keep up with…and if I am not up to speed NOW or very soon, then there will just be more of this “no money to show for what I am trying to accomplish”…but the bottom line is that if the joy is being sucked out of what we are doing because of the pressure we feel, then guess what? The path is blocked for good. As Abraham Hicks says (so grateful everyday you introduced me to these teachings!)…You JOY yourself to JOY. Whatever it takes to feel relief and happiness right now, no matter where you are in your journey (whether it be keeping a full time job for security or else just finding a way to chill about money, in general) is all that matters…because the point really is in the NOW, not LATER.

    1. Kris Ward
      says

      I love that. You JOY yourself to JOY. So true. Thanks Erin! XO

  9. Tie
    says

    THANK YOU!!! I though it was just me. I have been laid off from teaching, which I consider a blessing for another door to be opened, but, it has been a challenge transitioning from being a teacher to being my own boss. I opened up a home-base juice business in May and business has been slow this month. I gave myself a deadline to have a certain amount of customers, now I am moving to my plan B because that goal wasn’t met as of yet. I figured I had to reinvent my vision. The hard part about this is that I don’t have the same income coming in as before, although I have the best supportive husband, I still feel like I am not doing my part financially. I get unemployment which helps but I feel like I need to be bringing in more while I am going towards my dreams of being a mind, body and soul consultant as well as owning my own health spa. Last night I sat in the bathroom, on the floor by the heater,lol,meditating and trying to figure out how to get to the next step. I’m so tired of trying to figure it out, but I don’t have time to not try to figure it out. I don’t want to be a classroom teacher anymore. Stifles my creativity. Therefore, I have to figure it out for myself as well as my husband. I don’t compare myself to anyone but myself. I’m always competing with making myself better. Okay, this comment could turn into a thesis paper so I will end by saying…THANK YOU!!!

    1. Kris Ward
      says

      You’re welcome Tie. Thanks for sharing so openly. We’re all in this together.

  10. Dana
    says

    Thank you so much for this piece. This is something I struggle with, too– constant comparison to other yoga teachers, who must be better than me and therefore I should push myself harder, learn more, practice yoga four hours a day and on and on. You are right that these beliefs are based on lies– I have no tangible proof that anyone is better or worse than me. Of course, continued Ed is one thing, but frenzied, all over the place learning with the only goal being completion of learning doesn’t fit for me.

    I loved this part: “You’re ready to coach a paying client, you just don’t feel right about coaching someone who’ll expect you to coach them out of a job they hate into a business they’ll love––because that’s not been YOUR path, not YET anyway.” It truly is about finding your niche and teaching to students (or working with clients) who can be helped by you where you are at in this season of your life, business, practice, etc.

    I teach two free yoga classes to veterans and it is the most rewarding work out of all the classes I teach. I do a lot of learning via these classes and these students, and it feels right for me, right now. Do I teach 20 classes a week, have my own lovely studio and a line of organically made tank tops? No, but I am proud of what I have accomplished so far and excited about what may unfold in years to come.

    Thank you for reminding me of these feelings!

    1. Kris Ward
      says

      You’re incredibly welcome Dana. Thanks for adding your $.02. XO

  11. Gaia
    says

    hmmm…. thanks for your honest expression of some really real shit that often (usually?) is going on the the background of starting up a business. What a gift, journey, and challenge it is to truly be present to what IS…around every corner seems to be the starting place. This post helped me remember that I’m not the only one!!!

    1. Kris Ward
      says

      Definitely not the only one. And you’re welcome. Thanks for chiming in!

  12. Mindi Fried
    says

    Thank you, Kris – this is just what I needed to hear. I’ve been beating myself up for a long time because I wasn’t doing what I thought I should be doing. It has led to nothing but me feeling abused and worn down. Giving myself permission to step away and find clarity in my path (and love where it is at, not where it will be), is a beautiful thing. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

    1. Kris Ward
      says

      YES, such a beautiful thing. So happy to hear you’re doing this. Congratulations. And you’re so so welcome. XO