I think that most of us can agree that being pigeonholed sucks. If you don’t know what that term means, it means that because you’ve worked in a certain industry for an extensive time (or did certain things for an extensive amount of time), one or more persons (or businesses) think that you can’t do anything else.
And If You’re a Freelance Writer, It Can Hurt Your Business
As a freelance writer (or an editor…or, really, any sort of freelancer), there’s a big likelihood of sticking with the same sorts of projects or working with the same industry over and over again. They like what we do. We know what we’re doing.
Yet, interviewing in other industries for other work can cause the new potential client to determine, without really getting to know you or putting a lot of attention toward what you sent, that you’re not right for the job because you don’t have a substantial history working in THEIR industry. They pigeonhole you. You can’t be qualified because you haven’t worked exclusively in their world. You know, you haven’t been THEIR bird in a gilded cage. You were someone else’s bird in a gilded cage.
It has the potential to leak much suckage into your business. Because, you know, how the fuck can you grow your business (and experience) if people do that?
The good news is, I have a quick cure.
Don’t worry – I’m not about to get all philosophical on you. What I mean by “know thyself” is to make sure that you can recall each project you’ve worked on with similar features OR that is exactly the same (on the same subject or what have you). Make sure that you have samples (and publication links) ready. And take the time to listen to what they’re saying as they speak. There’s a good chance that they really didn’t take the time to look at the samples they requested. Trust me, I know. I was asked for samples. I sent two. One was an ebook snip and one was a textbook snip; they weren’t related. The potential client stated I sent two samples of legal writing. One was on leadership. The other was on adolescent psychology.
From there, I went forward and discussed published clips where I had written extensively for the legal industry about the specific idea this person had for a project (to show my subject matter expertise).
Whether or not I get the work still remains to be seen. My point in sharing this is to explain to you that you don’t have to get flustered or feel bad because someone pigeonholes you. If you know your previous projects inside out, you’ll find a way to relate it back.
It is okay to think about why you do the things you do. It’s okay to acknowledge that some of your behavior is hardwired into your brain because of shit in the past. It’s normal. We all have shit that affects our behavior.For some of us, we have plenty of control over our external actions and can put on a fantastic external attitude while our insides feel like an episode of Jerry Springer where two kissin’ cousins are shocked to find out that their stripper threesome unicorn is really not such a unicorn after all, but rather…a honeybadger in unicorn’s clothing.
Because we all have our fucking issues. Every single one of us. Yours aren’t any worse or better than those experienced by someone else.Reality is subjective. I’ve said it over and over again. Everyone has some valid feelings…and feelings that other people would not find valid (although they are because everyone has a right to feel things).
Feel the things, if you want. But there’s two problems with constantly feeling the things from the past.
First problem – you’re continuing to solidify your actions and thoughts. If you have PTSD (I do so I totally get it), you continue to relive not just what happened but what it felt like, the temperatures involved,emotional sensations, colors, and everything that was involved with what happened. And I say from experience that shit sucks. The more you solidify something, even if you do NOT have PTSD but went through something really shitty and it causes you to act like a jackass toward everyone else, the more you’ll continue to repeat the cycle. You have to learn how to stop the broken recording your head. It is NOT easy. You have to stop every stupid ass thought and counter it with something positive. And yes, you’ll feel stupid at first whenyou do it. Over time, those other thoughts won’t happen as much…and for those with PTSD, it’s easier to come back to reality.
Second problem – you’re robbing yourself of the here and now and the person you always wanted to fucking be. You did not grow up wanting to be a miserable little fuck. You did not grow up wanting to be stuck in a perpetual cycle of poverty or violence or anything else. You’re an adult now. You and you ALONE are the sole responsible party for what happens in your life. If you’re not doing what you wanted to do, that’s on you. And getting to where you want to be is a lot of fucking work. Daily work. It’s hustling and grinding inside of yourself. It’s showing up as your best self every day. It’s remembering that there’s no such thing as imposter syndrome although we all feel as if we’re fakes when we try to move on to the next level. It’s embracing the unknown although it’s fucking scary although we may not like where we are right now.
Don’t let your demons destroy your life. YOU truly are the only solution to your life. No one else. Nothing else. Just you. So what are you gonna do about it? Are you gonna keep being miserable or are you gonna show up and put in the work to get what you want out of YOUR life?
Life truly has a way to creating what seems to be unsolvable situations. Situations that leave people feeling like they are truly fucked and have no options. I know. I’ve been there. Everyone has. Yes, even those with money and power…but their “Well, I’m fucked!” scenarios are a bit different from those of us who are average and even those who feel like they fall below the mark of average…like life gave them one extra swift kick to the stomach. Again,I know. I’ve been there.
The Basic Truth about Feeling Fucked Over in Life
There is one basic truth about feeling fucked over in life if you live in a developed country (you know, one where it isn’t a routine occurrence to beat someone to death or throw someone from a roof to protect the “honor” of a family. Because apparently, being a murderous clan is so fucking honorable…).And that basic truth is this: when you’re a child you have zero control over your life for the most part. You can’t help what your parents do or where they live. My parents were drug addicts. We were constantly moving. I went to thirteen different schools as a kid. I couldn’t control their addiction. Of course, like any kid, I internalized what they did as my fault (and they made sure I thought it was my fault. Straight As were never good enough. Nothing I did was ever good enough. I was told all of the time I’d grow up to be a loser and be in jail.)
Children are at the mercy of the world…their world. Their parents, their family, their society, and even the system. That doesn’t mean that a child going through rough shit can’t make good decisions. It just means that they can’t necessarily be held responsible for what happens when they’re children. When you constantly have negative influences around you, it is hard as fuck to not fall into that.
That repetitive negative behavior influences most people for the rest of their lives. As they become adults, they remain a slave to what happened in the past. This is because their entire thinking pattern was affected. Even if they dreamt of getting out of that life as a kid (I sure as hell did – I was four the first time I calculated how long it would be until I would turn 18), the thoughts remain well into adulthood.
The Primary Issues of Feeling Fucked By Life as an Adult
We all have our struggles, don’t we? Of course, it’s hard for us to really notice (let alone accept) the fact that we’re not only one struggling. There are a couple of primary issues that keep adults feeling fucked over by life:
They still have the same thought process. We can stop associating with the assholes of our youth (including parents), but that doesn’t stop the thoughts.Our brains keep telling us the same shit we heard for our entire youth.Sometimes, we even choose a partner that, although we don’t recognize it at first for whatever reason (and I could give you a litany of reasons – yay Master’s level forensic psych classes!), who mirrors the very person who heaped most of the abuse upon us. “I can fix them. They will change.” No, they won’t. But because we couldn’t fix or please the other person, our innate drive is to find someone like that and make it work – to show it really wasn’t us. (And it wasn’t you, by the way.)
Change is hard and unknown results are fucking terrifying. It’s the same reason why many domestic abuse victims don’t leave (and why it takes them going back an average of seven times to leave…and I’m not judging – I lived through that…a decade of it). It’s hard to change. We know what we know. We might not like our current reality, but we have an intimate understanding of it. To some degree,although you probably won’t admit it to yourself or to me, it’s comforting. We want to be different. We want to change. We want to be successful. We want to be happy. We want to feel peace. We want all of these things, don’t we? And we know that what we’re currently doing won’t get us there. Hell, a lot of people know what they NEED to do to at least start on the path of getting what they want. I mean, they may not have EVERYTHING mapped out, but they know how to start. Yet, they don’t do it. Because while they know what they WANT to get out of it, there’s no guarantee. They’re terrified of the unknown.
Failure Isn’t What You Think It Is
People are terrified of the unknown because on one hand they totally expect their entire life plan to go off without a hitch. Shit, if it were that easy, everyone on the goddamn planet would be a success, wouldn’t they? They think that if one thing goes wrong, they can’t be successful. They MUST be a failure at whatever it is…and at life. And they blame everything and everyone instead of putting that energy toward refining their plan.
Failure isn’t when something doesn’t go how you think it should. Failure is all in your head. Do you know how much research usually goes into the creation of anything? A whole fuckin’ lot of it. When things don’t work, shit gets changed and the research continues. Your life is a giant research project on how you can obtain the results you want: success.
And What the Fuck Is Success, Anyway?
Well, the media would have you believe that it’s money,beauty, youth, glamour, giant homes, elegant dinners, and buying the most expensive shit out there. I mean, seriously, did you not read the news story about how Pay Less Shoes opened a fake designer shoe store called Palessi? First of all, how did these people not fucking know they were getting had? When I first heard the word I was like, “Oh,wow, did Payless Shoes come back under a new name?” Do not trust the media to help you define success.
For most of us, myself included, success boils down to the
We want enough money to pay our monthly expenses(including food, keeping a roof over our heads, and not wondering if we have to choose between paying the electricity or the water). Basically, we don’t want to worry about money. I don’t even think most people want to be filthy rich(because that brings its own set of problems). We want to secure our existence.
We want to feel safe. We want to live somewhere that makes us feel safe. For some, that could be living in a different neighborhood.For others, it could mean moving to a different city or state to get away from an abuser.
We want to feel happy / peaceful. Here’s the thing about happiness and peace…it’s all an inside job. You will never earn enough to feel happy for the rest of your life. Our brains automatically say, “Oh this is nice…and it would be so much nicer if I had more…” Then, we’re unhappy with what we DO have.
Success is an individual journey. Like, what do you really want in life? What would make you feel successful? Get clear about it. Crystal-fucking-lake clear. You don’t even have to make a roadmap or goals at first. Just know what you want. I wanted to not worry about whether there was food. (I grew up without much food ever being in the house. When we had groceries, it was usually because my aunt or grandma dropped some off. Thankfully, there were times we lived within “walking distance” of them. I thought it was walking distance…my grandma and aunt disagreed. I would walk over there and eat.) I didn’t want to worry about where I’d live. (It’s a serious problem when you’ve moved as much as I did because your parents were constantly evicted for non-payment of rent.)I wanted to feel safe. (Ten years of domestic violence and a permanent VPO against a former spouse can make it hard to feel safe at times even now. C-PTSD literally rewires your brain.)
When I started my professional writing career, I was teaching college (FYI – I started working on my bachelor’s when I was like…26.I had two little kids and I worked full time) and working part time in a law firm. I wanted to work from home because:
I could set my own rate. This would help because I could make enough (as the business would grow) to keep food in the house and the rest of the bills paid.
I could work from home and not worry about the d-bag showing up and trying to kill me or calling my employer to try and get me fired. (It’s legal to fire domestic violence victims in several states. I was even brought in by the legal department of the college I worked for where I had to present all of my court documents and evidence because he kept calling them.I never lost my job, thankfully, but it was terrifying. And it isn’t like I’ll fire myself!) The way my home sits, you can’t really tell where I am in the house. There are few front facing windows. I also have three dogs. Two of which are quite protective. I’ve also taken krav maga. I have no doubt that I can keep myself safe now.
There were other reasons I wanted to work from home (including serious introversion – dealing with people can wear my clear the fuck out).
No One Will Save You –
You Have to Unfuck Yourself
No one is coming to save you. The government will not make your life better. I don’t give a shit how many empty promises you heard on television or the radio. Having a significant other who will “save” you is toxic at best. You’re supposed to be a partner. Your happiness should never be tied to the existence of just one person other than yourself. No one is going to drop on to your doorstep and just give you six billion dollars. Sure, play the lotto if you want…the chances are still low of that happening (although I wish you the best).
The only person who can make your life better is you. You are your own biggest problem. And you’re also your greatest solution. You HAVE to get on Team You. This doesn’t mean you totally say to hell with everyone and their feelings and hurt people. It means that you start taking responsibility for your life. It means that…..(get ready to hate me!)
YOU DO THE FUCKING WORK IT TAKES TO GO FROM WHERE YOU ARE TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE.
No more excuses. Do the work. And it’s hard. It’s a daily thing. You don’t do the work for a day or a week or a month and bam everything is suddenly peaches and cream. No. It’s a daily action.
No one can save you from your thoughts…except you. And as you go through the process of literally stopping negative thoughts in your head and saying something positive instead, you’re gonna feel like the world’s biggest liar. You’re gonna feel fake. You’re gonna feel kinda gross for doing it. I know. I felt that way. It takes time to reprogram your brain from feeling like a total loser fucked over by life to someone who can do something to make a positive change.
One of my favorite sayings is that success is the best possible revenge anyone can have. So, do the hard work. There’s no magic secret. You have to work through it all. You have to work when you’re upset,sad, anxious, depressed, whatever. You have to do the work when it sucks and when it is boring. I have complex PTSD and it is NOT easy. But I get up every fucking day (even when I don’t want to do that) and I do it.
It means maybe starting by doing some things you don’t necessarily want to do that will still bring in money you need. Looking back, I’m proud that I have over 400 ghostwritten books under my belt. Do you think I loved every single one of them? Fuck no. But it paid the bills for a while. As time went on, I refined how I approached potential clients. I also refined how I treated myself. Now I enjoy almost all of my projects.
And That’s How You Unfuck Yourself: Do the Work
That’s it in a nutshell. And I know people don’t want to hear it. Life is hard. For everyone. You’re not special in that sense. Do the work. Face your fear of what life will be like when you change it. Think long and hard about the real reasons why you’re still where you are…and think long and hard about where you want to be. There’s no real secret: do the fucking work.
“Biohack” your life for a better experience! Be faster! Be better! Be happier! Be more productive! Blah. Blah. Blah. I mean, sure the word sounds cool. And if using a cool word gets you excited, by all means please do it. I’m all for whatever helps you as an individual.
But I want to dissect this buzzword “biohack” (or “biohacking”). The root of the word is bio. You know, life. We all know what “hacking” is in the sense of life. I’m sure all of you have heard of Life Hacker. Maybe you’ve watched the TruTV show Hack My Life. Even if you’ve not read / watched those, you’ve found a shortcut that you use to make your life easier.
Biohack = Doing What Works for You
Some of the articles I’ve read on biohacking list some crazy shit. Well, what I would find to be crazy. For some people, it might work perfectly well. And that’s kinda the point I want to make with this. Don’t get overwhelmed by a buzzword especially if you look into it because people seem to be raving about it and getting up at 5 am, running 12 miles, and drinking black unsweetened coffee with grass-fed butter and coconut oil (okay, I get up early most days and I like the butter coffee shit) and that shit isn’t anything that interests you…or that you dread it. (Although if you’re struggling with time management, stop hitting snooze. Get up earlier – self-discipline!)
Try out productivity methods, morning routines, afternoon routines, aromatherapy, yoga, meditation, hot baths, or hanging upside down from a tree by your toes (be careful) if that’s what interests you. Find the little things you can do in life that make you look forward to your day and that make you feel better.
Out of the blue, I was asked about what I do in the mornings to prepare myself. I don’t mind discussing it. I have CPTSD and AFib. Working from home can be a repetitive and monotonous experience. I enjoy it most of the time, but there are times I don’t. It can be hard to separate yourself out when you live where you work. Amirite? So, my “biohacking” (routine) looks like this:
Hour of Power, as Tony Robbins calls it. I get up, take my supplements, drink some water, feed the dogs, and workout in some way. Sometimes, I go to the gym and sometimes I just do yoga at home. I meditate after. I also answer the Morning Power Questions.
“Bulletproof” coffee. You can make it yourself. You don’t have to buy it. I buy a ghee / coconut oil blend I use to put into the coffee. Make sure you do your research before doing this. Some people get an upset tummy if they get too much oil. Don’t make yourself sick. If you don’t like coffee, don’t do this. I love coffee. I like it as dark as my soul.
I drink my greens. Good nutrition is an important component of my life. I get dressed if I’m still in workout apparel. You feel better if you get dressed. It’s science.
While either drinking my coffee or my greens, I plan my day. I have a Panda Planner. I also have three notebooks. I’ve also used OneNote. I also have a project management software I rely on during my day. I think about my end goal. What do I want to get out of this day? I take 1% of my day (15%) to plan out the other 99%. My plans are also based on my monthly goals which I set with a group of ladies every month. I write down, in advance, all appointments and such that I must attend. I work everything else around it. I also think about Brendon Buchard’s four questions that help high performers continue to perform at a high level.
I work when I am most productive. I embrace the deep work concept to some degree. Because I have AFib and CPTSD, some days are better than others. I am usually focused in the morning and early afternoon. If I have a lot of appointments or errands, I rest during the day and do something fun…and I work in the afternoon / evening when everyone is settled.
I drink a fuck ton of water during the day. Turns out, that AFib causes your body to use more water. I drink close to 100 ounces of water today (and no, I don’t force it). It helps me feel better. I also take certain supplements three times per day (for AFib support).
When I get stressed, I am learning to take a break. My favorite break is to take a hot bubble bath in the middle of the day. Sometimes I go out into the backyard and just hang out. I’ll work on my loom. I just try to recharge.
Those are the things that work best for me. What works best for you? Leave a comment!
It doesn’t matter if it’s a side-hustle or a full time business, I know why so many women fail at it. First, some demographics: I’m 40. I’m a mom. I’m a woman (and no, I’m not using terms like cis…if you feel like a woman or like this applies to you, then it applies to you. Period dot). I own a business. I work from home full time. It started as a side-hustle (in addition to two other jobs).
Discouragement and Self-Loathing
I am just going to get straight to the heart of the matter. Women fail because they begin to feel discouraged and, especially behind closed doors, we tend to be self-loathing creatures. And no, I don’t mean all the time. For some women, it is all the time. I don’t feel that way all the time. I used to, though. Let me explain how this happens.
We start the business with great excitement. It will bring in more money. It will give us more time to do X. It means we can stay home with our babies. Keep inserting positive talk here. You know what I mean. It is very, very rare that we are told to look at the other side of the coin. If we look at it, we want to think that we’re going to be the very small statistic that doesn’t have THAT problem. You know, no clients. No sales (and no matter what you do, you’re involved in sales – product, services, or even yourself because people buy from people they like or to whom they relate). Extra stress. You’re tired. The kid is sick. The KIDS are sick. Like, shit takes a major turn for the worse.
That stress is real. It doesn’t matter if it’s a combination of small things or one or two big things. That stress is legitimate. And it causes discouragement and self-loathing. We set these big goals (there’s nothing inherently wrong with setting big goals. I encourage goal setting.) and then we get upset when we find out (the hard way) that we are NOT part of that tiny statistic that can hit every fucking goal and feel great and stay positive and work what feels like 24/7 (because if you do work from home at all, you know it can be hard as fuck to separate your work life from your home life – especially since any new business takes a LOT of work).
So, women quit. Sometimes, quitting is the right decision. Maybe you learned you really didn’t want to do that, but you know there’s something else you want to try…except now you’re discouraged because THIS didn’t work so OBVIOUSLY you’re not meant to run a business. Sometimes, women quit too soon. Starting a new business is just hard work. People say no. And that typically affects people (especially women) because they take it personally. They don’t know what else to do and life sucks so screw this shit. I know. I’ve been there. I get there about every four months for about six hours and then I move on with my business and my life after I take a hot bath.
So What’s the Solution?
So, how can I help women who are in that boat? It’s both easier and harder to do than you think. The concept itself is crazy simple. Doing it, well…I can’t force you to do anything. It takes work. Your work. I can’t do it for you. I can only tell you how to do it. Knowledge is nothing without action. Action is the game changer. In my experience, most don’t want to take action because they’re more afraid of the future (and even the fact that they might succeed) than afraid of staying in the same rut that they know so well. They know how to survive where they are.
Think about this. If your best friend, mom, aunt, daughter, sister, niece, (insert favorite relationship here) came to you and they felt discouraged and like they were a failure, what would you tell them? How would you help them? What would you do to help them feel better? Would you tell them to quit? Would you agree with them that they’re lousy and not meant to be in a better place?
Treat yourself in the same way that you would treat your beloved friend. Take a few minutes (or a couple of hours) and feel like shit if you want. I do it every now and then. Then, treat yourself well. Would you take your person from the last paragraph out to lunch? Would you tell them why you think they’re awesome? Would you offer to help them brainstorm ideas? Would you tell them bad days aren’t forever?
In short, be your best self. Be the person that you need in that moment. Run that hot bath and get in there. Enjoy it. Go out to lunch. Go outside. Do something you like. Get into a grateful place. Make a list of all the great things you have and the things that are great about you. You’re obviously an optimist – you want to start a business. If that’s hard for you, then you need to do it every day. You have to learn how to like yourself. This isn’t about arrogance. It’s not about making people feel less so you can feel more. It’s about learning to appreciate what you can do and the learning process involved in bad moments.
Stop being a dick to yourself. You’ve got this and you know it.