Having lost a few jobs and an apartment only weeks before graduating from college in 2020, the pandemic left me with 2 options:
- Wait for lockdown to one day end so I can return to wedding planning; or
- Begin a new path
For context, I’ve wanted to be in the events industry since I was a kid. I interned with dozens of companies and solopreneur planners over the years, and took every chance possible to help with school events.
So when quarantine began at the same time as my post-grad life, I – just like you, maybe – felt like my future had already ended.
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TRAITS THAT MADE ME INTO A SOLOPRENEUR
In the start of summer 2022, my rescue dog and I moved in with my older brother, his wife, and their 3 kids.
I will never be able to express how grateful I am for their support, but the sudden adjustment from living in an L.A. sorority house to living with children in the Midwestern suburbs was, of course, a challenge.
Add being away from my home and friends, having zero career prospects, and caring (paying) for a very sick pet into the mix, and sometimes it all felt impossible.
Transforming Challenges into Opportunities
I’ll be the first to admit that I spent the first several weeks of suburban life sulking, yet I quickly realized that my negative attitude would change nothing.
So, instead of waiting for my future to happen to me, I chose option 2: begin a new path.
Considering I only imagined myself as a wedding planner up to this point, I did not know what to pursue. Rather than going with something brand new, I figured I should stick with what I know:
- Social media – thanks to growing alongside every platform, I knew I had innate expertise to offer those who hadn’t.
- Organizational systems – to say I’m a neat freak is putting it nicely; even my closet has been organized with the same color system since I was in middle school.
- Communication – not only was this my major, but I love reading and writing, plus strongly believe that good communication should be the foundation for everything.
I chose to become a social media manager because I knew this is where the opportunities (aka money) would be. My decision teetered a bit given the irony of the situation, though: in the years prior, I had avoided social media due to a boat load of reasons.
That’s when it dawned on me that this is only a stepping stone, and if I play my cards right I could learn and move on to bigger and better things.
Having been raised by a professor, my instinct was to continue my education online. Considering I was barely a month post-grad, taking courses felt almost routine which, looking back, was crucial in helping me feel like myself again.
Once a few certifications were under my belt (including one for virtual event planning which I never even considered before!), I was fortunate enough to chat with the right family friend who needed a freelancer to boost his side hustle’s social media presence.
And so my solopreneur journey officially began!
Just by word of mouth, within months I had multiple consistent clients, a wide range of deliverables, and an insanely fast-growing love for being my own boss.
Don’t be fooled! Working for myself straight out of college has not come without it’s (massive) obstacles. I soon understood why most solopreneurs muster through corporate jobs before taking it on themselves: a savings.
With nothing to fall back on, I recognized that if I did not optimize my work-from-home processes and define better structure for my days, my mental health – something I take very seriously – would diminish along with my prospects.
If a worldwide pandemic could not stop me from figuring it out, then there was no way I was going to let financial or any other troubles force me to give up the freedom of solopreneurship (especially this early on).
So in December of 2020, I promised myself that I will take ownership of my future by taking ownership of every day from then on out – a conclusion I would not have arrived at without therapy and lots of self-reflection.
Ever since, I’ve been studying, adapting, and practicing every productivity method, theory, system, tool, and coach you could think of. With some practice and continuous adaptation, I have now implemented strategies for pretty much everything I do!
Over the past year alone, I have noticed a tremendous uptick in not only my daily productivity, but also the speed in which I am hitting my short- and long-term goals.
Researching productivity quickly became my favorite hobby, and my clients greatly benefited from the techniques I installed within our projects that eased our work together.
In fact, so many of my clients requested help in boosting productivity in other areas that it sparked the best idea I have ever had.
I have noticed how oversaturated the world is with productivity hacks – and, more importantly, how most of those tips neglect the self-employed.
Given solopreneurs arguably need productivity tools more than anyone else, I took it all as a sign that the job is up to me.
My commitment towards improving my own work-from-home flow has transformed me into an expert in not only effective solutions, but also productivity challenges. I view my journey as proof that I am the ideal person to help fellow solopreneurs achieve remote work-life balance and be the best possible boss for themselves.
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10 LESSONS I’VE LEARNED
When it comes down to it, my priority is to serve as a productivity index for the self-employed so they can easily boost success while working from home. I strive to bring clarity, focus, motivation, examples, and value to like-minded solopreneurs – which is why I have created The Productivity Flow.
For anyone (not just solopreneurs!) who needs a little inspiration to maintain motivation when things get tough, here are 10 lessons I have learned since 2020:
- Be proactive
- Never stop learning
- Put your mental health first
- Follow routines
- Have a vision
- Practice positive self-talk
- Celebrate all wins
- Focus on 1% at a time
- Trust the process
- Hold personal accountability
Lesson 1: Be Proactive
When I graduated, I could have chosen to wait for in-person events to become normal again. Looking back, I am so grateful I didn’t because I would not have expanded my knowledge, found new passions, worked in different industries, or discovered I love working remotely. I most definitely would have not been my own boss at the young age of 23, especially considering starting my own business never crossed my mind before.
If you do not know what your next steps are yet, do some digging to figure it out. I promise what you come up with will be way better than anything the world could give.
Lesson 2: Never Stop Learning
Without taking those online classes, I never would have created my goal to create a course one day. Without implementing reading time into my daily rituals, I never would have had time for the 12 books I read this past year. Without reading those books, I never would have thought of The Productivity Flow.
Education provides you so much more with just knowledge. As long as you keep an open mind and insert yourself in new situations, your ability to find opportunities within the challenges will drastically improve.
Lesson 3: Put Your Mental Health First
If you view mental health as less important than your physical health, you will constantly yearn for greater control, feel drained, and harm your relationships with others.
In our society, it’s common for people to put themselves first except for when it matters: self-care, keeping personal priorities, exercise, scheduling, maintaining values, I can go on. But as the pandemic should have proven, you have to take care of you to be able to actually be there for others.
Don’t belittle the power of your mindset!
Lesson 4: Follow Routines
Have you ever seen those people and wonder how they do it all? Their secret is not having crazy-impressive discipline, but instead habitualizing workflows.
The most effective way to ensure that your routines work for you is to first understand your internal energy patterns – called chronotypes – and then align time blocks to match your productivity levels throughout the week.
Lesson 5: Have a Vision
When feeling stuck, in a rut, and/or unmotivated, 9 times out of 10 it is because you have not (literally) visualized what the outcome is, nor identified a desire to achieve it.
Visions are not just for big brands – don’t you have hopes for the future, too? We all need a damn good reason to keep going when things get tough, otherwise we will just ride the wave without say, going wherever it may push us.
Write a narrative in present-tense as if the future you picture already exists, and you will be amazed by how your intrinsic motivation fuels your every move.
Lesson 6: Practice Positive Self-Talk
A lifetime of therapy has taught me that I should not get inside my head whenever I fumble, but it is much easier said than done.
At the end of the day, you are the only person you can truly rely on. So, be your best friend, take care of yourself, and love yourself the way you would your child and/or soulmate. It’s crucial to forgive your mistakes, find a lesson in everything, and stay optimistic while you are in the moment to avoid negativity from taking over.
Lesson 7: Celebrate All Wins
I end every workday by writing down 2 wins of the day, even if very small, to acknowledge that I am moving forward, I am accomplishing my goals, and I am learning.
Without stepping away to pat myself on the back, it would be much easier to think about everything I did not get done and/or have left to do.
Be proud of every single achievement for the day as a way to prove to yourself that you are, indeed, making strides.
Lesson 8: Focus on 1% at a Time
The foundation of the #1 bestselling book Atomic Habits is making incremental changes over time. James Clear writes why focusing on just the small shifts make a big difference:
The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1% better each day for 1 year, you’ll end up 37 times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1% worse each day for 1 year, you’ll decline nearly down to 0. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more. Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.
Lesson 9: Trust the Process
Cheesy, I know, but still true!
Success – whatever that means to you – takes patience, dedication, and thick skin. You are on this path for a reason, so don’t fork off due to fear of the unknown, change, and/or failure, but stick to the road that brings you to your vision.
Lesson 10: Hold Personal Accountability
A book that truly changed my life is Uncommon Accountability by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lenninging because it completely redefined what accountability means for me.
In essence, think of holding accountability over yourself instead as holding yourself capable to whatever is at hand. You don’t have to do it; you get to do it, and you will do it better than anyone else can!
Once you shift your mindset to have a more optimistic approach towards all kinds of situations, challenges really do start to feel less like a challenge.
I could say that COVID-19 turned me into a solopreneur, but in reality I transformed myself by seeing challenges as opportunities, holding myself capable of anything, and staying true to who I am. I am beyond appreciative for my friends and family since I know I could not have gotten this far this quickly without them.
This newest chapter brings excitement but also some nerves. Even so, I am more than ready to share my knowledge about hacks, tools, and skills so solopreneurs can live a productive and successful work-from-home lifestyle. So enter your number below to join my list for weekly productivity and mental health inspo!
If you’d like to chat about my journey, yours, and/or anything work-from-home / productivity related, I’m all ears!