I don’t know about you, but I am far more likely to stick to a plan when it involves someone else, while following through with agreements that involve only me, myself, and I can be a little more challenging. For entrepreneurs and others who work without a boss or immediate colleagues, being self motivated is essential. It can also be lonely and overwhelming at times. There are a whole set of skills around honoring our agreements with ourselves and tapping into our internal motivations that are well worth learning. Equally important is to realize that we don’t have to do it alone.
As an example, I'll share with you my journey to launching my own business, Gift of Good Work. Just last week I got my business license in the mail, got my business cards printed, put up a splash page on my website and met with my first client. It’s been two and a half years since I graduated with my MBA and made the decision to stay put in Port Townsend and pursue a path of entrepreneurship and community investment instead of going looking for lucrative employment in some big-city hub of economic activity. The business that I am launching now is not the business that I had in mind when I graduated with my MBA. That dream involved manufacturing furniture from local, sustainably harvested wood in a “tree to table” model. There were also some other ideas that came and went along the way.
And that’s okay. The thing I like to remind myself of when I look back at the the visions that I failed to accomplish (or simply haven’t accomplished yet) is to look at the passions and values that inspired my efforts. My interest in setting up sustainable furniture manufacturing on the Olympic Peninsula was based on a vision for a vibrant rural economy that reinvests in the creative capacity of people and place. That same vision is the driving force behind the facilitation, coaching and education that I now offer.
I’ve been through lots of ups and downs in the last two and a half years, with periodic bouts of thinking “This is too hard. Why am I still here and still struggling?” And I am quite certain that all of that - the struggle and the doubt - isn’t over. What I have no doubt about is that there are some very specific things that kept me here, kept me going, and will continue to get me through the rough patches in the future. One of those things is the community and opportunities that I have found through The CoLab.
I first set foot in The CoLab not long after graduation, to attend a Young Professionals Network (YPN) Test Lab. Next I signed up for a part time membership while I was participating in a start-up incubator program in Seattle to explore the furniture manufacturing business. I was excited to be able to join a coworking space right here in my own community to work from on the days I wasn’t commuting to Seattle. After I realized that I didn’t have the resources to take my initial business idea to the next level, I continued to stay involved at The CoLab. I experimented with teaching classes through The CoLab’s Co-U Community Education series. Next I joined The CoLab’s team of Catalysts and started organizing the Co-U series, as well as coordinating the YPN Test Lab conversations.
During that time, I was juggling multiple part time jobs, and barely making ends meet. The CoLab was a crucial platform for me to keep exploring what it was that I wanted to be doing. I could test out ideas, like teaching classes, and I had great opportunities for continuing to make connections in the community. Most importantly, I had a place where I belonged, where people would notice if I didn’t show up or follow through. And when I did show up and make things happen, there were people there to celebrate with me. Like this week when my business license came in the mail.
So now, as I am launching Gift of Good Work, I want to pay it forward. I want to put my business training to work in the service of helping others build businesses that provide good livelihoods while serving our community. Specifically, I want to help you stay accountable to the core of your passion, while learning, adapting and iterating the particulars of what that looks like.
I invite you to stop by The CoLab and see what we are about. I’m at the front desk on Wednesday afternoons, and I’d love to hear your story, what you are working on, and what you dream of accomplishing if you can just figure out the right next step and keep moving forward. Also, please consider joining me for Goal Setting on Monday evenings. It’s a chance to say your goals out loud in front of a friendly and supportive group of peers. It’s not about shame or blame if you don’t accomplish what you set out to do. It is a place where people will notice if you don’t show up and follow through, though, and we’ll also celebrate with you when you do. Sometimes, that’s what it takes to keep you going.
Rachel Williams is a strategic idealist who lives to create alignment between big ideas and practical action. Through her business, Gift of Good Work, she offers facilitation, coaching and training in the areas of business strategy, financial modeling and systems analysis. She holds an MBA from Bainbridge Graduate Institute at Pinchot.
Weekly Goal Setting at The CoLab
with Rachel L. Williams, MBA, Gift of Good Work.
Are you an entrepreneur, freelancer, or other independent professional looking for a community of support as you work toward your professional goals? Maybe you could use some moral support for managing that unwieldy and never ending to-do list. Join us at The CoLab every Monday 5:30-6:30 p.m. for peer accountability sessions facilitated by Rachel Williams, MBA. Set short term goals and intentions, tap into authentic motivation for action, and share encouragement and accountability with a group of peers. Cost is $10 or pay what you can. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.