I may be feeling my age lately. I’m about to get one of 2 hip replacement surgeries (what??), so I’m seeing the world through a slightly fragile lens. But I also am leaning into being an elder. Age and looking in the rearview mirror have a lot to offer.

With that in mind I’ve been doing some thinking about my early years as a solopreneur and wanted to share a few assumptions I had that I later learned were not true. Thank goodness! See if any of these ring true for you.

The perfect business trajectory is a straight line.
Nope. I can’t tell you how many times I have pivoted. And that’s a good thing. Instead of that straight line, try side-entrepreneurship and unexpected paths. You’ll learn so much. Life is more like a rollercoaster than a highway. Test a lot of things, embrace the loops and twists – they often lead to the most exciting views. When life throws curveballs, consider it a chance to practice your swing. The best stories often come from the unplanned adventures.

Success should come easily.
AKA if I really knew what I was doing, this wouldn’t be so hard.
Nothing worth doing is easy. Think in decades, not days.
Success is a marathon, not a sprint. The journey might have bumps and detours, but each step forward is a victory. The most valuable lessons often come from challenges. Embrace the difficulties, and you’ll find that they are steppingstones to success. Easy wins may bring short-term satisfaction, but enduring success is built on a foundation of resilience and perseverance.

You should have it all figured out.
My career was an utter failure until 29 years old. Time is on your side. Life is a continuous learning experience. If you haven’t figured it all out by a certain age, don’t fret – wisdom often comes with time and experience.
Don’t rush; the pieces may fall into place when you least expect it. Embrace the uncertainty and trust the process. Celebrate the twists and turns in your journey – they might lead you to a destination more fulfilling than the one you initially planned. And stay open.

The myth of the perfect balance.
Work-life balance is a myth. IMHO. Immerse yourself in something you love doing. Instead of striving for balance, seek harmony. Find joy in the immersive experience of pursuing your passions. Maybe you balance out the week, or the quarter or the year. One quarter you take a sabbatical and live in Italy and the next you are nose-to-the-grindstone.
The pursuit of balance can be exhausting; focus on integration instead. Let your personal and professional lives complement each other for a more fulfilling existence. It’s OK to be super-solopreneur if you can balance it out with other times where your personal life is in the driver’s seat.

Comparing your progress to others.
Don’t be a version of someone else you admire, be your best self. The only person you should compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday. Strive for progress, not perfection.
Authenticity is your superpower. Embrace your unique journey and remember that everyone’s path is different – comparison only steals your joy. I coach about this a lot. The more you can be yourself with all the oddness, humor, and idiosyncrasies, the more you will stand out.
Instead of aiming to be the best, aim to be your best. Your uniqueness is your competitive edge.

The need for external validation.
This one becomes MUCH easier with age. If you love who you’ve become, that’s all that matters. and you’ll find it more fulfilling in the long run. As you grow older, you realize that the only opinion that truly matters is your own. Validate yourself, and the world will follow suit. Or not. But you won’t care. And that’s a good thing.

Fear of missing out.
FOMO is a corollary to #6. Fear of missing out is the cousin of the need for external validation. Break free from the comparison trap, and you’ll conquer FOMO too.
The most fulfilling experiences often happen when you’re fully present. Don’t fear missing out; embrace the joy of being exactly where you are.
Life is a series of choices. Accept that choosing one path means missing out on others, and that’s perfectly okay. Your unique journey is what makes it extraordinary.
Don’t worry about what other people are doing. You do you.

Failure is the end.
Big wins are on the other side of failure. Get to failure fast & your wins will come sooner. Failure is not a dead-end; it’s a detour to success. Learn from each stumble, and you’ll find yourself on a faster track to victory. In fact, the faster you can stand back up, the faster you will move on to success.
Failure is a comma, not a period. It’s a pause to recalibrate and come back stronger. The most successful people have a rich history of overcoming setbacks. During the financial debacle of 2008, when I was running a media buying agency, I lost 75% of my revenue in 3 weeks as many of my high-tech clients pulled their media buying back in-house or canceled it altogether. I was hyperventilating for several weeks. My biggest regret was how long it took me to regroup and move forward. Such a waste of time – lesson learned.

I hope that was helpful. I’m going to take more Ibuprofen as I await my first surgery.

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