Written by Wendy Mak
I guarantee most of us have some. It might be small, kind of like an oversized tote. Or it could be large, like those giant wheeled bags we check in when we’re off to New York – empty, with the hopes of being filled up with shopping.
Eithe way, baggage can hold us back from doing and achieving what we want most in our lives.
I was never born an entrepreneur. In fact my upbringing was designed to be the antithesis of it. It wasn’t a deliberate decision, it’s just what I’d always been taught (as so many of us have) – study hard, get a good education and find a stable job.
I’m the first to admit that makes TOTAL sense. And I’ll never regret getting a university degree or a starting off in a corporate career, as I’ll always be able to fall back on that.
But when the time came for me to break free from being a corporate gal and becoming an entrepreneur (firstly as a fashion stylist), some of my baggage came with me. Not a massive check-in bag, but more like a small carry-on bag I could shove under the seat in front of me.
You see I probably stayed in my corporate job for far too long because I was scared of “the other side”. I feared leaving the safety net of a regular salary, and as a result I lost a few years. Of course there were other factors at play (financial commitments etc), but I so wish I had more self-belief and started a little earlier.
And for a long time I would feel embarrassed to say “I’m a fashion stylist” (my first foray in to business). Instead I’d say “I have a marketing job and sometimes on the weekend I have a side business as a fashion stylist”. Not only did this undermine my own perception of who I really wanted to be, it also didn’t help me to (properly) promote my biz.
Fast forward to today, and I have no problems with my baggage, as I’ve definitely embraced (as has my whole family) my new life as a lover of fashion, small business success blogger and creator of digital training courses for entrepreneurs.
So how can you leave your baggage behind? I’m no Dr Freud, but here’s how I’ve dealt with my bags.
1. Acknowledge it.
Denial is no one’s friend.
If you’re thinking about doing something but find you’re hesitating at taking that last step, honestly ask yourself what it is that’s holding you back.
Maybe it’s the way someone treated you in the past. Or a belief that someone has ingrained into you. Perhaps you’ve been brought up to have certain perceptions. There could even be some really negative people currently in your life.
Whatever your baggage is, acknowledge it exists.
2. Quantify it.
You’ve probably noticed I like to compare my emotional baggage to real life luggage.
It helps me to work out in my mind the extent of the issue I’m dealing with. Oversized totes seem less scary and much more manageable than a big check in bag.
Doing this also means I don’t overstate the issue. Some stuff is actually not as big as we imagine, and knowing that can help make it easier to overcome.
Plus – once you’ve quantified, you’ll be able to work out if this is something you can deal with yourself or if you need assistance.
For example, if your issues are around debt and it’s the size of a small clutch, you might choose to cut up your credit cards and set a monthly budget on your own. Or if it’s the size of a large roll-on bag, you may want to talk to a professional debt specialist or financial advisor instead.
3. Leave it behind or deal with it.
The good thing about baggage is you can make a decision. You can choose to deal with it for good, or learn to leave it behind.
Some stuff you just can’t “resolve”. It’ll always be part of your life and is what makes you who you are. Maybe you can’t get rid of it entirely. But you sure can push through it and leave it behind.
Remember that while we’re a sum of our past, our past doesn’t have to shape our future.
4. Turn it into a positive.
Your baggage doesn’t always have to be viewed as a big dark cloud over your ambitions and goals. In fact, it can teach you some valuable life skills.
In my case, it taught me that risk-aversion and fear of failure are two things I need to be more conscious of when embarking on something new. I don’t see my baggage as a bad thing, it’s just highlighted some areas to me that I now know I need to manage.
And I now see my baggage as less of a carry-on tote and more like a cute little leather purse. In coral with some fancy gold metallic hardware. 🙂
As always, if you have enjoyed this post – please share or like it – it’s the best thanks you can give me.