A job for life.
That’s what the teachers told me I needed.
I remember it clear as day in the tiny little careers room next to the school library which was lined with cardboard boxes full of pamphlets and brochures…and smelt a bit like old people.
A 60-minute lesson in a room I’d never been in the two and a half years of being at school was going to define my life.
“Nursery Nurse” is what Dr Betts the careers teacher who also doubled up as the Latin teacher at my school and my form teacher (Can’t even remember her name now) had decided I would be.
But I couldn’t stand kids…I had a house full of siblings that got on my nerves, the last thing I wanted to do was be around other peoples stinky kids.
“But it’s regular money” I was told and “everyone will always need childcare” gosh ain’t that the truth.
I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I was 13 I wanted to be a writer and a performer, I wanted to change the world…although I didn’t quite have the awareness that that was even possible.
And so I picked Drama, Child Development (under duress) and Sociology as my options, and buckled down for two years to leave school with my 6 mediocre GCSE.
We never know how the choices we make will ultimately affect our future do we? and yet we make them anyway. We somehow have to just trust that we are doing the right thing, and that we will eventually find our own path.
Job for life? I’ve never held down a proper job for more than 18 months.
I have however spent the last 20 years in the field of community engagement in the designing of group programmes, offline at first and then for the past 10 years online. Helping folks to get involved with things that make the world (or their world) slightly better.
When I used to work as a drama practitioner in my early twenties I learned a very valuable lesson about embracing the chaos, in my naivety, I would go into new groups of young people with a fully formed plan…and the plan never panned out.
The kids would kick off and trash the place (or key my car), the funding would change, the venue would close down, a kid would get pregnant, or locked up, or they would decide 3 weeks in they wanted to do photography not dance and so we would have to adapt our plans.
The magic was in the chaos. The magic was in the ability to adapt.
I had a stint at doing proper work when the Olympics came to town, I worked in local government policy, working on the gamesmaker programme, helping politicians to understand the impact of the games, helping them put things in place….and then for 18 months for a local authority delivering their 2012 strategy.
But alas that didn’t last long either, and I was made redundant the morning after the opening ceremony…7 months pregnant at the time too, truly stuffed.
I was made redundant from various jobs 4 times in 10 years.
The final time was the last straw…if I was going to live a life of uncertainty, I’d rather be in control of that.
Learning to adapt hasn’t been a choice, it has been a lifeline, especially that final time when I realised it wasn’t just me I had to look after anymore. It didn’t matter how cross I got at the people in charge, how unfair it felt or how sorry I felt for myself.
The truth was…nobody was coming to save me.
I had to find the way through, I had to adapt, I had to accept the chaos for what it was…the magic, the thing that would ultimately lead to success….the not knowing.
What’s going on in the world right now is truly scary, and we will all need to adapt, but “let’s not get it twisted” as my young people would say, there are opportunities to be had here too.
Opportunities to switch things up, to become more relevant, to work out what’s really important.
But we need to choose to embrace the chaos first. we need to choose to be OK with it.
Now I know there will be people reading this thinking “Fuck you, Julie, with your online businesses, and your ability to adapt”
The truth is we all need to adapt, all of us ALWAYS. The sooner we realise this, the easier our lives become. That has been my biggest lesson the last 3 weeks.
This need to control, this need to create something once and live off the proceeds for life is over, it’s an old fashioned view of how we progress in life….especially in the world of small business.
We must stay relevant, we must change as the world does, that’s how we stay relevant, that’s how we thrive in challenging times when others choose to focus simply on survival.
So today rather than thinking about how to salvage your old life, look at the situation with fresh eyes, look for the triangle of need…and yes addressing your needs are there too.
As business owners our needs are just as important as everyone elses, and by serving ourselves we ultimately serve others too.
When I turned my fitness blog into a business 7 years ago after being made redundant I did that for me first, yes there was a bigger need, but my immediate need was putting food in my cupboard and ensuring I didn’t go into arrears with my mortgage.
Then came my clients (or potential clients) working out what they needed…they needed a safe space where they could feel at home in the running world…and they needed motivation, inspiration and know-how.
And the final piece in the puzzle?
Well, that was working out how my work helped the wider world, how I could get folks who were not my ideal clients involved in my mission because it mattered in a small way to them too.
That was about stepping up my work about the fear of judgement, the fear of judgement and the fear of failure….fears that most of us have felt in our own lives, whether you are a runner or not, overweight or not, a woman or not.
That was the universal concept that helped other people to become ambassadors, supporters, and cheerleaders of my work.
So today I invite you to reassess, to look at the chaos for what it is, and to embrace the uncertainty. I invite you to take a breath and think about how you want to come out of this more resilient, more capable, more connected to your mission.
Go back to basics, go back to who you wanted to be at 8, and 13 and 16
For me that never changed.
I wanted to write, and teach, and change the world.
And guess what? I still hate the idea of doing childcare…my 7-year-old can testament to that while I attempt to home school her.
Embrace the chaos…it’s a magical place to be once you get used to it.
Julie Creffield is a serial entrepreneur and business strategist with a passion for building communities. In April she will be opening the doors to the latest version of her business growth incubator Tribe Builder and will be looking for 25 pioneers who are looking to thrive over the next 3-6 months.
To find out more and secure the earlybird rate get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to experience some of Julie’s special blend of chaos and magic sooner than that, sign up to her next challenge A Grand in Your Hand, which is a 10 day fast-paced sales challenge to make money from your existing expertise and audience. Reduced from £149 to £49