I’ve always called myself a dreamer. I guess you could say it runs in my family. My brother, who’s a music producer, is quite the dreamer, too. We even have our own hashtag — #PowerToTheDreamers.
But I recently realized I wasn’t quite the dreamer I’ve always claimed to be.
September 8-10, 2019 I had the opportunity to attend Inspired Vacay, a retreat hosted by and for the members of the Female Entrepreneur Association. This year’s Inspired Vacay was held in Palm Springs, California, and those three days changed my life.
I’ve been a member of FEA for four years and the group’s founder Carrie Green has been my mentor and friend in my head for just as long. So to say I was excited about the trip would be an understatement.
But I almost didn’t make the trip at all.
I almost let fear keep me from going. I told myself I can’t afford to travel now that I’m a full-time freelance writer and entrepreneur. But with the encouragement of my sweet and always supportive husband, I decided to step out on faith and register for the retreat. And soon after I did I booked new coaching clients and got freelance gigs galore.
I guess that saying “Fortune favors the bold” is true. Inspired Vacay was teaching me lessons before I even arrived.
I went to Inspired Vacay with one goal in mind: I wanted to have a conversation with Carrie about the See Jane Write. You see, while my freelance gigs and coaching practice have been growing, the See Jane Write membership program has hit a plateau. I needed Carrie to either tell me how to grow and improve my membership program or to tell me to just give up and let it go.
Inspired Vacay kicked off with a welcome mixer and dinner. At the mixer, I met Laurel, a lovely lady from Canada who’s a blogger and aspiring freelance writer. We immediately hit it off.
During our chat, we shared what we were both hoping to get out of the retreat. After telling her a bit about See Jane Write and my issues with growth, she bluntly asked, “Have you considered it might be your mindset? Could you be in your own way?”
That question was like a punch to the gut.
“Bruh! How you gonna hit me with the deep questions so soon” is what I thought to myself and actually said out loud to her.
She laughed. I laughed. And then I realized she might be right.
On my way to Palm Springs, I started reading Cara Alwill Leyba’s book Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur. I figured this book would get me prepared for the three days of business strategy workshops I was expecting. Instead, the book was all about mindset. The universe was setting me up.
The Million-Dollar Mindset
The first day of workshops kicked off with a presentation by Michelle Rohr, another person who’s been my friend in my head for years.
Michelle’s story is so inspiring. After babysitting and cleaning houses to make money, she eventually started running a coffee shop but knew that wasn’t the life she wanted. She says that after realizing she had lived “the same year twice” she knew it was time for a change. And that change started with a blog called The Secret Owl Society, which eventually turned into a wildly successful business after she started selling printables via Etsy and creating online courses.
In her presentation, Michelle encouraged us all to start making million-dollar decisions. If you want to be a millionaire, she said, you have to start thinking like one and acting like one, too.
A millionaire invests in herself and she goes all in. She doesn’t dabble. A millionaire doesn’t wait to get all her ducks in a row before taking action.
Michelle also urged us to focus more on personal development than business development. “If you’re growing, everything else is growing,” she said.
Michelle’s talk was also about taking 100 percent responsibility for your life, something I thought I had always done. I’ve never been one to wait on other people to hand me opportunities; I create my own. I don’t blame other people for the things I don’t have; I go out and get what I want.
Or so I thought.
To my surprise, that morning, before the workshops began I found myself having breakfast side-by-side with Carrie. I felt like I was dining with a celebrity, but I tried to keep it cool.
I wasn’t planning to ask her about See Jane Write just yet. I wanted to let the woman eat in peace, but when she asked me what I did and what I hoped to get out of the retreat I took that as an invitation to get down to business.
So I told her about the lack of growth in my membership program and asked if she thought I should give up.
Obviously, Carrie believes in the power and profitability of membership programs. FEA has THOUSANDS of members. She plainly and simply told me that, of course, I can make my membership work, but only if I really want to make it work and only if I’m willing to experiment and try new things to make it grow.
It Takes a Village
I still can’t get over how kind, caring, down-to-earth, and accessible Carrie was throughout the retreat. We all got to talk to her, share meals with her, and even relax by the pool with her. But I must say that what truly made Inspired Vacay so inspiring was all the other women who attended.
We all know the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. I think it takes a village to raise an entrepreneur, too.
The 40 women who attended Inspired Vacay were smart, funny, encouraging, generous, and warm and felt like lifelong friends in minutes. Angela, a website designer from South Carolina, has become one of my favorite people on the planet.
During one of the sessions, she shared a metaphor with the group that really struck me: If you were headed to the grocery store and ran into traffic or a blocked road due to construction you wouldn’t just give up, go home, and never try to get groceries again. You wouldn’t just decide, “Oh well, I guess food isn’t for me” just because it was taking longer than you expected to get to the supermarket. Yet, this is exactly what so many of us do when it comes to going after our dreams.
This is exactly what I was doing when it came to my membership program.
Before I Glow Up I Have to Grow Up
Each workshop at the retreat required us to do deep soul searching as we answered a series of questions about our goals, our actions, and our mindsets. We wrote down our responses, first, then we were encouraged to share our thoughts with other attendees.
I had my biggest aha moment when I was chatting with Darlene, who has a home-staging business in Canada, and CC, who has a skincare business and is based in Oregon. While talking with these ladies I realized that I have not been taking 100 percent responsibility for my life and that while I call myself a dreamer, deep down I doubt if I can make those dreams come true.
I realized that instead of turning my dreams into goals and my goals into plans and my plans into my reality I’ve just been turning my insecurities into excuses.
I’m not good enough, smart enough, funny enough, pretty enough, or skinny enough to succeed and no one cares about anything I have to say. These are the lies my inner mean girl tells me. These are the lies I’ve been believing and because of these lies, I’ve been holding myself back.
I think small and I play small because I’m afraid if I go big I’ll make a fool of myself and let everyone down.
Also, I’ve fallen into the trap of believing that I don’t have enough time to pursue my dreams, even now, even after I’ve left the classroom to pursue writing and entrepreneurship full time. I don’t have time to grow my business or write my book because I have to keep cranking out these freelance stories so I can pay the bills. I don’t have time to pitch for new freelance writing opportunities because I need to focus on keeping the ones I already have. But these are just more excuses.
It’s time let go of the excuses and grow up.
Power to the Dreamers — and the Doers
Yes, Inspired Vacay was a time of meditation, visualizations, and revelation, but we got plenty of practical advice, too.
Here are some actions steps I’ve decided to take based on things I learned from Carrie and other women at the retreat:
- Use more video content (both live and pre-recorded) to better engage my audience.
- Do more surveys and have one-on-one conversations with my audience
- Increase my visibility to grow my audience
- Go above and beyond to serve my community
- Get clear on and better convey the biggest transformation people will experience when they join the See Jane Write Collective
- Learn how to create an exceptional membership experience
- Learn how to better leverage social media — especially Facebook and Instagram ads and Pinterest, but work on this one platform at a time
- Grow my email list and do a better job nurturing that list
- Revamp my website
I’ve decided that I’ll be closing enrollment for the See Jane Write Collective later this fall and just focusing on doing these things for a while before I reopen to accept new members. Carrie stressed that it’s what you do when you’re not launching that determines how successful your launch will be.
And Carrie left us all with this simple truth: “We have to choose our dreams over our fears.”
If you would like to join the See Jane Write Collective before enrollment closes this fall, learn more here.