How Uncaged Came To Be (And The Power Of Lowering Your Expectations)

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BUT BEFORE WE BEGIN… A hilarious photo. This is what happens when you do a photoshoot in a back alley in a city like Toronto. Asian tourists want to get their photos taken with you.

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Anyway.

It was 2011. I was working for an online wellness company that was paying me $12/hour to manage ALL of their social media (which, if you know anything about what it should REALLY cost for someone to run your entire social media strategy – was a total joke). I worked 5 hours a week for them (which, if you do the math, means I was broke).

I was just winding down from a year of FUN-employment. I got fired from a job at a restaurant because I sprained my foot in a climbing accident and couldn’t work (YES I took it to the labor board, and YES I fought with them for over a year to get my money because I am THAT GIRL).

I was also kinda sorta starting my business as a holistic nutritionist (meaning I ran a few workshops and tried my hand at a client or two), but I wasn’t really into it. I saw the other rockstar nutritionists in Toronto KILLING IT, and it all just looked like so much work. And I hate hard work.

So I spent the better part of the year hanging out. Literally. I went to the park everyday with a book and a blanket and sometimes a slackline. I climbed 4 days a week. I did yoga 5 days a week. I cooked myself lavish and labour intensive healthy dinners. I travelled within Canada and overseas to do that thing where I climb up the path of most resistance on a cliff, when I could easily just walk around the other side and get to the top without all the struggle.

In essence, I lived the lifestyle I wanted, without worrying about work. I knew the work would come when it was time (meaning – I trusted my ability to hustle if it got to the point where I couldn’t pay my rent).

 

I stopped doing nutrition work altogether, and started to have visions of the business I REALLY wanted. I didn’t know exactly what it would look like, but I had a feeling of what I wanted it to be. And that was about all I knew.

 

During this time I met a boy (Hi Mike!!), I fell in love, and we bought a van (down by the riverrrr. har har. But actually). We decided it was probably a good idea to hit the road on a 7 month climbing trip, because WHY NOT.

I KNEW that I couldn’t let half a year go by without doing anything about my business. I had to get things started. Mostly because I knew it was lame to keep talking it without actually doing anything about it. Because I always hated those people, and now I was one of them. NOT A CHANCE!

 

Buying a van = GAME ON.

 

I had already read and learned a ton about starting a business online, It was time to make it happen.

I DIY’d my website (with lots of tears and hair pulling and late night google searches to fix whatever it was I had broken). Mike would come over to make sure that I was eating (and showering. Shut up. You know exactly what I’m talking about).

And slowly, I started to take over the world build my business.

It was SLOW GOING. I’m not gonna lie and tell you I crushed it my first year. Yeah, I had clients, and people started finding me online really early on (within a month of having my website, I had my first REAL client. As in, not one of my friends, or someone I had to beg to let me coach them). I attribute this to having a clear message and staying consistent with putting my blog posts out there (as in, having a clue what the fuck I was talking about).

No SEO, no gimmicks – I just wrote consistently, and I interviewed people I admire on my site (and left it up to them whether they wanted to share it with their community or not).

You wanna know how much money I made in my first year? Around $15000. And to me, that felt SWEET. I was stoked!

 

I mean, I had created something out of nothing, and people paid me for it. That was INCREDIBLE. I didn’t care what anyone else was making and I didn’t care that I wouldn’t have been able to live off $15k if it wasn’t for living in a van.

 

It was just amazing to be making money from a business that didn’t even exist a year ago.

But while it felt GREAT to be getting paid to be my own boss (something I had always dreamed about but never in a gajillion years thought would happen) – I was still freaked out. What would happen when I went home? Would my business EVER get to where I wanted it to be? Did I even KNOW where I wanted it to be? Sooo many questions. And zero answers.

Because here’s the thing with business. NOTHING is a guarantee. There is no possible way to know where you will end up in your business.

All you can do it make a decision about what you want, and hustle your ass off to get there.

Learn everything you can.

Hire the best coaches (ahem).

Don’t stop creating.

Which is what I did. I KNEW that in order to grow my business more, I’d have to focus in. No more taking on clients who weren’t a perfect fit. Tightening up my message. Revamping my packages to be more in line with how i LOVE wot work. It was time to get serious.

I niched in like a madwoman, I continued to hire new business coaches to push me to the next level, and I kept experimenting my brains out. I wrote guest posts anywhere that would accept them. I did free calls to promote my work. I asked for referrals. I slowly but surely built a community of Uncaged Lifers.

 

 

I stopped worrying about what everyone else was doing, and I focused on MY business.

And – fancy that – it worked.

 

My goal this year (my second year of business) was to triple my income from last year. Low expectations. And I just had my first $10k month. I way exceeded my expectations (which feels way better than not meeting our expectations, right!?).

But the rule still applies – nothing is guaranteed.  Just because you create something great once, doesn’t mean people will keep coming back. Just because you had one successful day or week or month, doesn’t mean that it will stay consistent.

Your business is alive like you are alive. You have to work for it, and with it, and in it, all the time. There is no such thing as passive income. 

My business grew slowly, and it grew in line with where I was at in my life, with how much I was willing to give to it. As I became more clear and confident, my business growth came right along with me.

 

People are always saying to raise your expectations. I say lower them. Being hard on yourself, looking at what everyone else is doing and expecting to be where they are – it doesn’t serve you. All it does is have you raise your expectations to levels that are completely ridiculous and unsustainable.

 

We all need to just give ourselves a damn break.

 

It’s like watching someone run an ultramarathon (those crazies!), and then getting frustrated when you get tired after 5k (that’s 3mi for you American folks. And yes, that’s about as far as I can run without having the wind knocked out of me and my rusty joints screaming at me to stop).

I’m not meant to be running an ultra. At least not yet. So WHY ON EARTH would I compare myself to those insane people who run for days on end!? I’d need to train for months or years to get there. It just doesn’t make sense to even think I should be doing what they are doing.

And neither does you comparing yourself to ANYONE else in your business. THEY don’t matter.

You are exactly where you need to be.

You are exactly where you need to be.

You are exactly where you need to be.

Hunker down. Get clear on your message. Get the word out. Tell people what you’re up to. Write blog posts. Consistently. Pitch yourself. Expand your reach.

Lower your expectations.

And do the work. And keep doing it. And keep doing it.

This is how you will grow your business.

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Where do you need to lower your expectations in your business? Where have you been pushing too hard, comparing yourself to someone who is WAY ahead of you? Feeling bad about not “getting there” yet? Tell us in the comments!

Comments

comments

Read 26 Comments & Leave Yours

  1. JessicaMaeP

    Great post Becca!! PREACH ON! 
    Lowering expectations is what perfectionists have to do in order to make progress. LOVE IT!
    Jessica

  2. FlorDeOroTejada

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today. I am exactly where I need to be, and your words confirmed that for me. Thanks so much Becca!

  3. Fit Armadillo

    Living this now thanks to hearing it over and over from you (and getting frustrated by what wasn’t working) Thank You :)

  4. JanineDuff

    Thanks for this Becca! Just what I needed to hear today.

  5. So much to love about this….especially this reminder *you are exactly where you need to be*. Such freedom in embracing and celebrating that instead of always straining, striving, struggling to get ahead…Thank you!

  6. JoyChristin Thanks Joy! Isn’t it nice t know that we DONT all have to become millionaires overnight, and THAT’S OK!!

  7. JanineDuff You, my dear, are welcome!

  8. Fit Armadillo It’s alll a process You’re doing GREAT.

  9. FlorDeOroTejada You’re welcome Flor!! We’re all just a bunch of recovering overachievers!

  10. JessicaMaeP YES! Perfectionism is just a stalling method :)

  11. butwhynotme

    perfect advice, and inspiring. as someone who is at the beginning of this whole make my life my own thing, hearing how others got there, and how it wasn’t overnight, helps give me much needed perspective.  i’m where i need to be today, i’ll be where i need to be tomorrow. and i can’t wait to see where it is i’ll be in a year!

  12. lamonstre

    Hey Becca,
    Oh I’m so so so happy to have found your site and your work and YOU!  I’ve bookmarked lots of your inpsiring posts already.  Your words come to me just as I need to hear them.  I AM exactly where I need to be – and I just need to keep on the right path!  Lately I’ve been really hard on myself, trying to ‘re-invent the wheel’ when really I’m already on the right track!  Couldn’t see the wood for the trees…Anyway, enough metaphors. :)  ust wanted to say hi and tell you thank you for the wisdom and inspiration, I’m taking it right onboard.
    Katie. X

  13. lamonstre awesome, I’l so happy you found Uncaged! We all get to that place once in a while where we need to take a step back and see the bigger picture! You’re TOTALLY on track :)

  14. butwhynotme Yes!! Imagine, one WHOLE year of working hard. Bit by bit, things start to shape themselves.

    I actually think we are doing ourselves and our business a disservice when we rush. It doesn’t give us the time we need to really get the clarity we need to set the foundation in place.

  15. Where do I need to lower my expectations?  I don’t EVER lower my expectations to or for ANYONE.  ..and that’s the bottom line, cuz Stone Cold…errr…
    Do I every so often look at someone else and want to be there?  Sure.  Genius takes time.  I’ll take over the world, and I’ll do it “My Way” (sorry, Frank!)  Sure, day jobs suck, but buidling an empire from scratch ain’t easy.  My company didn’t have an instruction packet, so I’m like Ralph Hinckley trying hard to fly without crashing into something solid.  However day jobs give me the freedom to build my empire without rushing things.

  16. Theressa CWD

    Totally agree. It’s easy to get caught up comparing what others are doing + how “amazingly successful” their business is compared to our own. If we took a look in our own backyard more often, we’d be truly in awe of our own genius because it takes a whole lotta courage to show up + do the work we do – and to generate moolah from that courage? That’s genius!

  17. CathySykora

    People need to read this post..it is great. Only you can make your business what is needs to be, not the next person. Hard work, dedication, and a clear understanding of what you want will set you free. My business didn’t become successful because I was trying to “keep up with the Jones”, it became successful because I knew what I wanted and dedicated myself to it..at my pace. Thanks for sharing!!

  18. sfpincchicago I totally believe in having a job while you grow your own business. Takes the pressure off for everything to happen right away and lets you build things slowly and sustainably

  19. CathySykora “at my pace” is KEY! It’s the only pace we have!

  20. jenner807

    Love this! And love seeing your stories… such a great blog!

  21. SarahGabbart

    Thank you! Today was a day I needed to hear this!

  22. Totally loved this!! You are exactly where you are meant to be!

  23. Carmen28

    Love this! Thank you so much!

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