Have you ever felt stuck in a situation and the only solution to move forward seemed out of alignment with your values?
Recently I’ve run into a mental roadblock and discovered a way through it. My hope is in sharing how I’ve figured out how to redefine my problem, you can do the same in your life.
To add a little context here, it would be helpful for you to know that my wife and I just passed one year of running our combined business together (Wandering Aimfully).
You have to start somewhere…
When we first started Wandering Aimfully, we described our core business offering as a “membership community” but that always felt a bit vague. Sure, we had/have an awesome Slack channel where our customers/members hang out, but to say we run a membership community in the way you immediately think of it would be a stretch.
Start ugly, and figure it out from there, right?
We knew we simply had to get started with Wandering Aimfully (MVP, anyone?) so we did what all aspiring biz owners do, we made revenue projections for our membership community. During the projections meeting, we also assumed we’d be testing different sales funnels, marketing plans, promotion strategies, and everything would get figured out along the way (as it tends to do).
But… as you can guess and as you may have experienced in your own life and business, things didn’t go to plan.
The creation and launch of Wandering Aimfully took 10x longer than we thought (we planned for 5 weeks, it took 5 months… 😭).
About 1 month into running Wandering Aimfully, Caroline got hit with shingles and couldn’t get out of bed for nearly two weeks due to unbearable shooting pains in her neck and head. After the debilitating shooting pains subsided, there were other symptoms that made it nearly impossible for her to get any work done each day for a few more weeks.
Then we hit the holidays and we were finally feeling excited about the energy of a new year only to have Caroline get sidelined with the worst anxiety she’d ever experienced in her life. Anxiety that kept her from being her amazing self for nearly 6 months.
Even with those three hurdles stacked against us, we were able to grow Wandering Aimfully memberships from $0 per month in recurring revenue to ~$10,000 per month in 1 year (we actually hit $10k/month in the 6th month, but it stayed steady and has sat around $9,500/month since that 6-month mark).
We aren’t trying to belittle how amazing it is to have grown Wandering Aimfully to a ~$10k/month business. Truly, we are so grateful to have 100+ WAIM members who believed in us and see value in what we were offering, especially when the “membership” part of it was hanging on by a tiny thread.
What does all of that backstory have to do with redefining something?
Well, for us, and especially for me as the person who’s been running the day-to-day operations of Wandering Aimfully for most of the past year, it showed me some pretty glaring facts:
- People haven’t been joining WAIM for all the existing products
- People haven’t been joining WAIM for what they might get in the future
- People haven’t been joining WAIM just for the existing community
- People have joined and have gotten the most value by having access to us
- People have joined and have gotten the most value by learning from our direct experiences and unique processes
- People have joined and have gotten the most value by being “coached” by us
(One of the questions we ask in our initial welcome survey to new customers has continued to blow our minds: 40% of people join just to support us!)
And with that, my friend, gets us to the redefining something part of this story.
The term business coach has made my skin crawl in the past. Maybe it currently makes your skin crawl, too? We’ve all witnessed friends or people around us becoming coaches of some sort only to raise an eyebrow and cast judgment (I’ve done it more times than I can count and I’m not proud of that fact).
But then I took a step back and reviewed the glaring (and proven) facts about our Wandering Aimfully business. People aren’t buying from us just because we made a few online courses or because they can hang out with random strangers strewn across the globe. Our Wandering Aimfully revenue has grown because people see our experience, our paths, our successes and failures, and they want to learn from us. AND… I’ve personally spent more time this past year sharing that experience in 1-to-1 or 1-to-many capacities with Wandering Aimfully members and seeing incredible changes in their lives (and feelings of pride in mine!)
That reflection led me to a realization:
What if Wandering Aimfully, as a business, was more about business coaching than about anything else?
And is there a way I could stomach being a “business coach” and be PROUD of it? Could I own that label and not feel like my skin was crawling (with metaphorical mental shingles, you could say).
Then…. something clicked.
Instead of thinking about this new title from the standpoint of what’s cringe-worthy about it, what if I looked at it from the lens of something I love?
That lens? Sports.
Pick your sport of choice, I’ll go with basketball for this example (you can replace basketball with futbol, football, baseball, or whatever sport tickles your fancy).
There’s a time in a professional basketball player’s career when thinking about being a coach is the furthest thing on their radar. They’re too busy putting up hundreds of shots per day in practice. They’re too busy working out and trying to make sure their body can handle the physical effort it takes to perform on a continuous basis. They’re too busy actually playing the game and being on the court to do anything other than play the game and be on the court. But, you can only be a professional basketball player for so many years. Heck, maybe you have a few years left to play but your heart and mind just aren’t up for the daily grind of it.
It’s at that time you entertain the idea of becoming a coach. You see an opportunity to pass on what you’ve learned in your countless hours, days, weeks, months, and even years of hard work. You realize the impact you can make for hungry up-and-coming basketball players is more than you could make by slogging through a few more years running up and down the court.
Let’s not ignore another important part of this: the emotional excitement part of the equation.
Maybe for a few years, you loved getting on the court, spending time in the weight room, putting up hundreds of shots each day, and it was all-consuming for you. You used to be genuinely excited about every aspect of playing the game. But, then you weren’t. Then you realized playing the game didn’t light you up as much as it once did and now you see a way to help others who have the burning desire for the game that you once had.
Your excitement can transfer from your career to someone else’s (which is truly valuable and necessary)
Becoming a business coach made a lot more sense to me when I redefined what was happening at this time in my life. I no longer have the hunger I once did to create new products, promote them, market them, etc. But for the past year, I’ve worked hand-in-hand with our Wandering Aimfully members helping them learn from all my/our experience. And I’ve LOVED IT!
Shifting from athlete to coach as a focus for what Wandering Aimfully does at its foundation made a lot of sense. Sure, I may no longer be selling online courses, creating tons of content to grow an audience, landing paid clients and sponsors, and all the other things I’ve done over the years but that doesn’t mean I don’t know HOW to do them and wasn’t successful at them during that phase of my life.
It simply means my time as the “athlete” is done. I’m ready for the next chapter in my career of enjoying the game I love, which is to coach people who are hungry to get in their (proverbial) gym each day.
Redefining Your Situation Helps Create A Positive Perspective
This redefinition exercise also helped me take a step back and look at my career “on the court.” It helped me take stock of all the amazing things I’ve been able to do. It helped me look back and see all the successes and all the opportunities that I was able to create (along with Caroline’s help, obviously I didn’t do this all alone).
This mental shift has been critical for me as we transition into the next phase of what Wandering Aimfully will become. As we help people make a big transformation in their lives just as we have with ours.
I can clearly see how all our past experiences and experiments are going to be invaluable to the hungry online business owners that are stumbling upon the things we’ve created. There are so many missteps, failures, and roadblocks we can help people overcome or completely avoid. And I’ve definitely noticed the huge personal satisfaction we get from coaching people intermittently this past year. This satisfaction has replaced the feeling I used to get when creating and launching all of my own projects.
What part of your life or business do you need to redefine so you can move forward?
As we all know, change isn’t easy. Creating a plan and shifting gears away from a plan can feel very uncomfortable. But progress isn’t made by sitting still and staying the same.
It may be time for you to evolve and move into the next season of your life. I know I can speak for Caroline when I say how excited we are for what’s next with Wandering Aimfully!