How I Took My Pain And Made It Into My Dream Business
At the start of 2018 I started getting weird back and leg pain. This happened on and off for months, and the doctor and the subsequent physio they referred me to (three months after my doctor’s appointment) did nothing to help. In fact, as it turned out, they diagnosed it as totally the wrong thing and basically told me it would sort itself out. In summer of 2019 the pain came back with a vengeance. It was all down my back, my hip, my right leg, and into my ankle and my foot. I could barely walk. I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t sleep. I was in constant tears – and constant agony. I’d never experienced anything like it, and for weeks and weeks I watched as my editing business seemed to slowly go down the drain. I didn’t want to lose any clients, so I gave a load of work to my main subcontractor, which meant – as I check over all the work before sending it out to clients, and as I had to do all my work lying down, in extreme pain, taking far longer than usual – I was actually losing money instead of making any. Things were beginning to look pretty dire. I started paying to see a private chiropractor and then a private physio at a local pain clinic, both of whom diagnosed a herniated disc in my spine and consequent sciatica/constantly trapped nerves. This, they told me, was from sitting down too much – specifically, sitting down at my desk as I worked all the long hours it took me to keep my business afloat. Before it happened I’d actually just had my biggest month yet in terms of how much money I’d made, and I’d just started plans to launch a new venture, and then… this. It felt like the universe was trying to tell me something – perhaps to stop working for myself, and all the long hours that required, or perhaps not to go ahead with my new venture. It was too much work, too much stress, my body obviously couldn’t cope with it… that’s what I believed. Through acupuncture, physio, several strange massage machines, and lots and lots of stretching, it eventually started getting better, and I was gradually able to start working again. And then I had a horrible, painful, debilitating relapse, and then another, and another. For months and months I was basically a prisoner in my own home, only going out to see the physio, and unable to do anything else. I had to lie down 95% of the time, even though I was meant to move around as much as possible, which I couldn’t physically do because of how much pain I was in. I had to cancel every single social engagement and weekend away. I was constantly in pain and constantly exhausted from lack of sleep. It was downright depressing. I moped around for a while, feeling sorry for myself and telling myself it was because I was working too hard for too little money and that the universe was either telling me to slow down with my business or quit entirely, to get a ‘regular’ job again. In fact, before I’d decided to pursue the new venture, I’d actually spent several months umming and ahhing about whether I should get a ‘normal’ job, with all the benefits ‘normal’ jobs come with. Now that I was out of action, I thought about this even more, especially considering how I had a business – editing, proofreading, ghostwriting – that depended on me showing up every day in order to make money. I had no passive income or multiple income streams, so if I couldn’t work, I was screwed. Clearly, the universe was telling me to ditch this and get a more ‘stable’ form of income. But then I decided to look at things from a different perspective. Even though I was still in pain, and even though I still couldn’t sit down, drive, or leave the house, I slowly taught myself to work lying down, and I also got used to working standing up (at the standing desk extension I’d bought for my laptop) – bit by painful bit. This way, at least I was able to keep the business ticking over, even though I wasn’t earning much, and I didn’t have to lose any of my precious clients. Then, I started using the extra time I had – as I couldn’t go out anywhere – in a far more productive way. Instead of binge-watching Netflix and feeling sorry for myself, I started reading business books, books on entrepreneurship, and books on writing. I started listening to podcasts on business, finances, writing, self-publishing, self-development, and mindset. I started doing online courses on things like mindset, novel writing, and business skills. I solidified my new business idea, made my new website, and started putting into motion everything I needed to do to bring my new dream to fruition. I still had to continue my editing business to keep the money coming in every month, which took most of my time, but – due to the fact that I couldn’t go out – I had time to spend on my new venture too. If I’d been able to go out every night and spend weekends actually doing stuff, I wouldn’t have been able to get as far with my new business as quickly as I did. So maybe the universe wasn’t telling me to get a ‘real’ job; maybe it was giving me the opportunity to get my new venture – my dream business – off the ground. A business that would involve multiple streams of income and, after a lot of initial hard work, the ability to make passive income from my courses and books. Maybe it was throwing all these obstacles in my way not as a message that I should give up and pursue a ‘traditional’ career, but as a way to make me stronger – both physically and mentally. If I could get over this, if I could work through the absolutely agonising pain and come out the other side with a whole new business, then I could do anything I set my mind to. And then, during my third major relapse, the whole COVID-19 pandemic shut down the whole country. While it was a terrible, terrifying time, I now had even more time to work on things. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through a terrible health problem just so they can come out stronger on the other side, but if you do find yourself in a similar situation (and I know there are far worse things that could have happened to me), I highly recommend using any extra time you might have to do a deep dive into your aims, goals, and dreams – whether they be in business, in life, or both. And, if it seems like life just keeps hurling things at you to throw you off track, whatever you do, don’t give up. As Steven Pressfield says in The War of Art, there’s a rule of thumb that “the more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.” I had a hell of a lot of resistance, in the form of a hell of a lot of agonising, frustrating, and debilitating pain that completely stopped me in my tracks. And that’s how I knew I was on the right path. This was just the resistance to my soul’s true calling. This was just the universe’s way of showing me what I was meant to do – what I believe I was put on this earth to do. That’s a bit woo woo, yes, but it is what it is. And, as Gabrielle Bernstein says in The Universe Has Your Back, “Obstacles are detours in the right direction.” I had a hell of a lot of obstacles pop up, but perhaps they weren’t blocking me – perhaps they were steering me to a new, more exciting, more fulfilling direction in life. The best things in life don’t come easily, so if you find yourself being blocked every step of the way, just know that when you finally achieve your goal, it will be that much sweeter. Keep going, use your pain to power your passion, and show the universe what you’ve got! Find out more about me and what I achieved during the pandemic by reading my book written during that time, Write Your Life: The Ultimate Life Hack For Achieving Your Dreams!