Many of us experience powerful, life-changing experiences that define us. We navigate through them with hard work and survival skills. These defining moments are hugely impactful and dramatically change our perspective on the world. When we’ve come through the other side (or at least mostly come through the other side), oftentimes we want to help others to either avoid these situations or travel through them more effectively and with less pain than we experienced.
But how do we know when we’re ready? How do we decide that we’ve healed enough to “set up a lemonade stand” to serve and help people?
To start, answer these questions to assess whether you’re ready to help.
Have you worked through your own stuff?
When we’ve moved through a challenging experience and feel called to help, we may still have stuff to figure out ourselves. Stepping in too soon can make it really overwhelming, which can feel disempowering to you. And, even worse, it may not be helpful for the people you want to serve. Also, if you only have your own experience as a reference, and you’re still feeling emotional about it, you might not be appropriately equipped to take someone else’s challenge on. To prepare for the work, there may be education or training that you can add to increase how effective you are. Even talking to others who’ve had similar experiences can add additional perspectives on how people experience these events. Therapy can be helpful if you don’t know if you’ve healed sufficiently, to be able to approach this work confidently and with appropriate coping strategies. It’s critical to make sure you have healed from your experience and know how to most effectively help those who are facing something similar.
Do you know what your triggers are?
When you start working with others who are going through the same thing that you did, you can be triggered by their stories. Being triggered can look like anything from feeling more emotional to re-living a traumatic experience as though you are there (this is called a flashback). These experiences can be overwhelming and exhausting, leading you to struggle with the work you’re trying to do. Sometimes, it can even impact your overall mental health. So, understanding what is most troubling to you can be really helpful in identifying when you might need extra time (or strategies) to cope. What still upsets you about your experience? When do you get emotional? How or when might your emotional reactions make it more difficult for you to keep helping the people you’ve set out to help?
Do you have appropriate support?
When your life’s work and the mission you’re pursuing is one that is so emotional and personal, it can be hard to know when you’re going off the rails. So, having a team, a coach, a consultant, or someone who can lead you back on track is important. Your support system can help you to make logical decisions and set up infrastructure. This is important, so that you can make a sustainable business. Oftentimes when your work is fueled by passion and emotion, you don’t necessarily know what to do and when. You’re are also not necessarily focused on logic and planning and are more likely to react to whatever comes up. Planning and sufficient structure help you to decide on the most effective steps forward.
Will your passion sustain you through the tough times?
When you’re putting together a strongly mission-driven business, there are definitely going to be road blocks at times. There may be people who doubt your plan or tell you that you’re crazy to pursue something like this. There will be many long days of work (probably on top of something else you have to do to pay the bills), leading to less sleep and (too often) less time for self-care. So, your passion and how strongly you believe that your work is important – that’s what’s going to keep you moving forward. If you’re exhausted or burned out from your own experience and you’re not sure that what you’re doing makes sense – the first set of roadblocks or the first people who tell you it’s not possible may just stop you in your tracks.
Make sure you’re really clear on why you’re doing what you’re doing. And remind yourself of that. I love Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk, “Start with Why,” because it helps you to think about how powerful knowing your mission can be for your forward progress. I think it is also important to work really hard to remind yourself of the long-term, big-picture view. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and managing your time sufficiently, so you can keep going. Your mission is important. Your community needs you to succeed!
If you’re called to help and are ready to launch your passion project, let’s chat. Evolve to Thrive has several options to support you in making your mission-driven business thrive.
If you have questions, please do not hesitate to call or email: 424-241-3205; firstname.lastname@example.org