In 2016, my business earned over a million dollars.
But spoiler alert: I was miserable.
See, I was getting caught up in the “rat race” of comparison and competition, and my self worth was entirely tied to my business’s success. I made decisions based on “how much money will this make us” vs. “how many people will this help.”
I was completely misaligned with my purpose — with the very reason why I started my business in the first place.
So, I did something about it and began to run my business from a place of intention and community, rather than fear and competition. And everything changed.
But as I evaluated how I got to that state of mind in the first place, I began to look around my industry. I saw courses promising students that they’d earn 6-figures in weeks. Entrepreneurs using shady business tactics. And Instagram-perfect lives that always made me question my own.
So, today I’m launching a podcast as an alternative perspective on what it means to be an entrepreneur and a human.
It’s called Pursuit With Purpose, and it’s for anyone who wants to create a life and business that is meaningful, authentic, and fulfilling.
And guess what? You can listen to the verrrrry first episode below:
Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes so you’re notified of new episodes. 🙂
In this episode, you’ll hear things like…
- My business trajectory, from where it started to where it is now.
- Why 2016 led to my biggest breakdown…and the weird turning point that helped me get through it.
- Why I created Pursuit With Purpose, and what you can expect from this podcast.
- 4 questions for you to reflect on that will lead you closer to your core purpose in life and business.
- Everything I incorporate into my daily routine and mindset to create a happier, more purpose-driven business.
Subscribe and Review…pretty please?
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Also, podcast reviews are pretty darn important to iTunes and the more reviews we receive, the more likely we’ll be able to get this podcast and message in front of more people (something about iTunes algorithms?). I’d be extremely grateful if you left a review right here letting me know your favorite part of this episode!
Loving the podcast? I encourage you to use the hashtag #PursuitWithPurpose to show our PWP tribe how you live your purpose everyday. Plus, you’ll get to sift through the hashtag to find other business owners who care about community and connectedness over competition and comparison. And I’ll be reposting some of my favorite images and stories, too. 🙂
SO EXCITED to share this new adventure with you. Thank you for being here. 🙂
TranscriptRead the Interview Transcription Here
Hey there, Melyssa here. So I am so excited that you are tuning into the very first episode of Pursuit with Purpose. Now I’m going to tell you all about why I started this podcast, where the direction is going to go with the amazing guests that I have lined up for you, and what I think this podcast is going to bring to your life. Before we get into all of that, I want to share a story about really why I started Pursuit with Purpose and where this idea stemmed from.
So to give you a little background about myself. I started my blog, which at the time was called “The Nectar Collective”, in 2013. Now I also started a web design business around the same time, and both of these things quickly took off. So I had my web design business for a couple years. I had a lot of clients, was making good money, but after a while, I decided that I wanted to pivot to something different. I wasn’t feeling excited about graphic design anymore, so I started teaching online courses. I’d been getting a lot of questions from people, who wanted to learn how to start their own business, and coming from a teaching background myself, it felt like a perfect fit. So in 2015, I started offering online courses for sale, and those also began to take off. Now in 2016, so this is three years after starting my business and about a year and a half after releasing my first online course, we had our first million dollar year in sales. Things on the outside were looking good; our sales were growing, our audience and tribe was increasing every day. While all of the success was unfolding, I realized that I felt out of alignment with my true purpose, and I started chasing this rat race over my own identity. So I felt like I was losing that sense of self. I would actually think to myself sometimes, what would Melyssa say in this situation, or what would Melyssa think about this. I wouldn’t be able to think of an answer. It would be an answer that I had heard somewhere or something that I feel like Melyssa should say, but I never was able to get to that core of myself or my identity during this 2016 period of time.
My why and my purpose were completely out the window, but toward the end of 2016, I went to Lewis Howes’ conference called “Summit of Greatness”. One of the speakers was actually a spoken word artist, who performed his poetry during the conference. As I listened to his performance, I literally started to cry, right there in this big auditorium with all of these people. I was sitting there crying and wiping away tears because he was saying things that were so true and honest, and really resonated with me as somebody who just felt out of alignment with her purpose. So he was unearthing things inside of me that really brought me face to face with the fact that I was not living in my purpose, and that making more money wasn’t bringing me happiness. In fact, for most of the year, I was actually pretty miserable. I felt disconnected from the people I loved, obsessed with numbers and these measures of success. I just found myself in this rat race over and over again.
So after that experience, right after he finished his performance, I booked it to a C.V.S. a few blocks away and bought a yellow notebook, a pen – Pilot G2 if you’re asking, and a bottle of water. I walked over to a nearby park. Now there was no one else at this park except for one other man, who looked like he was probably a regular, just sitting there by himself. I found a quiet table and I sat down and started writing. In this yellow notebook, I poured out everything that had been inside of my head for the past seven, eight, nine months, where I felt like I was just not in alignment with my purpose, all of the things that I was doing, the things I was buying, the things I was saying, how I was representing myself and how I was feeling about myself deep down inside, how I was losing that identity and just forgetting why I started my business in the first place. And then, I started to write down some ideas of ways that I could get back in alignment, really feel like I’m living my purpose, how I could make a bigger impact on people and feel more of that fulfillment and meaning in my own life.
So I want to introduce a concept to you that you might have thought about, before but it’s this idea of inner versus outer goals. A lot of us strive for outer goals. Outer goals are things like making more money, growing your audience, buying a nice car that impresses other people, or doing things that show the rest of the world that you are successful, rather than thinking about what you actually need or want to find your own level of meaning and fulfillment for you, regardless of what people think about it. So a lot of the times for example, I’ll work with students who tell me that they want to earn six figures, which is at least $100,000 a year. When I ask them: how much money do you need or do you want to earn to actually live a fulfilling life? How much does your house or rent cost? How much is food? How much would you need to do all of the fun things every month that you would want to do and still be able to save, and save for retirement, and all these different things? Most of the time, the answer they give me is $5000. Now if you’re doing the math, 5000 x 12 is only $60,000, which it seems to me is something that most people can happily live off of. I’m not saying that making more money is a bad thing at all, and I can totally understand how that gives you more freedom and luxuries in life, but what I am trying to say is that oftentimes we pick these outer goals without really thinking about whether they’re going to bring us true happiness or fulfillment. So for those people who say that they want to earn six figures and then they work themselves to death trying to make $100,000 per year, when really all they needed was 60,000, then it’s not actually bringing them any more happiness. In fact, it’s probably making them more unhappy because they’re striving for a goal that’s only there to show other people that they’re successful, but isn’t actually something that they need themselves. Make sense?
Well those are outer goals. I want to challenge you to think about whether you are seeking out some outer goals in your life and business right now. Maybe there are certain goals that you’re striving for, that when you really think about it, are not things you actually need or want. They’re more just things that you want to achieve in order to impress other people or reach this outer level of success that you want people to think about you. So instead, I want to challenge you to think about an inner goal, or I like to call them core goals, because they’re really heading down to the deepest part of your core and what you really want out of life. Now later in this episode, I’m going to share some questions with you that will really get you thinking more about what your inner goal is, what that thing, that core goal that you want to achieve in your life that would bring you true happiness, fulfillment and pleasure from what you’re doing. We’re going to dig into that as well.
So at this point, again, I’m sitting here in the park thinking about all of the ways from the past year in 2016 that I was just living out of alignment with my life and business. And then that brought me to this podcast. So with Pursuit with Purpose, I really want this podcast to be about more than finding marketing advice or tactics. There are already enough people doing that really well. While I will be sharing some marketing advice here from time to time or just some tips and things to help entrepreneurs, more often, you’re going to hear things like honest conversations with humans and business owners that I feel are doing meaningful work in the world. You’ll learn about their struggles, things that they often don’t talk about. You’ll also learn about my own struggles, about our breakdowns and breakthroughs, and how to create a life and business that feels purposeful and filled with intention and joy.
Now the lie that we’ve all been told is that if we achieve X, like money, status or success, then we’ll be happy. It might seem to make sense because money gives you freedom, status makes you feel important, and success seems like the ultimate destination. What I’ve actually found is that when I focus on these types of outer goals, the finish line always keeps moving. It’s like I’ll hit a target that once seemed impossible and then immediately choose a new goal to chase. So doing this over and over again with my monetary goals, my audience goals, my business goals, it all started to feel kind of empty. That’s when I realized that true happiness and fulfillment is only found when you choose purpose over profit, and when you make that courageous shift in your life to figure out what your why is and then live it every single day.
So I want to share four questions with you to help you dig in more to what that purpose might look like for you and how to infuse it even more into your life. You can either pause this recording after each question and ponder your answer, or simply write down your responses and keep them with you. It’s totally your choice. If you do choose to write down your answers online, like on your blog or on Instagram, I would absolutely love to read them. So please use #pursuitwithpurpose, and then we’ll be able to find all of your beautiful answers, respond to them, and really encourage you on this journey to your own purpose. I’ve got a few questions for you and then I also have some ways that I want to share that have helped me get more in alignment with what my purpose is, and bring that into my life and business every day, but first your four questions. So as you’re thinking about these questions, I want you to really imagine that you are ninety years old on your deathbed, looking back on the most happy, healthy, wonderful and fulfilling life possible. So not a life that was just full of achievements, but one that actually felt great on the inside as much as it looked beautiful on the outside. As you’re thinking about this life, you’re ninety years old, I have four questions for you.
The first question is: what fired you up in life? What was super fun for you? Your second question: how would someone close to you have described you? Who were you in your life? Third question: looking back, why do you feel like you were born? Now I share this question because it was asked to me when I went to a conference earlier this year. It was asked by a speaker named Sean Stevenson, who was born with a disease where he doesn’t have full arms or legs. Looking at him, you might think that he’s disabled or can’t do a lot of things that somebody who’s born with full limbs is able to do. As he was speaking, he was hilarious and he had so many beautiful insights to share with all of us, and one of them was this question: why do you feel like you were born? His answer was to rid the world of insecurity, because through his life of dealing with this disease and people staring at him, he developed a lot of insecurities. So now he uses his voice and he does speeches, and he helps people get rid of their own insecurities. I loved this question because I feel like it really gets to the heart of who you are, why you’re here, and why you do what you do. So your third question was why do you feel like you were born. Fourth question is: in your current life, so present day, where in your life and business are you not living in alignment with your purpose? Where are you living in your purpose? What needs to shift, what needs to change, and really be honest here with yourself. I know that you probably know what needs to shift, but sometimes we get a little nervous or fearful because making those shifts can mean that we’re changing everything about our entire life.
When I actually went through this period of getting more in alignment with my own purpose, I actually ended a two and a half year relationship with my boyfriend at the time, because I realized that it was just was just not fulfilling my own purpose. So yes, getting in alignment with your purpose might mean that you’re going to shake up your entire life in certain ways. If you feel fear around that decision, that’s okay, but I want you to have courage in this moment too. And then of course, think about where are you living in your purpose and how can you bring even more of that into what you do you every day. Now again, I would love to read your answers if you’re courageous enough to share them online, like on your blog or on Instagram. So use the hashtag pursuit with purpose so I can find them.
Now before I go, I want to share a few ways that I’ve been able to get back into alignment with my true purpose, my vision for my life and my business, and really feel like I wake up with a sense of creating an impact for people and helping other people in some way versus just focusing on numbers and money and the bottom line, which is not very fulfilling. So these are a few things that really helped me. The first is something called morning pages, or basically just journaling. Morning pages is when you wake up and you write at least three pages of stream of consciousness every day. I literally just take out my journal and I write whatever comes out. It might be something about my day, I’m analyzing a decision I made, or an experience I had. You can even find journaling prompts online, or if you’re somebody who likes things like Tarot cards or something like that, you can just pull a card and start writing about that. Really just taking anything in your life and allowing that to drive some sort of thought process that gets you to think in a new way. So when I do morning pages or when I journal in general, it really helps me to get back to that reflective purpose and that core of who I am deep down. The more I do this, the more I feel in alignment with who I am. So it’s like every day, we go through a lot of decisions and experiences, but we don’t really take a lot of time to analyze those decisions or experiences, or to think how could I have acted better in this situation, or what could I do next time to have this experience live closer to my purpose.
So the first thing is just journaling. It’s a really great practice. One other thing that you might want to tack on to your journaling practice, is gratitude journaling. At the end of all of my journaling sessions, I always write down three things that I can be grateful for in this moment. The more you do that, the more your consciousness, and the more your mindset just shifts to this feeling of gratitude. To share a little example, there must actually be some sort of psychological phenomenon that is attributed to this. For example, when I used to do film photography a lot, I would take pictures every day. I started to notice that even when I didn’t have my camera with me, I would able to look at the world and think that would make a great photo. Then when I started getting into blogging and I was writing every day, I would think something randomly, sitting on a train or driving in my car, and think to myself, that would make a great blog post. With gratitude journaling, it’s the same exact concept, where the more you do something, the more you focus on gratitude and being positive and optimistic about your life, the more you’re going to see those experiences in everything, rather than taking them for granted.
So first step, journaling and gratitude journaling. Next, meditation. I use an app called 10% Happier. I love meditating because it brings you back to that silent part of who you are deep down inside, where there’s no chatter, there’s no one trying to push you into a certain direction. It’s just you, it’s just you deep down. The thing I love about meditation is that it helps you become more mindful. So it’s not about just sitting somewhere and not have any having any thoughts for ten minutes. That’s probably impossible for most of us to do. I actually probably spend no more than fifteen seconds or ten seconds having zero thoughts. So that is not what meditation is. Meditation instead is the practice of being mindful enough to know when your thoughts have started to come out, when you’re not focusing on your breath anymore, and then to just begin again and focus on your breath. When I am meditating, I’m trying to just focus on my breath, but then of course, a random thought like did I feed my dog this morning, will come out. And then as soon as I realize that I’m thinking a thought, I just let myself get back to my breath. I do that over and over again without really thinking about it throughout my entire ten minute meditation. The point of all of this, the point of meditation and bringing yourself back to your breath, is so that throughout your day when something gives you anxiety or you feel angry or sad or upset or triggered in some way, you can come back to your breath. You can be mindful enough to know that this thought doesn’t need to be your everything. It can be like a little cloud in the sky just floating by, and that’s it. So we don’t have to attach ourselves to all of these emotions, we can just let them sit with our consciousness. Meditation has been amazing too. And then also just reading like spiritual and personal development books. I love just being exposed to new ideas and lessons. So that has been fantastic as well.
And then also saying yes to things that make me uncomfortable and watching as this has transformed my life. One of the things that used to make me really uncomfortable, surprisingly, was meeting up with people I didn’t know. The nature of an online business for anyone out there who identifies as an online business owner or entrepreneur, is that everyone you meet is online. Whenever somebody asks you if you want to meet up in person or do a Skype call to connect, it can be pretty freaking scary, at least it used to be for me. I would always hide out. I would make plans and break them, and just not actually connect with anybody because I was too scared to meet up with them, and felt like maybe I wouldn’t have anything to say, or it would be awkward, or I was just unconfident and didn’t want to meet somebody that I didn’t know personally. So that changed and I stepped into that uncomfortable role of just meeting up with people that I didn’t know before. It was actually this beautiful experience. Now I feel so much more connected to people that are living their own purpose or people that have helped me in so many beautiful ways. Saying yes to whatever makes you uncomfortable, finding those places and listening to when you have resistance in your life, because that resistance is often telling you something that needs to change and something that’s holding you back from reaching your highest levels of potential.
Now the other thing that really helped me live more in my purpose and just bring more meaning and fulfillment to my life, was this idea of giving over getting. Whenever I meet somebody, I always ask them if they need help with something or how I can add value to their life, rather than asking them for something that I need. So giving over getting or hosting things like fundraisers or ways to give back with your business, have been absolutely transformative for me in my own business. The last thing that I want to say that really helped me, is just a mindset change of letting go of expectations, letting go of those outer goals of wanting to buy a nice car or have nice clothes, and needing to impress other people instead of doing what feels good for me.
Again, I am so excited to have you here on this journey with me, as we both pursue our biggest dreams led by our purpose. I am by no means perfect in this realm and I’m still learning how to add more of that why, and that meaning and fulfillment to my life every single day. I’m coming at this as just as much of a student as you are, here to learn from all of the amazing people that we’re going to have on the show. So thank you for being here with me and I will catch you in the next episode.