September 30th, 2021 | How Setting a Company Has Changed My Life, Personal-Development Wise.
Those Moments When You Notice Your Personal Development.
With personal development is like with dieting. You don’t notice small changes from one day to another. But, if you see yourself in a mirror after a longer period of time, you might face a striking progress.
So, little events often make you realize that your life has completely changed over the past few years. Just like it was this Tuesday, on my way back to the Netherlands. And it came to my mind that the moment I set a company, was the very moment I won my life.
And I am not talking about any external benefits such as my income or the freedom to set my own schedule. I am talking about all the gradual changes on the inside that leveraged my quality of life in the past two years.
A Little Incident On the Way Back Home.
So, what happened this Tuesday? It all started in the early morning when I jumped out of bed with the plan to quickly check-in, pack, and get on the suburban train towards the Modlin airport. After the night spent drinking wine with friends and watching “The Silicon Valley” show, I was so sleepy that I had a hard time trying to check-in.
It was going to be my return flight and I had previously skipped the check-in for the first flight (as I changed plans and traveled by car) I was quite blind at that point, I couldn’t find the option to check-in and I only saw the information “The flight has already taken place” instead.
At some point, I panicked. I concluded that perhaps, the fact that I didn’t fly the last time, led to blocking my reservation, and I booked the same flight again. It was a last-moment purchase so that the price was high accordingly—despite the short flight distance, I had to give away an extra 60 Eur. Right after making a payment, I realized that I made a mistake but it was too late—the money was gone.
But after getting this hit, I behaved way differently than I would have behaved like 5 or 10 years ago. Back then, I would get angry and stay bitter for another day or even the whole week. I would have had these recurrent thoughts reminding me how much of a loser I am. I would complain to my friends about it. I would have exploded multiple times next to the people close to me. And then, I would have remembered this situation for long long years.
Between Then And Now.
But now, I reacted differently. Much differently. Firstly, I soothed myself. I thought to myself, “Hey, this was a short flight so the loss is limited too. Perhaps you’ve just learned a lesson that helped you not lose much more money in the future.” Then, I started to foster happiness.
“Don’t worry!”—I thought. “This amount is just a part of your vacation budget. And, you got so many things for free in the process! People inviting you home, serving you meals. 60 Euro tip for stupidity is fine.” Then, I decided to limit the loss by making myself sandwiches for the flight and not buying anything on the way.
I also committed that I will earn this 60 Euro back by saving money on food on every single travel in the incoming 12 months. My mood was already better than before booking this flight!
And then, while traveling to the airport, it came to my mind that I should still try to get a reimbursement. Little chances but why not try? I was at the airport two hours ahead of time, so I could afford to go to Ryanair’s counter and ask.
I went there with a smile on my face, explained the situation, and asked for help. They sent me forward to the online chat. I couldn’t be more surprised when the lady on the chat, Belinda, told me that she can cancel the doubled reservation and reimburse all the costs. It took her less than 30 seconds! Amazing. Ryanair was my favorite airline even without it—and now I have even warmer feelings about it!
In the end, instead of an awful day, I had a great day. I wrote Ryanair a heartbreaking review online, and I happily flew back to the Netherlands. Now I have a company, instead of thinking “Why the hell did it happen to me?” I like to think, “What can I do about it so that in the long run, I gain something from this situation instead of losing?”
But, this is not the only thing that changed ever since I started a company. I changed on many levels. To name just three most important changes that I noticed:
1. Regulating Emotions.
I am better at regulating my emotions, no doubt about it. I used to be a neurotic person, while now, I have a good mood for most of my time. I noticed one substantial change in particular. Namely, I used to cry while something bad was happening. Now, I cry whenever something particularly good happens instead.
2. Lack Of Time For Complaining.
Entrepreneurship puts you out of your comfort zone, big time. You suddenly become non-fungible, as you need to show up no matter what. If you get a paid gig such as a talk or a workshop, would you call it off just because you woke up with a cold in the morning?
As a graduate student, I called off quite a few seminars just because I felt ill. Sometimes, it was the flu. And sometimes, I felt ill just because I didn’t feel prepared well enough and because stress tormented my stomach. In either case, I was stepping back from public presentations.
Now, since I have no choice, all of a sudden I never get sick! Or, even if I feel a little ill, then still, in presence of adrenaline my body gets disciplined for a few hours so that I can proceed with a presentation without showing signs of illness.
Standing against the wall is sometimes the best remedy for feeling blue. I noticed that this year when the Dutch society got utterly apathetic after over a year of a lockdown. Most people were so discouraged from doing yet anything that they were not even responding to messages anymore. They couldn’t see that once you don’t respond to other people’s emails, you pull them down together with you.
As a result, depression spread across Dutch society even faster than the virus. Well, as a self-employed person, I simply couldn’t afford passiveness. Business is based on relations, and once your fridge is empty, you have no choice but to act. As a result, I was one of the few people in my network who exhibited initiative and actively contacted others despite the overall apathy around me.
I also see myself smiling more often than before. After launching a YT channel, I finally noticed that I simply have a resting bitch face. I am also simply happier than before. Of course, new problems have arisen in the meantime. But at the same time, some problems and blockades that I had before have disappeared. The mistakes I commit now are my own mistakes – no one can block my career or creativity anymore. That’s a huge advantage!
I also have to take care of myself more, for example, take cold showers to prevent illness and potential downtime. I cannot afford longer breaks in my professional activities, so I’ve taken better care of my health, from exercise to diet. As a result, I lost over 20 kilos of body weight in two years.
Lastly, I noticed some signs of reverse aging. Eight years ago, after my wedding was called off, my hair turned white and stayed like that for years. I heard that graying hair is reversible, but I didn’t believe it—until I saw it to my very eyes.
I still have some dark-grey hair on my head, but it is way less visible than before. All the white hair has completely disappeared in the past two years, and I am hopeful that the grey hair will slowly disappear.
3. Better Communication Strategies.
As a young girl, I used to have horrible ways of communication. It might be partly due to the Polish culture where people—and, especially, women—are prompted to not openly share their thoughts and intentions. Or even, to pose for someone else than they are. Quite naturally, this led to many misunderstandings and disappointments in the process.
The more I used to pretend that everything was ok with my life and the less I used to share about my needs, the more I was falling down the rabbit hole. And, these mistakes didn’t end in my teenage years. Even as a 30-year-old grad school student, I still used to make assumptions about what people know about me and what is or isn’t obvious.
Now I have a company, I don’t make any assumptions anymore—I just say what I have on my mind. And it has nothing to do with the “life is short” philosophy. I just know that people are not mind-readers and that the more precise information you give about what you need, the more likely you are to get precisely what you want.
I think that looking back, searching for clients for my products and services taught me how to communicate precisely. After all, you need to figure out what others need at the moment, find your potential clients, and explain to them how your solution solves their problem.
Becoming a Practical Person.
As an example, I recently did something that would be unthinkable to me just three or five years ago. Namely, instead of walking in the dark while looking for a partner—daydreaming, using random strategies like logging into dating sites where a probability of finding someone is lower than walking down the street and randomly smiling at people, or falling into the common BS narrative that living a big city life as a single person is cool—I used logic.
I knew that,
(1) to figure out if a person meets this criterion, you need to know them well for at least a few months. This might mean that I don’t have enough time in my lifetime to find such a person while getting to meet them one by one,
(2) the pooled number of people known by my direct friends is two orders of magnitude higher than the number of people I know,
(3) my perception of people might be subjective, as visual cues and first impression might mislead me. So, sometimes it is good to listen to those who have no physical attraction toward a person,
(4) some of my friends are hubs in places full of intelligent people such as Google. Plus, while I am professionally occupied with writing texts of all kinds, at hubs such as Google, they are professionally occupied with developing new searching algorithms.
Given all that, I simply conceptualized what I wanted to find in a person. I wrote it down in a form of a 7-page text trying to be as precise as possible, and I activated my friends to look for a person that would fit the description. Which, obviously, goes way against the Polish culture (that would make you ashamed of taking such an open approach) but not against the entrepreneurial culture at all.
Quite as expected, my conventional approach didn’t make anyone laugh, but rather the opposite – it led to many interesting happenings in my life. Just for the records, I placed this description HERE. As long as I am not married, the case is open I guess 🙂
4. Managing Expectations.
Now I have my own company, I am also way better at forgiving people than before. I see that they usually have better intentions than they seem at first.
I also noticed that social capital is so important for long-term development that I simply cannot afford not to recuperate with people I used to have conflicts with. You never know what the future brings, so not shaking hands and not saying “sorry” is the stupidest thing you can possibly do.
Also use more heuristics than before. Instead of asking one person a favor and hoping that they will meet the expectations, I ask many people at a time and hope that some percentage will respond. I only care about my goals, so I don’t have time for hatching resentment that a specific person didn’t help me at a specific time.
No need to say that with this rule in mind, my relations with people got to a whole new level.
These are just a few quick examples of how setting a company changed my life—on the inside. In just two years, I turned from a neurotic full of regrets into a sentiment-free, problem-solving machine.
Does it mean that everyone should do the same and set their own business? No! Most people would not feel happy in a setting in which you are constantly unsure about your future. What I mean is: finding your optimal working scheme changes your life for the better. I would not be the happiest in a corporation, yet I found my peace of mind in my own company.
Are you still unsure about what to do next with your professional life and where to go to best develop yourself? Perhaps this new test will help you! I not only created it, but I also took the test by myself, and I fully agree with my results—I even recorded a video about my impressions. So, if you would like to check if you have the potential for an entrepreneur, please take a look!
Please cite as:
Bielczyk, N. Z. (2021, September 30th). How Setting a Company Has Changed My Life, Personal-Development Wise. Retrieved from: https://nataliabielczyk.com/how-setting-a-company-has-changed-my-life-personal-development-wise/
* * *
If you would like to read more about careers (for PhDs and other white-collar professionals) and effective strategies to self-navigate in the job market, please also take a look at the blog of my company, Ontology of Value where I write posts dedicated to these topics.
* * *
I participate in the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program. Some links in this article may be affiliate links. By using these affiliate links, you help me achieve my personal and professional goals.