"Societally, we glorify huge life overhauls. TV shows like Clean Sweep and The Biggest Loser give us the impression that we can completely transform ourselves in a relatively short period of time. Magazine headlines promise that you're just '30 days away from an entirely new body!'" says runner-blogger-coach Nicole Antoinette.
"At the heart of it, we've become a culture of people who demand enormous results in a fraction of the time, but the problem with that mentality is that it leads us to setting unrealistic goals."
Her blog may have started with sharing her move away from alcohol and towards long-distance running and green smoothie formulas, but I often find myself recommending Antoinette's deliciously straight-talking perspective to our Escape the City members.
Ultimately, her blog tells a story that is too easy to forget as New Year's resolutions creep around the corner: the quick-fix before-after perception of change is sexy, but the process of change is often an unsexy step-by-step marathon that rarely unfolds overnight.
Here, Antoinette shares a behind-the-scenes look at building an online business that now sees her reaching over 10,000 people in 116 countries worldwide with her weekly blog posts and emails.
What was the job you were in before you 'escaped' into what you're doing now?
Right now, I'm incredibly grateful to be running LifeLessBullshit.com full-time, where I help people change their stories - the ones they tell about themselves, to themselves - so that they can then change their daily habits and, ultimately, their lives.
I jokingly call myself a "bullshit-exterminator," which really means I guide people in the process of identifying what's holding them back and how to let it go so that they can get out of their own way and go after the goals they really want - whether that's running a marathon, writing a book, eating better, starting a side business, or anything in between.
It's funny, though, because I started this business without really knowing I was starting a business.
I've been blogging since 2007, just sharing stories and trying to be honest and vulnerable, and a few years ago when I started making some big personal changes - I quit drinking, started running, changed my entire diet and lifestyle, etc - I found that more and more people wanted help doing those same things, and it just organically grew into a business from there.
While that was happening, I was working as Operations Manager of a boutique web design firm that I co-owned with my best friend, and I actually only left that position this past summer to pursue Life Less Bullshit full-time.
So, it wasn't really that I "escaped" into what I'm doing now, because I loved what I was doing before, it's just that I loved this more, and when I had taken it as far as I could as a part-time side-business, I knew it was time to give it my full attention.
What has been the hardest thing about transitioning into a career based around your blog?
Deciding where to draw the boundary lines for myself about what I share publicly and what I don't.
That's been really tough, actually, because I'm such a fierce believer in the power of vulnerability and full-frontal honesty, and yet there are still lots of things I'd prefer to keep to myself and my offline life.
It's a challenging thing to balance, you know? When your life and your business are so intertwined, it can be hard to remember that you are a person, and that you're not just your business.
Of course, there's no right answer about "how much is too much" when it comes to the parts of ourselves that we share with the world, so I'm just trying to figure it out as I go by sharing what feels good to me and leaving it at that.
Where did you find inspiration?
Inspiration comes from two places: 1) the things I find most challenging in my own life (because, hey, if I'm struggling with those things, I bet other people are too), and 2) the comments people leave on my blog. I'm so grateful to have such honest, thoughtful people in my online community, and I draw a lot of inspiration from what they share with me - and with each other.
For support, it depends on the kind of support I need. Emotional support comes from what I lovingly call my "Pit Crew," aka the very small group of people who keep me chugging along smoothly and whose opinions, perspective, and occasional ass-kickings I couldn't live without.
For other types of support - like which tools to use for my business, how to approach marketing, etc. I've curated the blogs I find most helpful and I refer to them regularly.
Some of my favorite resources are: alexandrafranzen.com (for laser-focused lessons on writing & communication), socialtriggers.com (for no-bs marketing strategies), and impossiblehq.com (for a push to just do the work).
What has been the most unexpected aspect of your career transition?
Honestly? The most unexpected part of going full-time with Life Less Bullshit is the insane number of ideas I have for what to do next. It's crazy. It keeps me up at night. There's just so much I want to do.
Which, all things considered, is a good problem to have I suppose, but the challenge is in slowing down, picking one thing at a time, and actually taking action to move that one thing forward.
It's all too easy to get paralyzed by a flood of ideas to the point where none of them ever see the light of day - which is exactly what I don't want. So, that's what I'm working on right now: digging one hole at a time and digging it as thoroughly and as deeply as possible before moving onto the next thing.
For example, I run a virtual training program for beginning runners who want to go from couch potato to half marathon finish line, and that starts up again on January 6. I'm absolutely obsessed with this program, and with the 200+ people who have already gone through it, so all of my energy right now is focused on getting ready to work with a new group of runners from around the world after the new year. It feels great!
What advice would you give others looking to make a similar move?
Be really honest with yourself about what you are (and are not) willing to do - and ask yourself a shit ton of questions.
Like: How do you want to spend your days? How do you work best? Will you do well working alone all day, or do you need more interaction than that? Are you equipped to handle the uncertain income from month to month, especially at the beginning?
What are you most excited about? Who do you want to work with, and why? What are you obsessed with, and how can that be front and center in your business? What is the message you feel you need to get out into the world?
Which of your skills are sharpest, and how can you structure your business around those skills? etc. etc.
I've found, personally, that diving into yourself like this can make all the difference in the world in terms of setting yourself up to succeed.