6 Life Lessons I’ve Learnt After Taking A Big Life Gamble

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Last year, me and my better half made a massive life gamble.

It set us on a mad roller coaster journey into the unknown, that’s taken us through some really crappy lows and some amazing euphoric highs – one year on, it’s certainly showing no sign of slowing.

What did we do? We quit our jobs and started our own business.

We both lived and worked in London, with promising jobs at excellent branding agencies. Like most creative places it was a fun, challenging environment and full of brilliant people. Both of us had similar roles at different companies and worked on household names and exciting projects where we’d often see our work in shops, on TV and across social media – it was fair to say we enjoyed the ‘glamour’ a nicely branded product could offer.

It sounds great, but it was a honey trap.

What it really entailed was long intense working days, super charged pace of life, zero prospect of climbing the property ladder and a bitch of a commute to top it all off. London began to take more than it gave back and it took it’s toll on us both. We felt like a tiny cog in a beastly machine.

So we needed a break. At the start of last year we had planned to go on a trip to India, travelling from Delhi to Kathmandu and seeing the sites of Varanasi to the mountains of Himalayas, this would be a trip of a lifetime and we were prepared to use our entire year’s holiday for it.

But there was a niggling catch. I just knew when we got back we would have found ourselves exactly where we left off, back to the grindstone. This wasn’t what we wanted.

A Fresh New Start

Instead of running away from life, we decided to make opportunities happen. By grabbing life by the balls, we moved out of London to Leeds to set up our own brand consultancy, leaving behind secure jobs, friends and family at the tender age of 25. Swapping familiarity for the unknown.

Our vision was to start a new life with the freedom to choose who, what and how we work, spend more time on ourselves and with family and importantly to give back in our own way.

Trying to achieve that has been the hardest thing I’ve ever set upon doing.

Life Lessons

No one teaches you how to run a business or how to lead your life on your own, so this year has been one hell of a learning curve. We’ve had to build knowledge and skills in sales, finance, writing (my grammar still needs working on, sorry!) the art of communication and a million other things. No one can prepare you for the rejection, challenges and the tidal wave of experiences that comes with it.

It’s been an intense year of ups, downs, successes and losses but we’ve not looked back yet. So I wanted to share the most important life lessons I’ve learnt from our big gamble so far. Perhaps you’re thinking about taking the dive, starting a business or going solo, maybe some of these will help you on your journey.

Lesson One: You’re the main obstacle.

My biggest roadblock has been me. My own doubts, reservations and sometimes confidence gets in the way, making sleepless nights a frequent certainty. There are times when we have both hit rock bottom and considered a way out.

But on the other hand we’ve also loved every moment of it. I’ve become much more aware of myself and importantly of my strengths and knowing how to build on them.

Being accountable only to yourself is liberating, but can also be unsettling. We spend most of our early years being told what to do, it takes a bit of time getting used to being your own boss. But when you master your own mind, everything becomes so much easier.

Lesson Two: Get out and visit new places with new perspectives.

In the 9 to 5 it’s very easy to slip into a pattern of complacency. Where everything is just fine – not great but not bad either. That gives us tunnel vision and makes our minds stale. Starting a life in a new city was like nothing else, with new accents, new mindsets and new ideas – it’s certainly kept me on my toes. I’ve relearnt that going somewhere new brings me back into the moment and a new appreciation of what’s around me.

Lesson Three: The great outdoors is the eternal healer.

It is so easy to get bogged down in the immediate things in our life or the fantasy lives of social media. But when your exposed to the outdoors, you find a greater peace and presence within yourself that you thought you had lost. I had genuinely forgotten how to get my hands dirty and feel the rough terrain under your feet and just experience the real.

Being in outdoors creates that piece of mind no coffee shop or Saturday night TV can emulate. So moving to Leeds has encouraged me to get outdoors more by taking my bike into the Dales to clear my mind when it’s foggy.

I’ve learnt to make sure you take time out, and spend it outside in your weekly routine. Because it’s no lie that being outdoors really does make you feel better and puts everything into perspective.

Lesson Four: Your skin will grow thick.

When starting a business, there’s a freight train of discomfort headed your way. Networking, presentations, negotiations and a ton of rejection – none of it’s nice, but exposure to it makes it bearable and allows us to be ready for the things we can’t avoid.

Eventually, there’s a certain mentality, willing or unwilling, that begins to emerge – a resistance, a composure – that nothing will unhinge you as you continue down your path. You begin to learn that you have nothing to lose and your willing to except that, this makes your resilient and strong. Your skin grows thick.

I’m only just beginning to feel this and I’ve yet a long way to go. But it’s something that only experience will provide.

Lesson Five: People are brilliant (most of the time, anyway).

One of the best things about starting a business are the people we meet on a daily basis. Optimistic, level headed, exciting business owners and entrepreneurs, people that are honestly a privilege to know.

Yes, leaving friends and family behind can be unsettling but the new people you will meet can and will transform your life. I would have never have met them had I not started out on my own.

Lesson Six: You’ve got nothing to lose.

Win or lose, it doesn’t really matter. We have to do our best with the lives we have been given and help those around us do the same.

Accepting the situation and the events that happen is key while making sure to learn from it and move on. What people think of us really doesn’t matter, we’re born with nothing and we’ll die with nothing, that’s the reality and a powerful thought that often keeps me from stressing out too much!

Remember: we have nothing to lose but plenty to gain.

Forward We Go

Getting our business off the ground and into the clear still continues to be hard, long and sometime stressful but with the hope of reward, fulfilment and a life full of opportunity and the lessons learnt on the way, it’s more than worth it.

I’ve lived more in the past year than I’ve done in the previous 5 put together and I’ve still got a whole lot of living to do yet.

Find out more about us and our story at www.kissbranding.co.uk 🙌 🙌

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