Sometimes living life on your terms is really, really hard.
We Minga ladies have made some pretty big choices that have been about building our lives to be life-sustaining, community-building, and family-oriented. For us that has meant taking an entrepreneurial approach to life and doing things like creating multiple streams of income for our families, taking on the majority of household duties so our partners can focus more on work outside the home, reducing expenses by looking at food production and preservation and cutting back the amount of time that our kids are in child-care by looking after them ourselves, oh yes, and taking a stand for building a company that creates the change we want to see in the world.
Those choices were made one at a time and were definitely not a neatly conceived package of how to stand in our awesomeness as leaders in our families and our communities. There are A LOT of balls in the air and it can be hard to know whether we are gaining ground or losing it at any given time. When you are creating something, there isn’t an easy way to judge your success. Should our measure of success be our own happiness? Should it be the profitability of the business? Should it be the stories of impact that come in by text and email and facebook? Should it be the quality of our relationships? Should it be the number of Instagram followers (@mingakillbuilding)? When you are living life on your terms, you are defining who you are, one choice at a time and there is a lot of opportunity to find evidence of why you should give up. Most of the time we feel lucky and proud to have built these lives for ourselves and certain of the impact that Minga makes…. and sometimes we are just holding a big old bucket of “I don’t f***ing know!”
Please don’t misunderstand the intention behind this post. We know with absolute certainty that if more people were able to clearly describe and build lives on their own terms, the world would be a better place. At the same time, it’s important to be real with you. It’s important to say clearly that building a life on your terms takes a whole heck of a lot more than just getting clear on what matters to you, or understanding the limiting beliefs that are holding you back. It’s even more than making a plan and following through… because there actually is no finish line and the road unwinds in front of you as you are walking on it. Sometimes, stuff doesn’t work out, sometimes people don’t want what you thought they would want, sometimes YOU don’t want what you thought you would want.
Sometimes you think you’ve jumped off one crazy runaway train and jumped right back on a different one; same garbage, different pile… only this time you’ve got no one to blame for the pile but yourself. Sometimes you look around and wonder if you should really just read the bright red writing on the walls and walk meekly back to the treadmill and ask politely to be let back on.
Self doubt is powerful. In our case the path involves a teeny tiny pay cheque, no benefits, no safety net, and the map we have is only as good as what we generate each and every day; which workshops to run, which ideas to build out into real things, how to talk about what we believe in, what will resonate with our community, how to blend commitment to deeply held values for our business and wanting to be able to contribute a comfortable income to our families?
Sometimes, it all does feel impossible.
For us, life out here is still better than life back where we were. Building life on our terms does demand a lot of us, every day, but so does living the script of dominant culture. You still have to wake up, suit up, and show up every day. The difference is whether you buy into what you are showing up for or not. The difference is whether you see your daily grind as busting up rocks, or building a cathedral. It’s not easy, but neither is spending your days in a chair that hurts your body, in a building that crushes your soul, or in a job that doesn’t have space for YOU in it.
Reality check and pep talk complete.