Notes On My Business Journey 2.0; Self-Discovery, Self-Doubt and Breaking Away From The Norm

The last time I wrote about my entrepreneurial journey was back in May 2021.

I documented it all from the beginning and shared the story of how Notes by Thalia began.

This took me back to how I lacked ambition while I was at school and university and then found myself in a job because a friend told me I “would be good at that.” And after an incredibly stressful and toxic 6 years working in a modelling agency in London, I quit to travel around the world.

It was the only thing I could do to save my mental health and I’ve been on an “everything” journey since then. Everything — meaning healing, self-care, wellness, self-discovery, personal development and self-love journey.

The whole shebang.

Which led me to start a creative business with my partner and eventually build my blog into what it is now. It was a story of slow growth and how all great things in life take time.

And recently I’ve been going through a period of low energy, which has allowed me to take a moment to reflect on how far I’ve come in the past year and a half.

So today’s blog post is a continuation of that initial entrepreneur post and everything I have learnt since then. To look at what worked and what didn’t, and to introduce you to the next stage of my business.

“Don’t underestimate the power of slow, low energy days. Use them as a chance to reflect on everything you are doing. Check in with yourself, your daily habits, routines and intentions to make sure they all align with your overall goals and where you want to be.”

Notes by Thalia

Lifestyle image shows the author of Notes by Thalia enjoying the sunset in Florence with her partner John. Image is purely for decorative use only to support the blog post on my self-discovery journey
Me and John in Florence, Italy | June 2022

Notes on life

Life is a work in progress

I spent the majority of the now infamous lockdown years of 2020, doubting myself and my journey.

I’d previously jumped into a business with my partner that I wasn’t entirely happy with because I failed to ask myself the simple question, “Is this actually what you want?”

And because I wasn’t confident in what I was doing, I lacked motivation and commitment. I began to compare myself to other female business owners online and I resented them for what they had managed to achieve in such a short time.

I allowed this to not only affect my mood but also my path.

And for a while, I was lost. Again. At 29 years old.

Honestly, I thought the days of not knowing what to do would be behind me, but clearly not.

There seems to be a cultural assumption that by 30, you’ll have your life figured out. You might be married with kids, but one thing is for sure, you’ll definitely have your shit together. And we all seem to aim towards that magical age where everything will just fall into place and we’ll finally be at peace after our tumultuous twenties and awkward teenage years.

But at 32, let me tell you that is a lie.

You don’t need to have your shit together at 30, or 32, or 35, etc for that matter.

Life is a work in progress and it will never feel or be perfect.

Partly because perfection doesn’t exist, but also because you deserve to constantly be curious and discover more for yourself.

It’s never too late to start over.

There is nothing wrong with changing up your life or current situation every so often and improving it.

To set new goals, search for new opportunities and live somewhere new.

Life isn’t just for sitting still and feeling content. It’s about self-discovery and cultivating a life of meaning in a way that feels good for you.

Which is something I’ve had to learn myself.

Because no one tells you that it’s ok to still feel lost at 29. That one day you will find your passion but even when you have found that passion, you might still want to explore more skills and opportunities.

And this is partly why I don’t believe in setting a long-term vision.

Because things change. Your mind changes. You get older and your interests turn into something new. You outgrow the things and people you once loved and the goals you thought you once wanted.

This doesn’t mean you are flaky. It simply means that you are developing a greater understanding of the life you want. And you are adapting your goals to fit in with this new vision.

So the next time someone asks you what your 5-year plan is, just roll your eyes and say, “I’ll tell you when I’m there.”

Breaking away from the “norm”

I write a lot about how I quit my job and left my London life behind to go travelling across South East Asia and South America.

But in all honesty, it took me 2-years to work up the courage to actually hand in my notice.

And even then, I still felt as though I had made the wrong decision.

I was reminded on a daily basis, by someone I considered to be a close friend, that I would fly back home from Asia within 2-weeks because I would hate it. In fact, the thought of me even travelling solo in the first place was actually quite laughable.

I knew no one in the countries I was going to be visiting, no friends were travelling at the same time as me and there was no one I could really ask for tips or guidance.

Everyone I knew was in a full-time job. And my friends often made jokes saying that I was going on a gap year, I was 27 at this point.

It annoyed me that the standard version of success being portrayed was staying where you were and maintaining a career.

Quitting my job made me feel as though I had failed.

That I was running away rather than “manning up” and just getting on with it.

I also felt that I was letting my friends and family down. After university, everyone is waiting for you to get a job, climb up the ladder, build a career and become respected within your field. And I decided to throw that all away.

At the time, I was a huge people pleaser, and the thought I had that I was disappointing people was a hard pill to swallow.

It was a very lonely time for me when I constantly questioned my choices.

But I soon realised that quitting my job and leaving London was the best decision I ever made.

Travel breathed a new life into me

Travelling changed my perspective on things and gave me an energy I had never experienced before.

And most importantly, it showed me that I was now living my life for myself, rather than for my family, friends or colleagues.

So after all those years of staying in a job I hated because I was too scared to do anything about it, I was finally doing what I wanted to be doing and making it work for me.

No-one else.

Because it is no one else’s business what I do with my life. I’m no longer influenced by others and I’m so much happier because of it. And to me, that is the most important thing. I get to wake up every morning doing what I love and feeling fulfilled.

So shouldn’t this be what success looks like?

How you feel inside. Not what we’ve been told success is by society — having a job, a stable income, a house, a partner. We’re conditioned from a very young age to work towards that definition of success and maintain that throughout our entire lives.

So when someone comes along, like me, who doesn’t want to conform to that, it can be very scary to go against the mould.

But I’m learning more and more each day that life is about taking risks.

“Life is sometimes tough when you do not fit the standard profile.”

Robert T. Kiyosaki | Rich Dad Poor Dad

Digital nomad girl

After being stuck in the UK for nearly 2-years during the pandemic, I’m officially travelling again.

Something that lights up my soul.

You could probably call me a digital nomad although I sometimes find that term quite pretentious.

But yes, I change location regularly and work remotely from my laptop.

I left the UK back in October 2021, and since then I’ve visited Turkey, Cyprus, Jordan, Dubai, Greece and most recently Italy.

If you want to follow along with my travels then please come and say “hi” over on Instagram.

Travel is my self-care.

It inspires me, sparks my creativity, allows me to reconnect with my values and it shapes me into the person I want to be.

And if you haven’t guessed already, having the freedom to travel is part of my why.

I get to wake up every day exploring somewhere new and doing the things that I want to be doing.

Whether that is walking and wandering around the city I find myself in, hitting up all the tourist hotspots or simply working from a local coffee shop all day. I finally have space to grow and I no longer feel trapped being somewhere I don’t want to be.

But this all came down to me taking action.

Being self-aware of my surroundings and noticing that there was a disconnect between where I was living and what I chose to do daily.

I decided that I didn’t want a Groundhog Day life, but a life where I was always on the move, exploring new places and not doing the same old shit every single day.

And that is why I choose to live a life that makes me feel alive.

“Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.”

Robin Sharma

Notes on business

From self-doubt to self-belief

My word for 2021 was self-belief.

When I first started my business in 2020, I had a lot of limiting beliefs and self-doubt issues which were stopping me from moving forward. And even though starting my blog gave me the purpose and direction I needed, I still didn’t take myself seriously enough to turn it into a business.

I desperately needed help and someone to give me the accountability that I was unable to provide myself with.

I knew I wanted to invest in coaching as I saw that there was potential in what I wanted to do but I didn’t know where to start and I didn’t believe that I was even capable of getting there.

In October 2020, I began working with a mindset coach over the course of 12 weeks and then again in March 2021 for another 12 weeks.

Working with a coach helped me get clearer on my vision, gave me the support and accountability I needed to achieve my goals and helped me unpack my mindset blocks. I finally stopped viewing what I was doing as a hobby and started to take myself seriously.

Over the course of those 24 weeks, I got my website live (something I had been putting off for a while), created a weekly e-letter, designed 4 digital planners to sell on Etsy and started offering graphic design services.

It’s crazy how much you can achieve when you get out of your own way and stop self-sabotaging yourself.

And I put this all down to the mindset coaching I received at the start of my business journey.

It pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to build something I was proud of.

The author of Notes by Thalia sitting in a coffee shop on her laptop at the very start of her business journey. The image is purely for decorative use only to support the blog post on her self-discovery journey
Me at the very of my business journey | March 2020

Getting comfortable with calling myself a blogger

In January of this year, I decided to go full-time with my blog.

I invested in a blogging course so I could learn more about monetisation and affiliate marketing.

A lot of my time was dedicated to research, writing content and watching SEO videos from AHREFs and Neil Patel.

Yes, it sounds technical and boring but I loved it! I was filling my brain with new skills and I was good at it. I started to rank and my page views began to go up each month which meant my lovely community was growing.

I soon became less interested in offering graphic design services, because even though I love to design, it didn’t align with my future vision.

It was getting in the way of me focusing solely on my blog and growing it.

In all honesty, I think I hid behind doing graphic design work. Because I felt like calling myself a graphic designer sounded more established than calling myself a blogger.

Maybe it was me placing my own stigma on the word — “oh you’re a blogger, so you just take pretty pictures and write about your life?”

But those were again more mindset blocks I had to figure out on my own.

I had to dig deep and ask myself why I felt that way about blogging.

Why I was embarrassed to call myself a blogger?

And then I started my blogging course and it taught me that blogging is a business.

Besides, blogging for me doesn’t look like writing about my life (with the exception of this post and a few others).

It looks likes reflecting on past experiences, navigating how to improve and sharing those tips with an audience who will benefit from them.

Yes, my blog posts are usually quite cathartic for me as I get a lot off of my chest when I write them, my blog is basically like my online journal.

But it’s not just for me.

It’s for you too, in the hope that the words written on your screen will inspire and help you in some way. Whether that is to make you feel less alone, give you support or encourage you to make a change.

Wellness blogger to future wellness coach

When I finally made the decision to transition solely to blogging, I immersed myself in the wellness world.

Reading and learning more about healthy habits, and becoming fascinated with the wellness industry and the toxicity that surrounds it.

I was spending a lot more time on social media engaging with other health and wellness accounts and consuming their content.

And well, I think we all know what happens to the algorithm when all you do is view similar content.

You get shown even more similar content.

Cue my entire feed being dominated by early twenty-something females who all have perky boobs, round bums and flat tummies.

All I saw during my scrolling sessions were gen Z wellness influencers who all promote a healthy lifestyle through waking up early, working out daily, applying their skincare routine, making a green smoothie, taking supplements and eating “insta-worthy” bowls of overnights oats and berries.

They all use the hashtag “That Girl” and promote the Project 50 viral challenge.

And so my journey into the self-care space saw me question the way the wellness industry is portrayed online and I felt that I didn’t fit the ideal wellness aesthetic I was seeing on social media.

My imposter syndrome hit an all-time high and I started to wonder whether I was completely out of my depth trying to be a successful wellness blogger. Because I didn’t look like these other wellness influencers and I don’t have tens of thousands of followers.

Again more mindset blocks I needed to unpack.

So just like I have broken away from the norm in my societal life, I have also broken away from the online standard of what wellness is and looks like.

I choose to promote a “wellness” practice that is realistic, affordable and attainable.

An approach that is not one-size-fits-all but unique to the individual.

Because I believe wellness can be anything you want it to be. It doesn’t need to look like drinking a matcha latte in the morning and practising yoga daily.

As long as your daily habits and lifestyle choices make you feel happier and healthier than they did the year before, then I think you are doing it right.

I was also starting to see a lot of misinformation and toxic advice being shared online and it didn’t sit right with me. I wanted to be able to expand my health knowledge so I am never in a position where I am misinforming my audience and selling something for my own personal gain without doing proper research first.

And this brings me to my most recent endeavour.

I’m officially a student again

I’ve enrolled on a health coaching course and I hope to be certified in the next 9–12 months.

This was a goal of mine right from the very beginning. To expand my expertise in health, wellness and nutrition so I can serve my audience on a whole other level. Not just through generic “how to” posts but through actual structured and custom advice.

I did however keep putting this goal off, telling myself I wasn’t ready or confident enough for that yet.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt since starting my own business, it’s that you will never be ready.

So thanks to my own self-doubt creeping back in again and being caught up in a cycle of comparison, I felt that there was no time like the present.

I am ready for this and I want this.

Plus it will provide me with the self-belief and confidence I need to keep going.

Self-belief, there’s that word again.

I guess, that no matter how much you dive into self-development and improve yourself, there will always be more work to be done. More mindset blocks to unpack and more insecurities to iron out.

Because as I said at the beginning, life is a work in progress.

It will never be perfect.

But that’s what makes it so damn exciting!

“Most big, deeply satisfying accomplishments in life take at least five years to achieve. This can include building a business, cultivating a loving relationship, writing a book, getting in the best shape of your life, raising a family, and more. Five years is a long time. It is much slower than most of us would like. If you accept the reality of slow progress, you have every reason to take action today. If you resist the reality of slow progress, five years from now you’ll simply be five years older and still looking for a shortcut.”

JAmes Clear

Final thoughts

Five years ago I made the decision to quit my toxic job in London and change my life because I wasn’t happy.

Since then, I’ve travelled the world, taught English in Peru and online as a TEFL teacher, started a business with my partner, launched my own graphic design services, became a full-time blogger, and digital nomad and I’m now a health coach in training.

I’m on a path that aligns with my values and gives me meaning every single day.

It’s been a slow journey of self-discovery with ups and downs but these last 5 years have been the best yet.

I’m glad I never tried to hurry them up or find shortcuts because embracing slow growth and learning from the process has been the most satisfying thing. Celebrating my small wins and enjoying every step of the journey.

And as fluffy as it sounds, this all came down to me listening to my gut and trusting my instincts, despite what everyone else around me was thinking, saying or doing.

I believe that deep down inside we all know the answers to our own questions, but it’s uncomfortable to admit what we really feel. So we ignore our true feelings, hoping they will go away. But what good does that actually do?

So if you’re looking to change your current situation and cultivate more meaning in your life, here is my advice to you…

Get clear on your core values.

Finding out what your values are will help you feel more confident knowing that what you are doing is what you want to be doing.

Do some deep thinking and map out what your dream life would look like. Try to keep it realistic and attainable. Regularly check in with yourself to see that you are living in a way that fulfils you.

Set goals that come from the heart. Don’t just do what you think you “should” achieve because society tells you it’s the norm.

Remember, you only get one life, so make it a life YOU really really want.

Until next week,

Thalia xx

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Notes by Thalia

Notes by Thalia

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Here to help you mindfully navigate and balance your day. Notes on self-care, mindful productivity, mental well-being and wellness.