When You Are Handed Your Walking Papers…And You’re Self-Employed

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

When you work for yourself, you have the power to make decisions. It goes without saying. 

You work hard when you have your own business. There’s long days. 

You might work on weekends, evenings, and even vacations. 

Yet, you persist because you have a passion. Usually, it’s a passion for helping others or making the world a better place in some ways.

Sometimes, you try everything you know how to do to make things “successful.” I mean, everyone has to put food on the table. 

If you worked so hard for an employer, you might get a raise or promotion of some kind, if you created “results” for the company. 

If you chug along as an employee and don’t get these results, you risk being let go (getting your walking papers).

When you work for yourself, you have to give yourself your own walking papers, especially if you are the only person and are running the show. There’s no one there to fire you or replace you if you are a one woman show. 

If you resist quitting or firing yourself when you know you need to, you might make yourself physically ill. There can be anxiety and/or depression. There can be sadness, exhaustion, and hopelessness or worse. (Yeah, there’s worse.)

I owned an online business for almost a decade. I taught myself a lot of things, along with working my little tail off. I gave and gave, often giving my services away for free. I had some bright spots, such as getting my book published by a major publishing house. I traveled a bit. I spoke to large audiences. I hugged many people. Stuff like that. 

I didn’t earn much money during this time. I continued on because I had a financial cushion. I also wanted to help others. 

Eventually, I became sick. First, a relapse of old adrenal fatigue. Then, everything went haywire in my body, mind, and spirit. I had insomnia, anxiety, and depression. I wasn’t sure I wanted to live any more. 

Luckily, I was able to get my health back on track. I healed the fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and yes, I do wan to live. I found my way back to my true self, a creative soul who likes to make art and music and help animals. 

Part of me felt lost once I was well. My mom passed away this year too, along with some other family members. Next came tons of dental work and a medical test or two in the mix. 

Through all these challenges and loss, I still felt happy. I thought that was interesting. I had lots of stress, challenges, and changes, but yet, I felt HAPPY.

During this time, I let go of my business slowly, partly consciously and partly unconsciously. The less I did, the happier I felt. I mean, imagine if you had a job and you weren’t paid money or any other non-monetary rewards. Imagine working and working and working, trying everything you know how to do. Imagine learning and studying to be a better professional and business owner in your so-called spare time. Imagine if you had to work so hard for so little return. Imagine if you even had to pay to do this job that earned you no money or rewards or satisfaction. Then, imagine if you gave and gave freely and some people started to complain. Yes, complain. 

No fun, right?

I didn’t want to quit my business for a long time. I didn’t want to give up or fail at one more thing. I didn’t want to let anyone down. I had worked so hard for so long. I didn’t want to give up hope that one day things might work out. I felt sad, deflated, and defeated. 

Then, everything started to happen. Deaths. Grief. Dental pain. Medical tests. Complaining people. Exhaustion. A minor fender bender where no one and no cars were harmed, but that still left me shaken. 

Oh, I get it. All those things were my walking papers. Some might say they came from the Universe or some higher power. Okay, whatever you wanna call the source. 

As I sit here, I’m a bit saddened. Yet, I know it’s the right thing to do. I need to surrender. I recently read a post on author Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook about the difference between quitting and surrendering. I’m not quitting. I’m surrendering. 

After watching some folks I’ve loved be on life support, I think that is how my little business has been for while, for at least the past three years. When someone you love is on life support, you have a big decision to make…to pull the plug or not. Before you decide though, you take care of the person. You clean their face, hands, and feet, those little things. You might sit and pray. You might go get a cup of coffee or take a walk. You don’t want the person to suffer any longer. Part of you is selfish. You want the person to still be around physically. You will miss them. Your heart breaks. You think about that small 1-2% chance that the person might miraculously recover. Even if they did, you know they’d not be the same person. You know in your heart that pulling the plug is right thing to do.

As my business has been on life support, I’ve done similarly. I’ve brainstormed ideas of how to do things differently. I thought about Facebook ads. Maybe I should have group coaching? Maybe I should do more video blogging? Maybe if I changed up my graphics again, I’d feel good? Maybe I need another class on marketing? Maybe I need to change my hair color to blonde? I wondered how many more years I could take a loss in my taxes. Stuff like that was in my head, over and over again…as I worked diligently every day to try to build a tribe, a business, and a life outside of it. 

My walking papers came fairly obviously. It wasn’t subtle. Recently, the one medical test showed I had pretty extreme anemia. I’ve been taking iron supplements, but I came close to needing infusions. My hair has fallen out in handfuls. At times, I’ve had migraines that made me want to pass out. When my adrenals were in their weakest state, I’d have episodes of throwing up. I’ve had immune system challenges such as getting sick every 3-4 weeks with an upper respiratory infection. I can’t write about the digestive stuff, hahaha! 

Yet, I kept on showing up each day for my business, my tribe, and my life. As I type this, I have 90 some days in a row of yoga. I have logged into MyFitnessPal 530 or more days. I’ve been playing guitar daily for 135 days or more. I show up. Yet, all of this isn’t enough. It isn’t enough to get clients. It isn’t enough to get folks to follow me on social media to increase my platform size. It isn’t enough to save my business, myself, or the world. And..that’s okay. 

I can handle change. I know that I’m strong. One of my mantras has been, “I can do very brave things,” paraphrased from a Brave Girls’ Club meme. Over the summer as my mom was in the hospital dying, I had Elizabeth Cook’s song, “Sometimes It Takes Balls to be a Woman” as my theme song. I’m okay with having to do things differently. 

I guess what somewhat sucks and hurts is just the feeling of deflation thinking about how some won’t even care or notice that my online business is gone. I’m just another person in their inbox or newsfeed. They can hit “delete” or “unsubscribe,” just like we all do when we feel done. 

I suppose by now, I should be used to folks deleting me from their lives, both in person and online. I’ve had to do tons of forgiveness and compassion work for myself and others. I know that I tried my best in some cases. I also gave my all to help some people. I would do it again…it’s just how I roll. 

As I sit here, I think about the haters I’ve had to manage in my online life, especially after my book came out. I used to think to myself, “I can’t let them win,” and I’d persist, doing my best to be a “success.” Now, I just don’t care about all that stuff such as being someone, being internet famous, earning a certain amount of money, or having a certain level of platform as an author. 

I think about all those who let me down during my journey. I made a list recently of each person and I sent them big hugs and love. I really did. I actually thanked them for not being there for me because it showed me the places I needed to become stronger. It showed me who and what mattered the most in my life.

I’m pretty sure I’d do some things differently if I could go back in time. Of course, all I can do is create a better future. So, that’s what I’m gonna do.

Walking papers can be a blessing in disguise. I think about how many people I’ve admired in my life and how they turned endings into new beginnings. I plan on going downstream next, allowing the winds of change to turn me into something good. 

Rock on,


(copyrighted 2015 by Lisa Selow) 


  1. I'm glad to see you're following what calls you, and I wish you the best of luck with it. I'll be sticking around. I won't delete you :)

  2. It is always sad when you have to admit to yourself that it has come to an end. It takes true strength and dedication to keep going like you did. I hope you find what you are looking for. It also helps to have a good attitude about learning more and expressing interest in marketing to keep the dream alive. I wish you luck in the future!

    Lindsey @ Nosto

    1. Lindsey, hmm, I really did have a good attitude and I had a passion for marketing. My priorities just changed. You don't really know me from one blog post. It's impossible for you to know my journey or my inner process from reading my blog post here. Thanks.


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