September 13, 2020 marks one year of ANNI WEEKS officially being in business! Can you believe it? If you’ve read my story , you know I spent years before I officially launched refining my content into what it is today. Somewhere along the way I found the professional and personal confidence (with the support of mentors, family, and friends) to launch an actual business based on a blend of my education in dietetics and my experience with chronic illness-- and I plan to learn and evolve each new day.
Instagram and LinkedIn and Twitter can make it all look so glamorous. I often have friends that tell me, “You seriously have the coolest job!” And I’ll let you in on a little secret-- I do...and I also don’t. Just like any passion, it takes a lot of long-term perspective, daily commitment, and a village. Each day has its own challenges and celebrations, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I truly, absolutely love what I get to do for work. It empowers me as a woman, a friend, and a wife. It’s taught me more about myself and the people I hope to help than I could have ever learned on my own.
I’ve been so humbled on this journey. I’ve now been working with my first major client (who has also become an incredible mentor) for six months. She told me, “I didn’t know what I was missing before I met you.” Um, hashtag THE FEELS, amirite?? I have another client who told me the other day that what I have to give is what the world needs right now. I often can’t believe people are saying these incredibly kind and wonderful things about MY business and work, but that has been my goal from the start: education, empathy, and empowerment.
If you’ve been following since the beginning, thank you for your support! It’s been a wild ride, with name changes, re-branding, the whole nine...I believe in positive changes, so there will be many more to come!
I hope I continue to write things that you want to read, and your feedback is so valuable to me. If you are new to the party, welcome! This is a place of belonging-- no judgment, no agenda. Just a sense of community and a desire to learn, grow, and flourish together. Thank you all for helping me see my potential each day, and for inviting me on your journey so I can help you reach yours.
As I mentioned, I’ve learned a lot this year. Here are 5 lessons I won’t be soon to forget:
Don’t be afraid to be an authority.
For so much of my first year in business, I read books that told me to “establish myself as an authority in the field”. I kept thinking surely I would know it when the moment came, as if one day I was just going to wake up and think, “that’s it, you’ve made it...you’re an expert”. In reality, it happens a little differently.
I applied to be part of a project one day and got one of the kindest messages I have ever received back. It read something along the lines of "we don’t have the funds to hire you at the moment, but would love to work with you. You are clearly a master of your craft and know what you are doing.” I felt a sense of humility and pride at the same time. My never-ending quest for knowledge met my qualifications in that moment and it was truly special. It was at that moment I realized I never have to wait for anyone to tell me I am an authority in my line of work. As long as I am honest, truthful, transparent, and genuine in my business dealings (and any dealings for that matter), I can be a master of my craft in any moment. Be teachable but don't be afraid to teach others about the value only you can uniquely offer. Which leads me to my second point...
You can be in the business of making it personal, and it’s not something you need to apologize about.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been scared to take my next business step. Being a freelance/contract consultant, I apply all the time to jobs and projects while having doubts about my potential--simultaneously having to sell myself in order to get my next gig. In moments of doubt, I imagine my potential clients scrutinizing my resume with a microscope and meticulously screening my portfolio for errors.
At the end of the day, the personal work it takes to get rid of that fear and doing the emotional tasks necessary to reduce the doubt and anxiety-- that is so, so worth it. Recently, I landed a major, long-term client after a month-long interview process. My history with chronic illness comes up enough that it is hard not to mention in an interview process and I always wonder how professional it is to include in a business conversation. I’ve found that I want to make my business personal. I’m in the business of eating after all, am I not? There are few things more personal than discussing what you ingest, and how you feel as it (quite literally) becomes part of you. That is true down to the cellular level. Food is such an individual, intimate, and emotional topic, and I’ve learned to be unapologetic about making my business more personal.
The work-life balance is not graceful on its own-- I need to give myself grace in the process.
You know those memes that juxtapose “what society thinks I do” with “what I actually do”? When my work comes up in conversations with friends and family that hold conventional 9-5’s, I always think they picture me lounging around, sitting with my dog on a chaise, eating bon-bons and binge-watching Netflix...and occasionally typing a few strokes on the keyboard.
Pretty much the opposite is actually true. I mean, there are a lot of luxuries to working from home and working for myself, and I am very grateful that I have a lot of freedom, especially when it comes to picking my clients. Getting to work with people who approach me ready to change is extremely gratifying, instead of trying my best to heal people who approach me as a last resort. Another thing that is really nice about being a consultant is from time to time I can apply for more work or I can dial it down depending on what is going on in my life and how I need to arrange my priorities (which is really important to maintaining a good quality of life when you deal with chronic illness).
Most days, however, I have trouble (just like anyone else) setting the computer down when it’s time to close up shop. My office is in my house, so I have to make a conscious effort to really walk away from working in my home, before I need to reset and re-balance and not when it is already too late to do so. The temptation to just fit one more task in is real, and it surrounds me all the time. When you make money working from home, you have to remember to work to make time for your home to be your home as well. It is worth the effort when the lines stay un-blurred and there are clear spaces dedicated for work, life, and your other priorities. I’ve learned that the business I need to be about is the business of balance.
The real work happens behind the scenes.
Despite the dreamworld of Pinterest, I don’t wake up each day feeling like a #bosslady. In fact, I sort of despise that word. I do want to be an authority, but I also feel like I always want to keep learning. I love this quote:
"The most successful people in life are the ones who ask questions. They’re always learning. They’re always growing. They’re always pushing." Robert Kiyosaki
There are so many exciting things about my job--styling, photography, recipe testing (um...YUM), social media, and more. But those really only make up about 20% of what I actually do on a daily basis. I earn my living most in the moments of intensely researching relevant issues, pouring over revisions after revisions, checking for technicalities, and making appointment after appointment. I love it all, but I think we have this illusion sometimes that the tip of the iceberg, "the Instagram us", is what happens all the time. Underneath the frills is a lot of work to make things run functionally. We need both the fun and the functional to earn our way in the business world, but I never want to give off the illusion that I earn my living by accident. I want to earn my living by intention.
There's nothing more empowering than empowering others.
The moments that makes hours of preparation worth it for me are these:
Hearing a personal meal planning client say that they feel like they are making peace with themselves and with food within the first time in their lives after only a month of being on my program
Hearing a consulting client say that the work we are doing is making a real difference to people around the globe
Having doctors and dietitians come to you for advice and awareness about different aspects of nutrition
Having my content shared by people I respect, admire, and learn from
Having my clients tell me they plan to include my name and credentials on their websites because of the references I’ve created
...and these are just to name a few. There’s nothing like empowering people to reach their potential. I have days that are hard and the only person I work on empowering is me, and that is enough. Other days, what I have built goes far and beyond what I ever thought possible in helping others change and finally feel a sense of belief in themselves. Just like many things in this world, we are all interconnected.
Back to the Future
I am so excited for the adventures to come I can barely contain it. I’ve learned a lot, and I know I have even more stretching to do. Thank you for helping me become who I am today, and I’m pumped to see what we will continue to create together in the tomorrows to come!
I’d love to hear from you-- what has been your favorite part of the ANNI-verse so far? What has changed the way you think and feel about eating? What topics do you want to hear in the future? Tell me in the comments, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tag me @anniweeks and with the #anniweeks on social media. I can't wait to hear from you!