Thanks York Professionals
Wow! What a fantastic night it was at the York Professionals dinner last night. I had the privilege of saying a massive thank you to an amazing bunch of people, the membership of York Professionals. It was my very first public speaking engagement and to be honest I was a bag of nerves, but I loved it! This is what it was all about…
2018 marked the 10th Anniversary of my micro business, Kaleidoscope Virtual Assistant Services. Reaching this incredible milestone was such a big deal for me and I wanted to celebrate in style, shout it from the rooftops and crack open the champagne!
So, what did I do? Instead of having an anniversary bash, I made the decision to give something back to the community in which my business had been able to thrive. I challenged myself to raise £10,000 for two York charities by walking and wild camping the 109-mile route of The Cleveland Way. Not as much fun perhaps but far more rewarding for both myself and the charities I chose to support. These were both local charities that do an amazing job of supporting vulnerable children and young people, The Island and SASH.
You may be asking yourself why I chose to put myself through this challenge rather than kick back my heels and consume lots of bubbly? Well the answer is simple, in 2014 we lost two children after our adoption broke down. It was totally heart breaking and traumatic for all of us, and it became very clear to us that the support our children needed in terms of mental health care was not available to them. Add to that, my mental health was at rock bottom and I was ultimately diagnosed with PTSE and depression as well as suffering from panic attacks and extreme anxiety. With zero support and zero understanding of what was happening, our only option was for the adoption to disrupt.
On a happier note, my fundraising endeavours were embraced by the York business community, and I am particularly grateful for the support of York Professionals during their annual dinner in May last year – they raised more than £1700 towards my £10,000 target – it was a huge amount and every penny was gratefully received.
A year on from that event and last night saw me once again attending the York Professionals dinner but this time I had the honour of being able to update everyone on how I got on and to say an enormous thank you!
Well, I did it! I walked the full 109 miles and I wild camped every night, carried all my gear and most importantly I raised £10,089!
I talked about what I had learned along the way and here are the highlights:
Baby steps in my planning because it was a huge endeavour for me and there was no way I could get it planned quickly and easily. Every day I did a little bit more towards getting started. Sometimes it was walking part of the route to check out a camping spot; sometimes it was shopping for my backpack (a huge one!); sometimes it was holding a fundraiser or shouting about my plans on social media. Whatever it was, it took me 8 months, but I made sure that every day and every baby step I took mattered.
Baby steps during the walk because however hard it was, and it was very hard, I kept reminding myself that every step forward was now a step behind me and would never have to be taken again. Every baby step I took, whether uphill, downhill, or out of my tent in the morning, was one that never needed to be taken again. However small each step was every one of them propelled me forward toward my ultimate goal.
EVERYONE NEEDS A MANTRA
Whenever it felt hard (which it always was) I could be heard muttering my mantra to myself. 'Right, crack on!' worked wonders for me. At every point where I was just too tired to walk any further, I spoke it out loud to myself. Every time I wanted to stop but couldn't I repeated it again, 'right, let's crack on!' It became my mantra for the walk, and it’s now my mantra in my business and in life.
THE BIG PICTURE MATTERS
I remember my lowest point. I was sat in my tent in floods of tears, it was foggy (again) I'd had no sleep at all, my body ached, and I couldn't imagine taking even one more step. I could have gone home. I phoned my hubby who counselled me well but who I knew would always come and get me if I asked him to. I wanted to go home so badly it hurt!!! BUT at the back of my mind I remembered my 'WHY'. I remembered the charities I was walking for and why it was so important to me. I remembered the people I was accountable to and how I would feel if I just gave up. I remembered how much money people had already donated.
I knew that giving up now because of how I felt in that moment was not what I really wanted. What I really wanted was to complete my challenge. So, I got up, packed away my tent, dragged my backpack onto my back again (all 11 kilos of it) and kept going.
I spent a lot of time reflecting during the walk, and one thing that I realised was how lucky I was, as a micro business owner, to still have my business. It was my team that enabled my business to survive the adoption breakdown. It was my team that kept my clients happy, did all the work and made sure that, when I was ready, I had a business to return to.
I also realised that my hard work in building my business so that I could work ‘on’ it rather than ‘in’ it had paid off, and that I had built up a huge amount of knowledge that I believe is far too valuable and important not to share with other micro business owners. So, I have spent my time since finishing the challenge writing a book. It’s called ‘How to be a Thousandaire’ and it’s currently being published with a launch sometime in August!
I simply couldn't have done it by myself. The people that supported me and quite literally held my hand leading up to and during the walk were my lifeline.
The people who walked alongside me, who brought me cake and bacon butties, who wiped away my tears, who made me laugh, who sang songs with me, who gave me big hugs, and who kept me going when it just felt too hard. Those people made this happen for me. Those people were part of my success. We were a team and we rocked!
FINALLY... A THANK YOU!
The main reason I stood up last night and shared my story was to thank every single member of York Professionals for supporting my fundraising at last year’s dinner, to thank them for their encouragement, their enthusiasm for my endeavours but most of all to thank them for dipping their hand in their pocket and enabling me to hit my £10,000 target.
York Professionals, You Rock! Thank you!