My life changed dramatically when my health collapsed from burnout at the end of 2014. I had to work very hard to understand how it happened and to transform my life into a happy one. It’s important to me to live on purpose, to actively make sure my life is happy and to share what I’ve learnt with others.
It took me years to recover and I can truly say that I am at the other side of burnout. The journey was an interesting one and at first I was intensely frustrated at the long process of recovery. We are often so busy looking forward and directing ourselves towards our goals. It’s important to look back and to acknowledge the progress we have made. This post is about my progress this year, particularly in terms of forging my new career.
Public Speaking Opportunities
I did a number of speeches at my Toastmaster’s club to earn my advanced certificate. I delivered many speeches to various groups of people and was paid for the first time to speak. These were as follows:
- A talk to business owners on lessons learnt in my business
- A speech to 150 nurses in the Fourways Life hospital on how to avoid burnout
- I was a speaker at the first Global Wellness Day in Johannesburg
- Talks at networking events on positive psychology and burnout
- A talk to executive personal assistants on self-care
- Three restaurant talks where I was able to sell my book, Avoiding Burnout
Speaking is a great way for me to promote my book and to get my message to a greater group of people. I like to engage with people on topics like self-care, stress management and happiness.
I held a workshop but struggled to get enough people to attend. I realized that building credibility with my readers and followers was a necessary first step before I do another one. I held a mini-workshop for a client on happiness, including exercises I picked up while researching for my first book. It was a success and I really enjoyed it.
Promoting my Book
I hired a public relations expert with a wealth of knowledge and connections in the literary arena. This led to some wonderful PR opportunities:
I sold my book at two book fairs which didn’t offer much in terms of sales but it gave me a chance to engage with readers and to build more awareness about my book and the things I’m passionate about.
I paid for some beautiful electronic images for advertising and I got a banner made for when I speak and sell my book at events. I got my website running and now sell my book on it. I ordered branded aromadough as well as a handcream/lipbalm combination as giveaways at events and speeches. Branding was something I loved in my previous business and I learnt a lot and practiced what I learnt on my brand.
Business and Networking
I registered a company and an accounting system so that I can professionally invoice my clients and start formalising my offering. My next step is to set up a business bank account.
When I was sick, I lost much of my business and informal networks. It’s difficult to maintain them when suffering from chronic fatigue. At the end of last year, I joined an international networking organisation and attended almost every week, including other chapters. I also attended women’s networking events and met some wonderful people. I gained so much from meeting people, crystallizing my offering in my own mind and benefited from their offerings too. I was also able to sell my book to the new contacts in my network, accounting for almost a third of my sales this year.
Reviews are very important when it comes to books. Readers are influenced by what others think of the book. A few of my readers wrote wonderful reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I decided to offer a giveaway to South African readers, in the hope of more reviews. It didn’t work very well since I didn’t get many reviews and the South African postal system is barely functioning so the delivery was not optimal.
I hired a distributor to distribute my book to all good stores nationwide. This was done mostly, with the exception of online sites. The distributor sadly failed to pay me and effectively stole the revenue for 100 books. This was a disappointment but a learning and it offered me the chance to do better due diligence to find a more reliable and professional distributor, which should be established early next year.
I created a second edition of my book where I fixed the two known typos and included some reader quotes on the back cover. I printed 500 copies. Shortly afterwards, a reader alerted me to another error. There’s a challenge for anyone who hasn’t read my book yet.
I converted my book from one Amazon platform to another (from CreateSpace to KDP) which was painful but necessary. I received a lot of wonderful feedback during the year and so enjoyed engaging with people on the material of my book and how I can be of service to them.
Writing Books and Articles
I got the opportunity to write a monthly blog post for Future Females, an incredible organisation promoting female entrepreneurs. They love my content and it’s a great opportunity for me to reach a new audience.
My first paid writing opportunity came in the form of my self-preservation tips for Fair Lady. It was amazing to be paid to write about my story and it was a great opportunity to promote my book.
I started ghost writing a book for a friend which also earned me some income. It offered me the chance to write which feeds me and I learnt a great deal from the contents of the book. It will be finished next year and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
I wrote for an online human capital publication until they fired me for the free content I was delivering. It hit me hard but it did offer me an important catalyst, however, to shift my focus and to start engaging with other people on their stories of stress and burnout.
This led to a series of events that initiated my second book, Mastering Stress. I decided to do an exciting experiment where I launch one chapter of my new book a month to an audience of beta readers. I now have 23 people signed up to provide me with feedback so that I can enhance the quality of my book and deliver a product that is useful and meaningful to my readers.
I interviewed 31 people about stress in their lives. I was deeply affected by their stories and their willingness to share their life struggles. I also conducted a survey reaching almost 200 people on stress. It’s still open so if you’d like to offer your input, please do so before 15 January 2019.
I started a Udemy course on mastering stress which will feed my second book. I’m hoping it will be of benefit to a lot of people and it is fun to experiment with a different format of spreading my message.
Health and Personal Life
My family is a key source of happiness and love. I relish the chance to spend time with my children, watching them thrive at their new school and develop into wonderful people. My husband continues to offer me support in my work and provides me with honest feedback.
My health is the best it has been in many years. I have even started reducing medication for my adrenal glands which was a significant sign of recovery. It’s hard to explain how important feeling well is, and I am so thrilled that I can accomplish everything others can do. I try not to take it for granted.
My life is not perfect and I still experience disappointments, frustrations and setbacks. But overall I am so grateful for the life I live and I feel blessed. I am so excited for the year to come and I’m overwhelmed with the support from people for my new book. I’m so excited to work on it and I really hope it offers something meaningful to the world.