By Rebecca Gadd
By conventional and societal standards, I was a failure.
My marriage had failed, my business had failed, I’d had to sack my sister who relied on me for an income, I drank too much, I was overweight, I had no money, I was miserable, full of self-doubt, shame and self-loathing. But as I look back on the last few years, I realise that these so-called failures were all just life lessons. Invaluable life lessons that I wouldn’t trade in for anything.
Back in 2013, I started a small bookkeeping business over in Perth called Meticulously Managed Bookkeeping Services. It was marketed brilliantly because it was all about your figures being meticulously managed. It was a solid business that gave me the flexibility to spend time with my then-husband who was a FIFO worker – four weeks on, one week off. But it was tough, and in 2016 we became a casualty of that lifestyle, and even though we tried to work through our relationship problems, my husband and I separated.
While the business may have still been soldiering on, I was not. I was still struggling with my mental health, a broken heart and all the stress that weighs down a recently separated individual. My heart was not in my business and my love affair with alcohol and takeaway continued, adding to my self-loathing and perception of worthlessness.
Returning to old friends and small town connections
I felt so disconnected living in Perth. I just had this overwhelming sense that I wanted to go home to old friends and small town connections.
In January 2018, I moved back to Wodonga, Victoria, and started to work on getting some semblance of a life back on track, reconnecting with friends and exploring the local business community. I focused on getting really solid systems in place, trained my sister who needed a career change, and along with another employee she took on the bookkeeping and compliance work, while I was freed up to focus on the other tasks in the business I found more fulfilling. I even decided in June 2018 to go back to uni and finish my degree. I was in a good headspace and things seemed to be coming together.
But on the first day of uni, my other staff member resigned and my sister, who suffered from quite debilitating anxiety, began to really struggle. It felt as though every time I was finally getting to where I wanted to be, there would be something that would pull me back.
After much agonising, I realised I could no longer be responsible for my sister’s happiness. I had to fire her. Second to my marriage separation, this was the absolute worst thing I’ve ever had to do – fire my sister who relied on me for an income and whose mental health was already spiralling downward!
Out of a sense of moral and family duty, I had kept my sister on but ultimately, I was being unfair to her because by enabling her to work from home, she wasn’t learning to manage her social anxiety, and she was becoming more and more disconnected from people. People need people. Without that connection, it compounds our mental health issues.
Overindulging to feel better during a horrible time
I drank a lot and over-indulged in emotional eating to make myself feel better. I knew on some level that this behaviour was not good for me, but at the time consoled myself with self-talk of ‘everyone has a wine or two each night’ and ‘I’ll just exercise harder tomorrow to make up for what I binged on today’.
I just told myself that it was normal – everyone has a drink or eats junk once in a while, it makes you feel better.
But ultimately it doesn’t.
It only goes away for a little while and the behaviour evolves into a vicious circle.
Over time, it became obvious that being fired and forced to deal with her anxiety turned out to be the best thing for my sister and she got a new job that she is great at and really thriving in. I am so proud of her.
So, after this challenging time, I took heart in my sister’s turnaround and had a bit of an epiphany.
A business rebranding – but something was missing
Nourish Business Solutions was born in October 2018. “Nourish, grow, thrive” became the theme and motto of the rebranded business, where I vowed to look after myself and prioritise my needs as much as clients’. But while the business had evolved, I hadn’t.
I think part of me knew I wanted to be in that space, but I wasn’t mentally or soulfully ready to launch into it yet. I was unhappy too often. I was missing something.
Perhaps, like so many other singles, I thought what was missing was a partner. I began online dating and was looking for someone to make me feel worthy, stable and safe – things missing from my messed-up childhood. The ‘blueprint’ I was handed in life was not the best. And so, I began dating all the wrong men for all the wrong reasons.
I also felt frustrated with the stuffy, conservative accounting culture. The happy, positive, bubbly self that was trying to come out was being stifled by this business suit-and-tie culture.
The nasty negative spiral started again, and it affected everything – me, my business, my relationships with clients and friends. It was like a heavy blanket over everything. I hated who I was during this time. Never have I been so bitter, so angry and felt the world was so against me.
All those so-called failures have been great life lessons
To cut a long story short, seeing a life coach was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I began to do the hard work on myself, dig deep to understand who I was and why I behaved the way I did. I did a lot of reading. I went through counselling. I came to a place of self-realisation where resilience, understanding, compassion and self-love are key. You must first understand, before you can begin to heal and rebuild. Only then you can do the work you need to do and get the support you need. Only then are you better able to make decisions from a place of calm and be your best self for your business and your clients.
I’ve learned what doesn’t work, what doesn’t align with me, my vision and my values. I’ve learned that I don’t care what the outside world thinks about me, I just get up and try again. I learned to focus on what is important to me.
In January 2020, I rebranded my business to Sprout Business & Wellness Coaching, which acknowledges that a sprout predominately signifies new beginnings and fresh starts. Every day is a new day, we can always change our minds and we can always start anew. It all starts and ends with us – understanding who we are, what we need, and being growth-minded enough to comprehend that failure is just learning what doesn’t work and trying a different way next time.
COVID-19 offers great opportunity and a newfound purpose
I put on 5kg this year (my “COVID-5” as I fondly call it). The old me would have really beaten myself up over it, but the new me embraces what I have achieved in this time. I’ve rebuilt my business model, I’m 70% through my diploma, I’ve reinvested in myself and rebranded my business and it’s more profitable than ever. It’s actually a success story!
Getting myself right is my number one priority now; the business success will flow on from that. I know that if I am my best self, I can give my best self to my clients, so I focus on the habits needed to maintain that.