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August 07, 2010


I once had a story about marathon runners who win because they "sprint to the finish." I've thought about that a lot as I work on various tasks. I'm always look for ways to refill the tank so that I've got the energy to finish, and finish strong.


I've tutored a lot over the years and sometimes considered starting my own business--at least more formally. It is safe to say that I've been a small business owner off and on for five years with my tutoring. I'll have to read more of your adventures. After all, isn't learning and teaching the greatest adventure of all?

I think I am right in the middle of my "heartbreak hill" with blogging. My blog is a bit of a mess right now.... Long story short, do I keep going or do I stop trying. Just asking that gives me my answer. You never stop trying. You get up when you fall down, you pick yourself up out of your slump, you drag yourself along when you just can't go another step. You never give up, never ever ever!

Rose, your blog looks great. It's got its own style and a clear voice. Keep it going.

Rose - I think a legitimate question to ask yourself is whether you have accomplished what you set out to do. If you have, done. If not, then yes, keep going.

"Keeping going" for "keeping going's" sake is unproductive and could potentially distract you from pursuing other important, timely dreams. See what I mean?

1. Coincidentally, I found this blog post from HBS professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter this afternoon. You may enjoy a quick read:

It's titled: Change is Hardest in the Middle

2. Hmmm... I would love for Nan (Science Teacher Mommy) and Janna to have a conversation. Yes, I know one of you is in Oregon the other in Manhattan, but one never knows. And certainly we need more women teaching girls and boys science.

3. Rose -- I tried to leave a comment on your blog, but comments are closed. It sounds like you've made the decision to keep going. And there's such passion in your posts you don't sound like you want to stop. Maybe it's more a question of you want the scope of your blog to be wider than what you have? So why not give yourself the challenge, for instance, of seeing the importance of owning a mini-van through the lens of Carrots and Vinegar? It's clearly important to you -- as is your topic, where is that intersection?

And if you still don't want to write then take the rest of August off (I did that once a few years ago, it was a good break), and then revisit in September!

Janna - you've hit on something here. Thank you!

Whitney - Incredibly helpful post at HBR! A few highlights that stuck out to me:

- Tune into the environment. What has changed since you began the initiative? Do the original assumptions hold?
- Search for synergies. Can the project work well with other activities? Can it be enhanced by alliances?
- Renew the dream, regroup to remove roadblocks, surround yourself with supporters who cheer you on, and stick with it.
- Those who master change persist and persevere. They have stamina. They are flexible. They expect obstacles on the road to success and celebrate each milestone. They keep arguing for what matters.

Nan - If you are considering starting a tutoring company, please feel free to contact me. In the meantime, the most practical advice in the starting stages that I can give is to do your market research.

For example, if you find that 10% (that is, 1 in 10 people) of the market would need to purchase your services in order for your company to pull a profit, then you need to rethink. When I figured out that only .3% of the market needed to purchase my company's services to produce a major profit, I more confidently moved forward with my plans.

p.s. Not sure why I called "Science Teacher Mom" Nan! I'll chalk it up to fatigue :).

Janna, from a practical viewpoint, is your fatigue caused from a physical perspective, such as anemia, not enough sleep, or is your dream not fulfilling enough to sustain you. I'm so impressed with your accomplishments that I know you'll figure it out, but ask yourself why you feel tired and what are you tired of?

That's a great question Amy Jo. I am not "tired of" anything - just mentally and physically tired because my work takes an enormous amount of sustained emotional investment over a long period of time. I still love what I do.

Since returning from my vacation, I have forced myself to take 4 days off a week until the school year begins. This choice has helped significantly, but I've had to keep strong and deliberately plan it each week to make sure nothing slips through the cracks while I am not in the office. This choice is helping with the physical tiredness, in particular.

It also occurs to me that perhaps a way to maintain energy during the middle is simply to ask for help. I tiptoed into this idea last year by hiring an assistant. Perhaps my hiring more tutors this year and increasing my assistant's hours will ease the burden.

I can't help but think that parenting has a big middle... There is the freshness of beginnings and the happy endings we hope for, and then there is the middle.

And as Janna writes, she's not tired of being a tutoring, or parenting, or whatever we love, but just tired, and then how do we replenish?

Glad you raised this Amy!

"Parenting has a big middle."

Hah! To say the least.

As for the market research, you are absolutely right. A small business that was very profitable and worthwhile for me in my Houston demographic (high-stakes testing in schools, low cost of living, high disposable incomes, large population, a home with a separate study) has been less than lucrative in Eugene (all of the above circumstances nearly opposite). The hassles made it too much for me last year and I "retreated" from paid to tutoring to volunteer tutoring weekly with kids from my Church. At first I felt it keenly as a step backward. Still, I was loathe to give up the tutoring entirely--I just love it so much. And well, I'm very good at it.

After nearly a year of doing it, I came to realize just how many kids I had legitimately helped both as a tutor and a mentor. The kids want me to start up again this year.

My business comment was probably more my random thoughts about whether or not I want to go back to full time teaching in a year or two, or if my talents might be better put to other use. You see, I'm on the threshold of many dreams, and I'm still trying to navigate my way forward while figuring out what to leave behind. Sometimes finishing the race means dumping some of the baggage.

Love your forum, as always, Whitney.


As always I love to hear your voice -- thoughtful, insightful, intelligent. I know a little something about fatigue, and sometimes the best thing I can do is take on a little something extra. It seem counter-intuitive to add anything to your load when you feel you can barely keep your head above water, but a small goal with a short time frame can sometimes provide a little charge to your batteries while you're in it for the long haul with a larger project.

Keep at it. Fight the good fight. :)

Lisa Crockett

First of all, I absolutely loved this article and completely understand how you feel. I have "lost that lovin'feeling" many times in my various careers and it has been a challenge for me to know when to stick and push through and when to move on. A thought that may help. When I was a cross country runner in High School, my coach taught me to pick my "knees" up when heading up a hill. Not my feet. My knees. When you pick your knees up and focus on that, your stride becomes a lot shorter and the power shifts to the larger msucles of your gluts and gives your quads and hamstrings a break. Likewise maybe it's time to "shorten your stride", and downshift to those activities that really play to your strengths and delegate the rest. Best of luck with all your endeavors- you can do it!

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About this blog

  • When I took a sabbatical from Wall Street to pursue a different dream and help others live theirs, I learned that women in the U.S. may be placated, even pampered, but because we aren't dreaming, we are also desperate and depressed. Drawing on a variety of sources, ranging from academic studies to pop culture, dare to dream encourages us to dream. And then to act on our dreams.


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