It takes true grit to haul yourself out of challenging circumstances and create a life in alignment with your desires, especially when the odds are against you.
Number one bestselling author and Academic Success Coach Crystal Harrell has done exactly that. If you ever question your capabilities (read my earlier blog on imposter syndrome), you’ll find great comfort in her story. You can also enjoy your “aha moments” in my chat with Crystal on the Goals Do Come True podcast.
Creating a better life
Growing up, Crystal and her family (including nine siblings) lived in social housing in Alabama. Her father died of leukaemia when she was 11 years old, which plunged the family into deeper financial hardship.
We know that the drive to move away from pain or towards pleasure is a major motivation when it comes to goal setting; Crystal made it her mission to create a better life for herself.
She is currently completing a PhD in public health at Yale University, and works part time as an army medical service officer. During the pandemic, she chose to broaden her life experience by spending six months in Bali. Her book Crystal Clear: A Journey of Self-Discovery (From Public Housing to Ivy League) has attracted five-star rave reviews.
Educating yourself is paramount
Crystal’s passion for meaningful learning was instilled by her father.
Crystal: “Dad was my first educator. He taught me how to read and write. He told me that education was something that nobody could take away from you; he believed that I could accomplish my goals if I had the right awareness and education.
When he passed away, my interest in education became a passion which got me committed to lots of training. I realised later on that me trying to accomplish all these things so quickly, and be everyone, was a trauma response. Now it’s different; I set goals from a different space. It’s not about competition; it’s about creation, and I really live by that mantra.
It was a tragedy that I lost my father at such a young age, but the beauty is that he taught me so much that guides me to this day. I want to continue to use that to bring light and help people navigate academia (and life!). There is a strategy behind becoming a successful student!”
Crystal’s tenacity is admirable. She has taken those early lessons about the power of education and continued to build on them. Education is like money: if you keep adding more to your savings, the compound effect makes it grow and grow. Over a lifetime, the right education (or savings!) makes a big difference. However, it’s also important to keep reviewing progress, as Crystal discovered.
Crystal: “When I was 23 years old, I realised that I was facing the wrong direction. Every goal that I set was me trying to prove myself. It wasn’t about growing or becoming the person I was meant to be. Now, I still have similar goals, but I realise that it’s the growth that happens when you set these goals that really matters.”
I’m sure many of you can relate to the fact that a lot of learning happens outside of the classroom. When I go to conferences (such as the Million Dollar Round Table®), there is always lots of valuable information, but having a beer with other entrepreneurs who are a few years further ahead than me also helps spark new ways of thinking.
These conversations help you re-evaluate what’s important in your life, and when you take on board life lessons from other people just like you, they hit home in a different way. It’s a sentiment echoed by Crystal.
Awareness is the key
Crystal: “You can’t really expect students to know what they want to do with their lives straight out of high school; a lot of them are afraid to explore what it is they really want. But when you know what you don’t want, you get closer to what you do want. Take the time to really just get to know yourself, to self-educate and explore; you’ll approach education differently and create a life you love.”
Crystal raised a really interesting point. Without awareness and taking time to reflect, we, as business owners, can be equally guilty of pursuing a path that is not entirely in alignment with who we are or what we want. Making a conscious decision to slow down (be less busy!) and to get clear on what we want, so we can use our time wisely, is a crucial part of creating a life and business you genuinely love (and generating the income to make it possible).
See the bigger picture
It’s important that we “make time for beer”, which is one of the key messages in my latest book, Think Simple Win Big: How to Build the Business of Your Dreams With a Few Simple Goals. As Crystal explained, there’s little point in pursuing education purely to prove you’re capable; and there’s no point in creating a business that keeps you on the hamster wheel, unable to enjoy a full life!
Do you dream of starting your own service-based business but you’re not sure where to begin? If so, I’d love to hear from you. I’ll be opening up some private 1:1 coaching spots, so message me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know more and are committed to making your goal a reality.