How have I achieved success? By defining success on my terms and living my values.
I work with customers I like, using a wide variety of skills and I’m turning a profit. I work flexible hours, take time off when I choose and work from home, at a café or on the dining table while my Partner watches TV. I take courses to develop my skills, contracts with organisations to learn from others and I attend and speak at as many networking events as I can. To me, this means I’m successful. I’m a solopreneur with a Communications business.
Success, after-all, is how you define it. To be enjoyed, it can only be defined on your terms. And if you’re not enjoying it, then what’s the point?
I once appeared ‘successful’. I ‘had it all’ Perfect marriage, beautiful house, travelled to exotic destinations, I maintained a size 10 figure. BUT I was so busy rushing around, ticking boxes, reaching goals, trying to make everyone else happy, paying down my mortgage as quickly as possible, saving for retirement. Life was out of control, but ‘perfect’ and ‘successful’. Until it inevitably crumbled.
My health gave out first. I suffered anxiety, then severe depression, followed by a full-blown nervous breakdown. Then my marriage ended.
I realise now that without health, you have nothing. Without love and support, it’s hard to stay healthy.
Rebuilding life was difficult – I moved back to Sydney from Canada - a city I hadn’t lived in for over a decade. But it was the beginning of creating a sustainable, happy, successful life.
Sure, I miss my meticulously renovated former Toronto home, and trips to the Caribbean, but my personal life, body and mind are healthy! Real estate may be out of control in many parts of Australia, but I’m reminded of how lovely the weather is. Renting in perpetual sunshine isn’t so bad after-all.
It can be hard to avoid old habits and pitfalls. I did find myself in a couple of roles that were very similar to those I had in my pre-breakdown life. I could see I’d run the risk of collapsing again if I didn’t listen to my intuition. My brain was rewiring itself for health, and my professional life needed to follow suit.
But, what did I have to offer? I couldn’t seem to find one corporate role that tapped into my broad range of communications skills. They all seemed to want to pigeon hole me into one job title and set of KPIs. I couldn’t feel happy and ultimately didn’t feel successful being defined by others.
After leaving my corporate role, I took some time (and rainy day funds) to attend networking events. I started to sell myself and my skills – rather than as a representative of a company. I undertook my own SWOT Analysis and focused on my strengths and the opportunities I saw, while staying realistic about my weaknesses and the threats I was up against.
Ultimately, I listened to people; family, friends, people on social media networks, people in the café line, the post office queue, the doctor’s waiting room. Nowhere was off limits! I still network like mad – recently after a hospital procedure, I handed my business card to the nurse for her daughter in media. In a recent ferry delay, I chatted to the woman next to me and left with her number and a business opportunity.
I started to write down all of the skills I had to offer and I focused on how I could solve people’s problems. A family friend saw my interest in his new fashion start-up, so I worked with him for free for 3 months - to help with Marketing, PR, digital media and business development. We both learned a fabulous amount, without the pressure of perfection. He is now a paying client with a growing brand, supplying to Wrapped by Red Balloon and Uncommon Goods out of New York.
Building strong relationships and providing quality work that meet my client’s needs is integral to my success. I have learned not to bite of more than I can chew, most of the time… I’m still working on my punctuality!
** Natalie is the Founder & Director of Natalie Hillar Communications, working with businesses, organisations and brands to implement a strategic mix of marketing and publicity services to achieve campaign goals. She also connects Marketers and Influencers via her business IMC Marketing & Communications.
Natalie began working in media, as a travel journalist, in 2000 - amid Sydney's Olympics frenzy.
After those initial years as a journalist, she shifted to media sales in the Magazine Publishing industry, working in Australia, Canada and the United States for over 10 years, becoming an advocate for her clients, and a print, digital and social media aficionado. More recently, she has taken a broader communications approach, focusing on Influencer Marketing and Digital media.
"My passion has always been helping Businesses and Brands connect with their desired audience, to achieve brand awareness and ultimately sales. In my magazine career, I worked with Marketers and Ad Agencies. These days, I gain the most satisfaction working with Entrepreneurs and Start-Ups to drive business growth from the ground up."
Facebook: @nataliehillarcomms & @imcsyd