While Breonna, Anna, and Onyi were busy busting a move on their goals, #minusthedoubt’s five-woman online crew was doing exactly the same thing, documenting their goal-chasing progress on social media over the course of six months. Every three weeks, each participant each met with Breonna to discuss the twists, turns, and challenges of her journey. Some of them even worked with project mentors, who helped them succeed along the way. Below are their incredible stories.
Gloria joined MTD just months after starting her own law firm, Steinberg Intellectual Property Law LLC, in 2015. For the project, the business-owning rookie focused on making her first year out a success. She set an ambitious revenue goal and concentrated on improving the content and reach of her site, iprookie.com. "I wanted to be realistic with my numbers, but I also wanted to complete my first year strong and challenge myself in a way that I have not before," Gloria says.
Reflecting on some of the challenges she faced, Gloria says: "Being a solo practitioner is exactly that. You work alone. So at times, it was incredibly lonely and overwhelming to rely on me, myself, and to get everything done. But at the same time, this past year has been the most rewarding year of my professional career." She also talks about learning to balance the various aspects of her work. "Should I write an article for a blog or should I set up a meeting with a potential client? Initially, I felt a little bit behind with my blog goal, but eventually I was able to do work towards both." At the same time, Gloria was figuring out how to achieve a better work-life balance." Aside from being a patent attorney,” she says, “I am also a wife and a puppy mother. I discovered that sticking to a strict schedule was the best way to have my cake and eat it too."
"I hit my first revenue goal pretty early," says Steinberg, "so I set a second one and met that also!" When Gloria started out in January 2015, she had just one client and zero patent or trademark applications prospects. Incredibly, by year’s end, she had over 150 clients, almost 100 patent applications, and 50 trademark applications. "In January 2015, I had about 60 readers per week on my blog on average. Currently, I have about 140 readers per week on average," she reports. "I am happy with my blog's new design and its content. Although there are many legal blogs, most of these blogs are difficult to read and understand. I really like that my blog speaks to the audience in a non-intimidating way and is written in layman terms."
Quitting a steady paying job, with her student loans collecting interest, and opening her own firm with only one client lined up was the biggest risk Gloria has ever taken. “That makes my accomplishments more rewarding than you could imagine,” she says. "I can honestly say that I gave everything that I had to take advantage of every opportunity that I sought. I feel more accomplished as a patent attorney and an individual because of the obstacles that I had to overcome and any doubts as to whether my law firm would survive its first year. I am thrilled that I was able to reach both of my goals at this point in the #minusthedoubt project."
When Vyjayanthi signed up for #minusthedoubt, her strategy and ethnography company, Rasa.NYC, was struggling. For months she had been chasing promising leads, but couldn't get anyone to sign on the dotted line. With a quickly depleting bank account and failure peeking over the horizon, Vy knew something had to change fast. However, rather than giving up on her passion completely, she decided to use #minusthedoubt as a last ditch effort to make her dreams come true. To her surprise, this meant moving away from New York City.
Almost immediately after joining the project, Vy decided to move back home to live with her family in Austin. "As the oldest, and the bossiest, it was a bit shameful to come back with nothing to show for it," she admits. "And with no extenuating circumstances to point to: Do I own it? Do I name it failure? What about all the momentum? Where did it go? Why don't people call me back? Why did it feel so right, and ended up so wrong?" ••• | | ••• While her mind questioned her abilities, Vy’s spirit was having an entirely different experience. She was free from the stress of making ends meet . She was eating healthy meals again. She actually felt good. "As much angst as I have against Austin, it gave me resources when I needed it most," she says. "I came back, and landed a contract gig right away. It was the first livable paycheck I got in 7 months." ••• | | ••• Vy had also started reconsidering what her goal really meant to her: Did she want to have the most successful company in the world or share her love and passion for solving problems using anthropology and research? Connecting to the source of her dream allowed Vyjayanthi to switch her perspective and she began to apply to every innovation consulting firm she came across. "It felt good applying to jobs where I could actually use the terms 'ethnography,' 'applied anthropologist,' and 'design researcher' to sell myself." ••• | | ••• With a stable home, and a little money in her pocket, Vyjayanthi started to get her groove back — which was really just the beginning. Weeks later she signed on a client, a DC mobile security startup. Contracts with Charles Schwab and, more recently, the University of Texas followed.
"Of all the participants, Vy's story was one of the most important to me," says #minusthedoubt creator Breonna Rodriguez. "She just had so many doubts that paralleled to my own over the years. She was constantly asking herself things like: Do I really stand a chance? Am I just being foolish? Should I just accept the rejections as a sign from the universe telling me I should quit? Am I smart/hard-working/strong/dedicated enough? Am I too indoctrinated in my own self doubt to even dream of overcoming my self doubt and achieve any modicum of success? It just became important to me to see her answer all those questions as positively and truthfully as possible — because truth be told, that girl is amazing, smart and incredibly talented. And I am so happy that life found a way for her to discover that!"
"You can't plan for everything! And the only thing that is in your control is how much you love yourself and how much you accept current reality," says Vy. "And accepting reality does NOT mean losing hope or deferring dreams — I had to force myself to be gentle with myself (I know, what a paradox) when I got rejections from projects. And of course, I wasn't always there to keep myself in this positive headspace, so I thank the folks near and dear to me that drilled the concept of self love into me during my hardest days. The self love kept me moving, and accepting reality guided which way I moved."
Rebecca had a problem shared by so many writers: The elusive book that is partly finished, mostly thought out, and nowhere near reaching a publisher. When she was asked to join #minusthedoubt, she immediately knew the challenge she wanted to pursue. She decided it would be the perfect opportunity to shift her focus to her craft and become the full- fledged writer she deeply longed to be.
Since life does not happen in a vacuum, a whole world of challenges rose to meet Rebecca the moment she signed up for #minusthedoubt. Her temp job ended. Her relationship went sideways. And somehow, writing a memoir about the most challenging time of her life began to seem less and less attractive. In fact, she found it far easier to write content for her blog, build a writing portfolio site, and become a freelance writer for sites like Vivala.com and TheUrbanRealist.com. ••• | | ••• After months of meeting with Breonna, in January, Rebecca finally had to admit hat she wasn’t going to achieve her original #minusthedoubt goal. She concluded that being a writer wasn’t going to pan out for her, which was funny really because all she had been doing for the past five months was writing. She might not have been writing her memoir, but she was writing from the place that felt best.
When the #minusthedoubt group took a look at Rebecca's goal and the work she had unknowingly put towards it, something changed. Her work helped the group understand that when we connect to what our goals really mean to us, we might be surprised by the different paths we can take to reach them. Once she stopped judging herself against the preconceived notion that “real” writers write books, Rebecca , was able to run full steam ahead. She's written dozens of articles since and even did a Zenfulie.com take over this past February.
When Sarah first signed up to participate in #minusthedoubt she was at a crossroads. A talented young illustrator in a corporate job setting, she was unsure if her passion for drawing characters made her happy anymore. Hers is a story shared by creative types everywhere. When true talent needs a 9-5 day job, and the opportunity to find space and energy to follow one's passions becomes very limited. Sarah decided to use #minusthedoubt as an opportunity to try things one more time and crafted a goal that would force her to create work daily and to put her work out there for the world to see, once and for all.
Sarah got started on her goal with gusto, marking off time on her calendar to doodle everyday. Even if it was a quick sketch on a Post-It, she counted it as a successful exercise. Initially Sarah found the experience fun, even liberating. Her friends and family loved the work she was posting on her social feeds. However, doubt began to work its way into the process, and soon Sarah began feeling like she shouldn’t share her work until it was perfect. Her daily doodles dwindled to three per week, on a good week. She was still loving the pivot to her process, but she couldn’t silence the thought: Do I not want this enough?
Despite the doubt, Sarah kept producing work and eventually launched a tumblr site to host it. The persistence is paying off. Her humorous illustrations have already gained the attention of brands like Ted ED. For Sarah, the true lesson was learning time management, "which I'm still trying to learn," she admits. "It's how to juggle work life on top of making your own time for yourself — I am still terrible at it! But, I am learning. Sometimes I will have off days and will either need to just work through them or put down my work and leave it for another day when I can come back to it with fresh eyes." By not judging herself and her process, Sarah was able to continue to create dozens of new original pieces and fall in love with illustrating all over again.
Andrea’s goal was pretty simple: she just wanted to have a goal — and then get that goal done. An Emmy-award winning producer, Andrea had spent years helping friends lift their ideas off the ground, but had yet to bring one of her own to life. For #minusthedoubt, Andrea settled on the goal of launching Sunday Salon, her own podcast series.
While gathering content for the podcast came easily to her, Andrea quickly discovered that she faced an uphill climb to success with the technical aspects of the project. Self-doubt began to steer her journey. When it came to editing, she says: "I really tried to convince myself that I couldn't technically do it. I knew that I could, but I just tried over and over to tell myself that I needed someone else to do it." On top of purchasing sound equipment, learning editing software, and figuring out how to compose an intro jingle, Andrea's doubts about putting herself out there started to dominate her process as well. "I kept questioning if anyone would want to hear what I have to say, like why would this podcast be needed or matter among the sea of others?"
Despite several setbacks in seeking out technical support, Andrea finally had to bootstrap her project and get everything done on her own — which she managed to do in record time. In February, she launched her first episode of Sunday Salon, a podcast featuring women engaged in honest and inspiring conversations with one another. "The biggest thing I learned is that I was wrong,” Andrea says, “People are psyched about what I have to say and how I am doing it. And I can edit it and manage it well enough to make what I need." All it took was for her to minus a few doubts.