Angela Raspass is the founder and creator of Your Next Chapter, a business that focuses on helping women entrepreneurs and solopreneurs transition their enterprises into new paradigms. Angela had a highly successful corporate career. When her children came along she decided, in 2003, to start her own marketing business to enable her to dictate her own work and life balance. She built this business into one of the premier marketing companies in Australia. The company expanded and grew, and after about ten years Angela was working harder than ever, she realized she had lost the personal connection with clients that she had so valued in the start-up phase. She was close to burn out. What happened next? Let’s hear how Angela describes it
A: By 2012 I’d reached a stage of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Sure, I was able to grow my marketing company, but was that what I should have been doing? Is that where I wanted to be?
S: So what did you do? What happened next?
A: I stepped into my own next chapter. Where I was, wasn’t really right for me. I was being called into my own next chapter, which meant going back to where my heart was.
S: And where was that?
A: I wanted to work with women in particular, women who have a real desire to do well in the world, and who wanted to step into their next chapter, to transition their businesses to reflect that desire.
S: Tell us more about this concept of the ‘next chapter’.
A: A ‘next chapter’ is a transition into a space where there is a beautiful harmony between contribution and fulfillment. You see a need in the world, you see something that you are drawn towards, something that needs addressing, or maybe you can assist in the growth of something worthwhile. That contribution leads to that feeling of fulfillment. And that beautiful cycle of contribution and fulfillment means you’re energized and inspired and you want to continue.
S: That’s really wonderful. Tell us what inspires you.
A: The thing that inspires me the most are the women that I work with, because of the variety of goals and visions they have, the passion that they bring to their personal projects. That is inspiring because every single day they are waking up with the intention to do good in the world. And that to me is just the best way to work, and so I’m inspired by the women that are around me every day.
S: Fantastic, thank you, so can you just tell us a more about your business, Your Next Chapter.
A: Well, Your Next Chapter is based on the concept of the next thing that you’re stepping into, the thing that’s calling you. You may not be doing it right now, but it won’t leave you alone. It keeps tapping you on the shoulder and saying you need to acknowledge me, this is the thing you truly want to do.
In my case I took a bit of persuading to get through the doubts around walking away from my marketing company and starting again. I was being called into my own next chapter, which was to return to the heart of working with women who have a real desire to do well in the world.
S: What a beautiful concept – being called to step into the next chapter in your life. What are some examples?
A: Some examples could be that you want to volunteer, you want to start a business, you want to change your business that you’re in, you’re wanting to go in a different direction. It’s very individual, it means different things for different people.
But a lot of fear and doubt can come up.
I was 43 when I thought about changing directions. And immediately I thought: “This is a bit silly. The company is going really well. Should I take the chance?” In the face of these doubts I made a decision. I decided, absolutely, I’ll take the leap.
Doubt and fear are very common, and that’s why I love your concept of Conscious Confidence, the self-leadership of saying: “Yes, this is the thing I need to step forward into. This is what keeps calling me”. So that’s really what a next chapter is about.
S: You are incredibly self-aware and always pushing that boundary. I’d like to move on to another aspect of the next chapter, and that’s acceptance that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable, and not stopping and rearranging the externals in your life, but actually zeroing in on what this discomfort is saying. What is the discomfort telling me? What is the message?
A: That’s a great question and a really important topic. I mean, of course, lots of things happen to us in life and we have to respond to things that happen to us. But there’s a difference between responding and reacting.
[Laughter] I did a lot of reacting for a long time, and I had to do a lot of work on developing that ability to respond. The difference between reaction and the response is internal. You have to connect with what’s going on inside of you, and realize that most discontent comes from an internal place. That discontent, it’s your response to what’s happening in the world.
So you’ve got to look internally and ask yourself: “Well, where’s that discontent, that discomfort, coming from, and why?”
You’re going to get curious. Curiosity is a great state to be in, to develop; and so being uncomfortable is okay.
I remember a good friend once said to me when we were having discussions about this: “We’ve got to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
It’s not a bad state to be in because it means that something new is coming, like a feeling that is almost ‘discombobulating’. Look at that feeling with curiosity, explore it, journal on it, chat about it, and see what it is that’s coming up. It’s really exciting.
S: Let’s talk about that, about that moment when you see that something new has come into your life. That’s ‘decision time’ isn’t it?
A: Absolutely. That decision time is the launch pad, it’s the pivotal moment because you can sit in discontent and you can sit in desire and imagination and fantasy for a long time, but nothing is going to change until you actually step into Stage Three of the Change Model, which is the moment of decision.
There are many approaches to this, there’s no one right way. You don’t have to make the decision instantly, once and for all, because next chapters are about evolutions not revolutions. This decision-making can be an ongoing process, adjusting to changes based on earlier steps. So it’s very much that we evolve. I believe our businesses need to evolve, just like we do.
S: Tell us how you made your decision.
A: I addressed four key questions, which are incredibly useful to help us make decisions. These were the questions I asked myself under the guidance of my mentor, when it came time for me to step into my next chapter.
S: What are they?
A: So the four questions were: What will happen if I close my agency? What won’t happen if I close my agency? What will happen if I don’t close my agency? And, what won’t happen if I don’t close my agency?
The questions are subtly different and, if you ask yourself, and write down your responses you quickly begin to see what your choice is going to deliver to you.
S: So how did it work for you when you were going to close your agency and step into your next chapter?
A: [Laughter] What was going to happen if I didn’t close my agency? I was going to feel more burned out. I was going to get crankier. I was going to dislike my clients even more. That’s what was going to happen.
What won’t happen if I close my agency? Well, I won’t get to follow the calling. I won’t get to change direction. I won’t get to reconnect with my heart and actually create the business that I want.
It was the same with the last two questions. Each one gives you a slightly different way of looking at the decision. After I’d finished that exercise it was clear. It was absolutely clear what I needed to do.
Then all I needed was the courage and confidence to take the step. Because even though it’s black and white, completely clear, and you’ve poured your heart onto those journal pages, there’s still doubt. And what I want to reassure anyone listening or watching is that doubt always comes along for the ride.
It’s inevitable. Doubt pops up at different times. It’s the same for all of us, and that’s when you need to take self-leadership, Conscious Confidence. That means acting and thinking in congruence with your values and goals and your strengths to make the decision.
S: That’s great advice. Tell us then, what are your values that helped you get beyond doubt to take the decisive step into your next chapter?
A: Some of my values are connection, and kindness, and learning, and I’ve designed the Your Next Chapter business around them.
I mastermind small groups of women who are very connected, learning from each other, and that circle of support and encouragement is the epitome of kindness. We encourage, we observe, we contribute.
Probably because I grew up on a farm, I also value being out in nature. So I take my people on retreats. They are always to beautiful places in the southern highlands or on the Central Coast, outdoor places here in Australia.
I’m designing my business so it is congruent with my values and that means I’m far less likely to burn out. Like I did back in the other business when I was unconscious about what was the way in which I could be in my strengths and add value.
S: I get the feeling that service, looking after others, is key here.
A: Exactly. Designing your business around the way that you serve, how you put your services together, needs to be very conscious. It needs to play to your strengths and values because that means it will be sustainable. You’ll be able to keep it up.
You’ll feel invigorated by it, energized by it because your business needs to serve you just as much as it serves your clients. It can’t be all one way. If you’re only contributing, and you’re not feeling fulfilled it’s not sustainable. If you’re only feeling fulfilled because you’ve done it all your way and you haven’t even considered the clients you want to serve then that’s not contribution. That’s selfish!
So we’ve got to find that beautiful harmony between those two intentions – service to others, and fulfillment for yourself. And that’s how you design your business.
S: Many thanks, Angela
Listen to the whole episode on Transformation Talk Radio.