NEWS - From serious about fitness to serious in business
Posted on 4th June 2021 at 13:00
From serious about fitness to serious in business Sarah Damani’s unconventional and inspiring journey into entrepreneurship
Written by: Sarah Damani
Where it all began...
I had taken my two boys (who were 4 & 2) at the time over to Stanwick Lakes. If you are local to Wellingborough, you are probably familiar with the park which has sadly been a recent subject of arson ☹
It’s an amazing place, the play equipment is aimed at older children, that fateful day I found myself having to go onto the equipment for two reasons:
1. So as not to lose my increasingly adventurous children
2. To help them climb the scramble nets, scale the platforms and navigate the monkey bars
To be truthful, I really struggled…
After 3 years of no fitness routine, weekly coffee and cake mummy meetings and daily picking at the leftovers from the boy's dinners I was overweight, extremely weak but perhaps most importantly, I was not happy. I wanted to be able to have fun with my boys rather than leaving that all to fun Daddy!
I decided that at 34 that was not going to get any better with age and I needed to do something about it.
So, I found a local fitness group that worked well with my family’s routine. The classes were at 6 am meaning that I could get up, workout and get back to the house just as the boys were waking up. I wasn’t over the moon about getting up so early but, it worked and the biggest and most noticeable impact was how massively improved my energy levels were.
I achieved a lot on the days when I was doing my morning CrossFit.
I started with three sessions a week and over time, as my fitness improved, I increased to four and then five sessions a week. I didn’t change my diet an awful lot. Coffee and cake catch ups aside, I generally ate quite healthily anyway. But I did notice that my body started to change. My clothes were fitting better, I was feeling stronger and most importantly I was feeling much happier in myself.
I felt truly proud of myself for sticking with it, demonstrating to myself my resilience, my grit, my determination to stick to my goals. At the same time, I felt that it was a great example to set to my boys. It was win-win all around.
Fast forward two years and I was edging towards the fittest I had ever been. Don’t get me wrong there were some weeks when I just couldn’t be bothered but that was ok. I listened to my body and just kept moving towards my goal.
One day I realised that I needed to update my goals to make them even bigger and scarier!
I have never liked running so, I was looking for something else to the obvious marathon. Driving home one day I passed my local fire station and that’s when and how I found my next challenge.
There in front of me was a big sign ‘recruiting retained firefighters’.
I thought to myself what an amazing way to support and contribute to the local community and a great reason to HAVE to maintain my fitness levels. Those are the predominant reasons I wanted to join the fire service, I wasn’t too bothered about squirting the wet stuff on the hot stuff like so many other firefighters. But it turns out that bit is pretty cool, oh and I definitely like to challenge perceptions.
How I came to start my Virtual Assistant business…
For so long I had wanted to start my own business and equally for so long I had told myself it wasn’t the ‘right time’. If such a thing exists. At the time, my youngest was starting school and my mindset was in a strong place. I knew I needed to draw a line in the sand and take the next steps to achieving my business ambitions.
If not now, then when?
Having met many entrepreneurs through my job as a Business Advisor for the University, I realised that they were just like me and that in my opinion mindset was 80% of everything. If you believe you can or believe you can’t - you're right on both counts.
I had genuinely impressed myself with my new workouts habits, how I had continually stepped outside of my comfort zone with the fire service and in turn. All of this had contributed to my increased self-belief and self-confidence.
I knew I was extremely resilient and if I didn’t know how to do something then I would find a way.
I had listened to an audiobook called ‘the slight edge in my car’. Still to this day, this book is how I chose to live my life. It instilled an ethos I live and work by - simple daily disciplines repeated over time will result in you achieving your goal.
That’s when I decided to go all in with Alchemy VA and invest in my very own Virtual Assistant Franchise. I had met Suzy and Paul through my Business Advisor role and I was so impressed with their journey, brand and ethos. I explored going into business alone as well as various other franchise options. But after doing my homework and a lot of thinking, whilst I knew I COULD start and run a business by myself. I quickly realised that I didn’t want to. The challenge and opportunity to become Alchemy VA’s very first franchisee was the obvious next step for me in achieving my next big goal.
Whilst my Virtual Assistant business has been very financially lucrative and rewarding, it isn’t exclusively about the money. It’s about the freedom, flexibility and the choices I now have to create a life on my own terms. As my Alchemy VA business continues to grow and evolve, I continue to evolve to. I continuously invest in myself with improving and adding to my habits, ongoing personal development, journaling, goal setting and encouraging my boys to do the same.
The next big challenge…
I have just completed 75 Hard challenge find out more about that here.
It’s not a fitness programme. It’s all about developing mental toughness, ignoring the voices in your head or rather gaining control over them. I have also signed up for the British Firefighter Challenge which will be my biggest challenge to date.
I am not sure that I have properly thought this one through and I made the decision after one too many vino’s! But I am part of an incredible team and I know that together they will drag me through it and if not, they can at least carry me out 😊
My Top Tips to developing great habits for success:
1. Find a way not an excuse - find a fitness class that you enjoy, that fits into your routine and that you do not rely upon friends to go with you. Be independent.
2. Set yourself realistic yet challenging goals over sensible timescales – for example, I count workouts on a monthly basis not weekly.
3. Don’t keep stepping on those scales - in my experience they didn’t move it was in photos where I could see the changes the most.
4. Always find a way to invest in yourself but keep it simple - spend time reading good books, listening to positive podcasts. Anything that great bread for the head!
5. Learn to control the controllable - we all need to practice self-care when it comes to limiting outside influences… the things we hear and see on the news that can affect our mindset.
6. Surround yourself with positive people, people that you aspire to be like - lean on them for support and take note of those who are not clapping when you are winning. They are not your people.
7. Remember that you are the average of the five people you surround yourself with in every aspect of your life.
Get in touch with Sarah Damani to chat about fitness, firefighting, owning and running a franchise business, what make’s her team’s Virtual Assistant services so impactful or everything in between.
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