Acting, Not Reacting: Janet Barclay Interview

Most of the people I interview are extraverts, people who enjoy sharing parts of themselves with the world. That covers only half of the world, however. I’ve known Janet for years and really admire her strong sense of self and her encouragement of other introverts to use their introverted strengths in their small businesses. So, let’s see what someone from the other half of the extravert/introvert equation has to say about Someday Syndrome.

Who: Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant
Janet Barclay is an introvert who has found her bliss working from home as a virtual assistant and website designer.

Name one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
As a bit of background, in 2002 I started a part-time organizing/virtual assistant business as a way to make a little extra money in my spare time. My full-time employment at the time was based on a government contract, which was renewed as of April 1st each year. Gradually I came to realize that I wanted to work in my business full time. I knew there was a good chance our contract would not be renewed after March 31, 2005, so I had in mind that by that time I would be ready to give it a go.

The contract was unexpectedly cancelled mid-year, and my program shut down in July 2004. I wasn’t yet making enough from my business to make a living at it, but was making too much to qualify for unemployment benefits. Furthermore, since my business was already up and running, I wouldn’t qualify for the government’s small business program for unemployed individuals. I felt I had no choice but to take a position in another location with my employer, even though it really wasn’t a job I wanted to do. In addition, whereas my previous position was relatively flexible, the new one had a fixed schedule which prevented me from attending morning or lunchtime networking events, or taking on any all-day or out-of-town organizing jobs.

After going through some other personal and financial difficulties that year, I really felt that life was unfair, and was just plain miserable.

Even our lowest moments fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
I think I allowed myself to wallow in my misery because I needed to convince myself that I didn’t deserve all the bad things that were happening.

Tell us what you did to break up the pity party. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
As it turned out, I wasn’t the only unhappy person in my new workplace. There were quite a few organizational changes taking place, and morale was really low. One of the changes involved an upcoming relocation to smaller offices, which was going to make things even worse. One of my co-workers, said how much he’d love to leave before the move took place. It wasn’t really an option for him, but I realized it WAS an option for me, and I submitted my resignation, effective February 25, 2005 – one month sooner than my original plan.

Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
I was a bit nervous about money, but mostly I was very excited, like I was finally taking charge of my situation. One of my existing clients was a coach, so I asked her to help me build my business to the level I needed, in lieu of paying for my services. Even that was a little scary, since I would no longer have her income, but it all worked out. By 2006 I was earning a regular income, and I expect to be 100% debt free before summer.

Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
I have to admit that I suffer from I’ll Get Around to it Someday when it comes to travelling. I would really love to see much more of Canada than I have, but I’ve only taken one real vacation in the past ten years. I’m not by nature someone to initiate activities, and my husband is even more of a homebody than I am, so nothing gets planned. The one trip I did take came about because I was invited by another family member.

Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
I’m starting to realize that if I want to travel (and I do!), I need to be the one who comes up with a plan. I can then present that plan to my husband, and if it’s not something he wishes to do, I’ll need to find a friend or relative to go away with me.

Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
Just remember that you control your own life, so if there’s something you want, you have to make it happen. You can’t wait for someone else to make it happen for you.

If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for?
It’s tempting to say I’d like someone to tell me about a great trip they’ve planned and invite me to come along, but that would kind of contradict what I said in the last two questions! Maybe some suggestions about great places to see in Canada, with affordable accommodations, would get me fired up enough to do something about it.

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16 thoughts on “Acting, Not Reacting: Janet Barclay Interview

  1. […] In the meantime, please stop by Alex Fayle’s blog and read my Someday Interview. […]

  2. Thanks for sharing, Janet. I must admit, I’m surprised that you consider yourself an introvert. You have a wonderfully outgoing personality 🙂

    When you’re planning that trip, don’t forget that Wisconsin isn’t all that far away…

    Melodee Patterson´s last blog post..5 Reasons Why Baby Boomers Make Great Virtual Assistants

  3. Andy Hayes says:

    Ok, Janet, this someday is easily solved. I almost have the opposite problem – I can’t get enough travelling. I’m a travel writer, and just the other day I was chatting with my editor and mentioned I was in a small town in Germany, and she says “boy you DO get around” – and this is coming from my -travel- editor, who expects me to get around. I digress…

    Right – my favourite place in Canada. is Montreal. There – that’s where you’re going. Problem 1 sorted. (If you’ve been to Montreal, then go to Halifax. I bet you’ve not been there.)

    Need a flight? Check out – pick the cities, and it will show you dates for cheap flights.

    Hotels, there are so many sites it’s not even funny. Just try expedia or travelocity for a start, but always check the hotel’s website for a better deal.

    So…let me know when you’ve unblocked this Someday. (Sorry Alex, I’ll let you take back over the show here…)

    Andy Hayes´s last blog post..Inspiring Travel Blog Carnival – April Edition

  4. @Alex, thanks very much for asking me to take part in this interview. It really made me think! Now to turn that thought into action… that’s even harder!

    @Melodee, it’s easier to be extraverted online than in person, but actually people I’ve met in real life have said the same thing. I’m not the shy kind of introvert, but am more focused on my thoughts than the outer world, and prefer to meet people one-on-one than in large groups.

    @Andy, thanks for the suggestions. I haven’t been to Montreal in decades, unless you count passing through on my way to and from the east coast (very slowly, due to the heavy traffic). I have been to Nova Scotia, but not Halifax. Now if I could just pull myself away from my work long enough to check out those travel sites!

    Janet Barclay´s last blog post..Exciting Announcements

  5. Patricia says:

    I appreciated this post and Janet’s story and how she worked out of it. I don’t seem to be so clever to know how to use my talent to make a living wage. I spent $3k on a coaching situation only to discover that my coach had no success under his belt…he was just talking from his “training manual”

    I lost my confidence….now I feel like a graduate just looking for my first niche job….

    As for that Andy fellow’s advice, well I like his website and suggestions and I am going to buy him a drink in Edinburgh about July 26 or 27th…!

    Patricia´s last blog post..Kindle 2 and 5 Things I Love About It!

  6. hey Janet, great post, I love how you have made your own success, I think your introverted nature is refreshing to see in business. Most entrepreneurs tend to be extroverts. At least the ones I have met are. I am with Andy on the travelling, I love it and can’t get anough of it. Being an extrovert not only do I travel but I do it very inexpensively, one of the best ways to trevel on the cheap is to stay with people you know.
    So here is my offer, I live in lovely New Brunswick Canada. We are 1 hour from the bay of fundy with the highest tides in the world, we are 2 hours from Parlee Beach, the warmest waters north of Myrtle beach and home to the most amazing lobster in Canada….Come on down, I am sure I can rustle up some accomodations, or even better, we have an air bed that sleeps 2.

  7. @Patricia, that must have been very discouraging, but I’ve just looked at your blog and I love everything about it, so I’m sure you’re on the right track!

    @Elaine, wow! You have definitely given me something to think about – I’ll get in touch with you directly, after I’ve wrapped my head around this possibility!

    Janet Barclay´s last blog post..Exciting Announcements

  8. Andy Hayes says:

    Ooh Elaine, is that open to all Someday readers? *wink* 🙂

    Andy Hayes´s last blog post..Bremen, Germany: The Small Village with a Tram

  9. I am sure I could rustle up something 🙂 The east coast of canada is so beautiful, I would love to show you some of the highlights…..perhaps Alex could “Organize” a someday retreat in St Martins New Brunswick with some sea kayaking and a lobster boil. Check out the pics on the town website, .
    We are hearty souls in NB, we still have snow on the ground, but when I see the Bay and the boats it is all worth it.

  10. Alex Fayle says:

    We always think of introverts as shy retiring types, when actually it’s a case of how people recharge. I’m a near balance of Extravert/Introvert, so depending on the situation I either recharge being around people (like in a teaching or other one-to-many situation) or they exhaust me and make me want to curl up in a shell and hide (like a networking or other many-to-many situation).

    Great suggestions – thanks for that – now I don’t have to. 😉

    I’ve been in business relationships where in the end I felt that I spent a lot of money for not a whole much of value. It’s hard situation to be in and it does kill the trust, doesn’t it?

    If you do buy Andy that drink on the 27th of July, have one for me. It’s my birthday!

    @Elaine @Andy
    Ooh, I love the idea of that. What a great combination of Someday busting! Travel, unusual sports, rich food and life-changing workshops. Must definitely think about that…

  11. A someday retreat in New Brunswick! Sounds awesome – as long as I get to spend some time alone! 🙂

    Janet Barclay´s last blog post..Organizing Your Personal Medical Information

  12. Patricia says:

    A great day for a birthday and I do intend to buy that drink for Andy and we will raise our cup to you!

    Patricia´s last blog post..Kindle 2 and 5 Things I Love About It!

  13. Patricia says:

    Thank you for checking out my blog and your words of encouragement. I surely did need that today!

    Patricia´s last blog post..Kindle 2 and 5 Things I Love About It!

  14. Patricia, I’m glad I could help!

    Janet Barclay´s last blog post..Organizing Your Personal Medical Information

  15. Andy Hayes says:

    Someday goes to Canada! Whoot! Let’s go! I know someone who can organise the event for us if we need it too.

  16. […] I was featured in one of Alex Fayle’s Someday Interviews a few months ago, I identified my biggest “someday” as taking a vacation and getting […]

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