Business musings – Be Patient With Yourself. Nothing in Nature Blooms all Year.
On 28th November 2016 it will be my youngest daughters 13th birthday and by businesses 9th. Nine whole years of doing this.
26,304 working hours
of doing this.
And of course I didn’t start here. Before this I did the same but for a company and I did that for ten years.
19 years of work in total.
Day after day.
Week after week.
Year after year.
And I’m only 42.
I have worked for 19 years and I’m only 42.
Another 19 years and I’ll be 61.
I might not even be half way yet.
I’m often tired.
Brain dead at times.
But never ‘over it’. Well, not yet at least.
I saw that Meme going around the internet this morning – ‘be patient with yourself, nothing in nature blooms all year’ and immediately thought of my work and how I need a break at times.I wonder if you do too?
When you own your own business, a business that you rely on to put food on the table, kids into school and a roof over your head that can all just seem like a nice, fluffy romantic gesture but one which you suspect will NEVER happen.
Tonight is Super-Moon Monday and I wonder if that is why this resonated with me so much. I also wonder if that’s why it is today that it has finally clicked that flow, time and tide should be respected….
Personally I have had my moments. They have hit me like bricks each time – family issues, personal crisis of confidence and/or focus and/or health, political issues, work/life balance issues, customer issues and the list goes on. Sometimes I can handle it, sometimes I need time away to process it. Sadly (and inevitably) every time I haven’t/ couldn’t/ wouldn’t face the music my finances have gone into free fall leaving me not only to pick up the pieces emotionally but also financially. While none of these have so far been ultimate show-stoppers each time has left me shaken and tired. The reality that the show must go on does seem to be at odds with our very human need for ebbs and flows in activity. We are not robots.
The reality that I am not able to just clock on, work on then clock off day after day has got me down at times, I can’t lie about that. Some days I can’t get my head around it at all. Sometimes a family issue sends me spinning into another dimension, other times it can be a problem I just can’t solve. I am disciplined enough to be able to plough on through most things but some things just can’t be ploughed through and some times I just don’t have the energy.
And then there’s all my new ideas, my good ideas, my ‘let’s grow’ ideas. Ideas that excite and frustrate me in equal measure as I inevitably I realise the logistical, physical and emotional investment that changing my business will take and the knock-on reduction in financial security that might come as a consequence.
I spent some of this year feeling trapped in my day-to-day. Not hating it but not enjoying the vibe and flow like I used to. That trapped feeling was caused by the realisation that realistically life will go on pretty much like this (all other things being equal) for at least the next five years as my kids move through high school. Five more years before I can do something brave, big and different? Five more years before I can really step my business up a level? That trapped feeling has somewhat past now and my flow has mainly returned. Returned? No, it isn’t the same, it’s different like the flow of a river over time becomes different within the same river. The flow is strangely stronger underneath now yet calmer on the surface as if I’ve taken that thrashing about and soul-searching and am using it to deepen my channels, to nourish them while bedding myself in while all the time looking like nothing has changed on the surface.
I realise now that I need to ebb and flow because I’m not a routine girl, that’s just me. I have always found myself thriving when things get chaotic whereas I’m most likely to languish in safe and predictable environments. As such I take my working life month by month, trying to cram lots of work into some days while leaving other days open to nothing much more than quiet reflection, bush walks, reading and recovery. I’ve learned to let go of the guilt of all that. Guilt will make it possible to switch off, to recover.
I’m fiercely protective over my time and am less likely than I used to be to schedule in meetings away from home or take impromptu phone calls. I am aware of how this shapes my business and accept that as the pay off is a better working environment for me, better formulating outcomes and a happier yet smaller bunch of customers. Deeper relationships, just like my river analogy.
I try to schedule holidays as far out as I can so that I can do the work needed to make that time off possible before I go. I’ve discovered that it isn’t so much about how long you take away from your business or whether you go anywhere but the head space that you go with. My holiday might be only an afternoon but when I go I fully go – no phone, email, Facebook page, blog.
Also and importantly I’ve learned not to compare myself or my business with anyone or anything else. As a small business owner my business is me and for it to work I need to understand and nurture me and for my business to understand and support me. The ability to shape your business to suit you was an alien concept for me until about three years ago. I just thought you had to ‘be a business person’ and that’s that. I was wrong.
Most of all I’ve learned that while we often say that life is short when it comes to your working life and sustaining a viable and productive business it doesn’t feel short at all so trying to cram everything in like it is all going to end tomorrow is pointless and somewhat counter productive. Pace yourself Amanda, you’ve still got time.
For me my work is intricately woven into my life- a perfectly imperfect blend of business, family, personal growth and recovery – that balance is my success, what I’m most proud of, what I work towards. Some days I rule the business world and everything is amazing, on other days like today I sit writing while feeling guilty for not being in the lab, terrible for not doing the washing up and tired because of the weight of the responsibility of it all. As I said guilt is bad but I still have it. I’m working on that.
So when I see Memes like that what I take away is the importance of building a business that allows space for flow, your flow. That I’m not weird for needing to work like this and that the world won’t fall apart if I take a few minutes out every now and then to re-centre myself and breathe. So while it is true that running a business does require some discipline, structure and predictability it isn’t so rigid that it can’t be moulded around your own unique wants and needs.
Be brave and let the moon push and pull you into shape tonight.