I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to launch a business. I mean, I had an idea it would be busy and that I had a lot to learn, but it was a malformed idea at best.
Anticipating how things might go down in a scenario I haven't experienced before has never been my strong suit. Ask me about something happening in the future and whether I've considered [insert possible consequence here] and my answer will likely be something obtuse like, "I dunno. It'll be fine."
Translation? "I want what I want and it's too overwhelming to think about what might get in my way because I don't know what I would do if it did so stop talking about it." But I don't say that. I say, "I dunno. It'll be fine," and that simple thought allows me to ignore all other (more sensible) thoughts and carry on without getting myself all worked up about what could go wrong. It's my ambition's first line of defence.
All this to say, this business of owning a business is not for the faint of heart and when you run full throttle with your hat pulled over your eyes you're gonna hit things. Like walls, and street signs, and innocent bystanders. A girl needs to stay focused if she's going to do it all the hard way. So I'm putting together this list of "things to remember" to help me along.
It can be tempting to pretend I'm something I'm not. I've always been an emulator, it's just how I move through the world. I see a thing, I emulate that thing, then I adapt it into something that's mine. I often don't realize it's happening and I don't know why I do it, though I have a few theories. The thing is, when I'm busy trying to take in what everyone else is doing it's easy to stop listening to my voice, my likes and dislikes, my instincts, my opinions... and expressing who I am is the only thing that differentiates me from every other business out there.
Also emulating got me into some trouble with copyright. So there's that.
(I'm not being cavalier about copyright infringement. I made a mistake, albeit an honest one, and I took it very seriously. There's nothing wrong with being an emulator but know thy copyright law.)
I happened upon someone's orphaned print job a few months ago at work. It was a paragraph about Ivey Lee and his method for achieving peak productivity. It also happens to be helpful in just keeping your shit together. You can read all about it here but this is the gist: make a list of 6 things you have to do tomorrow, number them in order of priority, then tomorrow start with number 1 and tackle each task until it's complete, in numerical order. At the end of the day, whatever you didn't get done goes on the list for the following day. Repeat.
When I do this, I feel calm and organized and focused. When I don't, well... I don't.
Do it anyway
A lot of things I say are hard aren't really hard. It's not hard to stop eating sugar. It's not hard to print in the evenings after work. It's not hard to find a work/life balance. I just don't feeeeeeel like it. It's amazing what I can accomplish when I stop indulging those "I don't feel like it" feelings and just do it. I do have to be careful with this one because I tend to err on the side of taking on too much but when I'm a slacking on something that's important to me and truly needs to get done, this is exactly the kind of tough love I need.
Nike, man. They knew what they were talking about.
Decide what's important
When I said up there about taking on too much? Understatement of the year. I'm a chronic take-on-too-much'er. I recently read about Warren Buffet's 2-list strategy and realized exactly how much of a problem I have. The idea is this: write down your top 25 goals then circle the 5 that are most important to you. Those five, your A list, you work on until you reach them. But here's the catch... all those goals you didn't circle? They become your Avoid-At-All-Cost list, because they may not have made the top 5 but they are still important and exciting and they're going to distract the hell out of you while you're trying to accomplish the goals you've identified as most important. Until you've reached your top goals, the rest are off-limits.
Lists are great. They help. But until I decide what I want more than anything, I'm going to feel like I'm failing in everything. Flailing in everything. There's just not time to do it all at once.
"You're not a priority"
This is a handy, painful, sobering little trick. I saw it on Facebook awhile back and it stuck with me in a big way. The next time you find yourself saying "I don't have time", replace that sentence with "It's not a priority" and see how it sits. Often, it makes me think twice. Like when Jim asks if I want to play cards after dinner, "You're not a priority." Or when someone asks why I don't sing any more, "It's not a priority."
It's a quick way to gauge whether my priorities are lining up with my values. Because the truth is, when I want something, I make it happen.
There you have it. Some of the things I try to remember as I go through my days, with varying degrees of success. It surprises me how much work it takes just to identify what's most important to me and focus on it. You'd think it would be more straight forward than this.