I’ve always been a worry wart. I consider worst case scenario. I go over every possible outcome in my head. My thoughts are a whirring cyclone of “what ifs” and “if thens”. About 90% of the time I go back to check if I turned off my hair straightener. I get halfway to where I’m going and debate with myself about whether to turn around to check that the oven’s not on. It’s normal, everyday normal-style worry. Worry, ignore it, repeat. Worry, ignore, repeat. It’s actually what made me a good journalist. I always had a list of “must haves” in my head. I stuck around longer than everyone else “just in case something happened”. I got extra tape, extra photos, took more notes on the surroundings than I needed to. If I missed something, I had a plan. If that plan fell through I had a backup. I got what I needed, I filed more than I needed to and I exhausted all options. Some may call that “dogged”, I call it “anxiety-riddled accomplishment”.
My worry was never really a problem… until I started my own business. I love what I do, I love the business I’m building, I’m inspired by the people I meet and I am proud of myself for stepping out of my box and trying something new. But, all of a sudden I found myself in a space where my task weren’t assigned, my mistakes were my own and my personal success was solely dependent on the success of my business. Entrepreneurs are constantly inundated with same messaging: sleep less, work more, think about your business 24 hours a day, give it everything, give up everything, risk everything, get it done, dedicate your life to it, keep going, sleep never, never be negative, never give up. It’s admirable, really. Entrepreneurs are some of the hardest working people I know. They do truly dedicate themselves to making their dreams into a reality, and well… hopefully making some money at it. Well I’m here to say we can do both, we can work hard at our businesses as entrepreneurs, but also find some time for ourselves and the things and people we love.
We are living in a generation of workers who are more stressed out than they’ve ever been before. The 9-5 workday is nearly extinct, smartphones constantly tether us to our work, we are expected to be constantly available, always ready to jump into work mode and to give into the work side of the work-life balance. Expectations are high and energy is low. Even the way we speak is changing. I had a small epiphany the other day at a networking event. I was on to the 7th person I chatted with that night. He asked me “How are things going?”, to which I answered, “So busy!”, and then I paused. I realized in the moment that somehow busy has become my new “things are great”, “business is booming”, “couldn’t be better”. It’s what you think everyone wants to hear, the obligatory: “My business is going so well, so many people want to buy what I’m selling that I can’t keep my head on straight!”. But is it true? When did busy become the new “I’m fantastic”? When did we put busy so high on the pedestal that busy is now the goal? Busy is the dream. In reality, busy should mean, “I’m exhausted. I stay up every night thinking about how I’m going to make this work. I am tense from days filled with stressing over every decision. I need help. Please help.” We wouldn’t say that to each other would we? But, why not?
Recently, after mentioning honestly to a friend that I was feeling drained after burning the candle at both ends for too long and that I was sick of worrying so much, she shared this quote with me. It’s one of those posts that has been thrust so far down the Tumblr-Pinterest-Facebook rabbit hole that it’s impossible to tell who the original author is, but it’s real. I felt a sigh of relief reading it. I shared it to Facebook, calling it my “new manifesto”.
The reception was heartwarming. Don’t you just love those “so, it’s not just me” moments? A few friends responded, one saying “I love this! It is so true! We need to make sure we stop to smell the roses no matter how busy we claim to be!”. We are missing the roses! We aren’t looking around anymore. We aren’t appreciating what’s right in front of us (hopefully… love, joy, fun, beauty, miracles). We have become so determined to be successful in business that we are failing at life. A successful business can add so much value to your life, but if you can’t enjoy the rest of it (read: the really important stuff) because our stomachs are in permanent knots and our brows are now permanently furrowed, then what’s the point, folks?
Recently a friend made a suggestion, a suggestion I love. She called it “Scheduled Craft Time”. Let’s call it SCT for short. I am a crafter, I always have been. Glueing, painting, modge-podging, sewing, scraping, bedazzling; those are the things that make me glow from the inside. Those are the things that make me feel like, well… me! It was also the first thing to go when I started my own business. “I don’t have time for that!” I told her, horrified at the suggestion that I stop working for an hour a day and do something for myself. Her answer? Make time. Schedule it in, don’t ignore it and take it seriously. Stop what you’re doing, plug in your hot glue gun and forget everything else. Craft therapy. So that’s why I’m here. I’ve been spending my free time dreaming, designing, writing and of course, hot glueing. I thought, what better way to share my message and create beautiful things than to blog about them? What’s my message? In a nutshell:
It’s a big, crazy world and we are all really tired, really drained and really busy. It’s time ditch “busy” and take back “me time”. It’s time to focus on ourselves, our family and our hobbies. It’s time to make time for the things that make us… us. It’s time to work on balance, calm and joy. Life is not all about work. Life is about balance. And who knows… making the time for the pastimes, places and people we love might actually bring us more success in business, work and entrepreneurship than we ever dreamed possible.
For me the things that make me… me are crafting, reading, hiking, thrift shopping, dog walking, kayaking, husband loving and being proud of my weird, weird self. What about you?
This is my journey to get back to that version of me. Wanna join?
Currently listening to: Soon – Ella Fitzgerald & Ellis Larkins.