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It’s Not Always About Getting Ahead
productivity, small business, wellness

It’s Not Always About Getting Ahead

This is a post dedicated to all those small business owners and fledgling entrepreneurs out there. Keep your chins up and read on :

First let’s get three things straight.

My business is growing, but it’s growing very slowly. Very slowly. I have clearly missed the overnight success boat.

Secondly, I have very little in the way of time, resources, and infrastructure on my side.

Thirdly, I have no business background. I have a design background, I have a solid art education background, I have a sense of humor, I am scarily tenacious, double jointed, and have a lot of dreams; but still, no business acumen.

Doesn’t really sound very promising, does it? I know.

Despite this, I carry on doing what I do. Every year, I fight a lot of battles to move forward a few inches, make some discernible progress. I have amazing ideas for the summer. Right now, I am trying desperately to find a suitable space to run my summer art camp, and I’m trying to do that before all the bigger, more established camps suck every available kid in Fairfax County out of their back yard and into their vast (yet, much less interesting -ha!) programs. Small fish in big water? I feel like a tiny minnow swimming in the ocean.

I am also printing up a storm, so that I will have all my products ironed and ready for the Spring markets.
I’m working by myself, time is ticking, the days don’t have enough hours, and the kids have been at home a lot recently. It can be overwhelming, and my family will vouch that I started last week as the grouchiest person on earth.

So…..this would totally be the wrong time to take a little mental health break, right?

As it turns out – wrong!
A good friend of mine is throwing a birthday party for her five year old at a black light bowling alley. She asked if I could help out, and I said yes. So last week we spent a morning cutting bowling pin stencils, and making glow in the dark t-shirts for the little party peeps. And guess what, it was great. Weirdly, I actually got the same amount of my own work done in half a day as I do in a full day.
How is that possible? Here is how:

  • Taking my focus off what desperately needed to be done, and doing a non work related creative activity, gave me a nice little brain break. I came back to my job with renewed interest, and a fresher perspective on my work (all cliches, I know, but it’s true).
  • Doing something for a friend, and not for work, made me feel good. It was nice to just help someone without expecting anything in return. My improved mood gave me a burst of energy, similar to the high you feel after a good workout. Hence I got more work done than usual that afternoon, and the next day.
  •  Most of the time I work at home by myself. This means I often succumb to bad habits, such as visiting the snack cupboard every ten minutes, taking breaks when I’m not supposed to, and being very self absorbed. Having company meant that I didn’t do those things at all, and there’s a lot to be said for hanging out with real life human beings instead of a radio. We had a lot of fun, I introspected less, and I had a healthier start to the day, which had a knock on effect for the rest of the week.
  • Last but not least, working on those shirts, without worrying about selling them was nice. I didn’t freak out so much about the outcome, and it gave me an opportunity to try out new materials and methods. The whole experience has got me thinking about doing a stencil making street art project with my campers this summer. You never know when inspiration might hit you. That Steve Jobs was right about the dots connecting unexpectedly in your life. Smart man.

I’m back on track after my blue period, and I know there will be other blue periods, but they will end, just like this one.

The message, as always, is play the long game, take the breaks you need to take, and just do what feels right to you.







About Author

Artist, Educator, Parent, Small Business Owner, Big kid from a big city, in a small town.

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