I can’t believe the beginning of October has come and gone!
It feels like just last week that September had begun, and I was aiming to have a bumper month!
Usually, I’m obsessing about to-do lists and deadlines and productivity, but September had other plans for me.
Oh boy, did she ever!
I started September, thinking that my most notable challenge would be dealing with turning 35! Yep, it’s true – I’m officially 35 years young!
But no – that was just the beginning!
As I’m writing this, I’m watching my 8 year old dog stretch herself across the floor, trying to find a comfortable way to sleep with a cone around her neck, to stop her from scratching her eyes.
Early in September, I took her to the vet for a simple teeth cleaning (something that’s been on my to-do list for far too long!). This simple teeth cleaning was the first of SEVERAL visits back forth between vets which has ultimately culminated in my poor baby having eye graft surgery.
It’s a long complicated story, but the point is – the stress and strain of ensuring that she gets the medical attention she needs somehow overrode all the to-do lists, deadlines and productivity goals I set myself for the month.
I had a couple of wobbly moments there, berating myself for not staying focussed, not staying on top of my daily business tasks, not meeting targets, not completing projects, not being diligent enough, not making progress…. the list goes on.
I’ve ultimately come to realise that the lesson in all of this is that sometimes, you just have to go with the flow…
It’s good to be motivated, driven and goal-orientated when you run your own business, but without taking some time out, on purpose, I get the sense that one way or another you’ll be forced to take a break, sooner or later. Whether it’s due to your own burn-out, the health of a loved one, or some other event that you have no control over, now and then you’ll be forced to change your ways and take a break from the unrelenting pressure you place on yourself. If it’s going to happen anyway, wouldn’t you rather be in control of it and have it be less of a shock to your system?
(Note to self…. Abigail, I hope you’re listening to your own advice!)
So here’s the lessons I’ve learnt from my month of (imposed) going with the flow…
1. There’s more to life than business
Sure, it’s great to be passionate about your business. It’s great to have dreams and ambitions. It great that you love what you do so much that working hard never really feels like hard work. BUT, there IS more to life than business. There’s family, friends, fun, the outdoors, art, laughter…the things that make life more colourful! Remind, yourself of this oCafinnate Academysionally.
2. It’s OK not to be perfect
In fact, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to be perfect. We’re human, not robots. Nobody is perfect, so why beat yourself up about not being something is physically not possible?
3. Use To-Do Lists to help you, not to control you
This experience has taught me that until now, my to-do list have been a source of pressure and dis-empowerment. When I looked at them and saw all the things I didn’t achieve, it made me feel bad and put even more pressure on myself to perform better. Today I realised that to-do lists should be allies, they are there to remind you of what needs doing, when you have time to do them. They are not there to demand that you do them immediately and all in one go. To-do lists are meant to be a holdall for all those ideas and actionable items that pop into your brain at a time that you can’t actually do anything about them. For instance, I get some of my best ideas when I’m in the shower, or when I’m driving. The point of to-do lists is to vomit all those points into one place, so that when you are planning your day, you can refer to them and plan to action them accordingly. You’re not meant to be able to tick them all off in one fell swoop. As long as there’s both movement on and off that list every day, you’re doing fine.
4. Stress kills creativity
As a photographer, the last thing you want is to feel lacking in the creativity department. But everyone goes through a creative dry spell at some point or another. And the harder you try to be creative, the more it eludes you. If you are in a creative field and you are experiencing this, take it as a key indicator that you need to take a break and get a change of scenery.
5. People understand and the world still turns
Even though it might feel like your life is imploding around you, when the final piece of shit has hit the fan, the truth is, most people are unaware of the fact that you’re barely holding it together. They have their own lives which they’re far more concerned about. So explain the issue to those involved, give yourself permission to take the time to get your shit together and then follow up with your clients when you’re in the correct head space to do so.
6. There’s still something to be grateful for
If there’s one thing I learnt from my 365 Appreciation Project, it’s that no matter how bad things feel, or how stressed you are, there’s always something to be grateful for, if you’re prepared to look for it.
So that’s what I’ve learnt from the crazy month of September. I’m looking forward to October, hoping that it’ll be better, but knowing that I’ll be just fine if it doesn’t quite turn out how I planned.
And if all that fails…I’ll take a happy pill!
I hope you have a fabulous October! And I’d love to hear from you in the comments below – how do you deal with life/business when you’re forced to go with the flow?