2015 was a good year for me business wise. It started with a great burst of positive energy. I had been fumbling along in lackluster fashion for a while, and I’d decided that enough was enough.
This was the year I was going to GET STUFF DONE and chase down all those opportunities that I’d been procrastinating over.
So with great excitement (and investment), I hired a coach, created an inspiring vision board for my life and business, set clear goals, re-defined my target market and revamped my branding and offerings. I put up my prices and knocked my website into shape.
As 2015 wore on, in addition to running many successful events for my clients, I launched a new revenue stream by authoring a series of eBooks and digital products. And through guest blogs, exhibitions and social media, I cemented myself as an expert in my field.
I did well. And yet, there were still countless things on my to do list that never got done, and so many opportunities that I let slide. It turns out that taking your business to the next level requires much more than a ‘Let’s do this!’ attitude, even when backed by a truckload of work.
For all the best of intentions, sometimes life gets in the way. I am a mother of a young child, and working from home while caring for her is a juggling act where I simply cannot keep all the balls in the air all of the time.
Those stock photos that show Mum or Dad working on the computer while a toddler plays contentedly at her feet are such a laugh, aren’t they? The reality of working from home, of course, is that young children will choose precisely the moment you sit down to stop playing contentedly and start demanding your attention. Thus begins the tug of war of trying to get your work done while keeping your child happy, and doing neither particularly well. Writing a blog post ends up taking five hours of jumping up and down, instead of two hours of solid effort.
I find this endlessly frustrating. My entrepreneurial brain is constantly whirling with new ideas, and there are so many opportunities that I feel prevented from pursuing. Floor play with my child feels like a torturous exercise in patience when I know that my inbox is heaving with unanswered emails. The constant emotional pull between ‘you could do this!’, and being present for my little girl is exhausting.
I have an added challenge in that my daughter has autism and a schedule of therapy appointments that we need to keep. Her behavior can get pretty wild and she cannot be neatly slotted into my own agenda. Mothering her can be time consuming and exhausting, in the same way that having a newborn or multiple children can be.
And that’s the thing – motherhood is exhausting, both physically and emotionally. In a world of social media expounding mumpreneur success stories and can-do attitudes, it’s a little embarrassing to admit that I fall far short of my potential, because, sometimes, I simply can’t be stuffed.
Thanks to the wondrous blessing that is childcare, I do have some child-free hours in which to work. But those hours are simply not enough to do everything I want for my business and my household and myself. Sometimes, I need to prioritise having time out.
I am a dreamer and an introvert at my core, and the demands of motherhood rarely allow for these things. I simply cannot be ‘on’ and productive all the time, and my brain needs chunks of down-time in order to think creatively, which is essential for my job (let alone my sanity).
And so, as I consider my business goals for 2016, I’ve decided to cut myself some slack. I have realised that, while it may be frustrating to fall short of being all I can be, I can reduce that frustration and live a happier life if I change my expectations of having it all. And I am finding it is easier to accept letting go of some things if I:
- Am proactively making the choice to do so, and;
- Add the caveat ‘for now’.
I will let some business opportunities go, for now.
I will deliberately limit the amount of work I take on, for now.
And I choose to do this because, for now, my number one priority is to be present for my only child in these critical formative years. While her high needs mean she depends heavily on me now, I cherish the bonds of love and trust that we are creating together.
I will not forget myself in the process. I will not let my business die. But I will bide my time for a little while, and try to let the frustration of missed opportunities go.
After all, there will be a time in the near future when my little girl’s demands will lessen. And at that time, the world will still be full of potential customers with unfulfilled needs. My entrepreneurial mind will still spot opportunities and I will be more free to pursue them.
Until then, I will remind myself that keeping my business in a small box and not having it all is a conscious choice that I can make just for now.