Over five years ago I wrote most of this post, and as I prepare to take a couple of days off at the end of this week, I realized how important it is to recognize when you need a break.
When I started my own business nine years ago, I was worried about not having the discipline to stay focused in a home office. Instead, I learned the challenge was taking the time to step away from the business. Even checking email before going to bed became an obsession for another hour of work. I found myself yelling to Sheila, "I'll be right there," and then not realizing how quickly an hour passed.
Well, I'm better at recognizing my need to recharge my battery today than I was years ago, but like so many of you, I'm still work in progress. It's hard to shut off the business, but each time I do I come back with a new level of energy.
Shakespeare gets the credit for the title to today's post, but you have to take credit for walking the talk!
I found a great little article in Psychology Today many years ago that started out: "To thine own self be true" is one of the underlying tenets of recovery. But how do we honor this wise sentiment by Shakespeare? One way is to check in with the "me" that I'm trying to be true to. Checking in can involve slowing down, writing, meditating, and noticing what we are experiencing rather than running on autopilot. Checking in tends to involve tuning in to our body or to our "higher self," rather than tuning in to our "monkey mind" (the running commentary that we are telling ourselves.)"
Whether you realize you're in "recovery" or not, from my perspective we're ALL in recovery. About the challenges of business, technology, the economy and marketing, anybody who says they don't sometimes feel the stress and on occasion has considered running away and joining the circus is lying. (Actually, with the circus shutting down last year, where do we run away to now?)
Running your own business is tough, especially in photography. At the same time, you're trying to fine tune your skills as an artist; you're being forced to learn the operational aspects of running a business. Your left brain is fighting it out with your right brain almost daily. You know you need more help, but as a small business owner who hasn't been at this very long, you've got to keep an eye on your costs because you're still a one-man-band.
Well, we're coming up to the fourth quarter, the strongest seasonality of the year. Now is the time to be reviewing your plans for the Fall, and building a stronger business through the holidays. You want to thrive, not just survive.
There's a great line - instead of, If it ain't broke don't fix it, it should be If it ain't broke you haven't looked hard enough. The reality is we can all use fine-tuning, but we have to first recognize where things aren't working as smoothly as they should. Maybe you're in better shape than you think, but I'm betting you haven't taken a break and stepped away from the business in a long time.
No matter how good or bad business was last year, you can't be creative if you're living in a pressure cooker. You've got to recognize your own weaknesses and take a break, recharge your battery and do something that's away from the direct challenges of each day. Do something you love to do that doesn't push the edge of the envelope on those weakest links in your skill set or running the business.
If you've been feeling frustrated, remember you're not alone. But, if you're looking to stand out and be more competitive, taking a break, might clear your head and create enough space on your mental hard drive for more ideas.
Julieanne Kost, from Adobe, gave me a great line once when I asked her to get involved in a project I was working on. "I'd love to, but I'm just out of bandwidth!" That said it all and we moved the date of the project to a time when she knew she could give it 100%.
If you don't recognize when you're out of bandwidth and the need to step away from the business now and then, what's the good of working this hard? To thine own self be true...recognize when you need a break...shut off the computer and your phone for a little while and enjoy your family and friends - you've earned it!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.