Stay The Course
Self-employment (the honeymoon phase)
It’s been 35 days since I left my job and dived into the abyss of “self-employment”. I placed self-employment in quotation marks because I’m using the term a little loosely. I mean, would you call a few different ideas floating around in your head self-employment? Probably not. Yet, here I am, rolling with the punches and trying to create a life for myself that doesn’t revolve around the idea of trading time for money.
The first two weeks:
This will be brief — these were easy. I wanted to do as little as possible. I wanted to clear my mind and start over. For the most part, I succeeded. By the time the first two weeks were over, I was itching to get back to something and get my brain working again.
This started by spending a few nights in a small apartment I found on Airbnb. My girlfriend has started a small online business creating and delivering hampers and gift boxes for people. The reason for the Airbnb was for us to spend 2–3 days putting together a strategy for the business. This included short-term & long-term goals, marketing strategy and product development. It went really well. Habits tend to attach themselves to certain environments. Putting ourselves in a new (and fun environment) stripped away all the distractions of a home office and made it easy for us to focus on the tasks at hand.
I began opening myself up to other projects. A good friend and I started planning a podcast, I picked up where I left off on an ecommerce site the same friend and I had been working on and I caught up on some life admin that I had been neglecting.
This was, by far, the best week. My girlfriend and I made a sale to a high profile customer and were rewarded with an Instagram post. Now, this may seem like a benign reward. I certainly thought it was but the next 12 hours were crazy. Our Instagram follower count almost doubled and we’d never had so many enquirers before. To top it all off, a lot of these enquiries converted to sales.
This was a great thing and I was really happy that we were making sales and actually turning a profit. Yet, I still spent a good amount of time being upset with myself (I also was not pleasant to be around). I’d been working very hard to try and establish a daily routine. I wanted to make sure I meditated, did some reading, exercised and then worked on one of my projects. It’s safe to say that I didn’t feel as though I made any progress in establishing these habits. The nature of selling physical goods is that they’re time consuming to produce. Between shopping for the different ingredients and then making deliveries, I wasn’t doing a good job at accomplishing my personal tasks. This feeling of not achieving anything intensified my anxiety and made me feel as though I was spinning in circles.
I spent a few days being anxious and grumpy that I was being pulled away from my daily goals. Then, on Friday morning, I had an epiphany — I was lucky. My girlfriend and I’s business was making sales, we actually broke even, we had the best week ever in terms of sales. What did I have to be upset about?
Life is always trying to pull you away from what you’re trying to achieve. There will always be competing priorities. Don’t just write a checklist for the sake of it and proceed to check them off. Be mindful in identifying your priorities and focus on those that provide the most value. Things won’t always go to plan but the goal should be to narrow your focus as much as possible and stay the course.