{MotiBright} Working on the Right Thing is More Important than Working Hard

So often people are working hard on the wrong thing. Working on the right thing is probably more important thatn working hard. ~ Caterina Fake
So often people are working hard on the wrong thing. Working on the right thing is probably more important that working hard. ~ Caterina Fake

 

In my business, we’re reaching the pointy end of the year.

Sales are picking up, the year has suddenly vanished until only December looms ahead, and time seems more precious than ever.

Plans are afoot for the year ahead – dreams and goals and hopes for what I can achieve with the new, fresh, and beautiful year laid out ahead of me.

With that in mind… it’s time to pull back and focus on the core work of my business – which at this time of the year means a focus on Epheriell.

Things will be travelling as per usual here on C&T – except that I’ll be publishing MotiBrights for the rest of the year as pretty much stand-alone snippets – without the accompanying essay.

If you’ve enjoyed my Monday ramblings, please do let me know, and I’ll resume them in the new year!

Have an ace week,

Jess x 

{MotiBright} How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

Annie Dillard - How we spend our days
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives – Annie Dillard

I’m a big believer in being mindful of how we spend our time.

I’m not an obsessive time-organisation-drill-sergeant – I have no desire to organise and allocate every moment of my day down to the second (like the unfortunate Kevin Tran) but I do like to have some sort of organisation and structure to my day.

Why? Because without my self-imposed structure, I feel stressed and adrift – like I’m constantly running to catch a bus that’s always pulling away from the curb.

I struggle with the thought of taking more than one day off per week. Even on my ‘day off’ I still deal with email once or twice, and inevitably find myself drifting to thinking about work.

This isn’t because I can’t find things to fill my time – I’m always happy to sit down with a good novel, go for a hike, a swim, or hang out with friends.

I think it’s because I both love my work and feel a pressure to ‘keep up’ with everything all of the time.

That said, one thing I am much better at than I was a few years ago is taking time for myself – having ‘unproductive’ time where I am just living, not striving towards some future goal.

When we have things we want to achieve, it’s so easy to get caught up in the chase. To keep running after that bus… when we could just sit down at the bus-stop, relax, look up at the sky for a few minutes, and wait for the next one. It will come.

Though some have argued that today’s age is one where “the great dream is to trade up from money to meaning,” there’s an unshakable and discomfiting sense that, in our obsession with optimizing our creative routines and maximizing our productivity, we’ve forgotten how to be truly present in the gladdening mystery of life. ~ Maria Popova

Last week I stressed how much work it is to create a successful business.

This week I want to stress the importance of enjoying the ‘gladdening mystery of life’. It’s the old ‘stop and smell the roses’ adage. It’s universally known for a reason. This is not a new problem we’re having – it’s just that modern technology has made it harder than ever to disconnect from the clamour and demands of others (and the demands we put on ourselves) to take even a moment where we just… are.

We don’t always have to be chasing money – or chasing meaning – to have a worthwhile life.

Who decides what the ‘meaning of life’ is, anyways? Oh yeah, it’s us.

The “meaning of our life” is nothing more – and nothing less – than whatever story we choose to tell ourselves. {click to tweet}

I understand the pursuit of meaning more than the pursuit of money (once you have enough to live comfortably and pay your bills, of course). I know I’m one of the growing class of privileged dreamers who combine the two – who pursue money in order to have the freedom to pursue meaning, or pursue money in what is (to them) a meaningful way.

Freedom to spend my time according to my own desires is a fundamental driving force behind why I do what I do – and I’m guessing it’s a motivating force for you, too.

When I find myself drifting away from this knowledge – caught up in the everyday minutia of running my business – the quote above is one I often bring to mind.

Because my life has the meaning that I give it. If I am spending my days doing something I enjoy – and that has a positive impact on other people (whether it is writing something that might set off a positive ripple effect in their life, or making a wedding ring that represents love and devotion that will be worn for decades to come) – then I will inevitably end up spending my life in a way I can look back on and be content with when I reach the end of my journey.

 

Are you spending your days the way you want to spend your life?

{MotiBright} Nothing Will Work Unless You Do ~ Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou
“Nothing will work unless you do.” ~ Maya Angelou

If you want to run your own business, you need to be prepared to work harder than you’ve ever worked before.

There are no paid sick days or vacation days. There are no benefits. There are no free cars/free gyms/free coffee/free pencils.

There is no salary.

Every single dollar you earn will be directly proportional to the work you put into your business.

When you work, you earn money. When you don’t work, you don’t.

You’ll need to plan for downtime and holidays. Make sure you earn enough during your ‘on’ time to fund your ‘off’ time.

To make your business a success, you need to work for it.

Are you a self-starter? Do you chafe at authority – someone telling you what to do, how to spend your time?

Do you dream of waking up every day knowing that YOU are in complete control of your workday – that you can choose to do whatever you want to do?

Do you realise that it’s up to you to bring in dollars, to manage your time and your workflow intelligently in order to put food on the table and keep the lights turned on?

Does the thought of it ALL BEING UP TO YOU fill you with a thrilling joy?

Or does it fill you with a yawning horror?

If it’s the former – awesome. You’re in the right place. You KNOW you need to work your ass off, but you also know that you’ll never be happier than you will be when you wake up and know that it’s all up to you, baby.

If it’s the latter… maybe you’re not ready yet. Maybe you never will be. Some people are more suited to having a job – to letting someone else sit at the steering wheel. There is nothing wrong with this. We can’t all be the same, or the world would implode.

You need to be honest with yourself.

You’re here because you love to create. There’s something you love to make, and you’ve reached the point where you’ve decided that you’d like to start SELLING what you love to make, too.

But do you REALLY, truly, want to make this thing your full-time work? Will that kill it for you? Or can you imagine nothing better than making a living selling what you make?

Because the work of making – the actual creative part? Once you get serious about making money from it, you need to realise that most of your time – especially in the first few years (yes, YEARS) while you’re establishing your business – will NOT be spent on this creative work.

Most of your time will be spent on the business side of your business. The marketing, the blogging, the social media, the emails, the photographing/listing/writing descriptions, the prepping for markets, the tweaking your branding… the business of business.

If you truly want to make a full-time living from selling what you make, that you need to not only love making things… you need to love learning about the art and science of selling them.

I’m passionate about both. I love to create jewellery AND I love learning about business.

If you hate learning about business, you will find it exceedingly difficult to create a successful one.

{click to tweet}

I’m sorry if this is hard to read. I truly am. I am not in the business of crushing dreams.

However, I AM in the business of telling you the truth. Of being realistic.

Dreams are not enough. You need to be prepared to put in the work – the work of learning how to run a business. And then DOING it – day in, day out.

Crafting a successful business can be HARD, HARD work. It can also be incredibly, ridiculously rewarding and uplifting (sometimes in the very same hour).

You need to truly believe in yourself, deep down in your bones.

You need to be truly devoted to learning and growing and evolving your business every single day.

Because your business will never work unless you work on it.

{MotiBright} Seth Godin – Who Brainwashed You Into Thinking You Need a Job?

When exactly were you brainwashed into believing that the best way to earn a living is to have a job? ~ Seth Godin
When exactly were you brainwashed into believing that the best way to earn a living is to have a job? ~ Seth Godin

10 years ago, the thought that I could make a living running a business doing something I loved was… almost impossible.

Since falling in love with the internet in 1996, I think I’d always seen the potential – had a vague dream that this new thing – this amazing, world-changing thing – would open up possibilities for my life and the lives of everyone else in the world in ways we couldn’t even imagine then.

That 15-year-old me spent a LOT of time on the internet – learning how to build websites, reading and learning stuff about the world – about life – shared by everyday people: knowledge that until then had been limited by the gatekeepers of the non-fiction book publishing industry (remember those days – when you had to go to the LIBRARY or bookstore to find out more about something that interested you?).

Those days seem like ancient history now – but they’re not.

The world has changed so drastically in the last 20 years. I – and you – now have the tools to build an international business from our living room/kitchen/couch/studio in a way that was pretty much impossible a few short decades ago.

The internet cuts away the gatekeepers. It allows you and I to connect directly to our customers – no matter where they are in the world. We don’t have to go through shops anymore if we don’t want to. There is nothing separating the creator from the consumer but two screens and a somewhat magical transference of information via wires and cables.

The traditional way of running a small craft business – selling to shops or at markets – is no longer the only way to make a business a success. Heck, you don’t even need to do these things AT ALL any more if you don’t want to.

So what’s holding you back?

Is it the belief that running a business is dangerous and risky? That there’s no way you can do it successfully and make enough money? That it’s not a safe and stable way of making a living?

If so, I want to tell you something. 

You know what’s risky? What’s unstable?

A job.

A job is tenuous. It is fleeting. No longer do we get a job ‘for life’. When you have a job you are at the complete mercy of your employer. They can hire you – they can fire you. They tell you what to do and how to do it. They pay you a set rate no matter how stellar (or terrible) your work is. You are not in control. You live in a constant state of low-level fear because your life basically belongs to someone else. Someone else who can take away your livelihood at any time.

How is that a better way of making a living than running your own enterprise? One where YOU are in complete control. You decide what to do and when. You make as much money as you want to once you’ve figured out how to do it. You work the hours you want to work. You take vacations when you want to take vacations. You are in control of your life – no-one can take your livelihood away from you.

Until very recently, we were all brought up in this job mindset. I’m only 32 and I sure was. The world has changed THAT fast.

Being an entrepreneur was for a select few.

We were brainwashed into thinking we had to go to school, go to Uni, get a job, and be a good little cog in someone else’s machine.

“The brainwashing continues to this day. You’ve been brainwashed to believe that you’re stuck with what you’ve got, that you need to punch a clock, follow a manual and do what you’re told. I wonder who dreamed that up? It’s certainly in the interest of the dominant forces of our society to create an oversupply of eager and compliant workers. But now, as the power shifts, so does your opportunity.

Are you serious about transformation? I’m not talking about polishing yourself, improving yourself, making things a bit better. I’m talking about the reset button, a reinvention that changes the game. That means an overhaul in what you believe and how you do your job. If you’re up for that, then right here, right now, you can start.”

~ Seth Godin – Brainwashed

If you WANT to just have a job – a place where you go, do your work, and come home and forget about it  – that’s okay. But if so – what are you doing on this blog reading this article?

I’m guessing you want something more.

I won’t go any more into this – Seth really covers it all in his Brainwashed manifesto, much more eloquently than I can.

I will leave you with an excerpt from the end of his manifesto. The most important part, I think.

If you’re here, reading this, then you’re already taking this step towards freedom- towards creating an enterprise of your own: but I think it’s a good reminder of WHY you need to keep learning.

1-Seth Godin - Brainwashed

Go read Brainwashed here.

I’d love to know what you think of it.

{MotiBright} Scott Belsky ~ Connectivity & Reactive Work

Scott Belsky - Proactive vs Reactive
Through our constant connectivity to each other, we have become increasingly reactive to what comes to us rather than being proactive about what matters most to us. ~ Scott Belsky

This quote encapsulates the biggest takeaway from my recent digital sabbatical.

I’m going to post a more in-depth look at how taking time out from the internet caused me to overhaul my workday later this week, but today I wanted to focus on the core shift underlying the changes I’ve made in my life – and work – since that short break.

Connectivity is crucial to my business – to any online or other business, really. Being not only visible, but useful, engaging, or entertaining on social media + email on a daily basis is a never-ending part of my ‘job’ – and the job of anyone who wants to grow a solid business in the 21st Century.

Social media is not only vital – it’s fun, too! That makes it a potentially dangerous time-suck – one which we’ve all fallen victim to many, many, MANY times.

Email, also – the all-pervasive and slightly amorphous feeling of stress we feel if we’re not checking it constantly – can eat up productive time so very easily.

The core of all of this? Reactive work.

By constantly ‘checking in’ on social media, email, and other interactive online spaces (like checking our blog comments or stats, for example) we are caught in a loop of reactive work. We’re looking for something outside of us to give us something to respond to, rather than sitting back, turning inward, and focussing on what WE can create and give out to the world.

This is the tension between reactive and proactive work.

Many of us do FAR too much reactive work – and proactive work falls by the wayside as a victim to our reactive focus.

I’ll give you a few examples from my workday to illustrate these two types of work:

Reactive

  • ‘Checking’ email. Especially when I’m just checking it to see if there’s anything new… while there are still a slew of emails in my inbox that I’ll deal with ‘later’…
  • Checking in to social media – again, to see if there’s anything new for me to respond to
  • Checking blog comments, stats, email newsletter opens + stats… etc etc
  • Filling orders. VITAL core of my business.

Proactive

  • Logging onto email to SEND emails I’ve drafted beforehand that will move my business forward in some way
  • Logging onto social media to deliberately share or schedule useful updates
  • Writing content for e-courses, ebooks, blog posts
  • Designing new jewellery + photographing new designs + uploading new designs
  • Pitching bloggers or press

These are just a few examples from my own workday – I’m sure you can see some of your own habits here, too.

Now, as you can see, some reactive tasks are REALLY IMPORTANT. They are not ‘bad’ – but they can expand to fill the time we give them. Proactive work only happens when we deliberately carve out the time and space for it – and just a quick peruse of the list above will show you how vital making time for proactive work is if you want to move your business forward.

And it’s not all about work, either. Other aspects of our life (like real-world time with family and friends, non-digital hobbies, exercise) can suffer when we’re caught in a reactive loop – obsessively checking our phones every few minutes to see if something new and exciting has happened – rather than giving our whole focus to the present moment and what we’re doing + who we’re with.

The realisation that I wasn’t carving out enough of this proactive work (and life) time on a consistent, daily basis was a paradigm shift for me, personally. As I said above, I’m going to go into much more detail on how I have changed my daily routine as a result of this realisation later this week, so if you’re curious, keep an eye out for that.

Oh, and in case you want to read more about this sort of stuff, the quote above is from the quite excellent 99U book I read during my sabbatical, which was instrumental in helping me re-think my daily routine. It’s called Manage Your Day-to-Day.

Now, I’d love to ask you – do you see this tendency in your own life and work?

Do you have time set aside for proactive work every single day? Or is it something you need to work on including?