I took basically 6 months (or more) off marketing my business, and all I got was this vague sense of guilt that I was failing to live up to my own expectations.
So I guess, what I’ve learnt is that knowing that it’s OK to take a break in theory and then being OK with taking that break in practice does not necessarily have any correlation.
For those new people or for those of you who missed the memo, in January 2022 I started working part-time at a design and marketing agency here in Meanjin. This effectively more than halved the amount of time I have in a week to do all of the things that working for yourself requires you to do, while also managing clients, launching websites and providing maintenance and support.
Luckily for me, I actually mostly enjoy the work I’m doing at the agency, which is huge considering what a difficult decision it was for me to make. Because I love having my own business; I love working with clients, I love having control and flexibility over my time, and I love all the exceptional, passionate and incredible people I get to meet along the way.
But I also like being able to pay bills without crying! (!!)
Have you ever heard that theory that you should never get a house bigger than you need because all you’ll do is fill it with stuff?
That’s kind of like what trying to run a business that isn’t that busy is like: you fill in all the hours with stuff.
I was so busy for so long and I can’t for the life of me remember what I was busy with. I think it was just that I was really struggling with the idea that I wasn’t making enough money, therefore I mustn’t be working hard enough, therefore I must be doing something all the time to try and fix it.
And then we got to January, and I suddenly had no time at all to fill with that stuff. Like, none. After I finished my client work, there was nothing left in me to even think about posting on Instagram or writing an issue for Laura’s Letters - let alone all the other stuff.
I had such delusions about how I was going to manage the workload I’d been maintaining before, from working weekends to backing up an 8-hour workday with another 4-hour worknight (because you best believe my high-functioning, perfectionist, people-pleasing, anxiety-ridden ass was not going to cut me any slack).
But, (shockingly) it didn’t happen that way.
And that’s how we’ve ended up here, with me trying to quietly and calmly re-enter your lives, not with a bang but with a whimper.
As always when I go on these little tangents about my life and business you’re probably wondering why on earth I’m telling you about it.
- I felt I was pretending that everything was fine for a really long time when it obviously wasn’t
- Once I stopped talking to you all, it became incredibly hard to find a way to come back again when it really shouldn’t have been
- When someone says they’re “booked out”, that means entirely different things for everyone. For me, this year, it meant less than one client a month because that’s literally all I could wrap my head around
And here's the punchline:
My Business Didn't Fail When I Fell Off The Face Of The Planet.
In fact, nothing happened.
Or rather, nothing changed. I didn't see any increase in enquiries (obviously) but I didn't see a decrease either.
I had no growth in 2022 but not every year (day, month, week, season) has to be about growth. Sometimes, living your life, running your business, and existing in the world is just about surviving.
And that’s what I did in 2022. I survived. And damn it all if that's not something to be proud of (work in progress).