Ok so I haven't done a preachy blog post like this one in what feels like years. (Oh, well, except the ones about how to hang prints, which plants you should have and what you should buy people for Christmas. Ahem.) but I had a revelation recently about setting expectations for yourself that I think will resonate with fellow creatives and business owners.
Maybe (definitely) this is something that we all know and I'm sure many have already blogged about, but isn't it funny how you can read all the blogs, all the time and still not realise you need to take the advice you've been reading about on a blog every week, hearing in podcasts and seeing discussed in facebook groups. So, even if you've heard it before, maybe this post will be the little reminder you needed.
One of my ongoing business goals has been to create more products. My dream is to have a beautiful, wide and varied array of themed collections to suit all types of creative people, and realise all the ideas I get into my head. So, running with this goal I've been bringing out new products, planning new projects and launching new lines, so far this year I've launched the Bee Pin, Patch and Mug, and the Leaf-Laden Collection. It's all looking good.
So recently I decided to see if I could get some pre-orders to help launch my dream-product: the Be Nice or LEAF Doormat, as well as taking pre-orders for my book House Jungle, ordering a huge re-stock of pins and patches in anticipation of Christmas and a huge order of new card designs.
All of this should have been exciting (new designs! Pins! Christmas!) but instead I found myself spending half my mornings sitting around checking my bank balance and worrying about it. A general feeling of unease and failure. Being the motivated and, frankly, anal person I am - I have a little diary of week-by-week plans for content, launches, social media campaigns and lord knows what else for MONTHS ahead. My worry was that I wouldn't have enough money to make all of these products materialise within their alloted, scheduled, social media'd time frame.
And I don't know about you but I sometimes get weirdly attached and obsessed with these little scribbles in a diary as if they are officially The Law, and in my head I had told myself that if I didn't get my new range of cards designed, ordered, photographed, packed up and listed online with a charming and wittily copy-written promotional email to match by the last Monday of August, I was failing and letting my business, my customers and myself down. I'm imagining you reading this and nodding now because I'm know I'm not the only one who is this uptight and I know you can relate. If not for "not being able to materialise 100s of business cards in the space of a few weeks" then maybe for "not having paid off your overdraft yet" or "still living at your parents house at 22" or not being married or knowing how to drive or owning your own home by some arbitrary date or age you selected for yourself one day, and (probably) scrawled down in a diary somewhere.
And this is pretty much the point that I was getting to eventually! This deadline I'd imposed on myself is just a blob of ink on paper - my customers didn't know it even existed, and they won't be sitting at their computers, tapping their foot and looking at their watch if my latest products are not designed, ordered, photographed, packed up and listed online with a charming and wittily copy-written promotional email to match by the last Monday of August.
Life will go on.
The world will turn.
People will still like me, etc.
And it made me realise that sometimes I just need to chill on the whole deadline front. Yes, it's great to have standards and hold yourself to them, but sometimes we push too hard for no good reason. Sometimes we need to take the pressure off of ourselves.
So I rescheduled my "deadline", stopped worrying about juggling 25 different projects in one month, and I'm approaching what I'm working on right now with joy and focus, rather than stress.
And i'm sure i'll be back here next month reminding myself that the christmas deadlines I've imposed on myself are not life-or-death, too. ;)