Road block is really just a detour

I was going to start off complaining about my weekend and how things just weren’t going according to the plans I laid out, but I stopped myself. For one thing, I can’t change what’s already occurred. I can just learn from it and keep it moving. Second, what did occur was an ‘ah ha!’ experience.

I set a deadline for completing two jewelry orders by September 15. I took time to go shopping Friday and Saturday for all the supplies I thought I would need to finish the second order. I devoted four hours to the whole project. I had my list and my sketchbook and set out to buy beads. Six hours later, I still couldn’t find beads I liked that fit the client’s request and one component of the project wasn’t working no matter what I tried. I made an intricate bead only to find that after it was all done, the colors were darker than I anticipated. And then I was stressing trying to get it done before the weekend was over. I was surrounded by beads, wire, tools, papers, sketches, pencils, scrap clay, and all the failed attempts to create the vision in my head. By Sunday night, I was a wreck.

It occurred to me that I was focusing on what wasn’t working, which of course created more ‘this ain’t workin‘!’ vibes to the point I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t see what I had in front of me although it was scattered on the rug and table. I tried to redirect my thoughts and instead of finding calm, I found a complete and utter mental block. If I didn’t take a break, I’d have found myself sprawled on the floor crying my eyes out and going down that awful street of ‘I can’t do this!’ I like what I do and I’m talented enough to do it. I got up, left everything where it was and went to do something I hadn’t in weeks, months, years: grocery shopping.

While I efficiently navigated the grocery aisles, I realized I was focusing too hard on creating something so magnificent that I wasn’t having fun. I didn’t feel any pride in what I was doing. It was like I was working to meet a deadline so I could get paid, not because what I made would bring someone joy and ultimately me more confidence in what I do. The individual focused thoughts were on making sure I met the deadline I promised (not that she asked). So, that helped me relax a little, but I was still in need of a design. When I got home, I tried to sit and let the design come over me. All that accomplished was welcoming back the stress I left at the store. At 10:30, I decided I just needed to go to sleep. I woke up this morning and it all came to me. The way I needed to go about creating the design came to me. The whole design came to me. I’m brimming with the idea I need to create and I don’t have to go buy any more supplies. I can’t wait to get home and work it out. And it didn’t require me flipping through copies of Vogue, Elle, or any of the other dozen catalogs and magazines I peruse looking for inspiration and ideas.

This is going to be an interesting journey and I can see the ‘failures’ already not being the typical definition of failure, but lessons that will help me do the best I can. Here are the valuable business lessons that came from my weekend experience:

  1. Plan accordingly. I had almost three weeks to finish this. It was my own bad planning that caused me to miss the deadline I set. And I may have found beads I liked if I hadn’t waited two weeks to shop for them.
  2. Let the design come to me gently, not try to beat it into my brain. Trying to make something come together doesn’t make it come together: It just gives me a headache. I have to be easy.
  3. Have a general idea of what I want to do and make variations so that when I do finally shop for what I need, I can modify my designs if what I want isn’t available.
  4. Have fun. I’ve talked all my adult life about enjoying what I get paid to do. Here is my opportunity and I’m coming to it with the same approach I do my 9-to-5. Not anymore.


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