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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.