Last week I hit a crunch time. It was tough. It was challenging. But I managed to get through it all right thanks to the many healthy crunch time tactics I applied.
Crunch times are inevitable when you run your own business.
Crunch times are an inevitable part of being a parent.
Crunch times are an inevitable part of life.
But that doesn’t mean we have to welcome them with open arms.
If you remember, one of the crunch time secrets I shared with you in last week’s post was stepping back and assessing. And here’s what I learned in this ever-so-important step . . .
See, years ago, in college I received some very valuable advice.
It was from my history teacher. But it had nothing to do with global history. No it was personal. She looked at my load of courses and extra curricular activities and told me to work on adding one word to my extensive vocabulary:
For such a little word, it’s a hard one. One that I have struggled with quite a bit.
And when I step back and assess many of my most challenging times, it’s often because I left this little word out of my vocabulary.
Recently the absence of this two-letter word hit me and my business in two ways . . .
Just Say “No” To Speed
See, it’s very easy with a home business run mostly over the internet using a computer to have very unrealistic expectations of what you can accomplish.
There’s always a new way to squeeze things in, automate things, work faster and smarter.
Now some of that is good. Believe me I use all kinds of tools to make things go smoother. Starting with my computer. As a writer, I don’t want to go back to the days of writing things out longhand, editing it and then typing it on a typewriter.
But there’s a limit to how fast we can go. As I try to force myself to be uber-efficient, I wonder can my body and mind take this hyperspeed?
Can we really handle this many transactions and actions and decisions in a day?
This is one place where I’m thinking about the weight of the word “No”. Do I really want to speed up that much? Can I speed up that much?
(I wonder if the super hero Flash has any tips for grappling with this 21st century problem.)
Just Say “No” To Other People’s Definition Of Success
“No” also takes an important role in my definition of success.
Just this week, even as this recent crunch time came to a close, I still felt my heart racing and my nerves on edge.
My copywriting business was growing by leaps and bounds. On the heels of this high-intensity period, I had three potential clients contact me for large projects. And this was on top of projects I already had scheduled at a more leisurely pace for this summer.
I saw my summer being swept up in several – admittedly lucrative – but time-consuming jobs.
The world I’d dreamed of – clients knocking down my door and no fears of an empty schedule – was becoming reality.
How could I say “No” to these opportunities?
But a small voice inside me was also feeling panic. I saw myself moving forward with no break in sight.
This voice became very loud when I discussed the upcoming potential flurry of activity with my wise husband. As I mumbled about financial cushions and building my business, he thankfully reminded me of the big picture.
He reminded me of what the past week was like and that I can’t keep this pace up into perpetuity. I need to slow down, be here with my kids this summer. Have time to grow personally as well as professionally.
When he said these words, I realized while I liked having those jobs lined up for me, there was an important catch.
Steady, high-paying business was part of my definition of success. But when this started to eat away at the important parts of my life – like my family time and health - it became someone else’s definition of success that I was adopting without thinking.
When I acknowledged this and decided not to pursue a potentially five-figure job that I was going to try and squeeze in who knows where, I felt a huge wave of relief come over me.
More Is Not Always Better
It’s easy to get caught up in the definition of home business success that says more is always better. More money, more clients, more business.
It’s hard not to get lured into the online siren calls that promise you the life you’ve dreamed of when you hit the jackpot with your business.
And again, certainly there’s something to this. I don’t want to go back to the days of shuffling credit cards or praying for clientele. I like having financial security.
And these days especially, I am extremely grateful for the tough spot I’m put in by having too much business.
But I’ve also lived richly on $35,000 a year. I know how life can still be sweet with little money but strong family and appreciation for life’s good stuff.
In fact I have witnessed too many stories where working for monetary goals alone sabotaged all the sweetest parts of life money supposedly would secure: Like family, peace of mind, and health.
“Money can’t buy me love.”
So again, I come back to the word “No”. I realize now it’s an important part of how I need to define success – choosing the elements that fit into my definition. And saying sayonara to the ones that don’t.
Yes, money is part of my definition. I want to pay my mortgage, go on trips with my family, buy a nice pair of shoes on occasion.
But I also know I don’t want this if it costs me my real life – my family and my health.
And it’s up to me to be clear when one success threatens another instead of complementing it. It’s up to me to say “No!” to the right one so that I can continue to work towards the one I really want.
How do you use “No” successfully to keep sanity in your business and your life? Share with us all and help us get better use out of this powerful little word.