Balance, fulfillment, beauty and simplicity — all of these things are possible.
Remember the “good ol’ days” when you were clocking in and clocking out?
Wait. Those days were definitely not good. There is a reason we are working for ourselves now, amen? But there was something about being able to leave the office, close the door, and leave work at work.
As a creative entrepreneur, you are all of a sudden your own CEO. And sometimes you make Bill Lumbergh look like a pushover. You say to yourself, “I’m gonna need you to come in on Saturday … and maybe Sunday too.”
And instead of quitting and telling yourself to shove it, you just … keep … working.
You work at all hours of the day and night. You wake up at 3am with an idea, brew some coffee and get started. You pull laptop marathons that leave your eyeballs bulging and your fingers aching. You get on a roll, and can’t quit.
Working for yourself is a beautiful thing, but burnout can quickly become part of your vocabulary if you don’t put some measures in place.
You have to shut off your work brain, or you will begin to replace busyness with progress, and then you are simply a hamster on a wheel, like you were before you began your business. And that is not the goal here my friends.
The goal is progress, not busyness. The goal is fulfillment, balance, beauty and simplicity, not becoming another red necked, puffy eyed corporate suit who is on the fast track to a triple bypass.
We are trying to redefine business culture. So let’s start by changing our own habits.
Managing time is truly a ridiculous notion. You cannot manage time any more than you can manage the wind. What you can do is make choices in each moment that have a powerful impact on your outcomes.
Taking on the role of curator of your own time can make a huge difference. Here’s the official definition:
Curator — from Latin: “curae” meaning “take care”.
A curator manages or oversees a collection of tangible items. They choose what fits a historically appropriate theme, and make sure that the works are collected in the proper place, presented appropriately, guarded and protected. They decide what fits and what doesn’t. So how do we curate our time?
Decide the theme for your life.
If you could pick one word that you would like to describe your year, what would it be? What if you have to pick one word to describe your month, or your week? Whatever the time frame, choose a theme and stick with it.
Take some time to assess where you are, and where you want to go. Listen to what is crying out for attention in your life.
My theme this year is “fearless”. I have a close friend who runs an amazing organization called One Word 365. Every year I choose a word.
The word “fearless” means I make my decisions about how I spend my time based on a deep sense of trust and being ultimately safe. Nothing is decided on fear. Not one thing. So everything that presents itself to me is filtered through this lens.
Identify what brings joy and flow.
Once you choose your theme, identify what fits, and brings joy and flow to your life and work. Your theme won’t stay the same forever, so if it doesn’t fit now, it doesn’t mean it won’t later.
But for now — curate your moments to fit the theme. Allow your theme to guide you, and revisit it often to make sure you are being true to it. If you feel like things are a bit “off”, check in with your theme and make adjustments as needed.
Guard and protect the important.
Protect what matters with the fierceness of a mama bear protecting her cubs. This is your one, precious, finite life. And you get to decide what to do with your time. Every invitation, potential client relationship, family time, recreation, and creative endeavor should be filtered through your theme.
A curated collection is exactly as it should be — no more, no less. It is beautiful in its simplicity. It presents something that was managed with care, and deeply reflected upon. So let’s do an exercise …
Stand on one foot. Now look down.
What is your standing foot doing? Is it still? Or is it trembling a little, constantly shifting to make sure you stay upright?
Balance is not coming to some zen-like place of stillness. It never was. It is constant, micro-movements over time that keep you in your sweet spot. So start small, keep making adjustments, and stay in your sweet spot.