I am heading into year four of full-time painting and working for myself, although if I am honest, that first year I was not very intentional about trying to build a business. I took classes and painted... a lot. We were adapting to living in a new state and I was getting used to there being no paycheck direct deposited into my account every Thursday. My dad died after a lengthy illness and there were several trips home and many tears to shed. Maybe we won't count that year...
If you have ever worked for yourself, you know that the to-do list is never finished. It's a lot like the first big movie (like $100 million dollar big) that I worked on back in my production days. You work many hours, most days of the week, and at the end of the day, there is still a pile of work that will be happily awaiting your arrival in the morning. Same as on the big movie jobs, it took time to adjust to this and find a rhythm of work that I could live with and not lose too much sleep. And, it is never final (sort of like that artist statement business I mentioned in last month's email...). I forget and then I remember. Flexibility and a sense of humor help.
Last week I met a few business goals. Some of them had been on my plate for a while (looking at you email list...) another was an ongoing milestone, and one was a new opportunity arriving out of the blue. I have this tendency to look at a job completed, say "done", and roll on to the next item on the list without taking a breath. I recognize this pattern and I don't like the way it makes me feel. So, I bought a little cake and Prosecco to celebrate and to share with my partner whose love and labor behind the scenes make this little endeavor go. Honestly, it was a small thing. But taking the time to honor what I put together (and taking a breath) really did have an impact on my heart.
There is an ethos in the entrepreneur culture that says it's all about the hustle. Slay. We're 'killing it'. Pride in the 16 hour work days and living on caffeine and adrenaline. And I am NOT discounting the hard work it takes to get a business of the ground (or to work at a job if that's your jam or to work and raise a family and do. all. the. things.) But my nervous system and my creative spirit do not thrive in that hustle mentality. Becoming de-regulated and out of sorts makes my artwork get wonky, not to mention what it does to my overall well-being.
The interruption of this personal pattern (and cultural commandment) of 'more, more' starts with a small thing like an acknowledgment and a celebration. More cake (or whatever you love!). It is scary to let go of endless striving for more; like in most small businesses, my sales, consulting sessions, and classes taught equal paying the rent and buying groceries! I am testing it out, one baby step at a time. Less coffee. More slowing my roll and pace of production. Learning to ride the waves of productivity and rest, goal setting and marking achievements small and large. Thoughtful and consistent actions fueled by my devotion to art and healing. Not by feeding the machine.
Grace and peace everyone.