17 November 2009

Start, stop, start, stop

Workflows, plans, to-do lists. All those things constantly allude me. Oh, I make them. I even follow them on occasion. But do I do it consistently?

Well, let's see.

How many times have I said I'm going to regularly blog? (Please don't count. It's more of a rhetorical question.) I even came up with a schedule. It's on a little post-it note attached to my monitor.

I was really proud when I came up with that. In my head I thought, "this is it! I have a plan! No more excuses. All I have to do is sit down, do a little research, and 3 days a week I have a blog topic practically written for me. 2 days a week, if I so choose, I can write about what I'm up to with my business. Done. Finally. I'm awesome. And look. I even put it in a place where I can easily see it."

But what do I do?

I sit down at the computer after I get home from the part-time job, look at TweetDeck, look at email, surf the links that have been tweeted that interest me, chat with my friends or mom on iChat while doing bits and pieces of work that I've extracted from the scribbles of to-dos and look at that post-it note and say "yeah, yeah, yeah, in a minute". I go back to making lists, making plans, and trying to clear the clutter in my brain so when I sit down at the computer I don't just stare into 2560 x 1600 worth of pixelated space. (I have the 30" Apple Cinema Display. It's a lot of space at which to stare.)

The moral of the story?

I'm getting in my own way. I've always gotten in my own way. Sure there are actual obstacles that present themselves from time to time that can't be avoided, but most of the time, probably more than half of the time, the excuses lie on me. If something doesn't get done, it's because I chose to ignore it or to put it off.

Is it a crime? No. I'm human. I get tired, cranky, hungry, or whatever dwarf you wanna name because I'm not infallible. I need a break from time to time. I meet client deadlines because I want repeat business and would rather avoid the reputation of being a flaky artist, but as far as my own personal deadlines? Like that deadly "where do you want to be in 5 years?" question? Those don't exist. And that's a problem. So is thinking that taking workshops and reading blogs and buying books on marketing and business are going to magically solve the problem. Are those things worth it? Absolutely. Are they worth it if you don't implement what you learned? Absolutely not. Are they worth it if you implement what you learned for about 3 months and then fall back into old habits? Nope.

The other problem is I always seem to want to come up with a solution to the problem in the midst of the busiest times. Such as: "I've got 3 art fairs to prepare for but my business needs some seriously examining! I should do it RIGHT NOW!" Or currently: "I have 5 custom collages that I'm working on, 2 art fairs coming up and I'm moving head first into the holidays! Let's write a business plan!" Either my brain is addicted to ADD or it's just excited to be busy and wants to pile on more. I wish I knew.

But what I do know for sure is, despite as much as I want to beat myself up for all the things I haven't done, there is so much that I have. I've plowed through when a lot of people have found it easier to throw in the towel. I've been in business 7 years and though it's not enough to pay all the bills just yet, it's half of my income. I often get remarks about how much work I do, wearing the hats of the accountant, marketer, errand runner and artist. The other day I went to buy some card stock and when I told the clerk I had a tax ID under Inkblots she remarked on how I had been in business for awhile and how great that is. In the midst of berating myself for my faults, I often forget to praise myself for my successes.

And as much as I've stopped, I've also started, which is not always an easy thing.

I know a lot of you can say the same thing. Be proud of that.