The Parameters for Success March 31 2018, 0 Comments

March is always a ridiculous month. I was meant to get this blog post done at the beginning of the month.....hah hah! 
March holds my birthday, several good friends birthdays, my brothers birthday, my sister in laws birthday, my step-daughters birthday, my husbands birthday is 28th Feb so its baaasically March, it's end of financial year, it's the last month of summer, it's my businesses birthday. This year I was also participating in the MoreFM Everest Challenge, it was my step-daughters 5th birthday so we had last days of daycare and first days of school, and as well as all this I decided to help foster THREE puppies, because clearly just the above wasn't enough for one month.
It's been exhausting. 
I place HIGH expectations on myself at all times. Not on purpose, sometimes I don't even realise this until I look back in retrospect. I seem to have this constant desire to do better, to be better, to improve, to be looking for ways to add value, make things more efficient and effective, etc. But I end up spending so much time in my head, that by the time I actually come to doing anything that'll actually push me forward I'm already exhausted! Oooops. 
This month my business turns 4. Instead of looking at that and giving myself a pat on the back, I look at that and think "but what 'should' I have achieved in 4 years?", "how do I know if I'm successful?" I compare myself to other people with completely different businesses, in completely different situations and I feel so inadequate. 
One of the biggest things I'm currently learning to do it to lower these expectations. In the past I've always thought this meant failing. But in reality it's just allowing myself breathing space, allowing myself to be human. I still want to achieve the goals I set, I still expect a lot....but I'm easing off and focusing on the reality that these types of goal posts don't have to be concreted in to the ground. They can be flexible. They can move. 
Everything happens for a reason right? So if a target wasn't hit...then it wasn't MEANT to be hit right now. 
A fantastic example of this is last year. 2017 was nuts. My partner and I moved cities, we got new jobs, we relocated twice more within the same region, we got a kitten, we bought a new house and moved in to that the weekend before we got married, we organised a wedding, we went on a trip to Bali, we increased the care of his daughter to 50-50, so parenting became a much bigger job; my studio stayed up in Auckland for most of the year, so I was again working out of garage corners and damp sheds. It was an insane year. 
And do you know what I was thinking through it all? I was UPSET and ANXIOUS because my business hadn't hit any of the milestones I wanted it to. I made hardly any sales, I didn't design that new range I've been talking about for a long time, I didn't email my stockists enough, I didn't post on Facebook enough, I didn't harness social media enough, I didn't do enough with my AdWords account, I didn't follow leads and opportunities enough. 
I spent the whole year telling myself that I wasn't doing good enough.....yet towards the end of the year, when everything started calming down once again, I had a light bulb moment. 
I realised that if my business HAD been thriving, if it had been growing and I had been making loads of sales and creating heaps of orders, then I wouldn't have been able to keep up. All those customers would have received sub-par care because I was so busy with everything else and trying to not sink into another deep dark depressive episode. There is no way I could have managed if I had been pushing and hitting all these sky high expectations I had been placing on myself ALL YEAR along with everything else that was going on.  
This last year has really pushed me to look hard at what I consider to be my parameters of success. Do I track the numbers of my sales, orders, stockists, customers, likes, engagements etc....yes, I do. How could a business grow if you don't? But these numbers, right now, are not what I look to as my sole indicators of success. Right now my successes are derived from things much less tangible than dollars in the bank and social media stats. These parameters sit in the realm of adding value, making sure I am adding quality to my life and the lives of those I serve, not just quantity. I do not pump out jewellery in large numbers just because the stats will look good. 
My current, most important parameters for success are:
  1. Flexibility – being able to do what I need to do at my own pace to ensure I succeed in BOTH my business and everyday life is so crucial. Being able to make time to look after my mental health and well-being throughout the week is something I do not take for granted.
  2. Authenticity – (such a buzzword at the moment) being 100% honest to what I believe in and what I think is important allows me to connect with the right people. If I continue to create jewellery and run my business to my personal values then I feel good, and the results will show that. Being able to make decisions based on my intuition (and mine only) is one of the biggest joys of running my own business.
  3. Joy – if, with all the stresses and worries of running my own business, there are still moments of complete joy, then what I’m doing is right and I’m going to keep doing it! Making precious items for people to wear and treasure is so insanely cool. Having someone come back to me years after making them a piece to repair because they wear it literally every single day and it is worn to within an inch of its life….that is something so humbling and rewarding; and is what fuels me to keep going.
If I can stay true to the above, and continue tracking all the quantifiable stuff as well...then there HAS to be movement, there HAS to be growth. I've had so many people tell me that the way I'm doing things isn't a recipe for success. But we are clearly baking different cakes. I love what I do and I KNOW it will be successful. I'm slowly working out the correct formula to get this thing moving, I know it is out there, and I know I am close to getting all the pieces of the puzzle to click in and then the bigger picture will be clear to everyone. Perhaps this is a bit like a Wasgij puzzle for everyone else; all everyone else can see is what's behind me, and I'm looking ahead, connecting the pieces, knowing there is a complete picture to be found. 
I might be doing this slower than other people would, I might be doing this differently that other people would. But this is business baby, this is MY business, and I'm in it for the long run. I am the tortoise. And I am proud.