Anyone who knows me knows that I am a consummate planner. I am the opposite of spontaneous. I like to know what’s happening, and when, and how, and so—to some extent—it’s rather hilarious that I’m a freelancer, because freelancing typically does not afford one the level of predictability I really crave as a lifelong control freak. (Yes, it’s okay to laugh. I’m laughing.) Of course, part of the reason I’ve found success as a freelancer is precisely because I crave order and am generally very good about planning and organizing.
But. Despite the fact that I think of myself as a “creative person” (whatever that means), I tend to have a very all-business outlook when it comes to my work. I run the numbers. I figure out how to make money; I pour my time and energy into what’s most lucrative, first, and what actually speaks to me on a creative level is sometimes a secondary consideration. It’s true that I generally don’t start down a business path unless it’s something that speaks to me somehow, to begin with, but once I’m on that path, I’m all about what makes sense from a business perspective.
And that’s good. Except when it’s bad. Because all work and no “gut” makes Mir a dull writer. I’m thinking about 2011 being a year to reclaim my creativity.
I set myself a ton of purely business goals for 2010. And I’m not going to lie—I achieved some things of which I’m tremendously proud, and I invested a lot of time and money into overhauling my Internet presence and optimizing how I run Want Not, and all of that never would’ve happened without clear goals and a commitment to the nuts and bolts of making those changes happen. A lot of the investments I made over this past year will pay off moving forward. I’m glad I did what I did this year and wouldn’t change a thing.
I also remember spending some time thinking about the kinds of work I wanted to undertake this year; it’s always a balancing act, measuring out your time and energy in a way that’s both lucrative and fulfilling. There’s only so much of one person to go around, of course. Spend all your time on things you love and you might not make enough money. Spend all your time on things that pay but you don’t enjoy and you might be miserable. Again, I’ve worked that balance pretty well, I think, but I also think this past year I went on auto-pilot a little bit. I know what works for me and what doesn’t. I rarely stepped outside of my comfort zone.
And just to be clear: Sometimes a comfort zone is a good and wonderful thing. This year has unfortunately brought what seems like more than our fair share of family and personal issues along, so again, I’m straight-up just proud I managed to keep working and mostly on course throughout what oftentimes were stressful periods when I wanted nothing more than to hang a virtual “gone fishin’” sign on my door and disappear. Again, I don’t regret how I handled this year, business-wise, on the whole.
2011 needs something of a redirection, though. I feel like I’ve lost track, a little bit, of what would just flat-out make me happy. That’s both a business and a personal thing—the two can be hard to unravel from each other when you work for yourself, anyway—and rather than my standard sublimation of those pesky feeeeeelings in favor of a solid business plan, I want 2011 to be the year I come back to myself.
Does that sound unduly woo-woo? Hold on to your seat, because I’m about to get even more touchy-feely: I think this week I’m going to put together a vision board for myself.
It doesn’t sound like me, right? I’m the person who doesn’t have a life list. I’m the person who is so busy trying to control the minutiae of right now that my answer to “What would you do, if you could do anything?” is most often a slightly embarrassed, “I don’t even know.”
I am good at setting goals which are practical. I’m good at planning how to handle the mortgage, the bills, my children’s schedules, what’s for dinner this week, and how to save up for a new fence in a few years. I’m even good at running a business in a way that keeps me just this side of burnout even during my busiest season.
But I am flat-out terrible at dreaming. I get an F in being emotion-led. The funny part is that it’s not because I don’t have those emotions. It’s because I stuff them down on a regular basis in favor of the more orderly, more manageable emotion-free concerns of the day, week, month, and even year. The things I let myself want are concrete, easily achievable through a step-by-step plan. I know how to make more money. I’m not sure I know how to feel calmer and happier.
So I’m going into the woo-woo. I’m going to make a vision board. I’m reading The Gifts of Imperfection. My business goal for 2011 is to put more of myself back into my work. I’m going to figure out what really speaks to me and what I really need.
I’m a little scared. But also kind of excited. Will you join me?