I’ve taken quite a hiatus from blogging recently. I want to say it’s mainly because I’ve gotten very busy in both my personal and business life, but I know that I definitely could’ve kept writing. I have like 50 drafts of different content either half-started or nearly finished, that I just haven’t been able to bring myself to polish and publish. But why?
I had an amazing, overly-long conversation with Anna Schickel over at Sparke Marketing and somewhere through the twists and turns, we discussed how both of us create content marketing for clients while leaving our own social media accounts to wither.
The Plumber’s Paradox
It’s an oft-repeated joke that the plumber’s house has leaky pipes, the chef de cuisine’s dinner is ramen, the mechanic’s car is broken, and the housekeeper's home is in disarray. In essence, we do it for others, but we don’t do it for ourselves. I’ve heard this explained that these things not revenue-generating tasks, but I think this is a very uncharitable viewpoint and paints people as dispassionate drones.
For me, I don’t spend the time working on my own "house" because, in my mind, it feels self-serving. But this is a fallacy. A lot of what I like to produce is at least, in part, educational. And even if it’s not, I like to think that what I create does some good by causing a smile or a memory. And even if it doesn’t do that, If I make it, it’s no longer taking up space in my mind, distracting from other aspects of my life.
It's a practice in discipline, training yourself to be okay with working on yourself and your business, and sometimes that just means doing something that feels selfish. The more you practice following through, and having that discipline, the better you get in your personal and business life. Over time, it starts to feel less self-serving and feels like self-improvement and brand improvement.
The Pursuit of Perfection
Hello, my name is Jacquelyn and I’m a recovering perfectionist.
There’s a sort of stage fright associated with producing artistic work, whether it’s for your brand or a client. When sending a new client a concept, pressing send on that email or sitting in the car before a presentation can feel like putting yourself up for judgement. There's often an anxiety that they'll notice the things you couldn't get quite up to your standards, things that maybe aren't perfect. Worse yet, if they do notice those things and mention them, it can feel personal.
When it comes to making anything for my business, I want every pixel, word, and color to be exact and perfect. In the struggle for perfection, it’s easy to forget the value of your work and yourself. That value is vastly superior to any slight mistake or not-quite-perfect detail. Real life isn't perfect, and nothing anyone ever makes will ever be perfect. It's okay to feel anxious about presenting a project, a healthy, small amount of anxiety is a normal response to stress. The more you do it, the less and less stressful it gets over time.
I've made it a goal for myself to spend less time stressing over individual projects, because after a certain point, you're gilding the lily and potentially making it less impactful. Learning where a project "ends" is an important and hard lesson that unfortunately requires time to learn, and it's even harder when it's not something with a deadline set by a client.
How to Do It For Yourself
Another thorn in the side of focusing on yourself and your brand is time. With so much on our plates, we often put ourselves at the bottom of the pecking order. I often push off updating my portfolio, even though that’s something that could help me gain new clients.
During our conversation, Anna mentioned that she schedules blocks to work on social media for herself. Honestly, it felt like such a revelation and it absolutely should not have. You schedule meetings for your clients, or time to work on projects in order to meet deadlines, why not schedule blocks for your own brand or personal goals?
Carve out a dedicated slot in your workweek. Choose a time that you feel most relaxed, creative, or structured, whatever works best for you. Whether that’s Monday morning, Saturday at midnight, or Friday afternoon, pick a time you can focus and work in your ideal setting. This doesn't have to happen every week, either. Figure out what goals you're hoping to achieve within this schedule, and make sure they're achievable within that timeline.
If you absolutely must do something else in that time slot, move it less than 24 hours away. It's easier to hold yourself to following through if you don't push it down the line.
If you’re waiting for motivation, you’re gonna be waiting your whole life. Motivation comes after discipline. It sucks, but part of being an adult, and furthermore, a business owner, is dealing with things you don't want to do.
Tricking yourself into fake motivation is the easiest way to do this. Give yourself one infinitesimally small task to complete. Say, if you want to go for a run every morning when you wake up, put your running shoes and fresh socks by your bed. Make your first task putting on those shoes, trust me, it'll make going for the run much easier. Once you do it a few times, it becomes more routine to get out of bed. They say habits take 21 days to form, and from experience it does truly become easier after that.
Find an Accountability Partner
You know how they say to go to the gym with a friend, so you both hold each other accountable for working on yourselves? It’s because it forces you to stay consistent and on a continuous path toward your goals.
Whatever works for you, whether it’s a daily text check-in, a coffee date once a month, wordlessly sending each other gifs on Slack to show you hit some milestone, or actively working on projects together or adjacent to each other, let yourself be open in your process. It’s about holding them, and in return, yourself, accountable for your actions.
You not only share your struggles and lows, you can help each other troubleshoot and act as a sounding board. But more than any of that, you get to celebrate your wins together and feel fulfilled and empowered by each other's achievements. Celebrating even small achievements will help give you the motivation to keep going and reach long-term goals.
Before you reach out to someone, whether in person or online, set clear and realistic needs and goals for yourself. It might be helpful to seek a partner that shares a similar schedule to you and understands your workload. Determine what works for you and your partner, and make sure you're up to the task of reciprocating and giving support to your partner.
Share on Instagram or Facebook: Share this with other creators, share your thoughts, and partner up with someone to hold each other accountable! Tag me @jcqzu or with #jcq so I can see what you’re doing!
Leave a comment below or hit me up. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.