Every once in a while, I get in a funk. I'm in one right now. It has to do with work.
I just haven't felt quite myself in a week or so. I wrote about it privately this morning, trying to sort out my feelings. Where did this start? Why? How do I get out of it? What's the way forward?
To me, it's not the same as depression, although if I wallow here long enough, it could turn into that. Dave's solidarity has been comforting. Sometimes all you need is for someone to say, "Me too. I've been there. I know how you're feeling, and you'll be okay."
Where did this start?
I work well on a deadline. Journalism school was perfect for me. Working at a newspaper might have suited me just fine (except during my internships, I haaaaaated driving around looking for feature pictures, particularly ones about the weather. So maybe not).
Three weeks ago, I was finalizing my biggest client project yet. I've truly enjoyed the whole process with this client, but I have a bad habit of procrastinating. I've been working on this since October, and I had all the content by the end of January. This was the end of March, so I'd had 8 weeks to finish everything. The last night should have been about fine-tuning, tweaking, double-checking. Instead, I still had QUITE a bit of work left to do, even after putting in a good 10-hour day. So I stayed up until 2am. Crushing it. Haven't done that since college. But I finished it, and the client loved it. It felt so good to hand off those three wooden boxes, branded with LISTEN across the top, and then hear from the client a few days later that they went slowly through the box with a glass of wine and reveled in their 35 years of marriage and raising kids together.
Then I flew home to NC for two weeks. I had three client meetings and projects lined up (so I thought), and two of them fell through in the weeks before I left. The one follow-through I did have was a great one, and will turn into good, meaningful work. But the loss of the other two was a big bummer. Instead of a part business, part personal trip, it turned into mostly personal, with about 8 hours of work in two weeks. It was wonderful to spend time with my family, but I felt like I lacked purpose in that time. Coming home to Seattle, that feeling has persisted in the absence of any pressing deadlines.
How do I get out of it?
This morning, Dave helped me recognize that this is normal. Everyone goes through funks now and then. It's part and parcel of small-business ownership, not to mention, um, LIFE. So that's reassuring. It's not forever, it's just for a time.
I'm also strategizing about what I can do with this time to cast off the funk. How can I trick myself into thinking I have pressing deadlines? What truly needs to be done that can't get done in busier times? What can I do to improve my website? To brainstorm advertising? To pursue new relationships?
What's the way forward?
I need people. There's no way I could do this without Dave. And I've been so grateful for the little community of small business owners that I've been working with around Seattle. It helps to talk with each other about our work, areas we're struggling in, seeking advice, giving comfort and encouragement.
I also need to regularly remind myself of my purpose. Every time I share what I do with other people, they say, "Wow! What a great idea. That's fantastic. My grandma..." Literally. Everyone. This is great. But how many people follow through on those statements? Who actually values the service we offer with, um, hope this isn't awkward, but — money? I truly do appreciate the kind words, but the warm glow lasts for about five minutes after conversations like that. Then it's gone, and most people forget. Yes, what I do is touchy feely, but unless someone pays me to tell their family's story, it's kind of meaningless. Touchy feely doesn't put food on the table. #realtalk
So sometimes that's discouraging. But then I have to remind myself that what I'm doing IS meaningful, and that I'm quite happy to be doing it. If I think about work that has longevity, work that will outlive me, I hope this is it. My hope when I make these family story packages is that three generations (or more) from now, people will be pulling out these boxes to see and hear the stories of their ancestors. To find out what kind of people they were. To find meaning in their own lives by looking back at their predecessors.
So, I'm curious. How do you get out of your slumps?
All these photos are from walks around my neighborhood this week. Come take a walk with me. : )