I knew I was going to sell my cake business before I even opened it. I knew that my cake business was not going to be the last chapter in the story of my working life. In my parents generation, people stayed in one profession or even with one company for the whole of their working lives. You know, get the gold watch after 25 years of service, retire at 65 with a pension. In my generation, that’s becoming increasingly rare. I’ve got friends who are trained doctors but who have never seen a patient for a single day after the end of medical school. I’ve met artists with booming online businesses where they don’t sell anything they’ve created. I’ve met physical therapists who became chefs. What we do for a living is no longer what defines our lives, it simply acts like new chapters marking out the book of our lives.
I’ve written here before about taking the leap, about trying new things, about feeling the fear and doing those scary things anyway. You all know how I feel about being brave (even a little bit brave). Many of the emails I get from blog readers are about their fear around starting their business up in the first place. How will they know when it’s the right time to quit their job? What if they don’t make enough money? What if they don’t get enough orders? All of these are really valid questions and fears. Problem is, sometimes that fear can become paralysis and as the years go by, not much changes for us or our businesses. We just get…stuck.
I want to give you something to think about.
I can count on one hand the number of cake business owners I’ve met who are in their fifties or beyond. The ones I HAVE met are often leaders in a very specific skill (like sugar flowers) or they own more traditional style of bakeries (like Carlo’s Bakery.) The ones I’ve met who are in it with a specific skill have tended to be the true artists – the ones for whom gumpaste and modelling chocolate are just the mediums they use to express their art. Chances are if they fell into pottery or quilting or painting they would be “old” in that industry too because for them it’s the artistry more than the product per se. The generational ones inherited their career and business from their parents or grandparents. This does not seem to be an industry with a huge amount of career longevity to it. Maybe this will change over time, but given that as a whole career trajectories are changing, I’m not convinced that it will.
So be that as it may – consider this: what if your business was only ever meant to be a temporary venture? What if it was never meant to last more than three, five or ten years? What if this is just what you get to do…right now? If you knew it wasn’t forever, would you be as scared to start it as you are? If you knew it wasn’t forever, would you be worrying about each decision as much as you are?
In Becky Dickson’s recent email, she made this suggestion:
“Go look in the mirror and ask yourself what you want most in the whole world.
Could be something tangible, like money. Could be a feeling – safety, warmth, love.
Look at yourself and ask the fucking question out loud. “Becky, what do you want most?” (But don’t call yourself Becky, unless that’s your name too.) And then listen. REALLY listen.
What does your gut say? You’ll know when you hit on it because you’ll have goosebumps, or the little hairs on the back of your neck will stand on end, or maybe you’ll just have a sense of deep knowing inside that this thing is IT.”
I took Becky’s advice, and now that I know what I want, I’m taking action to go and get that thing. Some days taking action is easy, other days very hard but each day, I’m moving forward and towards my goal. You know that expression, “Life’s too short,”…? The older I get the more I realise that life IS too short.
Too short to lay blame on others for our situation.
Too short to put up with crappy people or crappy situations.
Too short to worry about things being “forever” – because I’ve realised that it’s both a blessing and a curse that nothing lasts forever. For me, all I can really count on is that I’ve got today. So today, I’m going to move forward.
I want you to know that in all your messages and emails, I am truly understanding and listening to your fears and how much they keep you from doing things or achieving what you want. I’ve been there before, I’ll be there again, and I’m there right now.
In recent weeks, I’ve not blogged as much as I normally would.
Perhaps this post is written as much for me as it is for you.
Right now, I’ve got a whole lot of shit I’m worrying over.
None of it is actually real.
It all lives in my head, where, when left unchecked, those triplets of worry, fear and doubt run around like toddlers who just drank a whole lot of Coke and ate a tub of red buttercream followed by some Pixie Sticks. It’s not going to end pretty.
As soon as I hit the publish button on this post, I’m going to go take yet more steps towards getting to where I want to be. This does not mean that those naughty toddlers in my head will go away. It simply means that I’ve decided that life really is too short… for me to be acting like a toddler, too. I could wander around complaining about not getting what I want. “But Daddy, I want a PINK pony!” Personally, I’d rather actually GET what I want than complain about not having it.
So – I’m going to put on my grown up voice, knock those three into behaving a bit better – and just carry on being my awesome self, taking action towards my goals.
Ultimately, the shit I’m worrying over is only temporary – it’s just that for a few moments there, I was fooled into believing my own story that these worries were ‘forever’ worries.
Over the course of my life and career, I’ve had all kinds of wonderful and amazing things happen – too many to list, really. I’ve also made a ton of mistakes, screwed stuff up, had a bunch of challenges, lost friends and lost money.
So far, my survival rate on all of that is 100%.
I want to give you something to think about.
I’m not going to ask, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” (I hate that question. Such bullshit. We all fail. Shit happens.)
Instead I’m asking you (and I’m asking myself), “What would you do if you knew you might fail, but you knew that failure was only temporary AND that you’d survive it?”
We’re in this together.