It’s Talk It Out time! So why don’t we get started and discuss a little something that I think has value this week — the importance in focusing on smaller batches, less is more thinking, the trend of being small and being happy with it. Of course, big isn’t always overbearing but not everyone is cut out for a life of extreme scheduling and pressure. I’m no Martha, I would hate to have every second scheduled and feel that I’d be almost a product and no longer a person. There was a trend not too long ago that made everyone feel like less isn’t enough and more isn’t enough either, you need more than more, bigger than big, in fact you need world domination to be truly happy. Your life needed to be pimped and super-sized in order to have value. Your title defined who you are and who you will become. You don’t need a title to be a leader. What you do need is to have an area of expertise and others who support and respect your work.
I’m on the new bandwagon of thinking that I’ve noticed out there — that there is value in being smaller yet better. To be focused and highly skilled vs. big and scattered or big and extremely stressed out. The idea of being a small giant.
Do you want to be a big business? Fine. Do you want to be mid-size? Fine. Do you want to be small? Fine. But the question here is “Do YOU WANT…” so it’s good to think about your goals. Some get on these success waves and ride them out allowing the waves to dictate where their business will take them. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in success that you lose focus of your own goals and what you want in life. People around us always pressure us for more. And it’s usually not to be mean, it’s because they want us to be successful in whatever way they define success. More posts. More cupcakes. More DIY projects. More fabric patterns. More, more more. That’s what fans do, they want more because they admire what you do. And while this is absolutely wonderful and extremely flattering, it’s important to not allow your fans or customers to dictate what you ultimately do with your business. If this happens, then you just have a new “man”. Instead of working a 9-5 to please your boss, feeling uninspired at the end of the day, you’re now a freelancer doing the job you love but your fans pressure you and you feel uninspired because you cannot churn out work fast enough to “please” the masses. Your boss was your man. Now your fans are your man. Remember, you are the man. :)
May I please tell you a truth that cannot be ignored? Your fans will love you whether you create one painting this week or thirty of them. Set expectations, honor them, and move on. Edit as you go along. Your fans will respect you and you will ultimately give them something better — a better you, better work, and you’ll stick to your work longer because you didn’t tire out, burn out and then fizzle out completely.
Small is powerful. I think that sometimes we pressure ourselves to do more when maybe we should simply work harder at what we’re currently doing. Have you thought, if you tend to overextend yourself, that maybe it’s best to have less of yourself spread so thinly over many channels and more of yourself fully invested in only a few? Consider that for a moment. I speak from experience! That way, you feel less stress and your work becomes focused and more enjoyable to you.
I had a habit of spreading myself too thin. I was once blogging for several sites in addition to decor8. Along with blogging, I was consulting on design jobs in Boston for several years. Along with THAT I was a columnist for a newspaper and a regular contributor for HGTV.com and Domino magazine. I also wrote for a bunch of other clients from press releases to articles for magazines. Looking back, I don’t know what I was thinking but it was a bit too much. Somehow I managed it all but I think I was able to manage it because I fine tuned my work life and I decided to focus more on what I loved and less on what I didn’t. Truth is, I did not enjoy writing articles for magazines several times a month. It was stressful and the money wasn’t worth the time invested. I did not enjoy having design clients 30 hours a week in addition to all of the writing I was doing. I’m focusing now on things that really mean a lot to me, like this blog for one, along with other projects I’m involved in on the side.
My point is this: we can allow ourselves to be happy with where we are right now. In the moment. I’ll say this again. If it feels good, and it’s working… be happy with where you are right now.
You don’t need to change it if it works, feels right, your health and family are benefiting and you see benefit from your work. Some people are scared of being a small business because they think small means less fame or worse, less money. I guess it depends on how you look at it. I’ve lived on all income levels and the best times of my life were the ones where I was huddled around a table with $10 in my pocket aside best friends in some rubbish pub playing cards and laughing until 3am. Or our silly kareoke nights belting out classic Madonna songs (Like a virgggginnn ooooh!) in some cheesy Chinese restaurant. Even now, some of my best moments are spent with my friends and family. I recall the simple moments, the funny moments and the life changing ones — like when my dear grandmother and I sang Frank Sinatra songs for two hours right before she died this past June. I’m not going to say that money isn’t something we need to live because that would be a lie. I didn’t relocate to Germany because I’m poor — I worked and saved for years to get over here. But money can’t be the single driving force and certainly cannot tell us if we will be happy today or not.
So I vote we all appreciate where we stand in time today, our progress no matter how small (or great) and realize that small is great if you’ve decided that small is the way for you. And as friends of those who are focusing on smaller batches, higher quality, focused work — let’s be happy with that and careful not to constantly say, “What’s next?”. This can be a lot of pressure. Support is helpful, you want those whom you’re a fan of to keep shining so brightly.
It’s okay to be small because small doesn’t mean broke, unsuccessful or unable. Any size rocks as long as it is what YOU want, but remember small is perfectly fine to choose. What do you think? Do you think we pressure ourselves and others a little too much to overextend ourselves? Do you value companies who elect to stay small? Do you think small can make you happy?
(image: holly becker for decor8)