You started your business for one of a handful of reasons:
- You thought you could do it better;
- You think you are the only one doing it;
- or maybe You just do it for the sake of maintaining the lifestyle you want outside of work.
But almost inevitably, your business becomes your life. If you remain highly involved in your business, it takes up space in your brain all hours of the day and night. It is your baby, always needing attention to grow and flourish. But what then happens to the rest of your life? Without distraction, space for creativity, fun time, family, friends, and other pursuits, we become mechanical zombies losing efficiency, losing interest and losing growth opportunities.
Most of us do try to at least maintain the relationships that are most important to us, but relationships are also a lot of work, take a lot of energy, and can be a lot of drama. Not that this inherently bad, but we need something for just ourselves.
This is where personal projects come in. You may have a different name for it, and everybody has their own methods, but the goal is to find something that interests you outside of your business, and follow that trail. Maybe it’s taking a golfing trip, or foraging for wild mushrooms, or maybe it’s creating masterpieces with finger paints.
For me, I like to keep two-to-five different personal projects going on in different areas of the house to suit different moods that I may be in.
Recently, I followed an interest in my ancestry and interviewed my grandmother over and over to get a firm grasp on her history, as well as interesting stories from her childhood and family. I then used the genealogy research, interviews, family photos, saved tokens, and so much more to compile a beautiful book for our family about my grandmother’s life and our ancestors.
Then, I found a spectacular print company online that printed 50 copies for us with a lovely hardcover and beautiful paper. My grandmother adored the final product, and the book has become highly cherished throughout my family, especially by me, since my grandmother passed away. I look at it regularly when missing her, but I also am highly excited to show it to anyone interested, especially as a portfolio piece.
Another side project I am currently maintaining is an interest in trying new vegetables and building up my health through a food as medicine system. I started this while exploring what produce is available to me locally and wondering how I can help make the information more readily available to those around me. (Note: Check out my shop where you can see some of the stuff I come up with: http://saunterandamble.com)
I really love projects that are two-fold or multi-dimensional like these, but after a really long day or in a super busy week, it’s good to have something simpler for a back-up, like just crocheting a scarf I’ll never wear while I watch TV. Christmas gift anyone?
These examples may mean bumpkiss to you, and you may not think you even have time to go hunt down something to do while you relax. But the thing is, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Your project does not need to be a long-term commitment, it can be a fun little thing you do once in a while that changes every time. Go to a museum on your lunch break, or take up doodling in a special notebook. Maybe you use your free evening to create something cool with your kid, or visit dance workshop with that chick who’s always inviting you along. Maybe you really want to try your hand at painting but don’t have the funds to invest in all the supplies—mourn not for you can take a one time only class to try it out!
Through all of my side projects I am able to give my brain space to process the issues I have come across at work. It also gives me time to dream up more ideas for growing my business, which is something that I’m rarely able to consider while deep in client work. And, I am able to stretch my skill set further as I get better at other crafts and explore how other people create.
Your business and daily work may not be as highly creative as mine tends to be, but the subconscious works in wondrous ways and needs space to connect distant ideas and thoughts.