Friday, January 3, 2014

Resolutions and New Beginnings




My Etsy shop, Sticky Chic Boutique, will very soon be closed, permanently. And I couldn't be happier about it.

I started it as a hobby, then grew it with the hope that perhaps, one day, it would replace my "day job" and allow me more time at home with my family. But it grew faster than I ever planned, and rather than allowing me the freedom to spend time with them, it stole me from my family, from my friends, from myself. I worked more than I slept. I didn't eat. I was defined by stress. By busy-ness. By exhaustion and sad smiles and "not right now, honey." And always, I would tell myself if I just work a little harder, just a little longer, just a little faster...maybe then, it will all be worth it.

The business was profitable. It was successful in that sense. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's marketing. I loved the sales aspect of running a shop. The social media, the product descriptions, the promotions and outreach. I was good at that. And sales rose. And rose. And rose some more. 

But I was still just one person, and one person with two little kids and a full-time job, at that. I kept thinking, maybe I can make this full-time! Maybe I can quit my day job and be a small business owner, working entirely from my home studio, wearing slippers to work, being my own boss, being home when my kids get out of school, attending Girl Scout meetings and preschool performances. That was the dream. 

But that's not what happened. I ended up spending what I made, on things to make my life easier so I could spend more time working. We went out to dinner, or ordered in. I quit cooking, and eventually I kind of quit eating. At least, I quit eating real food. I bought caffeinated beverages by the case and drank them constantly. I paid for whatever small conveniences came my way, anything to buy me a little more time. I dumped money back into the business, upgrading things and stocking up on things and buying things in bulk, and that was all good for profit margins, maybe, but it was bad for me. I wasn't saving. I wasn't working towards the goal of quitting my day job. I was just spinning my wheels, working harder and harder to enable myself to work harder and harder. And what was I gaining?

Things finally came to a head at Christmas 2013. My sales were through the roof. It was fabulous. At first. Then suddenly November was over. And December was dwindling. And I was working 18 hour days. And crying in my studio at 4 a.m. when I still wasn't as caught up as I'd wanted to be. And still, there were more emails. More demands. More orders. I closed down but I still couldn't handle everything I'd committed to. I gave up on sleep entirely. I was a mess.

I had to choose. Sticky Chic has been enormously successful, and could probably continue to grow, if I continue to give. But how much more can I give? And do I even want to? 

What I really want is a career that fulfills me. Sticky Chic gave me that, in some ways. The creativity and the design and the marketing aspects were fulfilling, and I was good at them. But you know, my day job requires some of that stuff, too. And I can't do them both anymore. I just can't.

So I made my choice. I have a career that really, I love. And there are opportunities out in the big world to pursue that career and make new goals. I'm a writer! I need to write!

It's a new year. It's 2014, and I'm wiser than I was yesterday. Because I'm not a stupid woman, and I learn my lessons. Failure is my friend, because it makes me stronger, and it makes me smarter. I've always taken on a lot, and until now, I've always handled it. So what did I learn? I suppose I finally found my limits. I learned where I can go and where I should not go. I've learned that yes, I'm a person who needs to be busy. But busy is relative. I will never again glorify busy for the sake of busy. 

It's not in my nature to slow down and smell the roses. I'm a doer, and a mover, and an achiever. But I'm going to work on that this year, on narrowing all that fire down to one career goal. I'm refocusing my energies on my real career, channeling all the joy I found in marketing Sticky Chic back into my day job. I'm looking for new opportunities, maybe something I can do from home, and make that original dream a reality. A new job that will fulfill me and allow me to push all of my energy and my passion and my need to achieve into just one direction, instead of two. And that will be something to witness, because know this: I am capable of greatness. 

And I'm focusing on my family. When Bianca heard I might close Sticky Chic, she cheered. She said "Now maybe you'll have time to play with us!" And if I needed any other validation for choosing to quit, that was it.

As a friend said when I announced that I was "admitting defeat": "It's not admitting defeat...it's realizing that success lies elsewhere."

Onward!

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