"If you don't waste your energy on variables you cannot influence, you can focus much more effectively on those you can." -Dan Harris
I've been thinking a lot about this quote. To be honest, my life is in a bit of an upheaval right now. My husband was laid off in December. Which means my business is keeping us from burning through our emergency savings. And that's both a scary and exciting place to be. For the past ten years, I've worked part-time because I was the primary caregiver or our child. Now, with my husband home full-time, I have more time to work on my business. But I have been struggling with doubt and worry. I'm in the process of introducing tons of new products including; print on demand pillows, a Spoonflower fabric collection, and rubber stamps with my illustrations. I'm stepping outside of my comfort zone and find myself wasting time on self-doubts. Last week, I announced a sale on the pillows I just released and I made no sales. My inner critic had a field day and I emerged from the experience bruised and feeling less than hopeful. I also heard self-whisperings like, "See? I told you can't make a living from your art."
I also have a professional design income stream and I'm watching the industry change in ways that worry me. Big craft stores are turning more into home decor outlets and the craft supplies they do sell are self-branded. Leaving me to wonder who will be hiring me to do projects that will show customers how to use manufacturer's products. There seem to be fewer manufacturers/stores and more designers and bloggers, which isn't the best situation in any business.
But it's Monday now and the sun is shining and I'm feeling more optimistic and I'm taking the quote above to heart. To a certain extent, there are some things I cannot control in my new endeavors. I can't make everyone buy my work. I can't change the economy, or people's current spending habits, and I can't change the craft & hobby industry. Worrying and lamenting about it is wasting my time. I can however, do other things to effectively influence variables that are within my control. Here's what I can do (and where I SHOULD be expending my energy):
- I can build relationships with my potential customers through honest and intentional interaction online and off.
- I can spend time to improve my technical skills as an artist.
- I can take the time to find my target market.
- I can test out new ways to market my product: new social media outlets, print advertising, paid advertising online, press releases, guest blogging.
- I can find new income revenues, such as licensing and teaching.
In a nutshell, I can stop sitting around, being afraid and sad, and get to work. I don't feel like I can throw in the towel until I can honestly say I've tried the tactics above.
What business activities do you have control over? Are you spending the majority of your time working on them? Leave a comment and tell me what one thing you can do this week to influence your business goals.
P.S. The quote above is from Dan Harris' book, 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story. You can read my review of the book on Goodreads here.
You can also listen to a quick podcast interview with him on The Accidental Creative.