Re-defining Work in the Context of Our Entrepreneurial Jobs
In the last few years, my perception of work has changed dramatically. As an entrepreneur, we often work more hours than we would for a steady paycheck, yet often we don’t see it as working at all. There are days I’ll look back over what I’ve accomplished and tell myself Look, you actually worked 6 hours today! In reality, I may have worked far more, but don’t take into consideration things like social media self-promotion, or making connections as part of that work.
Blog posts are another matter, especially with my aggressive posting schedule. I count the time I spend creating and formatting posts as work hours these days. But what about coaching sessions, or my morning pages where so many of my blog ideas arise? I don’t even count that as part of starting my day. In fact, I’ll often tell myself now that my morning pages are done, I can start my day.
It seems I put morning pages into the same category as sleeping. But as a writer, sitting down to write really is starting my day, isn’t it? It doesn’t really matter if it’s a blog post, an article for a client, a writing prompt, or my morning pages. Writing is writing.
Where Are You Failing to Give Yourself Credit?
How many other entrepreneurs sell themselves short when it comes to acknowledging the time they spend building and maintaining their business? How many of the necessary tasks they do are relegated to that time known as “before I start my day”.
We tend to ignore the fact that running a business involves a thousand little details we don’t think about. We just do them.
- Organizing our work load
- Planning out our week
- Accumulating necessary supplies
- Making phone calls to gather information
- Coaching sessions
- Maintaining our scheduling system, be it manual, Trello, or some other mechanized format
- Learning new skills
- Keeping up with changes in our market
The list goes on, but all of these are necessary parts of building and maintaining our business, yet all too often, we don’t give ourselves the credit we deserve for making them all happen, and run seamlessly.
Recognizing How Much We’ve Accomplished
I’m often guilty of selling myself short, much to my coach, Linda Clay’s amusement. My latest was realizing I could answer ads on FlexJobs calling for 2-3 years of copywriting experience. Haven’t I been running my own blog and website for nearly 10 years? Haven’t I written articles for other people for at least 3-4 years now? So what if they were ghostwritten and I can’t legitimately claim authorship? I’ve done the writing, so I can claim the experience.
I know I’m not alone in overlooking the experience I’ve gained and the hours I’ve put in. We all have skills and talents we dismiss as unimportant or not valuable. Stay-at-home moms are probably the worst offenders.
Stay-At-Home Moms Have Serious Skills
Many of us know what it takes to maintain a household, take care of kids, and work a full-time job. But what about when you’re home with those kids 24/7? A full-time job gives us a break and allows us to justify a certain amount of slippage in our housewifely duties. A stay-at-home mom gets no breaks, no sick time, no vacation, and no excuses. If it doesn’t get done, it’s on her.
Whether it’s keeping track of the kids’ schedules and getting them to school, lessons, practices, and appointments on time, or keeping the weekly grocery bill within budget. It’s all on her. If something doesn’t get done, it stares her in the face like a gloating gremlin who thrives on her inadequacies. She goes to sleep at night with endless lists running through her brain, and wakes to those same lists, distorted and out of control.
She takes chaos and turns it into order while doing another load of laundry, cleaning up breakfast dishes, and packing her brood off to school. And let’s not even talk about school vacations.
Dividing Our Time Between Jobs
So when I think about doing the mom thing alone since my girls were four, working full-time, and running a part-time accounting business, I finally realize how many balls I kept in the air, and never gave myself credit for. It became such an ingrained habit, I do it still today.
The only kids still at home may be furry, but they require my attention too, even if it’s only feeding and cleaning up after them. When one is ill, I have to take extra time out of my day to administer medications, take them to vet appointments, pick up meds, and in some cases, coax them to eat. Like children, they also require attention, and if I don’t take a break during my work day to do so, they let me know in no uncertain terms it’s time to stop and focus on them. It’s really no different than trying to work with the sound of arguments which need breaking up, or an endless stream of “mom…mommy…MOM’s” interrupting my train of thought. It’s still kids who need my attention as much as my business does.
Needless to say, it’s a juggling act every day, no matter what we call our job. For most of us, the word is probably plural anyway.
Is it Work, or What?
I’ve gotten so bad about recognizing tasks as work-related I’ll actually tell myself it’s time to act like a real business-person, and work at least 8 hours a day. Even if writing isn’t like the drudgery of working for someone else, it’s still work for me. I have tasks I must complete to help promote my business, even if it’s only adding content to my own sites.
When did I get it into my head it’s only work if I hate doing it? When did business have to be a drudgery? And why would I decide to go into business for myself if that’s how I saw it?
Despite the struggles and disappointments of the last 5 years; despite the many things I’ve tried which haven’t yielded the expected results, my stress levels have dropped significantly since I left Corporate America. I suspect the same is true for most others who’ve done the same.
Living the Entrepreneurial Life
Sure, we work more hours than we did when we worked for someone else. Certainly, we take less time off, and typically work at least one day of the weekend. Yet we tell ourselves too often we’re not working enough.
How do we measure enough though? Is it dollars? Sales? Customers? Blog hits? Productivity? In a service-based business, the metrics aren’t as cut-and-dried as a product-based business, but either way, we discount so many tasks as non-work-related, when they really are.
When we’re at a social event and someone asks what we do, don’t we spend a little time talking about our business? We’re not trying to sell something, per se (or at least those of us who don’t like to be pushy about it aren’t), we’re answering the typical questions.
What do you do?
What do you write about?
Have you been published?
Do you have a website?
Promotion as Natural Social Behavior
And so on. In effect, we promote ourselves without reservation, because it’s general conversation. As someone who is self-employed, I find I naturally get more questions about what I do than someone who works for a bank or an engineering company. People are curious and frankly, I love talking about writing to a willing audience. Again, if I were working for someone else, I’d consider myself on the clock during these conversations. As an entrepreneur, I don’t.
The same is true of interactions on social media. Every time I post a tip, or get into a conversation with someone about something they wrote, or re-post one of my blogs, it’s adding value to my business.
It’s time we gave ourselves the credit we deserve, even if our sales numbers have yet to reflect our efforts. You can’t build a skyscraper without laying a firm foundation.
My Grateful Heart
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful for recent epiphanies which build up my sense of self-worth.
- I am grateful for friends who are willing to share their stories with me.
- I am grateful for the kicks in the butt which are starting to make me see my own value, and the value of the tasks I perform.
- I am grateful for every minute more I get with my sweet girl, Munchkin. I know her days are numbered (barring a Christmas Miracle), and treasure the love she gives me now, and has given me for more than 12 years.
- I am grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, connection, inspiration, motivation, sharing, dancing, community, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.