A few weeks ago, I failed. It was a quiet failure, but a real one nonetheless. I set a goal to post to my business blog for 30 days. I made it six days and then … well, things happened. A client issue cropped up. I had an early-morning meeting. Before long, I wasn’t even bothering to come up with an excuse.
The reasons weren’t unusual or that unexpected. It was just life. But the failure really bothered me. Here was a simple goal — writing for myself every day — and I didn’t make it happen.
I do everything within my power to ensure I deliver what my clients want and need. So why can’t I give my goals the same priority?
I think it comes down to a common problem for just about every entrepreneur: We put ourselves last. I touched on this issue a few months ago when I interviewed Andy Crestodina. As Andy noted, we face the “cobbler’s problem.” He said, “The shoemaker is so busy making shoes for others that his own children go barefoot. That’s bad. The cobbler often just needs a little help…”
So how do we stop going barefoot?
1. Ask the right questions.
Yes, I failed, but why? Too often when we fail at something, we let the negative emotions stop us from asking questions. If we don’t bother to ask why something didn’t work, we’re setting ourselves up to fail again. When I asked myself why, the answer revealed something interesting.
Early on in my business, I didn’t think twice about writing five days a week. What was different now? I questioned the value of writing every day. It wasn’t until I tried to do it again that I realized my thinking had changed.
2. Don’t be afraid to try again.
Now that I know the why, I’ve started weighing other options. What if it’s not every day, but two days a week or three? What if it’s creating that weekly newsletter I’ve thought about? My initial impulse to write more for myself and my business isn’t a bad one. But how I execute that desire needs to be different.
We have a finite amount of time. If we want time enough for our clients and for ourselves, we need to avoid the classic mistake of equating more with better.
Simply because I could spend all of my time doing client work doesn’t mean that I should. The same holds true for people who pursue their passion projects to the exclusion of any paying work.
We can achieve a balance, but we need to acknowledge an imbalance exists in the first place.