Have you ever started something you really wanted to create & found it later unfinished? A blog post? A love letter? An art project? A room of your home? A relationship? A business? Maybe you start it, get part-way through it and say you’ll come back to it only to come back to it to see it’s incomplete.
We’ve all done it. We get hyped about something we want to make a reality and leave it when something shinier comes along. And that something shinier doesn’t always do us a favor – it can distract us from what we really need to do.
As an entrepreneur, my brain is going 100 miles an hour all the time. (Side note: you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to have a busy brain.) When I wake up, I’m staring at the ceiling thinking about work. All day, I work on work. After work, I’m talking about work. Entrepreneur life is not the most conducive to thinking about stuff outside of work. Balance or integration is not easy but it’s necessary for a healthy focus. Which is NOT something I’ve ever been good at – until recently.
When I get bored or run out of things to do, I create more work for myself and my Crew. I start new companies, pivot old ones, build new products, put together new services, create more content – and get way off track. This helps no one – not my clients, my Crew or myself. The business waters get muddied and no one really knows what to do.
I did this exact thing again recently. And it almost wrecked me.
Let me back up for a moment. I started Sisarina, a web marketing agency, in 2009. I NEVER wanted to be the face of the company. I was called “Boss Lady” because I wasn’t really much of a boss. I was the leader but I would even use that term loosely. I did EVERYTHING wrong and managed to still come out on top. I had very little focus – we did all sorts of stuff. Websites, marketing, social media, branding, content, brand strategy – lots. I had a hard enough time to getting my own work done while growing a team of incredible professionals. Until I realized how much I hated checking my email wondering who was mad at me and what fire I had to put out.
A year ago, my Crew convinced me it was time to do what I wanted to do instead of what I felt like I “should” do. I decided to focus on the two things I loved the most – speaking & workshops. I was ready to focus – and it was time to become the face – a personal brand, a public figure.
At first, I tried to hide behind the name Branded Confidence. It was ok to have my face on it but it was a company – right? I didn’t have to be “the thing” I sold. Then I decided speaking and workshops weren’t enough so I thought “let’s start another company to focus on corporate work!” WHAT?! WHY DO I KEEP DOING THIS!? I kept overwhelming myself because [you’ll get a kick out of this] – I was afraid of success. <READ I wanna see you be brave>
I wasn’t doing it on purpose but I realized that if I kept myself busy and kept doing more, I’d keep from being successful at any one thing. [WHY!? What’s the point of that?! Oh yeah, MOST of us do this… It’s not just a Melanie thing. Jane of all trades, Mistress of none.] I kept looking around and finding that I was even confusing myself with what I did.
I’m a brand strategist who helps companies tell their brand stories. That’s what I’m trained to do. And I’m really good at it – but it doesn’t bring me the joy speaking & workshops bring. All I wanted to do was write a book about how to rock your life and teach people how to share their stories. I wanted to share their stories from big stages so others could learn to tell their own stories. But, what do you call THAT? There’s no college degree for this. There’s no official title for it. The closest I could think was “motivational speaker” but really? #lame
Then, my right-hand-gal (Gisell!) held a mirror in front of me & asked me what I saw if I got to just speak & host workshops. JOY! She told me she’d follow me whichever direction I wanted to go, but we had to focus on one direction – not two.
BAM. So simple, yet so profound. My personal brand + kickass workshops + big stages to share the love = win/win/win.
And I don’t have to sit behind a computer all day – I can be with the humans who need what I have to share. YES! Which brings me to this moment right here.
When I started writing this post, I was incredibly UN-focused. I sent notes out to my speakers about getting testimonial videos, started editing an email, got into conversations with my booking manager, checked and posted on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and even called my mom to celebrate a big win. I started a different blog post altogether but after watching my lack of focus, I knew I had to write about focusing.
After finishing the first draft, I took a walk and listened to The RobCast with Rob Bell sharing his Brief Guide to the Undernet – the underside of the internet. He was talking about how we have to choose what we want to do, post, share. And then he said exactly what I needed to hear to focus this post.
“A yes always requires a no.” – Rob Bell
We’re always choosing. One thing for another. And when we say yes to something that doesn’t serve us, we’re saying no to something that could help us get where we need to go. Am I willing to say no to those things that don’t help me focus on my goals?
If I look at my list of projects, I have an overwhelming amount of things going on – unfinished. At least 15 other blog posts sitting in Evernote, Quip or Google Docs somewhere. My computer desktop has a folder called Desktop Stuff where I dump everything I had on my desktop so I can keep it clean – but it’s sitting there disorganized anyway – another project. My iPhone photos are in a Dropbox folder unorganized and completely lacking in any search-ability – I even have a person who can organize it for me when I’m ready to pull the trigger – or next time I’m on an airplane without wifi it might get done – if I’m not exhausted. There’s a canvas I left in DC that’s still white with a sketch on it and paints ready to color it in but I never bothered to paint it. I have a closet full of stuff that needs to be sorted & organized since my move – but it can wait until tomorrow. I need to shave Griffin so he can have a summer cut – maybe after work. I have to write my content for my updated brand – and it’s slated for this afternoon but it’s been on my to do list for at least two months. My car needs a bath and the office needs to be painted. Sigh.
I’ve left a LOT of things undone but saying yes to the ones I need to do requires me to say no to the ones I don’t need to do. Kacy Paide, my professional organizer friend, would tell me to throw out the stuff I’ll never finish and finish the things I want to finish. <Read How to be organized enough> Right now, I’m focused on getting shit done that NEEDS to get done. Getting shit done that requires my attention and that fits my overall goals. FOCUSED on it.
I may not ever get the focus to clear out my to-do list and that’s ok. I’m creating and continuing to create things that make me smile, laugh, and grin at random times. All of this gets my inner 7-year-old bouncing around. As Kacy would advise, I’m making a promise to myself to finish everything that gives me joy. And throw away anything that isn’t helpful or useful. Because what’s the point of this life? To find joy, live in gratitude, and take care of those around us.
So, now it’s your turn.
What is unfinished, incomplete, or getting undeserved attention? What do you need to throw away? What are you doing that doesn’t fit your goals? And what do you need to start doing so you can be the huge success you were meant to be? Say yes as long as you are willing to say no.
Go – you incredible human – and enjoy this life you’re creating. No matter what it looks like. Focus on everything that brings you joy.
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