We probably don’t need the assistance of my old friend Urban Dictionary on this one. It’s something we all know about and it’s something we can all relate to I’m sure. I’m pretty sure during any duration of exam leave at Uni I became a pro-procrastinator. Gosh, that’s not easy to say. Pro-procrastinator. Try it. Told you! Seriously though, remember study days? It was amazing the things you could find to do, other than study, on study leave. The kitchen was never cleaner. I watched the same episode of neighbours twice, on the same day, just to be sure I didn’t miss anything critical. God knows what the kids do these days without a CD collection to Alphabetise! “A is for Ace of Base…
Ahem, but yes, back to procrastination. It comes to us all. And often easily. We spend endless hours thinking about the things we ‘must’ do or the things we ‘need’ to do. We make mental lists of tasks, we tell everyone we’re “SO busy, SO much to do”, we tell ourselves we’ll do X when Y is done, because otherwise Z with think…etc, etc. Yet when it comes down to it, often our motivation for the ‘To Do’ list just feels a bit meh and we find ourselves doing anything and everything to avoid doing the things we earlier identified needed done. It might be small tasks, it might be bigger life stuff but either way we rationalise it by telling ourselves “Yep, I’ll totally do that totally important thing…but just not right now…not today…no, I’ll do it tomorrow”. And, do we do it tomorrow? Sometimes, yes. Often, no.
Why are we talking procrastination? Well, someone very wise called me out this week for procrastinating. And after the initial sting, I realised it was entirely justified. I was indeed procrastinating. Fear not, it didn’t involve alphabetising a terrible CD collection (although if anyone owns one and needs a job doing next week, I’m your gal). Why the P word? Well re-enter that old four letter word: FEAR. If you’ve read blog post 1 and blog post 2 you know I’ve leap into the unknown somewhat. And, while I can hand-on-heart say I’ve made the right decision and I’m happy as a result, of course I still have moments of mild (to wild) panic. Moments where my inner critic takes to the floor with “You can’t be an interior designer” “you aren’t ready yet” “you’re not qualified enough to make this career change” “you don’t know how to run a business” “they won’t take you seriously”- Oh hey there inner critic, I remember you, thanks for the vote of confidence. We all have an inner critic. It’s there to keep us safe. But, the important part so many of us forget – or don’t know – is that it doesn’t need to determine what we do. We can notice it – and the accompanying procrastination friend it might bring with it – and say, “It’s OK, I got this”. Leaving the corporate world and the safety of a monthly pay cheque is scary but it’s also massively exciting and to be successful will require a fair bit of action. So I need to use the fear to fuel some action because if the inner critic voice wins over what will happen? It’s likely that I would stop any action altogether, give up and fail as a result. And, well, that not really the preferred option is it.
As much as I’m sure the universe has got my back and as much as my gut instinct is telling me it’s all going to be OK, I still need to get sh!t done. The same wise person that called out my procrastination also shared the following:-
“Even if you’re on the right path you’ll get run over if you just sit there”.
Wow, that’s some powerful stuff right there. And it’s very true. Let’s face it, the chances of someone ringing my doorbell tomorrow and saying “Hello, are you an Interior Designer? Oh you are!? Great, you are just what I’ve been looking for, can I pay you mega bucks to design my Bondi abode?” well, they’re fairly slim aren’t they? So, I’ve chosen the path, I know the direction I want to go in, now I need to adopt the attitude of our friends in Nike town – JUST DO IT. Yep, despite the inner critic, I need to just start.
Very little comes from the thought of doing everyday tasks, it’s when we take action that stuff actually starts to happen. Historically I’ve been a massive fan of a To-Do list. The trusty yellow Post-It note is up there with some of my #1 stationery items. I can even recall during several job interviews declaring my love of list making. I think it was my way of saying “I’m organised. I won’t forget to do something. Hire me. P.S. Where is the Stationery cupboard?”. In my personal life I’d make similar To-Do list in the notes section on my iPhone. You know, one of those lists that you rarely look at but you just feel better for having written it. Every so often you’ll check in on it, maybe while passing time on the bus avoiding eye contact with strangers. And on checking in you realise you’ve actually done most of the things on the list. But often there’s a couple of things that stick (no post-it pun intended) around. Usually things you don’t really want to do, they maybe don’t quite sit right with you but you felt compelled to put them on the list. Or maybe things which fear is stopping you doing? Everything that’s been done gets deleted from the list and that 1 task makes its way to the top of the list, but it doesn’t seem to increase its chances of getting done. In all honesty, we didn’t really need the list. The little tasks that ‘need’ to get done, they always get done, we instinctively know what they are. The other stuff, probably didn’t matter anyway and there’s a reason we didn’t do it. If it is big stuff though, just make sure you know why you didn’t do, because if it’s fear, we know that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
And when it comes to the big life changing stuff fear is scared of, like To Do: be an Interior Designer we just need to step out and do it. And while we can agree my business won’t market itself and clients won’t rock up on my doorstep, interestingly my procrastination came in the form of barriers I was creating based on my learnings from a 10 year career in Marketing. How so? Well, according to business.gov.au the steps to starting your business are as follows.
- Deciding on your business structure.
- Applying for your Australian Business Number.
- Checking your chosen business name is available.
- Registering your business name.
- Registering your website domain name.
Now I didn’t go seeking this information out this week via Google. With a business degree (which I should mention I did pass despite the aforementioned study time procrastination) I had a pretty good understanding on the basics to starting a business. But despite an understanding of what needed done, what I was actually using that information to do was to create a barrier to actually starting. First up. To Do: Company name. Now it may be the marketer in me, but I came a little transfixed by the need to secure my business name. From Byron to Sydney, a lot of pondering was done on this one. My inner critic was having a field day!
Thanks and apologies to all those who suffered this process with me and my heart felt sympathy for anyone who has ever had to name a child. Wow, we’re a pretty opinionated bunch when it comes to names. And, please, no disrespect intended to anyone who gave feedback – I asked for that feedback because I wanted their opinion and it was always gratefully received. We all have associations with names / words / places based on our own experiences and I’m no different. But I was putting SO much emphasis on the business part of my business that I forgot what was at the heart of the business, me. And, put in it’s simplest form, all my business really needs is a name I Iove and which feels right to me. And which no-one else has…and which their is a suitable URL for…simples.
And while points 1-5 above are important, right at this moment they aren’t going to pay the rent. But I wanted everything for the brand to be perfect, so that people said “nice job” “awesome name” (the praise whore revisted!) and more importantly so that people would take me seriously. But, what I didn’t see was that I was focussing on the name / the need for a logo / a website as a way to avoid having to think about putting myself out there as the actual business. As the Interior Designer, ready for real jobs. So out went the email offering up free consultations. Now agreed, free consultations aren’t going to pay the rent either, but they’re marketing in progress. Word of mouth which can happen today, without a logo, without a website, without an ABN. They’re also an action which results in me actually being able to do what I want to do, design interiors. I need to believe in my abilities as a designer, and while a logo and a website might make me feel more professional, they won’t change who I am. The efforts spent stressing over names and trying to force it out of nowhere became better spent spreading the word that I’m here and ready for business.
And something happened. The pressure released. I relaxed into the flow of things and later in the week a name came to me. Items 1-5 were no longer stressy To-Do list items, they were important next steps to get my business off the ground. They happened with ease when the time was right. Which brings us to today; name decided, said name registered, domain name purchased, ABN procured, logo briefed, website brief underway and first consultations with real-life clients booked.
And, it feels good*
*You have no idea how much procrastination went into the making of this post. Kidding.