The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
It’s been a good run at my company, but I’ve known since before I started that it wasn’t my “forever” place. My boss wanted it to be–her last words to me in my year review were, literally, “I want you to stay here forever.” I felt a little disingenuous as I smiled and thanked her and left, but the next six months brought increasing discomfort until one day I just came out with it and told her I wanted to run my own business.
So here I am, assisting in the recruitment of my replacement and juggling the constant influx and outflux of digital projects by day, and grinding up the flywheel of my own business by night.
I love the term “flywheel” because it so aptly describes the process of getting something new started: the initial movement takes an enormous, insurmountable amount of effort. You move it inches when you need to move it feet. You pour every molecule of your energy into it and then some, and you’re still at the starting line, sweating, broken (broke?), and hardly any further along than you were a week ago, six weeks ago, six months ago. Then, all of a sudden, the flywheel begins to move, slowly at first, until soon it spins off its own energy in a virtuous circle. That is the flywheel, and that is what it’s like to start a business.
I worried for a long while that I was too comfortable at my job. “Comfortable” is the enemy of progress. It was simply too easy to water, feed, and nurture my clients and projects at work and leave no water in the well for my own business. I’ve often used the word “fried” to describe how I feel after my three days at work, and it’s not from physical exertion, but the mental gymnastics required to give 100 percent at my job.
The cycle is this: Work hard –> No time/energy to start business –> Whine about feeling fried and having no time/energy –> Resent work –> Realize work is livelihood and gift from God –> Work hard –> Repeat.
So I’m burning the boats. I’m not a risk-taker, but I don’t care if it’s terrifying. Sometimes you need terrifying as the opposite of comfortable.
Eventually there would have been no alternative, anyway. My boss wanted me to come on full time (no), build my team (yes), get a promotion (no), join the leadership team (absolutely no), and, her words, make lots more money (except the entrepreneur in me says that if I’m making “lots” more money than the owner’s making “LOTS more money”). Full time work, the responsibility for the entire business development piece of my department and the travel that would apply, and all the rest of what the above responsibility entails doesn’t fit into my own values of being around for my kids and having the peace of mind that comes from having a flexible schedule and control of my own time.
It’s astounding to professionals that I’d reject such an opportunity in the face of such uncertainty, but that’s where we don’t see things through the same lens. In my mind, that “opportunity” is a jail sentence. I can still be and do everything I want to without it having to be on someone else’s terms.
What I hope isn’t lost is the extreme pleasure with which I’m looking forward to working in my PJ’s again. Choosing my clients. Having control of my calendar. Working in my lovely, sunny home office, some of the time on my Trek Desk. And meeting the bus when my freshly-minted Kindergartener gets off and runs up the hill, ready for hugs and kisses from his mommy.
In other news, this article about being a pastor’s wife was pretty good. I don’t agree with everything she said, such as not being able to get it together to show up for church, but #1, 5, 10, 12, and 15-18 resonated. “You can thank me later for the 10-minute sermon. Shut it down. Shut.It.Down.” Ha. I also like the subtitle, “The B-side of ministry.” Someone should write a blog about that.