When it feels like ten thousand steps

For the past eight weeks, I’ve been walking 10,000 steps a day. Yes, I’ve missed my goal about eight of the past 40 days, but most days have a minimum of 10K or more. Some days it seems to take no effort. Other days, I look down and it’s like, “Four hundred? I’ve only done 400 steps? I’m NEVER going to make it to ten thousand today!”

But then I start walking. Just 15 minutes. Just start moving one foot in front of the other. By the end of the first week, I had walked the equivalent of a marathon. Recently, I hit 1,000 stories worth of stairs: the equivalent of a skydiver. Today’s log is at 9,341, so I’ve got a few more steps to get in before I “call it a day” well walked.

As I was belaboring my 400 step horror and stamping about the neighborhood in a huff, I turned my thoughts to business and how the metaphor of 10,000 steps works for our small businesses as well. It is so easy to get overwhelmed. Especially, if you are in that “working two jobs diligently phase.” It’s a lot of work. A lot of extra hours. A lot of robbing Peter to pay Paul and then shaking all the cushions out to try to pay Mary her fair share as well.

For you who might just find yourself in a similar place, consider these few things:
1. The discipline to run this small business is not insurmountable if I take it in steady, daily chunks. Walking 10,000 steps a day can be done. Walking 70,000 steps in a day to “catch up” for the week, can not. Honest. It just can’t. Not by normal humans.

2. You don’t have to do it all at once. 15 minutes here. 15 minutes there. 30 minutes at a stretch here… these things all add up and suddenly you find that you’ve accomplished way more than you thought possible when you started the day (whether that was at 7 a.m. or 3 in the afternoon!)

3. Procrastination will kill your business faster than anything. You must MOVE to the next right action and the next one and the next one. You’ve got to have lists and a calendar that you actually use (start with 4 daily things).

4. Once a week, do a mind purge. Write it all down. Make that long list. Just get it out.

5. Once a day, set the “this has to get done” list. How many is on it? More than 10? Not realistic. Priorities, Honey. I said, “HAS” to get done. The HAS list is more like Three items.

6. So, now that you have your “HAS” list, what couple of things can you add as “Bonus”. Those “Bonus'” are your gold stars. They are mental adrenaline and when you hit those, it’s automatically a really good day.

7. Add some movement. You need to get up. Get outside. Move your bones. Clear your head. Sift your thoughts. Listen to birds, and frogs, and crickets. You need the sunshine, and the clouds, and even a little drizzle: you will be better all around for it.

So, have at it! I’ve got an item on my list waiting to be crossed off, but first a quick 700 steps. Yes, I know, I’m procrastinating, but only a wee little bit!

Only the Needful

Only the most needful things got done today.
And I wish that I would have given myself permission to do that and that only at the beginning of the day. Perhaps, because it is Saturday and before me stretched a full day of hours without other pressing engagements, I felt compelled to “use the time wisely” and catch up on what feels like an overwhelming amount of work.

Yet, over the past seven days, I have driven 1,500 miles, met with dozens of people, been engaged, dynamic, and active listener and participant… and today my brain rebelled and said, “Nope. Not having it. Not even an hour of it.”

So, I meditated. I breathed. I meditated some more. I ate good food. Engaged with the family. Walked outside. Collected shells found on the shoreline. Washed dishes. Decluttered the minutest of items. Took children on a short outing. Waited for the mail. Sang my current favorite song out loud on repeat in the car. Repeatedly.

But could I concentrate on deep work? No. It was like a bolt cutter and disengaged my brain and the act of turning on the computer just caused me to go numb.

So, I set the timer: 15 minutes. What do you absolutely, positively HAVE to do before the day ends, before a new week starts in the morning? And I did that. And only that. And now, sweet friends, I’m going to bed. I have hit my limit. Hard.


On Being Late

Respect your client enough to not be late.
Honor them with the good intention of being present for them…and waiting on them, not vice versa.

The signal you send otherwise, despite your good intentions, speaks louder than you would ever wish it to.

Be early. Build in that yutori (space between).

Yutori: the space between

It’s going to take more time than you think. Please plan for that.

Pad your time a little bit so that you don’t run into a crunch and the added stress that brings. Besides, if you get it done quicker, then it only exceeds expectations vs creating a situation where you disappoint someone, including yourself.

This is experience talking… learn from my past tendency to not allow enough “Yutori”. Consider those “spaces” to be just as important as the actual task at hand.

“Give me the pill”

The woman was trying to convince the pharmacist that she needed to be given a prescription, not for its primary benefits, but for its side-effect: weight loss. The pharmacist tried explaining that the loss wouldn’t be permanent and that the other side-effects were worse than that “benefit”. The woman continued to debate. I interjected a sentence, “I know how you can lose the weight and keep it off.” I said. They both turned to me, “How?”

“It’s simple,” I replied softly, “you just have to give up sugar and those things which turn into sugar quickly inside your body. I lost over a hundred pounds that way and have kept it off for over six years.”

“Oh, no! I can’t do that!” she explained, “I like sugar to much. Just give me the pill.”

We know there is no magic pill, yet still we search for it, pay for it, and hope that maybe this one will be different than the one we tried before.

I have learned; however, that it’s actually changing my actions that gets me different results. Slow, simple, steady.

Drip. Drip. Drop.

One hundred pounds lost and so much more gained.

Do the work. You really are worth it.

Intentions vs Resolutions

It is both the road to heaven and the road to hell that are paved with good intentions. Look at them as small, incremental ways in which we either grow or digress. From a small business perspective my two main intentions for 2019 is better communication with my clients and timely invoicing.

I’ve got more on my list, but we’ll start there.

Lessons Learned: 2018 in Review

It’s that time of year when we naturally turn to both personal and professional self-reflection. As we draw 2018 to a close, I sit here at my newly created office and am doing exactly that. Here are the things I’ve learned from my small business in 2018.

  1. I am filled with good ideas and they are worthy. Whether it be noticing trends or paying attention to subtleties, this year has taught me that the ideas I see have merit. For me, part of the key to this year’s success has been paying attention to them and carrying them out for both my clients and myself.
  2. My work is serious and I treat it like the business it is. Though I tend to weave humor into my work, I do respect it and treat it as the vital, critically important business that it is. My family would not survive if Robinson Studio did not do well. I am grateful for the opportunities 2018 has provided to reach higher and treat Robinson Studio with dignity.
  3. It’s all about relationships. Whether client, partner or mentor, my business is all about relationships and nuturing those. This year, I had two very painful lessons with new clients refusing to pay for work rendered. To learn from this experience, I have to firmly understand my part in this misadventure so that I do not repeat it. For me, in both instances (which happened within a month of each other) were the result of several similarities including no clearly written expectations (i.e. a contract in place) and also no regular (weekly, bi-weekly) contact with these new clients to make certain that I was meeting my part of the obligations. Finally, in both these situations I did not send out a regular invoice and so when my cumulative invoice came it was a big chunk for a fellow small business owner and thence it was rejected…and I had no leg to stand on, legally or otherwise. I’ve learned from these painful lessons and can guarantee you that I won’t repeat those same mistakes.
  4. Budgets have limits. There’s nothing like having a budget, using it up and having to work for free to complete a project. It again was another painful lesson, this one primarily in time and money management. I left the days of minimum wage long ago. Minding my budget (and my client’s) and the time division is critical for not only my business’ success but my mental well being.
  5. Limit pro-bono to one project or activity a year. While some business’ may need to do giveaways or donations as a way of building an audience or exposure, 2018 for me reaffirmed that I need to stay focused and not scatter my efforts in too many directions. My time is limited and needs to be shared with family and other work obligations, if I overcommit, no matter how good my intentions, I will end up hurting the ones I love, including myself. Boundaries matter. Be generous. Above all, be wise.

Whether you are reading this on NYE or at some later date, consider taking some time to reflect on the past 12 months and the lessons learned. Write them down. See if there is a pattern or an overarching theme. And above all: keep at it!