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Enjoy this post from Abigail Markov. I’m sure you can relate to what she says here; I certainly can.
“Out of the house by 6:45, kids dropped off by 7:25, pack up the Jeep with boxes and things from the Apartment, unpack the Jeep into The House, set up the ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, get pieces in it, and now on to writing that has to be finished up today.
And then editing and retaking product photos. And then jewelry making. And then out to get the kids, and then more moving things from the apartment. And then dinner, and then more image editing and writing.
This is why it seems like I NEVER GET ANYTHING DONE.”
Or at least why I feel that I never get anything Done. It’s this constant treadmill of Can’t Catch Up. Oh, I know, there are systems for that, that can help manage time and keep things organized and flowing smoothly. But you know what I’ve found? As soon as you have a system that ekes out a few minutes of spare time, or gets things done with a moment to spare, something comes along to fill that spare time – unless you guard that spare time like a raccoon washing a bar of soap in the sink.
I’m still learning how to guard my soap, so if Shanna has tips on that, I’m gonna totally pass the mic there, and let her write on it. For now, I’m knocking out an item on the to-do list: writing about these weird things Shanna calls Goals.
There Are Goals and Then There Are Goals
Not just any goals though – she wants me to make and set and go after goals that help my business. Easy right? Not quite.
It’s not that setting goals is hard for me – actually, I’m great with setting goals. I can dream and set goals until the proverbial cows come home. I can write pages and pages of goals, and the to-do lists that go with them. I’m totally awesome at setting goals. What I’m not so great at is setting goals that that go beyond making it to the end of the day, and not missing deadlines.
Look, making it to the end of the day is a TOTALLY viable goal of a sorts, as is not missing deadlines. (Sometimes I even set goals to finish early!) It’s important to do BOTH of those things on a very consistent basis – like, daily.)
But those really aren’t Goals with a Capital G, the kind Shanna is getting after me to set, and that help a business go from getting started to kicking ass and taking names. Those goals? The ones like eating well, showering even when drop dead tired, self-care, cleaning, organizing, marketing maintenance, inbox zero? (The list goes on.) Those goals, even ones that we might feel shouldn’t be goals so much as part of a Balanced Life (™), like spending time with family, friends, writing, reading for your field, [insert your own here], those goals are Treadmill Goals.
The Problem With Treadmill Goals
Treadmill goals are insidious little bastards. They fill up any and every spare minute of your day, if you let them. They add themselves back to your to-do list as soon as you get them done, like some virus that has tricked your antivirus software into thinking it’s installed somewhere else. Or, you know, like herpes. YOU CAN’T GET RID OF THEM, and the symptoms aren’t where the virus is. Treadmill goals never, ever, ever, ever go away forever. You are forced to make room for them, or suffer some rather uncomfortable consequences.
The trick to Treadmill goals is to GET OFF. Run so far, and then get off. Don’t let them become a bar of never-ending soap you spend all day washing in the sink – because they can become that, easily. Make sure you put that bar of soap DOWN, and go after some Work Goals, ones with a real end in sight, ones you can get Done. Ones that have measurable effects, ones that can totally be checked off the list.
And once you learn how to put that bar of soap down? Guard your Work Goal time with rabid ferocity. Make it sacred, because guys, eating is good, but you really have to have money coming in to buy food. Those work goals fuel the Treadmill goals, and you.
Guarding My Soap
So that’s my first Real Goal, Shanna. I’m going to guard my Work Time from Treadmill Goals, even the Good Ones. Even if it means I have to repeat to an extra dozen times each day “I HAVE TO WORK OR WE DON’T EAT” and then shoo everyone – online and in meatspace – away. No matter what variety of puppy eyes I get. Even if it means I only respond to comments and emails once or twice a day, or when I’m taking a break from hands-on work. Even if it means I’m not as present for everyone. I have to be present for myself, or our entire life suffers.
I know, being this kind of hardass sucks for those who want our time and attention, but let’s face it: making things (jewelry for me, but it might be your blog posts or coaching calls or working on art or your service that you offer) has to take priority. And unfortunately, we can’t multi-task that work and do a good job, so it requires an element of Leave Me Alone sass to keep that work time sacred.
After that? After I no longer feel like I have to fight and snarl and growl to get work time in? I’m knocking out the last custom orders I’ll ever take. I’m going to see if I can generate enough supply to meet demand, and if I can’t before the end of the Quarter, I’m sitting down with Shanna to talk about raising prices again.
It’s amazing how easy it is to set goals when you can get off the Treadmill.
Question for y’all: Does saying NO to people or causes you care about ever leave you with a twinge of guilt? Even if you know the consequences of NOT working will be even more guilt? (I’d be curious the gender split and career history of those that do feel guilty vs those that don’t.)
PS: So I started guarding that time and saying NO to Treadmill goals as soon as I started writing this. I’ve already made progress on Work Goals. This is working out quite well, guys! Totally recommend giving it a try. If nothing else, it helps stress levels.