Happy July 4th weekend, kids! I hope you're basking in some sun, and eating delicious watermelon slices (my fave!). I started this "Notes from My Desk" series which takes a more personal look at my life as an entrepreneur. I talk about the struggle to get where I am today, and the lessons I learned along the way. To read more personal stories, click here.
My 29th year (last year) started out not at all how I had expected. My birthday was on a Friday, and I remember feeling so disconnected from myself. I was struggling a ton personally and professionally, and it seemed like everyone else had the dream I was working so hard for. Weren't your late 20s supposed to be easier? Why did it feel so hard still?
The previous two years since I had moved to Montana from New York City had been so hard and I watched my friends on the coasts get promotions, find new companies to work for, travel to far flung locales, and make the money that I SHOULD HAVE BEEN MAKING. I felt like I had wasted two whole years of my life working so hard for my dream to be a small business owner, and I didn't know if I wanted it anymore.
(Sound familiar, boss ladies?)
So, bottom line, I was struggling.
In the meantime, I had convinced my then-boyfriend that we needed a change. We needed to move back east, to the south, where I could really find "my people." No one in Montana understood this struggle, I told him while cleaning my closet one day in preparation for our moving in together for the summer. No, I said as I packed boxes, we need to go and find another community.
Fast forward four months and I was lying again in my own bed, in a gorgeous, yet empty one-bedroom apartment, surrounded by a few suitcases, a table, my bed...and no boyfriend.
Our cohabitation did not go well. I threw him in a pressure cooker alongside of me and, no surprise, we couldn't handle it. The truth was, I was looking for my White Knight in him; I wanted someone to save me from my despair.
Turns out, I need to save myself.
Shortly after we broke up, my parents came to visit me in Montana. I wasn't set on staying in my adopted state, but I wasn't sure if I could leave right now.
During one particular afternoon outing, we found ourselves at World Market. I normally hate shopping with other people, but it was hot and, unlike many stores in Montana, World Market had air conditioning.
"Pick a couch," my dad said after we had walked in. They'd seen my empty apartment, bare walls, and generally gloomy mood and they knew being alone in place like that wasn't good for me.
I fought him hard that day, (because I don't need ANY help, right?), but ultimately, my dad (and the couch) won. Along with three throw pillows, an accent chair and an area rug. I had myself a living room, and along with the living room, I had myself a cozy space.
At the time, I thought decorating this space was frivolous because I might be moving again, and why commit to a place in which I didn't even know if I wanted to stay. But now I realize that committing to the couch and committing to the space took one of the big obstacles of my life out of my own way (namely, the constant threat of leaving Montana or running away, as I am apt to do when approaching something that is scary and requires commitment).
As a side note, I do most of my relaxing, most of my introspection, and most of my creating in that space, on that couch, between those two throw pillows.
So what's the point of this story?
Space is important, not only for an event that you're hosting, but in your business. Have you ever been working and then had a meltdown because your space was so messy and then spent hours cleaning it up before you could finish any work? Me too.
That's why space is important.
So, the point of this story is two-fold:
1) If you're feeling creatively stuck, look at the space around you. Is it cluttered? Is it dirty? Are there objects you probably could get rid of, but you feel bad getting rid of them? Are there drawers full of pens, tables full of magazines, closets full of clothes?
I'm not going to tell you to fix it, but I'm going to tell you that your space matters. My dad said that day that you can't be creative in a space if you don't feel at home in it, and I truly believe. So make sure your office, your bedroom, or wherever you work feels like home. It will change the way you do your work infinitely.
2) Space is important when you're hosting your events as well. Are you in a dungeon? Or a bright, airy space? Do people feel like they're being held hostage or like they have room to expand, to feel light, and to breathe?
Sometimes, the easiest thing to do to increase your productivity can start with a World Market couch. Or a friend to come over and help you clean out your clutter. Or a $10 investment in a cheery, framed print.
Either way, you can't be creative if you don't feel at home.
Do you have a story where you felt so stuck and hopeless and it was one little thing (or a BIG thing) that symoblized change and a new beginning for you (like my World Market couch)? Comment below; I'd love to hear about it!