As we approach the end of 2022, like many people, one of the best gifts we can give ourselves is the space and time for reflection. For some, it has been a great year, and for others less so. There is the possibility that the good times have also been sandwiched between some tough moments.
In giving myself the chance to reflect, I came across this question listening to a series of motivational quotes from Oprah that resonated deeply: 'What is this here to teach me?'.
I have been experiencing a similar pattern of getting so far, and suddenly having the rug pulled out from under me.
I’d been working on getting a gifting company on a platform that had the possibility of hugely increasing our visibility. I had some initial reservations about the platform that I eventually pushed to the back of my mind and plugged into negotiations with staff from the platform.
The night before I signed the agreement, I ran myself ragged trying to secure the supply chain as one of the suppliers was uncontactable. Long story short, by the morning it was all good to go. The agreement was signed. A few hours later I received a call, and the platform wanted revised terms on an agreement on which the ink — metaphorically speaking — had barely dried. It was their new less favourable terms or no contract. I was left with little choice and opted out as I felt the likelihood was that any future contract would be withdrawn for more preferiental terms for them. It was no way to operate — especially carrying the hopes of our makers and suppliers.
So I took a moment. No ranting on social media - just steady considerations of what other options were available at the late stage in the lead up to the festive period. I was of the firm believe it's not over until the fat lady sings.
I came up with a couple other ways to move things along. I contacted a social media influencer. Within a few hours, we'd agreed on a way forward. By the end of the day, samples of gift products were shipped off. However, with the widespread industrial action across the country, including the postal service, the parcel of goodies was sat in the originating delivery office going no way - with our timelines totally derailed. The same is true for many first orders, despite our promptly processing, upgrading postal options and absorbing the additional costs of these.
Additionally, I got some telesales support in, and with what seemed like amazing luck found a prospect willing to consider us for their festive gifting. I urgently put together the requested introductory message and fired it away. Alas it bounced back. The telesales staff had inputted incorrect contact details.
The cumulative impact of these events is that reaching some of the desired positive goals and targets has been delayed. That fact hurts.
It hurts because I sense that I sacrificed balance in the beleive that when you put in the hard work, the time, the commitment you get the rewards, in the sense of professional success and the accumulation of wealth.
There are some less tangible rewards that I acknowledge: my growth, the joy of waking up each day to do something I enjoy, the opportunity to create and to some degree flexibility with my time (but in all likelihood working longer and more intensely than if in a ‘regular’ job).
Looking back to the start of this endeavour, I had little idea our an immense capacity for learning. At a near half century, I discovered that I could build an e-commerce website not once but twice to accommodate the growth of the company, that I would come up with a novel way to help people choose gifts for their loved ones, that I would meet and begin to build beautiful relationships with artisans and makers across the country, that I would be unexpectedly approached to feature the brand in one of the country's top lifestyle magazines, with the proof of concept ticked ... and more!
As I write this, I recall an incident when I slipped and fell in the kitchen. The fall in all likelihood had been caused my a much loved pair of house slippers. It was fairly worn but I loved it. After that fall, it was no brainer. The slippers went straight in the bin. There’ve been no falls since!
With current mix of economic factors, diminishing disposal incomes for many individuals and families, changes in the gifting practices of companies, and the landscape of industrial actions hugely disruptive to logistics, do I throw my beloved business concept in the bin? Or metaphorically change shoes and carry on?
I could go back to the drawing board - again. I could expend further energies and yet not get the desired results, or eventually get there.
Perhaps I ought to seat back and do nothing .
I opted to do 'nothing' and reflected for a bit - honestly and humbly. In doing so, I recognised that I was the common factor in all these experiences. What part did I play in the different scenarios? What was it about me attracting these experiences? Is this just the way life is with constant barriers and obstacles? Why did I get so close and then things vanished? What was my true motivation even though I believed I wanted to make the world a more joyous place?
In the midst of these questions, I was reminded of the need to be grateful for the many good things in my life, especially having the freedom to make choices and the opportunity to try.
So what is this here to teach me? Firstly, I have learned that focus is great, and so is having balance. It cannot be all work.
Secondly, we need good people who do not sabotage — themselves, those they are collaborating with or in relationship with — accidentally or intentionally. We need quality people in all aspects of our lives, who encourage and support us, and are yet willing to tell us the truth in kindness and love. Even closer to home, we need to become quality people too and recognise if/when we self-sabotage ourselves too!
Finally, a consistent spiritual practice could be one means for even more calm and to attract more positive experiences and results, to see the fruits of one's labour to make for a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life. It does not necessarily mean signing up to a religion however the sense of connection to a higher force from being quiet, meditating, walking or merely being in nature may be enough.
I know I need to take swift action to move on. No more holding on to old habits or practices like those old house slippers, no matter how loved.
I am hopeful, as continuing as before and ignoring the lessons of life means taking the same classes again. I look forward to graduating and celebrating. Very soon.