A creative entrepreneur's work is never done.
In a world where the word "productivity" has come to mean "how fast can you be busy?" it can feel more like a creative entrepreneur's work is never even close to started. The business-doing of a business never ends. If you're a solopreneur (like so many of us are,) it can be even more overwhelming, especially with all the stories that come out of the (downright disgusting) hustle-culture about how working nonstop at high speed is the only way to grow a successful business.
It feels like you've created a monster - on purpose - and now it's eating you, and all you can offer up as you are devoured is a resigned "well, it was to be expected."
I see people run around like crazy and tell everyone how super-productive they were that day... but then they're still cranky and overwhelmed and feeling pretty empty inside...
That's because it doesn't matter how many things you get done or how "busy" you are - it doesn't matter unless what you ACTUALLY did that day held any importance for you.
If you've done my free 5-day goal setting challenge, you know that I define productivity as the effective exchange of energy for the production of satisfactory results. The key here is SATISFACTORY RESULTS. And if you're not satisfied with the results that you produced that day, what was the point of all that running around? Why did all those obligations, tasks and errands even matter?
This is where your YOUNESS comes in. What's really important to you? What are your values?
Approaching productivity from the angle of your values does a few different (and wonderful) things, but mainly it makes things simpler. That overhwhelm? squashed. The cranky, empty-tank feelings? Shown the door. That monster? Turned into a way cuter and friendlier Mike Wazowski-type bud. And here's why:
Your values help you decide what to say yes to and what to say no to.
You know those "opportunities" that seemingly come up out of nowhere? Maybe a friend of a friend suggested a project or a client. Maybe you applied for something months ago and someone finally got back to you. Maybe someone organically found your business and reached out to you.
What do you do in these situations?
The usual is to agonize over it to the point that you can't sleep and you want to throw up because WHAT IF YOU MAKE THE WRONG CHOICE??? And what if you just don't want to do it, but if you say no you're just going to feel guilty about it for months and that person will probably never speak to you again and there goes another friend you're probably just going to die alone.
BUT. When you've pinned down exactly what matters to you, you can use your values as a kind of compass. Instead of having to build out an extensive pro-con list, do a tarot reading and then flip a coin you can just decide whether the opportunity aligns with your values or not. The guesswork, the overthinking, the extra energy being spent on trying to make a decision are all taken out of the equation, and now you can spend your time and energy elsewhere.
Your values help you define what does and doesn't actually "need" to happen
When you're building a business, it's only natural that you're going to be consuming a TON of information. You're learning about new platforms, business models, types of software, business law, clients you can serve, and and and...
It then follows that there are certain things that people say you MUST do. Or someone in your circle has success with a certain tool and it seems like you MUST use it if you, too, are going to be successful.
I think it's awesome to research new tools and techniques, but if we try to do ALL of it, our businesses will just wind up a scattered, falling-to-pieces mess that isn't strong enough to survive. Spreading yourself too thin, whether it's in tools, offerings or energy is the easiest way to blow holes in the foundation of your biz.
Using your values to guide you though, helps you decide which tools and techniques are right for you without worrying about comparing your business to someone else's
Your values help you decide which projects you'll develop
I have three words for you: Shiny. Object. Syndrome.
Everything seems exciting. Everything seems like a good idea. Everything can be built into your business. Except that it CAN'T.
Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS) is a whole other way to blow holes in the foundation of your business and make it not only seem scattered and confusing to potential clients, it will actually be scattered and confusing to you, which is even worse.
Using your values to point you in the right direction can help to minimize the SOS, even if one of your values is "exploration and experimentation." Exploring and experimenting is amazing, and in fact I think it's vital to building a successful business, but that doesn't mean everything you explore or experiment with needs to be built into your business.
Your values help you streamline your business and the way you work
When are you available? How are you available? How do you interact with your clients? How often do you launch your offerings? In what quantity? When do you work on content and when do you work on making? When do you do your marketing and what does it look like?
How do you decide on the things that create the framework of your business?
By honing in on what's most important to you.
Your values help you build a sustainable business that is also a joy to run. You can have the most amazing ideas with the most amazing customers, but if your biz isn't built in a way that allows you to offer your gifts to the world in a way that makes sense to you - it doesn't matter.
Your values help you decide where your boundaries lie and what they look like. They also help you decide the best way for you to put your offerings out into the world, both for you and your ideal customers.
Overall, your values help you cut out all the extra bullshit so you can work toward what matters instead of feeling like your wasting your time and energy.
Knowing your values minimizes the guilt of saying "no" to something you just KNOW isn't right for you.
Knowing your values helps you set boundaries AND interact in ways that feel authentic.
Knowing your values helps you cut down the "shoulds" to focus on what's important.
Knowing your values makes it easier to be productive in a way that keeps you and your business running on a full tank.
And doesn't that just sound like a huge fucking relief?