Reflections on seven years in business

Every year, as another business anniversary passes, it seems a bit more unbelievable than the last. Some years, the day passes like any other, among a flurry of tasks, emails, reminders, and notifications. Suddenly, it’s late April, and I’m left wondering where the time has gone. I feel a little sad that I didn’t give myself a proper pat on the back the day of, for another year of actually doing the damn thing. But I settle for a belated self congratulations and keep moving along.

This year finds me in a more reflective state. Maybe seven feels a more significant, more monumental number than the others. Maybe it’s just that I’m in one of those periods in life where I don’t know exactly what the future looks like, so I’m just naturally more reflective. Whatever the case, here I am, acknowledging a business anniversary at the proper time. (It was Monday, and I celebrated by putting some love into this neglected website and relaunching it, followed by some quality time on the sofa binging Game of Thrones.)

Photo by John Baker on Unsplash

When I first started this business, I thought my path forward was straight. I was under no illusions that it would take a lot of hard work to get things off the ground, but I knew I could do the work. Though there were many breakdowns, what kept me going was this crazy faith that my hard work would pay off. Eventually, it did.

What I failed to understand was that I was traveling toward a final destination that didn’t exist. I equated my work paying off with my work providing permanent stability. I didn’t account for changes in the industry, and more importantly, changes in myself.

I didn’t account for my passion becoming a job.

That’s something they don’t put on coffee mugs. After seven years, doing what you love feels like a job. To be clear: I still love what I do, and I’m grateful to do it. Some days I love my work so much I can’t believe I earn money doing it. But that love no longer sustains me in the same way. I can’t power through the work for 12 hours a day as I did in the beginning (though that could also be because I’ve aged seven years with the eyesight and carpal tunnel to prove it).

One thing I always come back to is the spiral staircase analogy, which I heard from Nathalie Lussier at a conference she hosted several years ago. We think that we’re moving along a straight path, but the reality is that business (and life!) is more cyclical than that. We often feel like we’re back where we started, or dealing with things we should have already dealt with.

But when you think about a spiral staircase, though your position feels the same, you’re actually a level up from where you were before. You know more now than you have ever known before. You have more experiences to draw upon.

Photo by Fab Lentz on Unsplash

Things have come full circle for me here in my business and blog. I spent the last few years focusing on web development only, and am now offering design services again, which is what my business was built on in the first place. I’ve been feeling the familiar itch to blog again, simply to share for the sake of sharing, whatever’s on my mind, just as I did when I first started this blog. (I have my theme shop customers to thank for that, seeing their excitement for blogging reminded me why I loved it in the first place.)

It feels like starting over. And yet I know that I’m leaps and bounds ahead of where I started. I still don’t know where my path leads, and I don’t know that any of us ever will. But if I’ve learned anything over the years, continuing to do the things I love hasn’t steered me wrong yet (even if sometimes it feels like work).

Top photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

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