I've been reading a lot of Mark Manson's posts lately and many of them are resonating with me these days. (I'm keen to get my hands on his book, it's on my list.) It's got me thinking about limitations and how they relate to running a business.
In Mark's theory on the four stages of life, he speaks about the phase of self-discovery and how it's followed by running up against your own limitations. His take is that this is very important for growth and so that you can focus time on things you do enjoy and can do. I can't agree more.
I know many people think that it's all about pushing your limits and moving past them, and while I think there are some limitations where that applies, there's no way it applies to them all.
I feel like there was a point in my personal life a few years ago where I decided to stop pushing some limits. However, I have only recently hit this stage in my business.
Surfing used to appeal to me a lot. Growing up in a punk rock subculture and attending skateboarding competitions, surfing always sat aside as this exotic and infinitely cool sport. Without a break closer than a 6-hour trip from Vancouver, it became something we ventured out to do with friends once a year or so. I was game. I hired the gear, rode the whitewash and for a day it was all so cool. (Only the first time did I have a really bad experience, being held down by a wave just that much too long and losing my contact in the process!)
So, you would think I'd be in heaven in New Plymouth with a breaks scattered around everywhere. And at first I thought I was. Soon after we moved here, my husband and I sorted out some gear and headed out to Oakura. It was a bluebird day with moderate swells (maybe 1m). We paddled out, kept our hair dry, and then the set came in.
All of a sudden, sitting in the trough between waves I couldn't see land, or anything but lots of water. My fear of the ocean reared its head and I panicked. My husband tried to keep me calm, knowing that if I just split for shore in the middle of the set it would not be such a good idea. He managed to get me to wait out the set and then helped me get to the beach.
With that as the backdrop, I did try to get out a few more times but tended to keep my feet on the ocean floor and just hop on the little bits of whitewash. Hmm. Not quite as fun as catching proper waves could be. But the amount of stress and drama I battled just to try to be a surfer soon became larger than the fun I would get out of it. So I stopped going and soon enough, it was just not one of my hobbies. And after a while, I was actually ok with that.
Just because I thought I would like it didn't mean I had to push through and conquer it. I can say that my life is probably not drastically different to what it would be if I got out in the surf regularly. (I mean, maybe I never would have found Zumba! And that would be drastically worse!) And there's a peace in accepting that limit.
Now, with my business being in its early stages, I have been putting so much pressure on running that to the max. I have been taking all the clients on, helping at all the events, networking, networking, networking... until the last few months have shown me that this is not sustainable for my energy. And being overly stressed is not a price I wanted to pay for "being a success."
I realised that I didn't have to do all these things. I could focus on the many clients I already have. I could say no to events. I could miss writing on my blog (sorry last week!) and things would still be a success. I had realised my limits in how much I can achieve while still keeping my wellbeing as a priority.
Now I see accepting my limits in my business as an act of self-compassion and an act of self-care. I don't have to be everything to everyone, as much as sometimes I want to. I'm glad that I have sussed out my limits and decided not to push them, except in careful ways that keep me healthy.
It's somewhat contrary to popular opinion, and I'm sure some people think it's weak to accept a fear and not conquer it. But, at this stage, it works for me so I don't care! I still learn, I still push my limits in other ways but choosing which ones to push is a much more thoughtful act now.