Every single day, without fail, two sides of me are at war. I’m programmed, be it by society or my own high standards, to want to build a successful business and that is supposed to make me happy. Just that singular thing. But there is a whole side of me that just wants to breathe and relax and enjoy life, knowing that I’ll be happier by generating enough money to support a lifestyle that I want, while fulfilling my creative career dreams and owning my time. It’s like a constant fight between inner business shark and creative hippie.
I love business. I love the idea of growing another business and sticking with it until I’m ready to semi-retire and work part time until I die. I won’t ever stop working, not really. Even when I’m ill I’m still working to some degree. I don’t know how to not work, because a large percentage of my work happens in my head. But that’s just it… I love the idea of big business, but when I’m truly faced with the reality of a big business, I recoil for two main questions: do I want that lifestyle, and will I feel like I’m living a life of business and missing out on everything else?
I look around at so many businessmen and women who have built bigger businesses in my industry and see that they are highly accomplished but live with some many regrets and so much guilt. They have missed a lot of their personal lives because they dedicated their time to their business, and nothing is wrong with that, but that’s the choice you make when you want to go all in. Businesses are like children and they really do take all of your time, effort and focus. You can’t build two businesses, singlehandedly, on your own, from startup at the same time; you need to build one, grow it to a stage where someone else can run the operations, and then build the other one.
Do I really want that? Is the money worth the sacrifice at the end? You’ll never know until you actually get there so you’re betting blind. It begs to question what I really want… If you’d ask me right now, I’d instantly reply: build a world class, award winning advertising agency. To get there would be battling with the best, or biggest, in the world to have a seat at the table, and that seat is not guaranteed. Not only do you have to have the amazing creative team to back it up, you also need to have the capital to do it. It’s not impossible because we have seen lots of smaller agencies recently take a big bite out of the bigger agency pies, and capital is always easy to raise. But is that what I really want? If I’m asking myself the question somewhere in the back of my mind, it means I’m not sure, and if I’m not sure, it’s time to look inward to figure out what I do want.
The creative hippie in me is constantly screaming. I’ve never been one for the high life… I’ve always preferred to live more simply and enjoy the smaller things like extra sleep when required, daytime yoga when my body asks for it and painting when the muse awakens. I’ve always wanted enough money to fully own my time, keep my lights on and enjoy life a bit. Life can slip by and the next thing you know, it’s all gone. As much as I love structure, I do prefer flow. I’ve become happier knowing that bills are paid, and I’m able to write for personal reasons too, not just for money. Art comes more naturally when I’m fully rested and my creative brain matter has been fed to overflowing magnitudes. And I genuinely love creating things and helping people; it’s so incredibly rewarding and stress free.
Waking up after a solid 8 hours of sleep, rushing for nothing but a wee first thing in the morning and enjoying a mug of coffee or tea while allowing my brain to wake up naturally without anxiety or road rage is nothing short of bliss. I can breathe. My shoulders are not tense, my jaw is relaxed and my body is not in pain (rheumatoid conditions tend to flare when you’re stressed). I can often feel my heart beat steadily and calmly. I definitely did not feel like this when I was working full-time at an office 2 hours away from my home. After waking up and settling into work mode, I can decide what I’m focusing my day on, and jump into something inspirational to kickstart the day’s production. I take breaks more often and pace work, rather than slog on. I mix my day between work things and personal things and make sure that I have enough exercise and reading time. I’ve found myself reading and feeding my brain more now, since I don’t have to spend four hours in my car every day. And while I used to listen to podcasts, some days I was just so numb that silence was the only thing I really wanted. I was miserable then, and now I’m not.
So what do I do about the business shark and the creative hippie? Everyone needs money to live. You need it for food, shelter, internet and all the others basics, then you can go up one level where you have enough to afford a decent car, extra clothes if needed, or little things that make you happy, like gym or dance lessons. One level above that gives you holidaying a couple times a year if you live sensibly. Now this is the attractive balance for me personally… I’m minimalist to an extent, where I don’t buy what I don’t need but I’m not so frugal that I am afraid to spend money. Getting into that financial tier just above, means that I can be fully self-sufficient, and enable a travel budget, all while being happy. Balance is the key here and feeding both the business shark by building a small business and keeping it small and the creative hippie by making time for personally fulfilling art projects and daily reading.
Every day, I wake up with a different passion screaming: the business shark and the creative hippie. I spent two years trying to decide where to place my focus, on building a business or on creative work and to be honest, I still don’t really know. And that’s okay. I’ve found a great balance between the two, and one day, one might take off stronger than the other. But it does not mean that I’m just going to stop one for the other. Balance is the key to providing a platform to be happy. Only time will tell who will win the fight, but for now, I’ll play off the both of them until life throws a curveballs, because it always does.