When Ashley Beaudin reached out and asked me to participate in her Imperfect Boss campaign, I pretty much couldn’t say yes fast enough. I live my life in a weird mix of well-curated Internet life and open honesty about what actually goes on behind the scenes because I know the importance of recognizing that perfection is not only boring, but also a complete sham. I’m living proof that what I see on Instagram is not even a fraction of the story and that the comparison bug is a waste of time. Maybe she also took 20 photos before getting one just right or stayed out later than she expected over the weekend and forgot to post online. Maybe she pretends to have a nicely made bed or paints nails on one hand just for photos. Maybe she also has moments where she feels stuck and uninspired, and then stressed because she’s stuck and uninspired. I could go on and on just because it’s SO easy to fall down the rabbit hole of perfectionism and comparison. Instead, I’m going to embrace the mission of the Imperfect Boss and share three of my biggest struggles in business and how I (try to) overcome them...
(1) I’m afraid that if I don’t work 24/7 I’m not trying hard enough and my business will fail.
Ok, I know how completely untrue this is. If I never take a break, or you know, do things like eat and sleep, I’ll just burn out and be unable to work anyways. I really do understand and accept this. That being said, sometimes a boss feels what a boss feels, and for me, this is a biggie. I’ll start work at 8 am, work straight through til 6 pm, and STILL feel guilty for walking away from my office at the end of the day. That’s an insane workday, and any 9 to 5 would probably throw me out to avoid paying ridiculous overtime. I’ve recently started keeping a calendar for all of my daily tasks and have an entire section for “Brittany.” I schedule things like yoga and meditation every morning, eating breakfast, taking a break for lunch, and watching tv at night. I make myself take off Sundays and at least half of Saturday. It’s still a mental struggle, but at least I’m weaning myself off the hustle.
(2) I hate investing in new products because I’m afraid they’ll fall flat and I’ll be saddled with debt and extra products.
This one is a pretty vicious cycle. In a perfect world, new products mean more money, which means more products, and so on and so forth. The reality is that for every 1 successful product, I have 10 more that flopped. It makes following through with all the ideas racing around my head terrifying, and I often end up stuck with a stack of wonderful designs and a stress headache. When I do catch myself in a fear spiral, I get out my trusty notebook and try to work through it. I’m afraid my new products will be a waste of money, but have they always been a waste of money? When were my new products not a waste of money? If they weren’t a waste then, isn’t it totally possible that they won’t be a waste again? While it can feel a little goofy, you’d be amazed at how talking yourself out of the fear/crazy can change your perspective and snap you out of that fear spiral.
(3) When the comparison bug bites, it bites HARD.
Nothing like a dose of inadequacy when you’re trying to think outside the box and kick some serious ass all day. Why bother creating something when someone has already done it better and made millions of dollars off of it? I’m a huge proponent of things like community over competition and the idea that her success is not your failure, but alas, I’m still human, and get sucked into the comparison trap once in awhile just like everyone else. The key, I’ve found, is to learn how to pull yourself out. Jealousy is a feeling, and all feelings are fleeting. Recognize it, feel it, try to process, and let it move through and out of you like a wave. Why do I think her mugs are better or she gets more calligraphy clients? What insecurities am I taking out on this super cool chick who’s just minding her own business and doing her thing? What’s my next step to deal with these insecurities? Maybe it’s to take a minute to reflect on how awesome I actually am, or read some great reviews and notes from customers. Maybe it’s to schedule in some time to educate myself more, or crank up the music and simply create. Sometimes it’s as simple as scrolling to the bottom of his/her Instagram feed and reminding myself that everyone starts off small too.
Do any of these struggles sound familiar? If they do, know that you’re not the only one, and it’s probably more than just you and me out there in the big wide world of bossdom feeling the same way. When we get caught up in the pull of the hustle and the myth of perfectionism, it can feel like we’ll never actually get anything done. Seriously, take a moment and think about how much time and energy you spend feeding into stress and struggle and fear. Imagine if you could spend that time being your awesomely imperfect self. Think of how much more you could create and play and go to yoga and make fancy coffee at home! A lot of time as bosses we get caught up in the daily rollercoaster of emotions and struggles that we forget that we’re all at the same theme park, even if social media tells a different story. Platforms like Instagram are meant to be pretty, that’s a large part of what makes them so fun, but they’re not the whole picture.
Check out more Imperfect Bosses on Instagram with #theimperfectboss or click on over to www.theimperfectboss.com to see more boss confessions.