I’ll admit up-front that I’ve been less than consistent at my work.
I know I talk a big game. Especially through my X (formerly Twitter) profile. But the reality is that I haven’t always delivered what I’ve promised.
I’ve certainly got better at it in the last couple of years, but there’s still several clients I worked with that had a less than stellar experience with me.
What went wrong?
I was overcommitted at the time. Too many projects with too much money promised and too little resources to pull them off.
The thing that most had in common were that they were projects that had quite a lot of parts to them. Not just a website. Not just a social strategy. But things that I had quoted for that were way beyond my capability to do at night and on weekends. Which is all I had to work with after taking on some big full-time contracts.
I was seeing the dollar signs in front of me, but ignoring that fact that I was already working two full-time contracts and barely getting enough sleep each week to support that kind of pace.
Something had to break. And it did.
So I had to make some tough decisions.
1. Stop doing so many things
2. Choose what things to do
3. Only do what I know I can get done.
Sounds simple, right?
Either do less stuff or hire people to do more stuff.
And I had already done the second option before and hated the empire-building and human resources work of running one.
So I returned to being a solopreneur. And so far, it’s going much better.
But I had to choose what to do and what not to do.
What can you do consistently at a level of excellence?
I have a few things I do really well at a level of excellence that would be considered to be at the top of my game.
1. Social media and digital content strategy
2. Brand messaging for small to medium enterprises
3. Public speaking and training others to do it
4. Training in entrepreneurship and digital solutions
None of these mention building websites, making social media content for people or making promotional videos for businesses. Yet this is the stuff that I had found myself doing, despite not being excellent at any of those things – or even wanting to do them.
I literally did them for the money.
I could have done hundreds of other things just for the money that I would have enjoyed more and been better at.
Yet I knew how to do them, so I did them anyway.
Knowing what you can consistently do with excellence will go a a long towards you delivering better work more consistently, building a better reputation and being much happier.
And this takes me back to Ikigai – that Japanese concept of understanding your purpose. Which is something we actually do get the luxury of exploring when we’re working for ourselves, rather than just doing a job.
A very modern view of purpose that makes sense to me.
Just like with the Ikigai principle (which you can read more about here) I similarly find that I – and most people I know – work best when they find that balance between:
1. What you love
2. What you’re good at
3. What the world needs
4. What can make money
And while you can use this model to build a more worthwhile and satisfying life, you can also use it to weed out what isn’t working and what will work better.
For example, in my case:
1. I love strategy, teaching & speaking
2. I’m very good at strategy, teaching & speaking
3. The world needs better teachers and strategists
4. Training, strategy & public speaking pay well
So why the hell am I building websites and making social posts in Canva? Or running Google ads for people?
And given that I am really good at strategy, teaching and speaking, love doing them, knowing that the world needs them and that they pay well, I should be more than just doing this stuff, I should be shutting out everything else that doesn’t align with these things.
So what can you do with this information now?
I’m not going to be a fool and suggest you sell everything and move to the forests of New Guinea to grow wild coffee.
But I suggest that you set the intention to make the change first by getting it clear in your head before you start making announcements.
Do it a little like this:
1. Figure out what your Ikigai looks like.
2. Get it very clear in your head what the result is.
3. Now interpret that result in the context of your real life.
4. Plan how this is going to work through gradual change.
5. Stop accepting new work in your old unwanted stuff.
6. Make it clear to others that you now do this stuff.
7. Ensure that your online presences show this.
8. Actively look for more work you love.
I know that all seems super simplified – but the reality is that most of the big things in our individual lives come down to simple decisions that we just love to complicate with a string of excuses, what-ifs and procrastination.
I can’t promise that the transition will go smoothly, but rough seas don’t last forever, and at some point you’ll look back and wonder what took you so long so get here.
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