Happy New Year!
As I sit here in the Thai sun (the few hours of sunshine before the daily cloud I know will come), I’m contemplating what kind of year 2017 was for me and hence, how 2018 can be better. If I had to think of a word to describe 2017, I might opt for ‘procrastination’. In July I gave up my stable job in financial PR: I had decided to dedicate my time instead to launching my own business in pre-loved designer fashion in a bid to reduce the world’s (and my own) reliance on fast fashion.
And yet, six months later, I am ostensibly no closer to starting that business than I was in July. Despite my cock-sure enthusiasm upon handing in my notice and all of the hours I have had to execute my ideas since, I simply haven’t made any progress. I’ve procrastinated. I should start by saying that I am not an idle person: I don’t sleep in past 9am; my phone calendar doesn’t enjoy long stretches of availability; and I’ve been earning a steady income freelancing. Yet, none of this really matters if I’m measuring the success of my foray into entrepreneurship by the progress the business idea has made since the day I quit to do just that.
If you asked my family, they might say I am, by nature, a procrastinator. My nickname growing up was ‘last minute merchant’. By virtue of leaving something to the last few hours preceding a deadline, you can be sure there has been a certain amount of procrastination going on. And yet, I graduated from Cambridge, moved to London, got a job, moved in with a boyfriend, and started renovating a flat all before turning a quarter of a century. I am by no means on a ‘go-slow’. I always had a sense growing up that my procrastination or rather failure to start something, despite any logical merit I thought it had, was somehow the better choice long-term. In fact, looking back, it has actually saved me time, energy and occasionally some pain. I’m not sure I could call it divine intervention, or a sixth sense, but I’ve come to trust my more extreme procrastination. That is to say, if I’m putting off calling the bank to discuss my overdraft, this is pure laziness, but if I’m putting off starting a business I’m passionate about, there must be a reason.
So what’s going on with my business? Well, the truth is that the business idea, despite its merits and my excitement, was not viable for me. It was too labour intensive, too capital intensive, it was already a crowded market and required too much preparation before I could even think about going to pitch a client. Which is fine if you have unlimited funds or have already secured some decent financial backing. I had already identified these drawbacks at the very early planning stages, but I wasn’t initially phased. I work hard, I’m resourceful: I could do it. It actually wasn’t until I moved to North London that I walked into a popular dress agency and realised there was a better way. I had a new idea, along the same lines, but that didn’t have the same drawbacks as before.
I am, in an ideal world, all about ‘less talk, more action’, but I think we need to question why we’re still talking about something, why it’s slipped to the bottom of the pile, why there’s been no action so far? Musing over something is important and moreover, trusting that when it feels right, you’ll stop procrastinating and get s*£$ done. And it is with that thought, that I start 2018 feeling resolved to get cracking. Not because I feel like the turning of the new year is the kick I need to start, but because I’m ready.
So if you’ve been in the throes of contemplating starting something – business, a blog, a more sustainable lifestyle, a career change, dating and so on – and you haven’t yet for any legitimate reason: trust that you don’t need the new year to make you resolute to do so, wait until you’re ready and if you want to make it happen, you will.