People tell me I am still young... but I don't feel it.
Last year was brutal on a personal level, the year before was bad too and 2011 I had hoped would be an improvement, things would be simpler. It has been far from that.
It is of course inevitable that personal events have a consequence on business matters, and my case is no different. This creates a great deal of upfront stress. An eternal buzz of adrenaline. Churning bowels. Twitching eye.
Then of course there is all the day-to-day stress associated with building gardens in this part of the world: the difficult customers, employing staff, dealing with the ubiquitously brusk 'subbies', the hit-and-miss suppliers, the EFFING weather, the delays caused by weather, the mess caused by the weather, tools breaking down, the last minute changes to drawings when we discover an incorrect measurement...and so on. You know the script.
(I am normally quite defensive of where I come from and jokes about the weather here can often get my back up - as if people aren't looking past that...it is a truly beautiful part of these islands and the people are simply magnificent in my view. But yes, you're right; the weather is awful. We see a blue moon more often than we see the sun and no trip to the beach can be sensible without a North Face jacket.)
Then the paperwork...
And then the normal stuff, stressful in its own right, in its on way...a background stress, almost imperceptible but positively tangible when your resolve hits someunexpected but inevitable turbulence: the family, the bills, pregnancies, elderly relatives, rising living costs, lunar house prices, how the kids are getting on at school (are they making friends, are they making progress, are they being quiet at tea-time or is that just us?)...and so on. You know the script.
A few weeks ago I bottled it. Breakdown. Meltdown even. Too much. No chance.
I want(ed) to give the whole thing up. Not in a rope sense (although these dark thoughts somehow oblige themselves as an option despite how silly they seem); no, more in a bin sense. Bin the business. EFF it. WTF am I doing it for? Why am I constantly grumpy, frequently angry and drinking too much? Why am I fighting with my wife (my soul-mate) almost daily? Why is my 5 year old daughter sometimes so reticent to ask me a question that she often won't bother because I either don't acknowledge her standing beside me staring at the side of my face, or I rebuke her for interrupting my work (my life)? Well, what for?
Ah yeah that's right. Money. To be my own boss. It's great being your own boss.
In Glasgow we have a knack for sarcasm that is perfectly represented in the succinct yet utterly misleading double positive phrase "Aye, right".
And howcome I'm skint every winter? Homemade Xmas presents again.
No summer holiday because work is seasonal, no winter holiday because summer didn't show up with the readies (£s).
Actually being my own boss hasn't been so hot. Perhaps it is because I am not my own boss (is anybody really?), in fact my clients are my boss(es) and they are very demanding.
So all of this builds up and I get to the point where my sole goal for the day is to get to bed-time again. Sleep is my only refuge. Drink quenches frustration and quickens the approach of sleep.
Bad news. Sad. Sounds pathetic actually writing it down but there you are; it probably is pathetic. I'm not looking for sympathy though - I've had a few doses of that and to be honest I am entirely uncomfortable with it...it actually makes me feel worse. I am a capable, intelligent 28 year old man. Why can I not cope?
Bin the business: study architecture (or sociology - my other passion). Work for somebody else. Be creative and be rewarded in a creative and rewarding field.
I'm probably not a businessman. I'm definitely not a businessman. And I'm probably not a great boss.
But then: in the recession, do I really have an alternative? Not really. I am obliged therefore to carry on...against my will.
I'm not alone in this position: I know that for a fact.
I love design and being creative. I get a proper buzz (a good one) from meeting clients for the first time. I become an energy generator. They get enthusiastic because I become animated, jumping about their garden, speaking in ideals, how good it could be... I can see it already - and they can see that I can see it. The design process is a joy, a real joy: collaborating and interacting with clients to produce a vision of a space that will truly improve their lifestyle and their visual environment. Clients get onboard and get excited - and so they should, it's their garden! Porn surfing for me is sailing through architecture and design sites soaking up inspiration and considering new ideas and principles.
This is the only thing that has kept me upright until now.
I am still recovering from a breakdown and trying to figure out what I will do. The parable of the Mexican fisherman (previously posted on the forum a few times I believe) is an excellent one. I read 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris recently and this has changed my approach to life and work. Work to live: not the other way round. Simplify.
Have any of the other LJNers had similar experiences - have you any insights to share, any tips for de-stressing, or for simplifying things?
Please share :)
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