November 3, 2020

The Seven Year Itch? Reflections on 6 years in business.

The Seven Year Itch? Reflections on 6 years in business.

This week is the start of my 7th financial year in business. Each new ‘business’ year puts me in a very reflective state of mind and, not surprisingly, there’s been quite a lot to reflect on this year. The summary is that I feel happy, relaxed and optimistic about the future. And, for the first time, I’m able to feel a sense of pride in what I’ve achieved.

Us Scot’s aren’t particularly great at acknowledging our successes and I am no exception. I have spent too much of my life worrying about things that might not happen, so for once, I am going to rejoice in what has happened. And what has happened is that I have survived in business for 6 years. That alone is a cause for celebration. I didn’t think I was cut out for this running my own business malarkey. I was wrong. I didn’t think I had the resilience to cope with setbacks. I was wrong. And, I didn’t think I had the right to call myself a ‘professional writer’. I was wrong.

The biggest success, by far, has been a new found sense of calm. Despite all the uncertainty in the world right now, I have never felt less anxious. I have made a series of small, but fundamental shifts that have made this a breakthrough year for my wellbeing and mental health. And, for the first time, I have prioritised that aspect of my life. The lesson learned here is that if I get that right, it paves the way for a much happier life.

And, I can’t acknowledge this success without a very important lesson I learned from my friend Ruby. Ruby taught me what it truly means to be brave and when she passed away on the 3rd of January, I knew I’d be forever changed. That painful experience has permanently shifted my perspective on life. It’s brought about a sense of gratitude for the present and a renewed commitment to be present and live in the moment. I have spent far too much of my life worrying about inconsequential nonsense. And, although it at times can still feel quite raw, I look back on my friendship with Ruby with happiness. I will always cherish the nonsense we shared together.

This year has been a big one for me but the truth is, it’s been a big six years. It’s impossible to resist the urge to compare who I am today to who I was back in November 2014. So, with that in mind here’s the advice that present Kev, would give to past Kev.

Truth 1 - Beware the expert

Kev, here’s the thing, just because they include ‘expert’, ‘guru’ or ‘thought-leader’ on their LinkedIn profile doesn’t mean you need to defer to them. By all means listen to them and consume their content - just take what they say and put it through two filters. Filter one basically sniffs out ‘bull-shit’ and filter two asks if it’s right for you. Some of them don’t deserve your attention.

Truth 2 - Stop with the Books

Kev, is that another Amazon delivery? Didn’t you get one yesterday? It’s another book isn’t it? Kenny may well be your mate but when he does your accounts, how will you justify ‘books’ as your biggest expense? And what about Gill - she’s going to go mental when she sees another 8 books magically appear! What’s that? ‘You’re on a journey of self-discovery?’. Yeah, right! The truth is Kev, you’ll not find what you need in there. You’ll find what you really need by doing more stuff. I suppose what I’m trying to say, is ‘Stop being a time wasting dick!’

Truth 3 - You’re a writer

I swear to god Kev, if you keep launching new courses or coaching programmes I am going to jump in the DeLorean, travel back 6 years and kick US square in the balls. You’re making life so much more complicated than it needs to be. And, let’s be clear, I know that you want to go all-in with writing - and I know that it scares you. But seriously, get over yourself you absolute cretin. Just bloody do it. Enough already. Repeat after me… “I am a writer.”

Truth 4 - Stop pretending you’re OK

So, this is a hard one for us both to talk about Kev, but, I know that you’ve been telling lies. You keep telling yourself and others that you’re ‘doing great’ and ‘that you’re better than ever’ - you’re not, not yet at least. The great news… you will be. Trust me on that.

Truth 5 - You’re a bore

Kev, why are you so boring? Seriously, the stuff you’re writing about your businesses - yawnville, dude. Utter yawnville. You’re trying too hard. And please, stop trying to bolster your ego by trying to impress people with utterly meaningless drivel. I mean, seriously if you mention how many years you’ve worked in marketing one more time. I’ll kick you…. hang on, I’ve made that threat already. I’m actually embarrassed for you. Here’s an idea, see the guy that makes people laugh, makes fun of himself and doesn’t take life too seriously - we need more of him. Let go, have fun. Show that you actually have, you know, a wee bit of personality.

Truth 6 - Play by your own rules

Why are you hatching plans to grow an agency? Why are you fantasising about shit that you don’t really want? That’s not you, Kev. Just because that’s the path for many, doesn’t mean you have to blindly go down it as well. Stop everything. Spend some time thinking about what you PERSONALLY want. You’ll come to realise what I now realise - keep things simple, growth doesn’t equal success and whatever you do, put your wellbeing front and centre.

There you have it - a lot of truths and a lot of lessons learned, from me, to me. Despite the madness of everything right now, I know that I’ll make it work. The truth is, there is no ‘seven year itch’. There’s no place I’d rather be than where I am right now. I’ve never started a year with such clarity. And, I’ve never been more excited about what is ahead of me.

I’m not naive though. I’ll have my good days and bad. My wins and losses. I won’t always feel as ‘up’ as I do now, but I know I have what it takes to regroup and go again. Because that’s exactly what I’ve done for the last six years.

The one thing I can absolutely guarantee is this - I’m going to have a lot of fun along the way.