Last year I felt like I worked a lot of weekends and evenings. Like I had to say yes to every professional opportunity that came my way...to the detriment of many personal opportunities. I was doing more...but it didn't feel like more.

This year I am determined to strike a different path.

I read and then reread this post by artist, Lisa Congdon. It really struck a chord with me. For so long I had been in hot pursuit of "busy." A busy office, a busy social life. I grew up constantly being told that whole bit about idle hands-blah, blah, blah. I took pride in the fact that I could flit from project to project subsisting on little sleep and intermittent contact with the outside world. Life felt more full when it was busy...until it didn't.

Much like that NY Times article...I finally realized...my busyness was in fact a self-imposed trap.

"They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence."

Yup, that sounds about right. In its absence I would have to face a lot of things...my unhealthy attitude toward food, missing my friends and family...the list goes on.

 Like many, I had been raised to believe that being idle was the enemy of progress. I took extra classes, worked multiple jobs. When you grow up as the eldest of three kids with a single mom and a blind grandpa, you don't get to relax much. Even when you should be relaxing, you are worrying. By the time I was in college, worrying felt like a sport. One that led to insomnia, anxiety and eventually an ulcer.

So I am abandoning my former credo "I'll sleep when I'm dead" in favor of one that won't put me in the ground earlier than I would like. I don't care to be busy anymore. I know that for me...less work means less money. That is a fact I am prepared to deal with by requiring less overall. Less stuff sounds good.  This led me to make a command decision when asked if I was going to CHA.

No, I'm not.

At one point I was pretty close to going. Eager to see the direction paper crafting was taking. To meet companies I've worked with and for whom I've designed. I was ready to jump at the chance to make connections. To meet blog followers and customers and say thanks in person.

But, I changed my mind. Bananafishstudio is not going to the next level...whatever that is. I'm still trying to get really good at this level and I'm not quite there yet. I enjoy the freedom of seeing an idea go from my head to complete in a few days. I like that I can still maintain a pretty personal relationship with my customers. I like that, creatively speaking, I'm not so heavily influenced by what I can't see. I love that I can do shorter runs more often. I like that it frees me up for creative collaborations. That my design work is not limited to paper. I love being a small business and that, for me, means trying to be super good at what I do...even if what I do isn't all that much.

Some might say I lack ambition. That I don't have the guts to press forward and grow. I would disagree. My ambition is of a different sort. MY ambition is to complete my Project Life album, to cook more, to paint more, to shed some pounds and run a 5K with my sister, to enjoy my 7th anniversary with the man that I love, to enjoy my puppy, to take more trips to see family and friends, to make a couple new friends, to never be busy again.

to make less...more.

I really love this by Erin over at Design for Mankind

"This year, one of my personal resolutions is to live a slower, more thoughtful (meaningful?) life. Less travel, more adventure. Less work, more challenges. And I need this to translate into all areas of my life: Less blogging, more learning. Less links, more inspiration. Less projects, more processes."


rhonda nickol said...

Life is to short not to do what we each enjoy! It is hard to say no but I have learned that sometimes no is the best answer to give. There is nothing more important than my family and the time with them to make memories!

Kelly in Canada said...

i so agree with everything you have written. my 'one little word' this year is 'thrift' and, by that, i mean the frugality aspect but also in terms of being prudent (discerning?) and circumspect. i don't wish for any type of excess in my life. i wholeheartedly agree that less is more! yay. i so wish i could have a cuppa with you!

Michele H. said...

Perfect post! Everything here is what I've been feeling too. I've read this several times to let it all sink in. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

Marie Tere said...

I could take some lessons from you. Whatever you choose, I'll still be a fan! I look forward to what's next!

kelly said...

i love this post, france. i have a lot of those same feelings and glad you are sharing.

Julie Mogford said...

I really needed to read this today! I'm on a new creative journey and I want to keep make time to do the crafty things, but also remember to enjoy life. This is my first year to start project life, and I'm already behind, LOL but trying to work on that this evening and tomorrow. Love your shop and looking forward to seeing what's new. Happy New Year!!

Teri Berrios said...

I couldn't agree with you more!!! I went through this a few years ago with being on so many design teams. My entire life was put on hold including my family. At the end of the day, 10 years from now, it really won't matter how many magazines I was published in, or how many bells and whistles I added to my projects. I realized I WOULD NEVER be able to get back that time. Now I stricktly do Project Life at MY convenience and totally enjoy the every day moments in my life with my family!! Enjoy the moments and memories. Your fans will ALWAYS be your fans no matter what. BIG HUGS!!! T