I’ve learned many lessons as a business owner. Most of those lessons are business-related. Duh. I could go on for days (no joke) about all the things I’ve learned. Mistakes I’ve made, what I might do differently if I had the chance to start over again, and so on, but let’s save those for another day.
On the other hand, there are many lessons I’ve learned that have nothing to do with running a business, but have everything to do with me as a person. Running a small business is a quick way to figure out what you’re made of, what motivates you, and how to balance your priorities.
One lesson I’ve learned is the importance of creative outlets, or hobbies, and how much they affect my personal happiness. Running a business has many, many perks, but perhaps the biggest downfall is the time trap. When you’ve spent so much time building something that’s so special to you, it can become all-consuming of your time and energy. When that happens, there is a tendency to put your business (or your work) ahead of hobbies, creative outlets, family, or other things that may be extremely important to you.
For a long time I found myself doing just that. If you’re in that place, don’t be hard on yourself. It can be so easy, and honestly, pretty rewarding. However, over the long run I learned that this approach ultimately drew from my happiness instead of adding to it.
Enter creative outlets. Two years ago I started cycling and just this year I picked up wildlife photography. I’m not great at them, every day I get better, but these two hobbies alone have created so much joy and happiness in my life outside of work. In turn, I find that my work is ultimately more creative than it was before. Maybe most exciting of all, is that I can’t wait to pass on that joy to my children, and am super excited about some opportunities that have arisen from these hobbies.
At 36 years old I sort of felt like I was who I was. A feeling that I’d already discovered everything I enjoyed in life. I couldn’t have been more wrong. So take it from me, you’re never too old to try new things. Don’t be afraid to try something new, learn, fail, and grow. You never know where it might take you, what you might learn about yourself, or what it might save you from.