Today I made the final decision to shut down a business, after about 15 months of working on it. There are a lot of different reasons that eventually brought me to the decision and it wasn’t an easy one to make. The weird thing is, more than just giving up on an idea, sometimes it feels like I’m giving up on MYSELF, even though I know that’s not true.
There are also a lot of emotions swirling around my head about what other people will think about me—my abilities, my character, my “status”. I think that’s where 75% of my anxiety is coming from. You might even be thinking less of me right now as you read this.
People think it’s so cool to start a business, so in turn, they think I’m cool. That feels nice. But it’s also meaningless at the same time. How do I define myself? By what other people think of me? Or by my own definitions and how God sees me? If I let the opinions of others define me, their opinions will dictate my decisions and control my life. I don’t want that. Do I?
The other 25% is from what my friends and family will think. I’m also a little bit scared about what I think of MYSELF. Sometimes, my identity gets wrapped up in how successful or unsuccessful I am feeling at the moment. My voice of reason is saying, “don’t romanticize this, it’s just one project, one year of your life. You learned a ton, and now you can start on something new.”
It’s not my first failure; I’m in double digits. Seriously.
I’ve had successes, too but those are shoved way back in my mind because of the expectations I set for myself on a day-to-day basis. Right or wrong, it’s kind of true. I’ve done a good job of surrounding myself with some pretty wildly successful people, and the downside of that is when I see myself not living up to those successes, it stings like a ____.
My thoughts turn to detrimental questions like, “Are they just smarter or better than I am?” “What do they know that I’m missing?” “If I could just find a way to USE them, it could save me from feeling like this!” (Even though I know that’s an immature viewpoint.)
I know everyone has flaws and letdowns in life; I’m not ignorant to that but just as harshly as I focus on my failures, I focus on other people’s successes. Sometimes even when we know what’s good for us, we do the opposite.
Humans are weird.
People don’t talk about the NEGATIVES of surrounding yourself with great people.
Maybe some other people are just smarter than me—I mean, I know that’s a fact.
But so what? That shouldn’t define me either. I can still positively impact the world.
And it’s not all about money either. Frankly I don’t really care about that. I just require enough to be comfortable and not bound by lack of it, and this particular business wasn’t helping to pay the bills.
I want to make an impact with my work, and the reality is, a really good indicator of how much of an impact you’re making when you’re running a business is how much money the company is making. Not how much I PERSONALLY am making, but how much the company is making is important. Money is a tool that can be used for really good things.
Away from the point.
We truly are our most harsh critics.
This path is not linear.
Wish it was though.
I think we all have a tendency to put more weight on our failures than our successes. I know I do.
But that’s kind of natural I think—it keeps us from becoming content and lazy.
But it also requires perspective and a healthy view of the world to not become detrimental.
There’s definitely a pattern to new business ideas that I’m noticing:
- Things are exciting, I just started! So much potential.
- Things are moving a little bit, this is fun.
- Things slowed down, it’s getting difficult.
- Things are picking up again, woo hoo!
- Things are stagnant—am I missing something, or is the idea not as needed as I thought?
- It’s been a year now, and it’s really not profitable. Should it be?
- Where else could I spend my time, instead?
- Wait no, I’m not a quitter, and all those memes say that things get better right after most people give up.
- I’ll just read more motivational quotes, they help right?
Ok, it’s time to move on. I hate this.
The good thing that comes with quitting something is the liberating opportunity to try something new. The possibility and hope that the new thing is THE thing that will work.
Maybe the thing I’m quitting has been a barrier this whole time. Wouldn’t that be nice to discover?
New things bring new life, new challenges, new lessons to learn. New is a positive thing, even when it’s difficult.
I don’t know what new project I’ll start, but I know I can’t let the failure of my last one define me. It had purpose and DID help a lot of people in the process. I made great connections, great friends, and learned lifelong lessons from it, and that was a great gift.
This is a bittersweet moment, and I regret nothing.
This article was originally published at Strategic Sauce
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