Saturday, July 18, 2009

Set Your Own Pace

Confession time: a few months ago I was stopped for speeding. I've been driving for over 20 years and this is the first time I've ever been pulled over. The officer told me that I was going 9 mph over the speed limit, and let me go with a warning. I took it gratefully, and sheepishly crawled off.

When I got home (on jelly legs...wow, is that intimidating or what?), I realized I had been really preoccupied that day. I was driving on autopilot, traveling a familiar road, following a safe distance behind another car. Unfortunately, I allowed that other car to set the pace rather than carefully monitoring my own speed. Of course that's no excuse, but I made a note of that tendency so I wouldn't let it happen again.

Some time ago I decided to embrace "social media" so most days I spend a bit of time on Twitter and Facebook. The good thing about this is that I can see all of the exciting things that other business owners are doing--opening retail stores, branching out to new wholesale accounts, writing books. The bad thing about it is that I start to wonder if I should be doing these kinds of things, too. I made a decision not to sell wholesale, but should I reconsider? I don't have a retail presence apart from my website--is that wise? It's tempting to throw away my own game plan and step on the gas. Gotta power up to keep up with these other businesses, right?

The thing is, following these other business owners at their pace is just as likely to get me pulled over. Maybe I'll be lucky and just get another "warning", but every time I've ever followed someone else's direction at their speed, I've gotten into trouble.

So I'm going to keep trying to set the pace myself. Maybe this sounds crazy, but I'm not interested in getting the whole world to use my lip balm, lotion, or other product. I really enjoy working directly with folks to make custom, personalized gifts that are just right for their events. If I offered things wholesale, I would become a factory and all of this conversation and collaboration would be gone. Working this way is almost the complete opposite of other companies, who make their products and then sell them. We're making to order specifically for one special person. It's part of what makes us different, but I'm not doing it just to be different. I'm doing it because I like it, and it means something to me. I think it means something to my customers, too. So as hard as it can be to set my own course and keep my own pace, I try to stay off "autopilot" and remain mindful of what makes my work so interesting and fun.

What do you think? Do you set your own pace, or do you let other people choose your direction or speed? How do you feel about setting your own pace? I'd love to know what you think!

5 comments:

  1. I really have to set my own pace. I too make mt bath products and sell to retail or from my website. I have been toying with the idea of opening a storefornt. But I need to take a week and listen to my inner voice. It never steers me wrong. I wish you would sell wholesale. I would be first in line ......
    Gigi :-)

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  2. Gigi,
    That's so nice of you to say! :0)
    I know what you mean about toying with these ideas--and I'm glad that I'm not the only one who "hears voices"! LOL! It's good to get in that habit, I think.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  3. Hi Emily: I 'm seeing this post for the first time. I am so glad that you posted it to the FaceBook group. This stands out to me: "I allowed the car in front of me to set the pace rather than carefully monitoring my own speed." Woooosh, like a slap in the face! I love this reminder that we can be swept away by what other people are doing. At the end of the day, we can be happy for the progress others are making as we also remain true to our personal goals and celebrate our progress, even though it may be very different from someone else's. I celebrate your decision to be true to what you have been called to do at this time in your life. And you're doing a fantastic job!

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  4. Nicole Chase @ SuloriAugust 25, 2009 at 10:11 AM

    Hi Emily,
    I couldn't have come across this post at a better time! You said it perfectly. I commonly battle w/ the thought process that I need to be doing things differently when looking at what other people are doing. The "autopilot" analogy says it well. Thank you for sharing your own experience as it helped me to put things a little more in perspective!

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  5. dM: Thank you! I think I need this reminder on a regular basis! It's like you say, Nicole: I "battle" those thoughts and sometimes have doubts. Most of the time I feel like I'm right where I belong and doing what I'm supposed to be doing! Thanks for commenting!

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