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Remember Why You Started

Jessica couldn’t believe it had been only three years since she opened the doors to the tiny clothing boutique she’d dreamed of owning one day. She remembered the excitement of finding the shabby little two roomed workshop, choosing colours for the walls and installing makeshift shelving and clothing racks where she could display all her original pieces. She wanted to make clothes that were one offs, the sorts of clothes she would be proud to own, that had a story, things that people would covet and adore.

One by one people found her. They loved the designs only Jess was making and then told their friends. The local newspaper came, did an interview and took photographs and before Jess knew it the Lady Mayor of the town was ordering a whole custom wardrobe. It was too good an opportunity to pass up even if she felt a little uncomfortable about compromising on some of the styles she was required to design. The exposure was incredible! Well healed women came from miles around looking for new wardrobes. They loved the idea of being able to have a big say in the design process and Jessica was so helpful.

Now though Jess was so busy creating stuff that other people wanted her to create she had no time to experiment with her own designs. She didn’t have time for sketching wacky ideas. She no longer had space to dream up designs for beautiful original accessories. She had email enquiries to field and phone calls to return.

On a rare Sunday stroll by the river with a friend Jess realised that she wasn’t looking forward to opening her newly extended shop on Monday. She was dreading having to sit down and work to finish the designs that Allison Joyce the local councillor had commissioned. Somehow she felt that in trying to build a successful business she’d lost a sense of her original purpose and a bit of her soul along the way. She got little joy from the ooohs and aaahs of customers wearing garments she didn’t care she had designed. The money was great but the work was soul destroying. Jess was now left feeling like she’d sold out, she’d traded her passion and her art for a traditional measure of success and that made her uncomfortable. Mostly she was angry at herself for allowing her ego to get in the way of doing what she really loved, what she’d set out to do and be. She realised that what made her a success in the first place was doing what mattered to her.

So on Monday Jess didn’t open the shop. She stopped answering the phone, went for walks and thought long and hard about what it was that made her want to do this job in the first place. Jess took time out to go to the art gallery, the local market and the design museum. It was a tough time and she knew that some people might judge her harshly for making changes. Jess also knew though that change had to happen, that the first step to helping dreams come true was putting a stake in the ground for her own dreams.

So that’s what she did. It meant not just tweaking the model she now had only to be back where she started again in few weeks time. No, Jess made a radical shift and a decision never to take on a custom design again. It just felt like the right thing to do. She had to stop being a shadow of the designer she could be by being the designer she wanted to be.

I’m sure Jess made the right decision. If you get no joy from what you do it begins to show. You can tweak the compromise a little here and there but sometimes what is required is insight and extreme bravery.

Remember why you started not just what you started.

*This is a re-post from some of my earlier work, it’s important and I wanted to share it here with you.*

Image by Steve Rhodes.

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