Are you Chasing the Wrong Dream?

Last week, I wrote about how hard it can be to motivate every day for work when we’re all so disoriented with the pandemic, politics and other stressors in our personal or professional lives. Sometimes you just have to put on your shoes and do the hard work you know needs to get done.


I received plenty of positive feedback from the near 3,000 wedding pros on this newsletter. Thank you. I got a little vulnerable with my own struggles to create new ideas and come up with practical applications for what wedding pros are struggling with. It’s not easy for any of us – and I wanted you to know it’s hard for me sometimes too.


Give yourself permission


Many who reached out expressed how they’ve felt overwhelmed or pressured to stay positive for their clients, or quietly worry about how viable their businesses really are as the PPP funds dissipate and the hard reality of no/few events smacks them in the face.


Some of the pros who replied to the newsletter are amongst the strongest business leaders I know. It’s equally tough for them – and sometimes even tougher, because they have overhead like rent, vehicles, and payroll that solopreneurs don’t need to worry about – they’ve not let many know how hard it’s been. If they revealed what’s really going on with their finances then tongues would wag and their comp set might pounce on perceived weakness.


Convene your Board of Directors


While you don’t have to share your concerns or struggles with everyone (particularly those who could use it against you), it’s absolutely a good idea to bring in your personal Board of Directors right now. These are your best business advisors, and should come from a varied background of skills, experiences and perspectives. If you don’t have one, get one. If you do have one, it’s time to convene a virtual quarterly meeting or do 1:1s with each of them.


The best board of directors focus on only a handful of areas for the organization. They should be high-level only, nothing in the weeds of day-to-day operations or personnel decisions. Policy, budget, and recruiting/developing executive leadership are near the top of any great board’s to-dos. So is big-picture strategy, especially during times of crisis.


I’m no Chicken Little, but I’ll certainly echo what every respected economic and business leader is saying: “It’s a shitshow out there.” Oh wait, those aren’t the words they used? Well, close enough….As one colleague of mine said, the events industry is one of the first to be affected and will be amongst the last to recover.


Feel the inspiration


Looking back at last week’s post, I felt a little nostalgia for marathon training. I really did! In fact, I bought a new pair of running shoes that should be here next week. One of the curses of living on a small island that’s only accessible by boat or plane, and has no stoplights and almost as many clothing stores is that you can’t always get what you want right away.


I’m guessing my rekindled enthusiasm for the runner’s high will fade before the shoes even show up. I may train for a Turkey Trot over the next couple of months, or just get ready for our next backpacking trip with extra miles on the training regiment, but I’m not likely to run another 526.2 miles in the future.


But be quick to pass on the commitment


I could do it. I could train for a marathon, especially with all the time I have between now and when one will be held. At 42, I’m old, but still spry enough to keep my IT bands intact and smart enough to roll them out after every run. Oh yes, I could do it.


But should I do it? That, my friends, is the real question.


Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Sometimes it’s best to pass. Or, as Katy likes to say these days, Be quick with a “no”, and then be open to changing your mind later.


One of the reasons it’s important to pass on the idea early on is because of the sunk-cost fallacy. Basically, this describes our irrational desire to stop doing something, even in the light of logical reasons, because we have already committed so much time/energy/money. So, before you keep on keepin’ on, take a step back to see if you’re overinvested.


What are you not seeing?


All of us are at risk of falling into the trap of carrying on what we’ve been doing because we can’t see the big picture from our limited viewpoint inside our business. That’s why we all need a trusted board of directors. They have the outsider’s vantage, which could potentially keep us from digging our way deeper into a hole we never should’ve been in the first place.


They’ll also help us cut our losses before they pile up too much. Another trick our minds play on us is something called Loss Aversion. It’s really quite fascinating – and so important that Daniel Kahneman received the Nobel prize in Economics for on his groundbreaking work in the subject (along with Amos Tversky).


This one basically says that we are more afraid of losing than we are happy about gaining (something). In fact, we’re about twice as sad or angry when we lose something as we are happy when we gain something. As Brad Pitt said in Moneyball, “I hate losing. I hate losing more than I love winning – and there’s a difference.”


Now’s not the time to be afraid to change


I’m not saying it’s time to quit your company. I’m not saying it’s time to leave the industry or that it’ll never come back. I’m not saying all is a loss this year. In fact, I see lots of silver linings to the storm clouds we’ve suffered through.


But just because you had a goal for your business before COVID-19 hit doesn’t mean you should keep that same goal. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something.


What I am saying is that we’re often blinded by our emotions, which are really hard to untangle when they’re wrapped around logical solutions to problems. Even when we’re aware of heuristics like the sunk cost fallacy and loss aversion, we might succumb to “bias blindspot,” another little trick our brain plays on us that basically says, Yes, I know about these biases, but only others suffer from them, not me. (I just heard you chuckle and saw you smirk.)


So, take some time to take stock of where you’re at with your work life these days, and make sure you’re heading in the right direction.


Join us in finding joy at work


We’re doing exactly that with our 4-week challenge to find purpose at work. Click here to learn more about it. More importantly, hit up our IG feed to see what we’re up to and how you can join in for free.

It’s bound to help motivate you – and it’s way easier than running a marathon!


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