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March 23, 2010 / Jenny Ann Fraser

Questioning Assumptions

Hello, My name is Jenny and I’m a workaholic.

Or at least I thought I was until I read an article about work addiction.  According to the article, there are 10 signs of work addiction, and I only have 3 of the signs. I realize that I only have those when I have too much on my plate.  In all fairness, I often take on too much because in my industry, you take work when its available, because lately, it often isn’t available.

Like last summer, which is something I don’t want to dwell on as I approach the end of the theatre season, and contracts have started falling into black holes.

I’ve been spending some time lately, considering how I imagine building my new business.  I realized, that I have been anticipating long exhausting hours, high stress and a fair bit of drama.  Why?  Because that has been my work life up to now. And it doesn’t make a lot of sense to think that starting a new business would be any easier.  Or does it?

I’m starting to question my assumptions, and I’m wondering if changing my thinking on this wouldn’t produce a different outcome.

I like working, and I like working hard. I like to feel as though I’m accomplishing a lot. Slow to me equals boring, and I have no tolerance for boredom. It screws up my brain and makes me lazy, which in turn makes me depressed and so begins an ugly cycle which I have fought very hard to avoid, though not always successfully. I desperately need to figure out how to keep busy, while still having balance in my life.

At the moment, balance is nothing more than a fantasy at least until this next show opens, but that can’t be helped.  What can be helped, is how I choose to manage my business life, or at least how I  try to manage my business life.

I know that I feel less stressed when I’m in control.  That means not having to answer to anyone, and making decisions in a way that makes sense to me.  I know that I am really looking forward to making my own product  without having to worry about whether things will be changed in the middle to please designers, directors, actors, etc.  What a relief it will be to be able to sit down and sew something from start to finish knowing how it is going to turn out in the end.

I have always loved the variety that costuming gives me. You’re never really making the same thing twice, but at the same time, that variety has huge potential for problems and it seems that no matter how long I’m in this job it is virtually impossible to predict how long it will take to build something or what might go wrong. This is a major stress that I won’t have to deal with nearly as often in my business.

The next thing that I intend to do to relieve some of the stress of building in my business is to get organized.  This is not my strong suit by any means, but I know that as I continue building prototypes, and experimenting with design, taking the time to plan properly could save me years of stress down the road. Yes, this might mean that it will take longer to open my ETSY shop, but I can accept that. I will spend my next theatre season operating my business while working full time (and sometimes more than full time) so there won’t be time to correct inaccurate patterns, or create spreadsheets for my inventory, so I’d better make sure all of those ducks are in a row before I start selling. I can imagine the potential for chaos and I intend to avoid it.

Finally, I am going to imagine my future as being different from my past.  Yes, I will work hard obviously, but I will stop imagining that running my own business will be the same hectic life that I have lived for the past 14 years.  I will imagine peace and balance because even though it might not work out that way, it can’t possibly hurt to try.

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