Another year is about to dissolve into the past as a new year is ready to spring upon us. This is the time of year, I always like to take time to evaluate and plan for the New Year.
If this is not a tradition for you, I encourage you to start this
year. Although you can do it any time during the year, the freshness
of a new year is most inspiring. Plan time to think and put your
goals and plans on paper. For some of you this will be easy. For
others it will be a struggle, but it will happen. And then there
are others who will take the time to think but will find only questions
and confusion over what their next steps should be. This article
is for you.
In the past, I have offered ideas and tips to help you plan, but
there are times when you just can’t decide on the goal(s)
for which to plan. For most of my career, I’ve been a goal
setter, but not always a planner. Focusing on the carrot at the
end of the journey has kept me charged and progressing. However,
more than once, I could not come up with a goal that could get me
motivated. And for those times, I drifted with the status quo.
RIGHT SEASON BUT WRONG TIME
I live in northern Virginia, and every year in the fall our trees
offer a wondrous display of color. Not so this year! An unusually
dry summer has affected the trees in a peculiar way. Normally the
trees are past their best display with most being bare by now. This
year, most of the trees are still a healthy green. Leaves are going
from green to dead brown and dried up. A few trees are slowly turning
color, a few leaves at a time. A precious few are very colorful
right now. The normal season for these trees has been changed through
no fault of theirs. So they wait until the time is right for them
to turn color (or not) and shed their leaves.
Sometimes when we attempt to do something in a “normal”
season it just doesn’t work. You may be able to set goals
and make plans but the will power to follow through just doesn’t
happen. On a much larger scale, we have witnessed and may have experienced
the natural disasters of 2005. All the goals and best plans man
can make cannot stop nature or the universe from making changes.
Drastic changes are not confined to such drastic events. More often
it’s a very quiet, personal awareness that may go undetected
by those around you.
A TIME TO REST
We are often told we are trying too hard when something we have
worked so diligently at does not come to fruition. And there is
much truth in that phrase.
We live in a culture that abounds in success formulas, tricks, books,
tapes, TV shows, etc. Our children must know what career they want
well before they graduate from high school. With little to no effort,
you can find advice on how to succeed in almost any career. The
undertone of almost all the worthy advice is that you have to be
continually working—doing something—to achieve success.
In this 21st century, technology changes by the minute and yet we
cannot find that extra time that was supposed to be saved by this
same technology. In fact, workroom owners not only overwork, but
they tend to let business challenges—i.e. how to fabricate
a new treatment—smolder in the backs of their minds. Have
you ever awakened in the middle of the night (the only rest time
you likely have), with an I-got-it! moment?
Rest, a time to stop the focused doing, is too often overlooked.
In the Bible, after He had done so much that was good even God took
a whole day of rest. In human terms that could have been many years
or even centuries!
If you can’t figure out what you want to do next with your
business, then give your mind a rest! Stop deliberately thinking
about where you want to go from here. Try coasting for a little
A TIME TO ENERGIZE
When you finally bring yourself to accepting some rest time, then
fertilize that rest time. Spend some regular time engaging in hobbies
or activities other than work in which you can totally lose yourself.
As your mind begins to engage in entirely new processes and challenges,
it forms new associations for problem solving.
During one of my stretches of waiting for new goals, I started country/western
dancing. Not only did I have fun and get some much-needed physical
exercise, but my brain was exercised in a new way by learning line
dances. I also met many new people and honed my social skills as
a by-product. I’m not saying to make yourself find a hobby
that will have a lot of benefits but, rather, I’m trying to
illustrate that what you consider fun will likely have many other
benefits to go with it. You may never be aware of additional benefits
beyond having fun, but that is OK.
Even though you may not be burned out from what you are doing, your
batteries may be a bit low. When you start doing new things that
you enjoy and that make you happy, then that enthusiasm begins to
build your passion and charge your batteries.
A TIME TO OBSERVE
You may have some ideas of where you might like to take your business
next. Explore and learn. If you have never had employees, when you
are with other business owners who do have them query them and listen
to what they say. If you meet someone who has had a successful marketing
campaign, listen to how they did it. If you have always been a wholesale
workroom, listen to those who are doing retail. Ask questions. Learn
the pros and cons of various situations. If you should decide to
go in such directions, you will start out more prepared.
On the other hand, observe other professions. This is something
I have continually done whether I was in a transition period or
not. On a generic scale, business is business and many operations
are similar across the board. You may have to customize some ideas
to work for you, but even one small valuable insight can have a
major impact on you and your business.
A TIME TO BE OPEN
Be aware of other industry opportunities that you have never considered.
There are more and more people in our industry who are following
different paths but all still within the industry. Maybe you will
read a book that will spark something in you to write a different
kind of book. Maybe a seminar presenter or someone sitting beside
you in the audience will inspire you to create a new product.
When friends offer new ideas and career suggestions, do not automatically
disregard them even though they seem totally foreign and impossible
to you. I was a C student in high school English, but I’ve
had a successful writing career for more than 12 years. Listen to
all those suggestions you hear. You just may have hidden talent
that you have never explored! For me, it took one off-the-wall phone
call to start me on the path to becoming a workroom business consultant.
You never know. You might end up inventing a new career!
A TIME TO LISTEN
Quiet time is essential to get the most out of listening. You must
take time to empty your mind and let it be receptive to the universe.
The best time for this is first thing in the morning before you
read the paper and before you start mauling over the next job on
You are listening for your intuition. How many times have you regretted
not acting on an impulsive thought? Just knowing that there is something
amiss means you are listening. Use prayer or a form of meditation.
Learn to be quiet on a regular basis and let your mind roam freely.
You might be amazed at what pops into it.
A TIME TO WAIT
This is the kind of season that you cannot hurry. Just like this
year’s trees, your inner self may not be ready for the next
step. For a reason only the universe understands it isn’t
the right time.
Waiting is not easy. It can be very uncomfortable, likely more because
we are used to instant gratification. If you are used to fixing
your sights on a goal, then lack of focus leaves you floundering.
By reason it may appear that you are wasting precious time, but
be assured there is a purpose for the waiting time.
All you can do is to keep doing what you’ve been doing and
coast for a while. Someone once said, “When the student is
ready, the teacher will appear.” Waiting is part of the getting
ready process. Like a child needs pencil and paper to go to school,
you need certain things that will come to you in the waiting time.
Be patient and trust. I believe that God is my higher power and
that He is guiding me every step of the way. I have been moved to
make decisions that no earthly reason would have supported and yet
they turned into blessings. I have been guided onto paths for which
my reason could find no sense and yet more blessings than I could
have imagined followed.
If you know where you want to go next, then get paper and pen and
start planning. If a goal is illusive, then get ready to begin an
eye-opening learning experience. The only plan you need is to see
and learn and make the most of every day! Now isn’t that what
you would be doing anyway?
Kitty Stein, CWP, WCAA past board member, is a 29-year veteran
of the drapery workroom industry. She has owned both retail and wholesale
drapery workrooms as one person and as a company of nine, and she
is the founder and past owner of Workroom Concepts, a consulting firm
offering educational resources to the industry. Her experience includes
professional speaking and writing for two industry trade magazines.
She currently owns Kitty Stein & Co., which supplies industry
vendors with the industry-specific products she has authored including
Order in the Workroom, The Price List, Workroom Specifications, and
Price Your Work with Confidence, available through D&WC.