This week I am sharing something much more personal than I normally do. Having been in law enforcement, hyper-aware of the dangers of the internet, and a mom of a toddler - I keep my personal life pretty private on my official social media accounts. When I decided to start my own business after a few years in social media management, my Instagram account in particular was way behind in numbers. I had a bunch of pictures of my family on my feed and spent a good week deleting them before I made it public. More on that process later...
What I want to talk with you about is the importance of consistency and how you end up ahead of the game in the long run. What does that have to do with equating beachcombing to business? Read on...
When I was in law enforcement, I had a crazy and totally unpredictable schedule. I was on a rotating shift that changed every week so I had almost zero control over planning a structured, healthy life. I was often working more than 10-15 hours at a time (dealing with society's unsavory individuals), and there were a few times I was literally in my car for 2 or 3 days. The one thing I knew I could pretty much count on was Saturdays off.
There were far more things I disliked than liked about my career, which ultimately led to my decision to get out while I could. More than anything though, was how what I did day in and day out was changing my perspective on people and life in general. I don't need anyone to tell me people lie, cheat, and steal. I have seen and handled the worst of the worst in ways which most people cannot fathom. What I started noticing was I was tired, bitchy, skeptical, and withdrawn pretty much all the time. My doctor at one point looked me in the eye and said, "Your job is killing you."
While I couldn't see what was next for me, I knew I needed to do something for myself to ground and center my emotions and mindset. I knew I loved to walk on the beach and look for treasures (shells, pretty rocks, etc.). I made the commitment to do a walking meditation every Saturday morning on the beach.
I would usually get up around 7 AM, fill up the largest travel mug I had with coffee, and head to my favorite spot - the dog beach in Ocean Beach, San Diego. I would take off my sandals and walk as quickly as I could (without running like a maniac) to stick my feet in the water. I usually stood there for about 10 minutes just taking it all in with my 5 (or 6) senses. Once I felt calm and collected, I would walk along the beach until my giant cup of caffeine was empty.
I would meander, I would mosey, I would stop and pet dogs.
I did this for 3 years. I can count the number of times on one hand I missed my weekly ritual.
There were some mornings I would get to the beach and the sand was literally covered with a blanket of shells. I would go home with my pockets overflowing with treasures like an excited child. There were some mornings I would arrive and there was simply seaweed and a stinky smell.
This particular beach was also the spot where the San Diego river met the Pacific Ocean. The meeting of these two bodies of water meant that the shoreline was constantly changing. I never knew when I arrived what kind of beach walk morning it would be or what the shoreline would look like. But whatever it was, it was exactly what I needed at that particular moment.
I noticed after year one that there were seasonal patterns I found interesting. I can tell you that during the winter you are going to find more sand dollars on that beach and during the summer you'll find more mussel shells. The monthly changes in high and low tide times made a huge difference as well. I can also say it took me a full year to not be disappointed when I would arrive at the beach and it would be a no-shells morning.
I realized at some point that those were the days I really needed to be taking it all in with no distractions. Those were the days I was feeling particularly down or upset. Those were the days I would stand still in the same spot with the ocean washing over my feet for an hour. Reflection, reevaluation, calmness.
At the end of 3 years, when we moved to Portland, I had hundreds and hundreds of shells and beach treasures. Vases upon vases.
What's the point of me letting you into this very personal story? The dynamic mirrors exactly what it's been like to start my own business.
Since we all love lists, here are those lessons in a concise format:
1) Figure out what you need to do to make you happy and healthy.
2) Form a game plan, even if it's a small habit, and commit to it.
3) Pay attention to what the Universe (or God, or fate, or whatever you believe in) is presenting to you. He/She/It knows far better than you what you need.
4) Treasures are awesome! (for business this means income/clients) Some days you find a lot, some days you don't.
5) On the stinky seaweed days (no income/clients), pause and reflect on changes, processes, and your emotions around your business. That time is a gift too.
6) Tides and shorelines change (business plans change). Go with the flow and don't let change intimidate you.
7) Over time, with consistency and an authentic headspace, you will end up with tons and tons of treasures.
Take that in for a second.
Now, how does this relate to my Instagram? I committed to growing my Instagram following for 6 weeks. Every night I would spend at least 30 minutes following, commenting, and liking. I created consistent visuals with my feed. While I don't have huge numbers yet, I doubled my followers in 6 weeks. Some days I'd gain 5, and some days I'd lose a couple. It was two steps forward and one step back, and continues to be. But in the long run, I am coming out ahead with more and more followers (treasures).
See I told you I'd bring this whopper of a blog post full circle.
I'd love to hear about your successes and struggles with consistency. Please tell me in the comments below!