When I was teaching, we went on professional development retreats each year. These events weren’t lavish or luxurious, but we did go to a hotel in a park in a beautiful setting and have professional speakers come talk to us about various topics. It meant a weekend away from home, at the very end of summer, and I hated them.
I hated leaving my family for a weekend. I hated having to be my professional self (I always called “teacher dava” Mrs. Stewart and thought of her as an entirely different person that “regular dava”) for a whole weekend. I hated the idea of how much such a retreat must have cost, especially when compared to my annual salary.
But usually, the reality of the retreat wasn’t so bad. The speakers were always interesting and it was good to get excited about getting back in the classroom. It was useful to learn more about my profession. Getting to know my co-workers a little better created better understanding and made working together a little more comfortable. It wasn’t so bad.
The experience of having been a teacher helps me to be a better business owner. Just like I showed up on those retreats even though I didn’t want to, I sit down at my desk everyday and write for my clients, even when I don’t want to. It goes beyond simply having a good work ethic. One of the biggest complaints the teachers made about the retreat was that they felt the time would be better spent creating lesson plans or painting classrooms. Working wasn’t the problem. Showing up to do something we didn’t want to do was the problem.
There are parts of every job that are less fun or less interesting, but that still must be done. The odd thing is that we dread some of them so much, but then end up enjoying doing them. One task that writers often feel this way about is invoicing. Personally, I dread it and put it off until we are facing certain financial doom unless I do it, but then feel so happy and efficient when it’s done. My friend recommended that I get a portable invoice printer to take some of the strain out of it, so I might try that to avoid dreading it so much.
Today I am issuing a challenge: choose one task that you have absolutely been dreading – maybe some marketing, making a call you aren’t looking forward to, paying a bill, whatever – and do it. Then notice how you feel about it and let us know in the comments. (I’m going to feel like an idiot if no one does this so please, save me some embarrassment and make something up if you must.)
The task I was dreading? It was writing this post. I’ve been putting it off all week because writing here, in a personal way, as dava, is becoming increasingly difficult. Sometimes it feels like the more I write for others, the harder it is to identify my own voice and my own style. Now I feel better, though, just for showing up, even when I didn’t feel like it.