“You’re the shoemaker with no shoes!” – My Mom.

barefeetIt’s been just over a year since I got this domain, and put together a basic “placeholder” website. It’s been a fun and adventurous year! I’ve worked on several online store projects for artist friends, as well building a nonprofit site from the ground up.  I have several other projects ready to start soon.  All for causes or people I really believe in.  It has been a professionally rewarding and  delightful year!

Yet my own site has been lying dormant, still not where I want it either in design or functionality.  It was into this context that my mother remarked on my metaphorical barefoot state.

I don’t think I’m the exception (the phenomena has its own idiom after all!). Just today I corresponded with a professional photographer who loves doing other people’s branding photos, but hasn’t done her own… yet (she told me this after I made my own “barefoot confession”).  The truth is it’s quite common to have an easier time doing something for someone else than for yourself.

The Payoff of Doing for Others vs. Doing for Myself

There can be all kinds of reasons for this, but often for me it comes down to delayed gratification vs immediate payoff.  The things I do for others have some sort of built-in payoff, whether it’s feedback, thanks or even billable hours.  In my work for clients, the work is the end, the aim.  It is typically concrete and has a very definite scope.  When the work is complete I experience the payoff of a sense of completion.

The work I do for myself however is not the end.  It is the means to an end.  So when I complete it, there is not a sense of completion, but a sense of one step in a very long line of tasks to eventually accomplish an end.  This type of work can also be rewarding, but there is no sense of urgency to it to spur it on.

To draw on the shoemaker metaphor, the shoemaker can get very busy with the urgency of people knocking on her door every hour with shoe orders.  She gives them a date to pick up the shoes, and her days fill up working on other people’s shoes. Each day passes, and as it comes to an end, the shoemaker looks wistfully at her own unfinished shoes in the corner.  This pattern is an easy one to fall into day after day.

Breaking the “Barefoot” Cycle

One must carve out time to do the same things for ourselves as we do for others.

I’ve begun to get back to work “cobbling my shoes.”   In the past few weeks, I have restarted the behind-the-scenes work for my online shop, begun afresh editing raw photos of my pottery, and made various changes in the look of the website.

For me, I find that I have to schedule time weekly to use my skill on my own behalf.  In addition, just like I track the work I do for others, I find tracking the work I do for myself helps me stay true to my goals.

What projects do you have that you do for others, but need to carve out time to do for yourself?  What strategies do you use to help you carve out the needed time?