So, these past couple of months have gone by quick. Well, I should say quick in some regards. I have learned that if you ever want to speed up time, give yourself challenging goals with deadlines. I promise you that the bigger the challenge, the quicker that deadline will approach, and pass you by. With the re-launch of EtURNal Ride, I wanted to redo everything – an all-encompassing and challenging goal to upgrade and reinvent every part of the business. This included marketing, sales, and product development, among other things. The deadline I gave myself was February 1. I am writing this mid-April. I am nowhere near where I wanted to be and, boy, did that go quick.
So, what happened? Why the failure? “Failure? No. Let’s call it a temporary setback.” Why am I this far into April and I am still wrapping up my online store and website? Why are my marketing and online presence still lacking? Why has it taken me this long to get new products ready to go? Honestly, in a moment of self-reflection, I think I set some unrealistic deadlines. The goals can and will be completed. It’s just taking longer than I had hoped. But what made those deadlines unrealistic for me? I think it is the fact that I didn’t have as much control over all of this as I thought. Understand, that I am one person with limited knowledge and not enough hours in a day. I don’t know how to build a website. I don’t know how to engineer motorcycle parts. I don’t know all the best marketing and social media practices. As a result, I’ve outsourced some people and companies to help me with that. To get these goals accomplished I’ve had to give up a little “control.”
Now before I go further, don’t think for a minute I am blaming “people” for me not meeting my own deadlines. On the contrary, I think I’ve been pretty blessed to find these folks who have helped me through this process and taught me along the way. I am grateful for everything they’ve done and continue to do. The truth is I blame myself for assuming that even though I’ve lost a little “control”, things would still get done within my timeline and the way I wanted. I didn’t account for the fact that I am not the only client to help and support. Mine isn’t the only project on someone’s to-do list today. And with what I am working to set up, my expectations might take just a little bit longer to meet than a couple hours or even a day or two.
So, what did I learn? To have patience and faith that things are going to get done and get to where I want them to be. I just need to remember that when the challenges are big, there is a possibility they will take more time to accomplish. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? Bear with me, though. There is a much better point I am trying to make here.
There is actually a bit of a “life lesson” or “funeral takeaway” from all of this. Maybe the build-up to this point was a little cheesy and you have my permission to forget reading all of the above, but please try to remember the rest of this. The above situation reminds me a lot about how many handle grief. Keep in mind there are certainly different levels of grief, just like there are different levels of challenges in our life. Some can be dealt with easily and quickly. Others, however, can take a long time to work through. And unlike starting a business, grief is not a voluntary or welcomed endeavor. Especially when caused by death and loss. It is interesting to think though, that grief and starting a business have some similarities. The feeling of losing control is just one of them. I figured that comparing the two a little further might be of help in some way. If you know what to expect ahead of time, maybe it will make a difference in how you approach your grief or even help through the experience. Here are a few things I realized that grief and small business have in common.
Grief, similar to starting a new business, forces some (unwanted) change:
Both cause us to get uncomfortable and venture beyond what we know. We often have to reinvent ourselves a little bit. There is a new routine to learn and develop, new responsibilities we might have to assume, new problems that we didn’t know existed until now. Up until that moment where everything changed, maybe we were on top of life and doing our day-to-day the way we wanted. After, we may have found ourselves forced to rebuild or upgrade in a lot of different aspects of life. After a loss, there are things that fall on us to learn and deal with which may be almost impossible to deal with it all. The good news is that change equals growth. Think of it like going to the gym for the first time. You build muscle and change once you start the hard work. Sure, there will be some pain, but you will come out stronger on the other end. When grief comes it will be hard at first, and there will be some pain, but you can adjust and grow and come out on the other end, back on top – just a little different.
Similar to starting a business, grief comes with a lot of tasks involved:
When you are working through loss there isn’t one task to do, there are a lot. Some tasks are immediate and top priority and others will take place eventually. Some things need to be done in a specific order and others will come up unexpectedly. If you are someone who is in charge after the loss of a parent or close friend, you might find yourself handling some big decisions, funeral planning, estate planning, etc. Even if you are in a support role there are responsibilities that you need to take care of. Many find themselves trying to handle things while still trying to wrap their emotional minds around what happened, which makes things even harder. It can get overwhelming, no matter the role you are playing. So how do you handle it? The same way you eat an elephant ear sandwich. One bite at a time. Sure, there are going to be some immediate attention things to deal with, but take the time to take a breath, make a list, prioritize and start the work. Take breaks when you need to and (THIS IS BIG) ask for help if you need it. There are a lot of people who have “been there” who are more than willing to step in and help you if you ask. Asking for help is not a weakness. It actually takes strength to recognize when you may need help. And believe it or not, allowing others the opportunity to help not only helps you but also gives them a chance to be involved and maybe heal from the loss a bit as well. Above all, know that regardless of the size of the new “to-do” list, it will become easier and more manageable with time.
Similar to starting a business, many who are going through grief set themselves up for failure with unrealistic expectations and deadlines:
As funeral directors we have heard a lot of “I know I’ll feel better in a couple of days…weeks…a month” or “once the burial and services are over with, I’ll be fine”. People try to give themselves grief deadlines and when they still feel sad and lost, frustration is added to that list. “Why do I still hurt? It has been a year.” What many don’t realize is that grief really doesn’t have a timeline. It doesn’t even operate on a sliding scale where one feels a little better every day. It is a roller coaster. There are days when you feel great and days when you don’t. You might have a great day going on and then that tv commercial comes on or a song comes on and “bam!”, tears start flowing. Grief can teach us to go with the “flow” of things. Don’t fight or try to stifle your emotions. And when things don’t seem to mesh with your timeline, try not to get frustrated. Take the time to understand your feelings and remember that healing is a big task. It can take more time than you think, and that is ok.
Similar to starting a business, those who are grieving may need to reach out for help:
I mentioned earlier about not being afraid to ask for some task support from friends and family – cooking, cleaning, paperwork, moving furniture, etc. Now I’m talking about a different kind of help – professional help. When you start a new business, things can come up that we have no idea how to handle: ROI, profit and loss statements, metrics, website design, and analytics. It can be a wise move to reach out to the professionals and get some support. Grief can be similar. In that cloud, we can get lost and confused to the point where we don’t know where to turn. Though it can seem scary or even not something you see yourself doing, reaching out for some professional support can be one of the best steps to healing that you can take. On that note, if this does seem like a step you might want to take, please consult your local funeral director. They should have a list of area professionals, grief counselors, and people who can help – you, others, children, teens.
Similar to starting a business, those grieving should take time to be with those that love them or do things other than “grief work”:
Grief and starting a business take time and can take time away from other things, like friends and family and activities we love. When it is new, there is a draw to spend all of your time focusing on nothing but that. Early on it might even be necessary. However, while putting in the work is necessary, don’t let it dominate everything else more than it needs to. Be around those you love, and have a good time participating in activities. It might seem uncomfortable or not what you want to do, but it can be a good thing to feel good. There may even be a feeling of guilt but know that it is ok to get out there, spend time doing what you enjoy and even acknowledge the deceased at the same time if they come up. If the source of grief comes up in conversation and you are able, talk about it. If it is an activity that the person who died would have enjoyed, share some memories of the last time they were there. Plan some events with friends and family that may or may not include time to reflect on the loss. Even set some personal goals or challenges on the calendar and dedicate completing them in memory of your loved one. I am not saying to compartmentalize your grief or keep it hidden, just try to find a balance between the two, or even work to blend them a little bit. It might take time. You might be able to only handle so much “activity” for a while but continue to seek a balance between your grief and your life.
Similar to starting a business, you will learn:
Anything can be a learning opportunity. Through success and failure, trials and tribulations, you can learn. You can learn what to do or what not to do. You can learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn through the experience. Doing so improves you, helps you for the next time, and even allows you to be there as support for others when they go through similar circumstances. It sounds odd, but you can learn how to grieve and how to deal with grief and in turn, those lessons can be very important.
So, like I said, while that first half may have been a little off, I hope I have provided some thoughts for those of you who might be going through some tough times. You will struggle, make mistakes, feel lost, and feel alone at times, but I promise you that you can learn and work through your loss. I also promise that there are many out there who are there to help you do so. Your local funeral director is a great start. Otherwise, if you have any comments, questions, or are even looking for some resources, please feel free to reach out to me. I am happy to point you in the right direction.
If there are ever any topics, questions, or curiosities that you would like to know about, please let me know. My goal is to provide you with quality information that matters to you, so tell me what that might be. Until next time, #RideOn!