Today I Decided to Retire

Have you ever quit something and had second thoughts?

I guess some might think I had it all. Some may think I could have done more with my business. I was always content and very happy to be my own boss. I set my own hours and worked as hard as I wanted too. No one set the rules but me and I think I did alright for the 35 plus years I was in the business.

I have no debt, no loss, no warehouse to sell or land. I have no storerooms filled with inventory I need to liquidate. I don’t have to let any employees go. I am leaving no one homeless. I don’t have to sell my home or move to another location because of my decision.

I don’t have to pack a bag or a box. I don’t have to take down a shingle or cancel any advertising. I am not going to have a retirement party and if I did, I don’t know who I would invite. There is no one I will miss, no Christmas card list I need to continue. I won’t have to make any special announcement.

My retirement will be known only to me and those closest to me, my husband, my adult kids if the subject ever comes up. I will not be missed as the market I worked is saturated with competitors. I did not do anything too obscure or unique. It is easy to find another just as good to replace me if you need.

When desire for the work begins to wane, it is hard to keep the wheels turning.

woman thinking with cup of tea photo reminded me of me as I made a decision to retire today

You start to dread another order coming in you will have to fulfill. You used to work hard at marketing just to get a sale. Your thoughts are in other places now. How can I turn this person down or give them a referral. I need to take a break.

You can come up with so many excuses to not work so hard. You give yourself permission to weed your garden today, take a walk with a friend you haven’t connected with in awhile. Your spare bedroom needs your attention. You have a crochet piece you want to be working on. When are you going to get to the doll clothes you wanted to make?

You push through each work day now and every stage of work is now a greater effort than it used to be. You set timeline goals to see the project through, piece by piece. Paperwork will have to wait. You have to get this job out by such and such a deadline. Why did I agree to make this?

Everyone’s needs are tugging at your heartstrings.

Your husband and family want you to be doing other things. A daughter wishes you could watch her children more than you already do. She is fully operating her own business very successfully after all. He business and life seems more important. Your retired husband wants more time with you.

You love to help others. All the jobs you have had in life were centered around others. It was the most favorite thing you liked about your current position of owner of your own storefront, working with customers. If there is someone who needs help, you can pick them out in a crowded room and get them just what they need. You are good at it. It makes you feel like you have contributed somehow and may be recognized for it.

Where are all your trophies? They are all in your own head and have been created and collected by you. What do you have to show for all your mini accomplishments. They are meaningless and invisible to others so what is the point to all of this service you have given.

Why are you still working? You don’t need a paycheck. Even though all your money went back into the business and you never got paid. Your husband supports you, your kids need nothing from you, babies all grown and you are frugal for goodness sake. You hate to shop, have already been to Europe so road trips are enough to satisfy you. Although you have built up a savings to travel, you are content to enjoy your flower gardens.

Deciding to get unstuck and move forward.

Why am I not filled with joy. There are some things missing in my life but I can get passed those heartaches. Some things are what they are and we have no control over them. We have to accept what is. Still, some things we can change.

I think my unhappiness comes more from doing those things I don’t want to do anymore.
Things that I was counting on to bring me to some level of satisfaction that was never met.
Those things that I no longer look forward to delving into anymore. I just can’t strike the mood anymore. I don’t even feel like making a turn to make it anything bigger or better.
Even if money was given to me to employ one person for a year, I want to leave this line of work and would not take it. I have not one drop of desire left in me so I made an announcement to my own self, this was it. I am finished with this job.

When did the business I love become a job to me?

There is a difference to having a job and running a business. It is more about how you think about what you do. I didn’t mind all the work involved to run a business, even a small home-based business of my own. I have seen hundreds of customers and created high quality goods for so many. Yet, when I started to think of what I do as a job, I stopped having fun.

What I was doing seemed to not be getting me anywhere fast. At least not as fast as I wanted. And within the last three years it was getting increasingly slow. It became a trickle in the market as there were more and more competitors. The venues where I sold were becoming more demanding and costly and the ROI was less than previous years. COVID-19 didn’t do any of us any good either in 2020.

The cons were winning.

Every little decision we make has outcomes. The outcomes can be good, to the benefit of our own selves and the lives around us. Outcomes can effect the environment, our home, our schedule, our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

If an outcome is good, then it is “pro” towards any goal we have. It is positively leaning towards the direction we want to go. If the outcome is bad, then it is “con” or contrary to,
or leaning to the opposite direction we want to go. We want to have more pros than cons, obviously.

It helps to make a list, when you really seem to be stuck in the middle of making a decision, of things you like and don’t like about one thing or another. What is is that makes it a pro or con. I listen to my gut feelings about a thing. If I need to make a certain dollar amount than certain things I decide will make an impact and other things won’t.

I make lists in my head but there is something very good about writing things down. My cons have grown over the years so it was easy for me to finally accept the inevitable. I am getting older and I had to give myself permission to do something else with my time. Everyone else in the family seems quite happy by comparison, so why can’t I be?

Running on empty.

I have decided the drive and energy is no longer there as a much needed motivating factor.
I have been stuck in neutral for too long. If you aren’t moving along where are you going? You are just an observer. It is more fun to be a player on the field. That is where the action is and all the risk. When the game is over and you win or loose, no one feels the emotions like the players.

I have been going through the motions, hoping for a turn in direction in the business climate. Maybe finally things would pick up again, maybe there would be some new exciting niche that I would discover and love.

Thoughts to grow my business never came to me, but the same old thoughts of my garden flowers and doll clothes. It is Springtime now in Minnesota and plants are bursting with color and light. Birds are calling me to my gardens. I want to sew what I want to sew for who or what I want to sew for.

Thoughts of things grandmothers want to do if they allow themselves to retire. I have the world full of ideas and places I can enjoy and go. Friends I can call and grandchildren I can visit. I don’t need to sit behind this computer or my sewing room for many or any hours if I don’t want to.

I am very blessed to be born in this place and time, with people around me that do love me. I have been leaning for a very long time in another direction. This work tree has fallen. I took the final ax to it when I said out loud, what my gut was feeling for a long time, finally…. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Words do have power in our lives. I need to speak out loud many more things:

  • I will get back to exercise with my handbells
  • My spare room will get organized
  • I will try a new recipe each week.
  • I will take a walk every day.
  • I will work on that piano piece I like until it is perfect.
  • I will sort through my paperwork to have a clean desk top.
  • My son’s afghan will be completed this Fall.
  • I will spend time weeding my flowerbed in my backyard garden.
  • I will quit my job!

Today can be different. It is a decision we make.

I am looking forward to a new day. Isn’t it nice the sun goes down and we know that when we wake up, we get to decide, when we get out of bed, what our attitude is going to be. There is nothing else we may be able to change.

We may not have finances enough, physical health enough, wisdom and understanding enough or people who love us enough to do anything about. We do have a mind that controls our attitude.

We get to decide if our day will be better or worse than the day before. We get to decide if we want to compare ourselves with others or be content with who we are. We get to decide if we want to make an investment into our own lives or waste it on some addiction or emotion we are holding inside that is causing us pain or remorse.

We get to decide if we will help a neighbor or be a hindrance to them. It is really exciting when you think about it, how much we can change our world just by the thoughts we embrace.

This is why I love the mornings best of all. I lay in bed and have not made one misstep, said one harsh word, did one bad deed. I thank the God who made me, that he has given me another day with my husband, my home and my family. I thank God for loving me. It is all any of us need.

Is Your Basket Half Full?

storage basket used for organizing items on a desk, office or workroom or home

On your marks, get set…..

The attitude we have before we approach something has a lot to do with the outcome that we will receive. Do you attack the small tasks the same way you do a large project? Which one excites you more? Which one causes the most anxiety? Do you think if you saw things in a different light it would make a difference?

It would be nice to just sweep all the paperwork in a basket or box each day. Just like you put away the leftovers and remove the dirty dishes after a dinner party. It would be nice to have a clean start each day while you sit in front of your computer to check your inbox.
Light the candles…tablecloth set…flowers in vase!

I guess there is a simple solution. Just don’t leave it such a mess by the end of the day. Duh!
At some time in between the start and finish line you need to put in a stop sign so you can take five minutes to file away or toss out some items you don’t need to look at anymore, on your desk. This is just as important as anything else you do. Why? You ask.

I guess I would love to be the master of something that seems to be always out of control. These messes just keep showing up on my desk and they do have an effect on me. I think everything surrounding us has some effect. Is it effect or affect? Clutter, that is what all this paper reminds me of. There is no better place to put clutter, than a place that will hide it. I think that is why they made the basket.

How much attention should we give something?

How many times have you looked at that piece of paper on your desk…yes, the one you just moved three minutes ago, and promised you would respond to it, call the person, place the order, decide on a selection…..tomorrow? How many tomorrows must go by before you do it? Think of the time you have wasted on that “one” piece. Now look, you have 30 more to go through…again!

I realize when I am working, my desk, will be a mess, for the duration. It is the same situation, when I am reorganizing the plants in my front flower garden. I may have tarp and shovels and garden soil out. I may have new plants I bought, sitting still in their original pots. It is a mess, but it does not stay that way. Usually by the end of the day, it is finished, and neat and tidy. At the end of my work day, my desk could be that way too.

Stop Chasing Squirrels

That is what is nice about routines. You are no longer arguing with yourself in your head about any one thing. At least those who are analytical like me, know what I am talking about. We have to train our thoughts more like you have to train a puppy. They are everywhere and at the slightest appearance or sound of a squirrel you are off!

I confess, I am more a part of the problem than the paperwork itself. I have told my husband every two weeks what to do with the papers after he has opened the mail, and figured out which bills we will be paying. He will ask and I tell him to his shock, ” Just throw it on my desk.” I am never specific. “Just anywhere. I will find it.”

Which Side are you On?

I am an arby – Right brained person. My husband lives his life more organized. He writes lists and watches the clock, the calendar, the temperature. He is an elby-Left brained person. He likes his meals on time and hot. I can come to dinner late and eat my food cold.

My right side of my brain, being more dominant, his left is more dominant for him. It explains why I am so messy, I can give myself more grace, now that I understand this about my own self.

Give Yourself Permission to be Neat

Still, I need to find ways to keep an organized life. I want things neater in my workspaces here at home. My sewing workroom can become the same chaotic space, finding it almost depressing to be in. When I reach that point of utter gloom I take a day to reorganize. My point it to not let it get that far in the first place.

And so when I come to my desk I toss the opened mail to my newly formed pile of papers just to the left of my keyboard. It all sits in a pretty little box made just for this sort of thing but you would not know it. I obtained another nice wicker box about the size of a waste bin that I have on the floor next to my desk which holds papers not so urgent, yet some can’t be filed quite yet.

I have not solved the problem by putting my papers under camouflage. I know they are there and that is what is the worst thing about it. My head is not clear. It is taking up space in my brain to have this work undone. A few pieces of paper is one thing but when it surmounts you are starting to have a problem, maybe an approaching avalanche.

I must give myself permission to ignore the important things pressing on my conscience and stop to take care of things that are aggravating me. Just as you can’t ignore a baby crying, my paperwork is getting now the best of me and must be tended to. We all have our breaking point. It is best to not get near it, but keep things under control at a manageable level. I have to decide where that point is.

Don’t Believe the FAKE photo shoots

I have bought enough organizer bins, baskets, file racks and folders that appear lovely when partially filled. They work for a photo shoot if I need to post a “fake” impression of my office but most of the time they are hidden. If we are all honest, you can relate.

“Be careful little eyes what you see” as the childhood Bible school song goes. Not everything is realistically portrayed on the ads, websites, Instagram or Pinterest. Most people are like other people. We all have our messes that continue to show up unless we are fortunate enough to have a paid assistant, who is not a robot. The mess we live in is our own fault.

I was once told, and also read that you have areas in your office that is prime real-estate. Things closest to you are those things you use the most. Otherwise, it should not be there. If you think of your desk as your property, no one keeps the trash by the front door. You want your home to have curb appeal. You want to make a good first impression when people drive by.

Have You Seen what you Want?

My husband has been very patient with me. He never scolds me or hounds me at taking care of my messy area which is used also by our family. It is typically messy if someone casually stops by. I wonder if I could change that? Of course I can. Sometimes, you have to imagine a thing before you can believe that it is achievable. I didn’t say that, Napoleon Hill did.
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”― Napoleon Hill

“You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”
― Napoleon Hill Think and Grow Rich

It Only Takes 5 Minutes to Make a Bed

Three simple routines, I do each day, but not always in the same order, make a difference in how my day seems to unfold for me. Make my bed, have my tea and read something meaningful.

Making a bed is the first thing I think of in the morning as far as a task goes. We all can and must get out of bed, if we are able, without much thought or skill or effort. So why not make it, once we are out of it? Right away….or soon afterward, at least within a couple hours, I say.

I didn’t always make my bed.

I don’t always make my bed, but I do at least 95% of the time. When I don’t, I usually get to it later, or just close the door. I do notice though, that crawling into an unmade bed, is not as comfortable for sleeping.

I just like a smooth sheet and the blankets evenly placed on the bed. I love the way a neatly made bed is the most important thing, and could be the only thing that really makes a room look good.

The entire room could be tidied up and cleaned, yet if the bed is a mess, all your efforts do not matter. Yet, the bed could be made, and if there is a mess all around, the mess seems to be overlooked, and the room still looks good. Am I wrong about this?

The bed is usually the largest element in the bedroom. The eye goes to “IT” first and sometimes, it is all anyone has time for. LOL! So if you hate housework, just make the bed,
and leave the rest for later.

It is no big deal to have a bed made or not. Who cares? But, just in case you might be one inspired to form this habit and need some help, read on.

Did you know, it just takes 5 minutes to make a bed.

Everyone has five minutes, even when you think you don’t.

Even if you are running late for an appointment you can take five minutes and make the time up driving efficiently and at the “stops” finish dressing…put on earrings, tie shoes (yes I wear those), finish make-up (lipstick), button blouse…etc. Take your cinnamon toast and hot tea to go.

I make my bed, have my tea and read something. It started as a routine for me. It only takes 20 days to form a habit.

Is there something in your life you would like to change? Something you wish you would do more of? Something you wish you would enjoy more?

Maybe it is just how you are thinking about it. When I realized, making a bed only takes five minutes, I just do it. Break down a task that seems unsurmountable into tiny parts. Does that help you?

“I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:1,2)

Are You Your Own Site Builder?

I work from home and run my own sewing business. I used to have a day job working for employers but for the last 35 years I enjoy being the boss. I am not motivated enough to build and grow a big business. I enjoy too many other things and like the schedule I have.

I am not afraid to learn new things and I have to admit that if I didn’t like that, any business would be hard to manage and operate. The internet is here to stay and I learned a long time ago, I better learn how to work with a computer, and be comfortable with all the many programs that would help me run my business professionally.

Don’t feel bad when you don’t get something right at first.

I just learned today “where my messages from my website form” can be found. I stumbled upon them by accident. They were under “feedback” in the program I am using. I thought that was weird when all along I was looking for “form” and then maybe a number would show up like a ticker, letting me know if “I GOT MAIL”.

I was waiting for messages to go to my email account. It does not work that way, which I found out too late for some folks waiting for me to get back to them. I did finally reply to the five that were kind enough to fill out my form. Of course, it was all business lost to me as they found another vendor to help them.

I don’t get too upset when I loose a job. I am beyond that now and besides, the flowers are coming up, I have seeds to plant, and I enjoy watching the orioles and hummingbirds coming to my feeders. It is wonderful to be retired, with no little ones or animals to tend to. No offense to those pet owners out there. I just prefer not having to pick up after them and my temperament does not do well with pets digging in my flower beds.

Do you have fun when you have to learn something new?

So as I learn more and more about website building, I am enjoying it. I am the type of person that gets a package for a gadget, no matter how complicated, and starts using it rather than read the manual. This can be good and bad. Sometimes I can figure something out quicker on my own and get flustered trying to figure out what the instructions are trying to tell me, otherwise. I guess that means I am a visual learner, but even more, one who needs to do a certain thing to learn.

I have used countless platforms, webhosts, programs, themes and designs for my website. None of them are just where I want to be yet but I am getting closer. I am finally a WordPress user. I have been with platforms that did nothing to bring me business. I have been with companies that charged me out of their company because of the fees that kept piling on every month and few sales.

There are different sites for different folks in business.

I want a site that gives information to my customer, yet I want a site that allows me to sell my items that are ready to ship. I have an entire room in my home designated for business overflow things because I can’t get them to market fast enough or my own way. I don’t do craft shows. Sorry….I know there are many of you that do. I just don’t want to take a single day away from me to sit and hope someone comes along to make a purchase. The money I would make would never be enough for me.

I used to have garage sales. The same principle applied to me. What am I doing wasting an entire Friday organizing tables and trying to be sales woman of the year. It is fun to meet new people though and chat with the neighbors and sometimes we all need to just kick back and do that for goodness sake. Life is too short to worry so much about trivial things when the people around you are what makes the world worth living in. Good or bad, there is always someone we can help or learn from.

Are you a perfectionist or can things be sloppy?

I never thought my website had to be perfect before I launched it. Even though if I ever saw a website missing links, unfinished, ugly or hard to read or get around, I would immediately leave it. I just thought, being up and running would motivate me more to get it to be the way I want it faster. I would know the unfinished work was sitting out there and I didn’t want that to represent me.

I try to work on my site at least once a week. If not to just check for errors or links broken or maybe to put up some better photos or content and remove things that have expired. It also helps the search engines (those spidery crawlers that search for words on your site that people are looking for) see that you are being active. Stay busy with you site and it won’t be time wasted.

Help is available. Rocket scientists need not apply.

It is easy to get started and using a WordPress site is free if you only want the basic site. Eccomerce means you want to have a store. That costs more. A business site offers you more things too so that is an upgrade. But, start small. It may be all you need. Mine is a simple site. I have photos, a gallery, a form on it and that is about it besides my pages and the content I have.

You have to do more than just your website though if you want to get noticed. Be active on social media. At the very least, link to a facebook page. You can set it up simply enough with your website integration help. I used to be on Instagram but it got to be too much for me. I was on my phone more than I want to be. Do what you can but your don’t have to go crazy.

Be yourself and build one page at a time to your dream site.

You are unique and so is your business. Run it the way you want and do as much with it as you want. Unless it is your sole means of paying your bills, you don’t have to work very hard to make just enough income to “supplement” what you already have that you can count on. For me, luckily it is a husband and my retirement savings. I got smart late in life but I can honestly say that I enjoy carrying on with my small business.

I took a class at a community college years ago to learn all the office progams (Word, Excel, Web Design). I read on the internet and watch videos to help me with my website. Websites are changing as is everything else that has to do with the internet. Don’t be left behind and think that your rating is going to go up on it’s own because you are so adorable. Marketing is essential and it takes a lot of time and energy.

Who is your customer? Respect and visit your competitor.

Most importantly, build relationships with your customers. Make them see you as a person they can depend on. Be true to your word. Offer quality goods and be proud of the experience you bring to them.

Don’t degrade your worth by settling for less than you deserve. There are plenty of people that will low-ball what you have to sell. They will compare you to this one or that one. Find out who “they” are and why they get so many people flocking to their site. Take an honest inventory and admit what you like about the other business owner that sells the same gadget you are.

It may take a long time to sell an item, but maybe it is more in how you are marketing the item that is making it hard, or maybe the item is in a market that is already saturated. I am getting off topic but having a well designed website or one that is easy to find your items, or easy to check out an item may be key.

People want things fast and simple. That is what wins the sell almost every time. Why is Amazon doing so well? Why do I like to buy things from Etsy? Think of your favorite place to shop online and ask yourself why? That is what you should try to accomplish on your own website no matter what the cost is to develop it. Within reason, of course.

Make a plan and follow through each day/week or monthly TO DO list.

I know what it is that I have to work on with my website, besides getting to my messages sooner. Set a goal each week and stick to it. Learn something new. Turn off the tv or whatever it is that is stopping you. Are you sure you want to be a business owner? It takes drive, energy, flexibility, self-control and ingenuity. You can do it!

Minnesota Home Business Owner

The high school I attended offered Sewing as a choice in Home Economics Class. I took it one semester and only got a “C” letter grade. I was not that impressed with the class and really did not like making clothing. It did teach me the basics though and got me started with a sewing machine.

It was watching my grandmother sew her quilts, long before high school, that first planted the seed for my interest in sewing. That seed, planted when I was very young, grew into what I am doing now today, with my sewing.

I never took another course in sewing but have been self-taught just by reading books I checked out at the library. We didn’t have the internet then, although maybe computers. Just not in my home. I loved books because I could choose to learn anything I wanted from them. For me, my sewing took me to learning how to make a slipcover.

My mother had a small chair in the living room that needed a fresh new look. It was tattered and worn a bit. We always had the hand-me-down furniture when the neighbors or relatives were getting in new things. I was the girl in the family that got to arrange the big blanket on the sofa, tucking it in and centering it nicely on the cushions we used as a cover. It too was ugly but the covering worked to spruce it up.

Living will all this ugliness I wanted to make the room look pretty so was always thinking of how I could do that. A slipcover would be just the thing. It turned out pretty good for a beginner and it even had a skirt with pleats. It was a small barrel-back chair and of course, I have no picture! It was years ago.

I have evolved since making mom’s slipcover and now have over 40 years of sewing experience behind me. From alterations and making clothing, from slipcovers to pillows, from simple window treatments to valances, I have done a little bit of just about everything. I am retired now but still sewing for a few customers. I would love to make things to sell in my store once I get it up and running. I was with Etsy for a while when I did more bench seat cushions and cover.

I like being in charge of my own time and how I run my business. I don’t have employees so I do everything from ordering supplies, paying my taxes and doing all the sewing and shipping. I was busier a few years ago but now I am happy even though things trickle in. I like to spend more time in my flower gardens, writing my posts, and playing a bit on my piano.

Starting your own sewing business is easier than you think. Do what you love. If it is hemming pants, start with friends and family or run a simple add. I can’t believe how many people can’t find sewers around. You will make a good living at it. Even if you already have a full time job you don’t enjoy, you can sew on the side for gas money or groceries.

I got my first paid sewing job when I started doing hems for a friend’s mom. Then it was just word of mouth that kept the jobs coming in. I would get several pair at once and these can be quickly finished. I was making a very good hourly wage just to hem pants. Let me know if you want some advice or some guidance how to get started.

You don’t need a license or a degree to start your own sewing business. You don’t even need a website. You do need a sewing machine. It does not need to be anything fancy. It should have a straight stitch and a zig-zag stitch. That is all you need, and a good scissor and thread of course. A tape measure and some pins. You can do it!