This month marked 73 years for my parents. No, not birthdays. 73 years of MARRIAGE.
73 years of ‘good times and bad’. 73 years of ‘in sickness and in health’.
That is dedication. That is some hardcore perseverance. 73 years brings ‘commitment’ to a whole different level. What does it take to reach the milestone of 73 years of marriage? What would it take to get to half that long in a business?!?
I consider myself committed to my business – serving my clients, learning, improving, evolving, reinventing. This is what I do, and I’m not going back to an office, a commute or clocking in and out.
I’ve stuck with it, through good times and bad. I’ve shown up in sickness and in health. Do I still love my business? (Yes, and I have still have to find patience for, put up with and accept the bits I don’t like.) Do I still honor my values, my strengths, my purpose? Am I firm in the important boundaries I need, so my business doesn’t engulf me and I can still separate myself from what I do?
(Now THAT is something my parents have mastered. They remain very distinct people. I do wonder sometimes whether, once they’ve made it to 75 years of marriage, they might finally find something they can agree on.)
I contemplate the “where would I like to be a year from now” exercises. I might even stretch my imagination and ponder and plot some 5-year goals. But when it comes to my business, I tend not to think in decades.
I don’t think that as business owners, we step back often enough and think about our commitment, our dedication, our perseverance, on a really big scale. What would it take to get to (okay, 73 years in business is admittedly a little long and even if you love what you do I don’t think any of us are going for brain-in-a-jar-still-at-work kind of longevity, but, say…) 25 years in business? 30? 45?
There are always those days when we start daydreaming about nine-to-five, steady salary, paid vacation… but we persevere. Maybe this is a good time – whatever milestone you’re marking – to recommit to your business. Forgive the shortcomings, renew your vows so-to-speak, and show it some love.
When I said my parents haven’t agreed in 73 years, I’m not really joking. They prove that opposites can commit. My mother likes to tell the story of a trip – back in the old days of in-flight service – when the flight attendant kept offering them choices and my mom and dad each chose something different — beef vs chicken, water vs coffee, pillow vs blanket. Not once did they both give the same answer. To the point where the flight attendant asked if they were actually travelling together.
Maybe that’s why they’re still together. They’ve struck a yin-yang kind of balance. They have a built-in different perspective, chock full of independence and respect.
If you ever feel trapped in a loveless business, give me a call. No, I’m not a business counselor, but you’d be surprised how working through the numbers and confronting day-to-day financial stressors can alleviate the pain. I mean, isn’t financial stress the number one cause of d-i-v-o-r-c-e (cue Tammy Wynette in the background)?