ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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Just The Tip: Feel Guilty Anytime You’re Not “Being Productive”?

In: Just The Tip,

I wrote today’s tip earlier today about copywriting. It was pretty fucking good, actually. I might have even made a joke about ham.

But then I stalled.

I hated the tip.

The tip was useful, for sure. The tip was original, most definitely. And the tip was something that some people might have even printed out to remember later.

But the fact is? I’m not interested in later. 

How many pieces of advice do you have bookmarked somewhere for later? How many notes did you take so you could reference them later? How many books did you buy because you thought you’d read them later?

That tip would have been one more thing you added to the pile of later. 

So I left it in draft form. And I opened a new blog post. And I decided to write this instead.

Because I want to say something that’s going to matter now, not later.

And that something isn’t about copywriting. It isn’t about marketing. It isn’t about selling. And it isn’t even about business.

It’s about your life.

Because right now, that is what matters. Not because it’s 2014 or because of some other glossy optimistic horseshit. But because,

If you don’t get a life, you won’t have a business. (Or anything else. Not even stale curly fries.)

I saw a blog post this morning from a girl who was pretty pissed off about what I wrote yesterday.  She was defensive. Reactive. Trying hard to rationalize her behavior to the world. Apparently, she had recently committed one of my (incredibly opinionated) top “business crimes” for 2014: She put the ubiquitous “In an attempt to be productive…” disclaimer in her email signature line regarding which times of day she would be responding to emails, “as a courtesy to her clients.”

But I could hear the apology through her words. The words that so clearly said, “Please don’t be mad at me, client, I need to shower?” The words that said, “Take it easy on me, I’m doing the best that I can.” The words that so clearly tried to justify that she did, in fact, have a life. 

And this struck me. Over the head. Without a helmet.

Because usually when you start a business, you end up having to defend the fact that you have a business to everyone in your life. The late nights working. The non-stop emails. The Twitter culture that no one understands. And the fact that, no, I cannot run your fucking errands in the middle of the day.

But more and more, I’m seeing the opposite:

People desperately feeling the need to defend the fact they have a life…to their business.

And it’s on that note that I’m going to get down on bended knee, canoodle your hand, look up at you with big fawnish doe eyes, AND THEN SLICE YOUR PANTS SO I CAN TATTOO THIS ON YOUR KNEE CAP:

Pleasepleaseplease remember that, despite every Pinterest board you’ve ever set your eyes on: Your life is not actually measured by the number of breaths you take, or (WAIT FOR IT) “by the moments that take your breath away.” (Because if that were really true then my life is measured by Jillian Michaels DVDs. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, THAT WOMAN.)

But, rather, your life is measured by—surprise!—absolutely nothing at all. 

(And that incredibly optimistic message is the one I wanted to shower you with today.)

Look. Nobody’s grading you. Nobody’s keeping score. Nobody’s sitting behind the curtain, waiting to reveal you as some evil fraud. And if we’re being honest?  You’ve been so busy that you don’t even know what your life is measured by, either. 

All you’ve been thinking about lately are the things your business is measured by. Subscribers. Sales numbers. Profit margins. Stats.

But what about the number of inside jokes you have with your lover? Have you been measuring those? Or the number of times “Achy Breaky Heart” came on the radio and you belted out every single (godawful) word? How about the number of minutes you actually spent admiring the Christmas tree this year? Did you even spend any? Or the days when—shocker—you didn’t open the computer?

Start measuring those.

Because if I could give you any tip?

The last thing you want is for the actual people in your actual life—

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96 thoughts on "Just The Tip: Feel Guilty Anytime You’re Not “Being Productive”?"

  1. Let’s go with ambition and driven, yeah? Also, OH MY GOD, YOUR HAIR IS SPECTACULAR.

  2. Paige, right out of college I accidentally ended up working as a telemarketer, and I’m 99.9% certain that this picture hanging in my cubicle was the only thing that got me through the day. HAHA.

    COME AT ME, BRO, indeed. <3

  3. Anne Constant says:

    Thank you so much for this today. I really, really needed it. Self-employed people like us have trouble separating our ‘lives’ from our ‘business,’ and at times…like now, the holidays…it begins to feel insane. THANK YOU!

    1. Ash Ambirge says:

      ESPECIALLY during the holidays. 🙂

  4. Laura C. George says:

    Ahh this is fabulous! I just realized this over the holidays when I accidentally took two days without opening my computer because I was so busy with family things. It was kind of glorious. I was actually present in my life and not tethered to my business. I think it’s a pretty common mistake, especially in new business owners. Before you’ve got your sea legs, you kinda feel like you’re supposed to always be working and if you don’t you’ll probably fail and have to go back to cubicle-land. But it’s not about how much you’re working. It’s actually about what things you’re doing (ie – not focusing on teensy minutiae but spending time on the big stuff that makes an impact) when you do work. So although I’m not into “resolutions”, I have actually resolved to be more present in my personal life and strike a deal with myself to work on the right things in my business each day and then close the computer. Oh – and take whole days computer-free too.