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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—

To unsubscribe.

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

  1. Ash Ambirge says:

    It’s all a process, and you will get there @aboutadogphotography:disqus! Starting the group is a great first step. Keep me posted?

    1. About A Dog Photography says:

      Ash, I will keep you posted how it pans out! Its always interesting introducing people I know to other people I know. Luckily the familiarity of photography is everyone’s common theme so it should go over well. Unless the Canon people revolt against the Nikon people…

    2. About A Dog Photography says:

      Twas a success! We bunkered down in a casual noisy martini lounge (yay alcohol!), next to a real live fire place and Christmas tree that hadn’t been disassembled. 8 photographers arrived, each timidly peeking around the corner to find the group. The balance of Canon vs Nikon was even and no one cared. There was banter about favorite places and things to shoot as well as light talk of marketing and weddings gone wrong. The venue worked well but the distance across the table plus ambient noise made it hard to hear each other at times. We decided on a challenge for the next meeting as well as a date so it seems like the Photographer’s League might be around for a while.

  2. Ash Ambirge says:

    LOVEEEE @disqus_FbIg7Uf4dH:disqus. Bring on the snuggies. Ha ha.

  3. Ash Ambirge says:

    Damn you @marindajvr:disqus.

    1. HA HA HA. You’ll thank me later.

  4. MikaelShort says:

    This is bloody brilliant… like everything else you do, but this one really hits home today. I may be going on a first in-person date with a guy I met online, but the main reason I said yes for tonight (and decided not to continue to build up my business–started yesterday and all the excitement!) is because we’re going to a trampoline park. AKA: Jumping like a mad freak all night long. That’s the kind of fun that I hardly ever get to have, so I’m unbelievably excited for that. And I’ll probably play guitar for a bit too since I’ve made it my goal to learn to play Pinball Wizard. Nowhere close to those kind of skills yet–but SOMEDAY.
    Thanks for continuing to rock my world, Ash. 🙂

    1. @MikaelShort:disqus, I AM SO EXCITED TO HEAR ABOUT THIS DATE! <3

      1. MikaelShort says:

        It was a double date at first with his sister (weird), then it was a group of people who went to bounce town. After he dropped me off at my car then drove off then stopped on the side of the road. I thought something was wrong then I realized I left my leftovers on his car so I stopped too. He gave me this awkward kiss on the cheek because he said his sister bet on him kissing me. I’m not feeling him so much romantically, but I had a good time. I’m amazed at how exhausting jumping trampolines is! Almost landed a front flip!

        1. All in all it sounds pretty gat dang successful, @MikaelShort:disqus. And dude, those bounce houses are EXHAUSTING. It’s like the best work out known to man.