Sometimes the Universe says, ‘Stop’.

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You know that thing when you’re going flat-out on all the things and then suddenly you have to just stop? I realised years ago that there’s often a reason. I was right.

In my case, I’ve had a couple of minor stops in the last two weeks and now one that has totally ground me to a halt.

this is my ceiling - it has a light hanging from it

oh hai, ceiling. Let’s be friends.

In order of occurrence, they have been:

  1. neck injury; specifically, I put my neck out by stretching one morning in bed as I woke up. And by ‘out’ I mean actually shifted a vertebrae in a whole new direction, which resulted in weakness, pins and needles and pain in one arm. It slowed me down and racked up some nice physio bills, but didn’t stop me completely.
  2. running into a steel pole with my face; resulted in a minor concussion, a fair bit of bleeding, a complaint to Safework SA about the building site in question, and maybe a scar. No black eye though, so, bonus! It stopped me for a whole day.
    woman versus steel pole - photo of the injury

    surly split face

     

  3. Influenza Type B; this little begger hit me like a ton of bricks on the weekend just gone (today is Monday), I rode a belladonna fever for two days, and dragged my sorry arse to the GP today, who proclaimed bed rest for 7 to 10 days.

Now that, motherfucker, is what you call stopped.

Of course, being unwell (and not a good unwell, more like a sooky-please-hug-me-and-make-me-better-mum kind of unwell) and fairly irritable, I decided that everything sucks and that I do way too many things.

It caused me, in two days, to reflect on where my energy is going with business and life, and concluding that actually I’m not doing anything particularly well at all right now. I’ve even let my pride and joy – my customer communications – slide over the last two weeks.

Something has gotta give.

So far today, the giving has been all the meetings – all of them moved, shuffled, shifted, rescheduled.

Then the client work – all of them notified not to expect much for a week, all of them amazed I’m even thinking of them (aww). One of my best clients was baffled that I helped her to be fabulous in an interview with a significant journalist while I was in the thick of the worst of this thing. Yet, to me, I just refused to let her down.

And then I spent half an hour looking at my client list for the past year. I realised that the people who hang around, who spend the most, who aren’t dicks, who communicate well, and who don’t make me pay extra somehow just to work with them, are in two key areas: Government and law.

The best of the best? Both in law, one a combination of government + law.

Looks like a trend to me.

All the others? Small businesses, startups, pieces of work. Some I love, but no capacity for future spend, or growth, or even referral. Of the worst clients, I also discovered they only refer more people who are just as painful as them! Whoa! Clustering in full action.

This week will see a bit of a strategy forming for getting more clients like my best ones, and I have a smallish plan forming for doing that.

The point of all this blather is that I actually really needed to stop. Totally stop. Stop to the point where I was tied to the bed kind of stopped. Stopped to the point where all I could do was drink water and observe my thinking, and hope that when I wake up I feel a little bit better.

Before I stopped, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I was blundering on wondering why shit wasn’t working. I couldn’t do the things I pride myself for. I had hugely productive days but that was ultimately ground work for the stopping.

The result has been a light shone on something completely obvious that all of my measurement had missed: The quality of my clients. All of my niche-ifying last year did work (even though I thought it didn’t), and since I’ve seen it, I can put it back to work.

Happily, there will be some great press coming out in Company Director magazine featuring yours truly, in about October or November, so I have some good lead time. And then I can market the bejeebus out things before and after then.

But for now? Reading, resting, nurturing. And feeling grateful for the forced stop that has me now staring at the ceiling and creating a better way forward.

Next time, I think I’ll just take a week’s holiday instead.