Finding Your 'Why'
Leslie Sleesman, owner of LimeLife Planners, talks organizing your life
Mommy, why do I need to go to bed now? Why can't I have another snack? Why are bananas yellow? It seems that children are constantly searching for an answer to that elusive question: Why? It's interesting that as people grow older, we become less fascinated with this question and instead just go through life, constantly chasing after that next opportunity or big project.
As I reflect on my experience doing one of the scariest things of my life (starting a business), I would love to tell you that it began after serious soul-searching and an exhaustive cost-benefit analysis, but that isn't the case. To be honest, I can't even remember the exact month I started. I can tell you that I loved office supplies, notebooks, and planners and wanted to make a great planner for myself and my friends. I love graphic design, and this was a creative outlet for me. It gave me a distraction from the demands of being a wife and mom; something that was just for me.
The business began to grow from merely selling to friends and family into something that required me to make a choice: stay at home or work full-time. I loved what I was doing and I was having fun, so I took the plunge and became a full-time, work-at-home mom. Things were great, until they weren't. One thing I learned quickly is that the fun goes out the window once tough things start happening. And as any small business owner knows, hard things happen almost constantly. Everyone fantasizes about being their own boss, but the reality is much scarier than what people talk about. There's a tremendous amount of pressure and self-doubt involved.
It became clear to me that I needed to figure out why I was doing this. Why did I want to run this business? Why did I want to make these sacrifices? Why did I want to keep picking myself back up after every knock-out? And let me tell you: there were some pretty awful knock-outs.
When you find your 'why', something incredible happens. You start to realize that no matter what tough circumstances come your way, you will persevere. Let me be clear- it doesn't make the hard parts any less hard. I've spent countless hours frustrated, crying, praying, feeling sorry for myself, or calling my friends desperate for advice. I have warmed the seat of my therapist's couch more times than I can count. But when those difficult times come, there's a piece of me that knows without a doubt that I'm going to pull myself up and keep going - because my 'why' means more to me than the temporary pain or annoyance of whatever it is that I'm currently dealing with. My 'why' is like the North Star. It's there and it's constant and it always gives me just a little bit of light in those dark times.
You don't have to own a business to benefit from knowing your 'why'. If you're a stay-at-home mom, you've probably dealt with frustration and monotony or maybe even jealousy and resentment. If you're a working mom, you've likely struggled with impossible pressure of work/life balance. No kids? Unfortunately, you don't get an easy ride either. Work, relationships, school, family, friends... Life is hard! We all have tough things happen. When you set goals and know why you want to reach those goals, your perspective changes and perseverance becomes second-nature.
For me, my 'why' is pretty clear. We all have 24 hours in a day, and I know from personal experience that you can live a better life if you make better use of the time we have so graciously been given. I don't want the weight of everyday life to interfere with the freedom to gain when we are organized and spending our free time on the things that make us get out of bed every morning. When you plan your days and organize your life, you can find time for the things that make you happier. You've heard it said before: time is more valuable than money. I believe that to be true. We can't buy ourselves more time, but we can make better use of it. I want to own a company that allows women to do just that. I want to give them the tool that they can use to build a life they love.
Leslie Sleesman is co-founder of Limelife Planners. She lives in southeastern Pennsylvania with her husband, three kids and five chickens.