What if you discovered you only had one year to live? Morbid subject? Perhaps. But it’s a question that we should all stop and think about occasionally.
What would you do with that last year? What would you do differently? Would you stop spinning your wheels, attending to all the little details, being a perfectionist, taking care of the mundane tasks that don’t make much difference? Would you spend more time on your business? Travel? Your friends? Your family? Your personal and spiritual life?
Each of us would answer that question differently. Each of us sees life through different eyes. All of us are at different phases in our life. Each of us has different values, different goals, and different dreams. And most of us think that we have all the time in the world to accomplish those goals and dreams. But it ain’t so!
I don’t claim to be a philosopher and I certainly don’t have all the answers. But each day that is added to our lives adds additional knowledge and growth. And as of today, I’ve had 24,028 days to accumulate the joys and pains of daily living.
So, since I can’t speculate on what you would do, I’ll talk a little bit about me. For me, my life is my job. And that life includes family, friends, my own goals and dreams. At this stage in my life, I find myself asking “Is what I am doing making a difference?”
I’m at the point in my life where I can do just about anything that I want to do. I have enough money to live comfortably. I’ve raised my daughters and take time to enjoy my grandchildren. My husband and I will soon be celebrating 49 years of a happy marriage. So why would I spend my time building internet businesses, writing blogs, and sharing what I’ve learned about business in general and the gift basket business specifically?
Part of it, of course, is the competitive spirit and challenge of creating a successful business that is as much a part of true entrepreneurs as breathing is. But even more is the drive to do something that matters as I conduct business in a humane and ethical way. The approaches I use to achieve my goals are as important as achieving them.
Take this blog, for instance. You see the ads in the right hand column. They’ve been carefully selected to include only those opportunities that I have personally use and can recommend instead of all those opportunities that could perhaps make me lots more money. This blog was not created to be a money-making blog. It has other goals.
The older I get, the more I require the freedom to express my own feelings and to tell things as I see them. I’ve seen the backside of the results of the need for paying advertisers — even in our own industry. For example, when you attend conventions and tradeshows, the products you are going to see pushed in the classes are not necessarily those that the speaker would have recommended if given the freedom to do so. They are the products supplied by the vendors. And if a speaker knows something negative about a vendor or personally feels that they aren’t a good match for our industry, the freedom to say so isn’t there.
I remember attending a “Jubilee” a number of years ago. All the speakers had this beautiful peacock printed cello that they used on their baskets. Of course, it was available from one of the vendors. And, impressed by the recommendation of the speakers that this was going to be the “hot” look for the season, I bought a roll. That roll–and it’s almost a full roll– is still sitting in my bucket of cello. Anybody want a roll of peacock-print cello?
Writing is one of the talents I’ve been given and I’ve learned the techniques to make it work well for me. I’ve used that ability in the past to teach some of the knowledge I’ve accumulated in a column for one of our trade publications. But the freedom to express my feelings about a paying advertiser wasn’t there. As a result of overstepping that limitation, that column is no longer in the magazine.
So, this blog is the result. I can say what I want without having my hands slapped. I can be honest and express my opinions. I am beholden to no advertiser. Of course, there are still the limitations of not writing something that is untrue and can’t be proven. But I wouldn’t do that anyway. This blog allows me the opportunity to share what I have learned through the years and perhaps, as a result, help others create success.
The same is true of my website at www.giftretailersnetwork.com . It allows me to provide information and the ability to communicate with each other for the members of my other website at www.giftbasketnetwork.com . And, I am beholden to no advertiser. The vendor members at the site don’t pay a dime for membership. They have to contribute to the cause, however, by providing a discount to the members. In exchange, they receive the ability to communicate with the gift basket companies through the private forum. It’s a win-win situation and part of my way to give back to the industry.
This post is a lot longer than most — and more personal. But, I’ve been asked: “What is the reason for this blog? What do you hope to accomplish?” And, I’ve felt the need to explain.
This blog is simply the answer to two questions:
- My life is my business. What am I doing with it?
- Is what I am doing making a difference?
Back to the original question of “What If? ” I’ve talked about the business part of my life. The rest of it is too personal to share in a blog. But if I died tomorrow, I could tell myself, “I’ve accomplished my goals. I’ve allowed the most important parts of my life–family, friends, faith, entrepreneurship–to influence each other and, hopefully, I’ve made a small difference in someone’s life along the way.”