This post was co-written with Margo Aaron.
It’s that time of year when many of us start doing year-end reviews. Looking back, realizing all that we’ve done. All that we wish we’d done. All that is still un-done.
The starts, stops, fits, bursts, panics.
While I’m having all of those depressing thoughts about business (You know the ones: I’m a failure, nothing’s working, this will never work, etc), I did just also write down the following:
- At the beginning of the year, I was nursing my one-year old.
- By October, had created, birthed, and now nursing a brand-new human. WHAT.
- Mid-year: moved my child to a new daycare, started a new commute (while pregnant).
- Summer: potty-trained my older child.
- Funded and prepped my own maternity leave as an entrepreneur because the policies in the United States suck.
- Supported my brother and sister throughout the year as well!
- Became an Auntie and flew across the country to help my sister in her journey to motherhood.
So, where does all of this go on my formal annual review?
I turned to my friend Margo to vent (as we do) and she fired back a quick, immediate, emphatic YES. In fact, she had a lot to say, and it was so helpful for me to hear that I asked her if I could share her response more widely. Here’s a look inside our back-and-forth conversations that we have. Today, we talked all about accounting properly for all the things we truly do.
Women are the backbone, the care-takers, the supporters, the do-ers. They are community builders and networkers and house keepers and SO MUCH MORE.
So when it comes to feeling like crap in business, we asked, why are we so quick to dismiss the accomplishments that AREN’T revenue?
Here’s what Margo told me:
“I’ve met women who’ve endured the fucking impossible and they’re constantly dismissing their worth because it’s not measurable on a Profit and Loss sheet— myself included (Hi Pot, I’m Kettle). These were the things women told me in an “afterthought” after feeling terrible about their business:
– My husband had a heart attack
– I’m single mom-ing
– My brother relapsed
– I had a miscarriage
– My kids had more snow days than my husband had time off work
– I overcame an eating disorder
– I am dealing with PPD
– I fixed things with my mom
– I got appendicitis
The list goes on forever. But the point is: THESE THINGS MATTER. And here’s the thing we forget: If you don’t deal with them now, it comes back to bite you later. It’s no accident that people break down, burn out, end their marriages, get sick, or go broke.
It often has nothing to do with your business and everything to do with how you manage your life OUTSIDE of your business.
For example, if you don’t treat your postpartum depression, it will 100000% show up in your business. Either in self-doubt, self-sabotage, inability to follow through, or a million other ways.
I’m half saying this to myself but Sarah for the love of all things good please hear this: YOU’VE ACCOMPLISHED SO MUCH.
I’m willing to put money on the fact that you have 40 more things to add to this list here that can’t be measured on a P&L. You are legitimately _investing_ in your platform by having done these things.
Also…unlike other types of businesses, you’ve created one where this is all fodder for future content. So it’s not lost.
Part of the confusion, I think, is that a lot of us are building platforms and not *just* business. Startup Pregnant is a movement and movements take time. It’s hard to remember that when we’re in startup-hockey-stick growth culture.
Something a friend said to me who just had her first: “I want you to remember that we built an entire economy around men’s physiology. So if being a mom and working full time feels really fucking hard it’s because it is. There is a built-in structural mom penalty.”
THERE IS A BUILT-IN STRUCTURAL MOM PENALTY.
This stuff matters. And it is important. And your business and family are lucky to have you.”
For you, reader, if you ever feel like the work you are doing in your business isn’t “enough,” or you feel down, like you haven’t accomplished enough, first: I see you, I hear you. I’ve felt the same way so often.
First, widen the lens. Look more broadly at all the places your energy goes. To the humans you raise, the people you’ve created, the house that you’re keeping, the neighbors you know, the birthdays you manage. Look to the entire thing. Know that you are supporting so many people and the work that they are doing. And no, it’s not fair. It’s not equal. And it’s not seen.
And, I would add that it’s not an accident that some of the most successful businesses are actually supported by all of this invisible labor, as well. So many of the heroes we lift up in mainstream media have gads of women and other people supporting them in the work they do so that they *can* focus on just the business.
If you’ve got time to reflect on this, leave a note in the comments. What’s something you spent a lot of energy on this year, and did you account for it in your year-end review?
LEARN MORE ABOUT MARGO AARON
Margo Aaron is a recovering academic and accidental marketer. Today she’s the founder of The Arena, a virtual coworking community for solopreneurs, a cohost of the show #HAMYAW with Hillary Weiss, and a regular contributor to Inc. She the author of no NYTimes best selling books, but has a popular weekly email you should sign up for on her website That Seems Important. Aaron lives with her husband and daughter in Jersey City, both of whom she loves more than whiskey most days.