Why Taking a Month Off Was the Best Business Decision I Ever Made

It feels good to be back in the swing of things after I made the decision to take all of March off from my business. However, I should confess that there is a tiny part of me that is sad my "vacation" is over.

While I got several things accomplished, many of which I had been meaning to tackle for years (top to bottom house cleaning I'm talking to you!), I came back last week not entirely sure I was ready to settle back into work.

We took a weekend vacation during my break to Monterey and the change of pace it provided was very refreshing.

We took a weekend vacation during my break to Monterey and the change of pace it provided was very refreshing.

Fortunately, I was happily surprised that I got more accomplished in 4 days last week than I did in two full weeks pre-break. So what's the difference between Feb 28th and now?

Well I'm not 100% sure, but I know I can attribute a big part of it to the shift in my attitude towards my business. Before I went on break I was drained of creativity, having become a self-mandated digital scrapbook collection making machine for the past two years.

That design mentality was toxic and it made me resent and regret certain choices I had made.

And more importantly, it meant that I started to lose sight of the reason I started this business five years ago: because I have a passion for designing and enjoy seeing what scrapbookers can do with my kits.

So while starting my design break with a less-than-awesome mentality and after taking four full weeks off to do whatever I felt like, you'd think I would either be:

  1. Completely uninterested in design and ready to shut the doors on Scotty Girl Design and move on to other creative endeavors OR
  2. Exploding with design ideas and salivating at the thought of building my first new kit in over six weeks.

Well, the truth lies in the shades of gray between those two options. During my time off, I did sincerely contemplate moving on from scrapbook design, but I had to be honest with myself that I'm too fond of the industry to move just yet. And while I wasn't bursting with new design ideas, I did come back last week with a renewed sense of purpose and a slightly altered mindset, a happier one at that.

So while I wouldn't say I found the meaning of life or the key to my business's prosperity, I do know I want to continue to search for what will make me happy and successful.... one design at a time.


Finding My Happiness Again

It's been two months since I published the post about my battle with depression on my sister site Scotty Girl Design, so I thought it was time to address it on this blog and give an update on how things have been going. Have I reached a new self-enlightenment in the past two months since my commitment to change? The answer is "maybe a little.”

Take Time to Do What Makes You Happy | shannonmcnab.com

After realizing that overworking myself was having an adverse effect on both my physical and mental well-being, the biggest hurdle I overcame was making the decision to slow down and reprioritize:

New Releases

I decided that churning out weekly or even bi-weekly collections of new product just wasn't doable for me in the long term, as I firmly believe in quality over quantity. So for 2015, my new product goal is to create only one kit or collection per month in my personal use shop at The Digital Press. (UPDATE: I retired from digi design in June 2016 to pursue a full-time career in surface design).

There will be times, of course, when I'll break this rule as inspiration will strike and I'll decide I want to create two kits instead of one. And that's ok, because it will be because I WANT to and not because I feel like I HAVE to.

Work that's created when you're excited to design always turns out much better than those that are forced.

I can actually look at any kit preview in my shop and immediately tell exactly how psyched (or not) I was to make it. And from now on, I want to be amped up about EVERYTHING I make.

It does not mater how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. -Confucius | shannonmcnab.com

Learning a New Skill

I feel that one of the best ways to grow as a designer is to learn a new technique or add to your current skill set, yet last year I was in the mindset of just maintaining where I was at and churning stuff out.

I feel like my creativity has suffered as a result, but it's not something I realized until I was in the middle of teaching my pattern design class at Scrapaneers – NOTE: I now teach design and business classes on Skillshare. Throughout the course of the class, many of the students had "ah-ha" moments when everything they learned came together and suddenly creating tiling repeat patterns just clicked. It was a joy to witness!

So they inspired me to revisit something I've always wanted to improve upon: my hand drawn typography skills.

I've dabbled in typography in the past, but I'd love to dive deeper into it and learn some tricks of the trade from the best in the business.

First up, I'm taking a Skillshare typography class by none other than Jessica Hische. I've worshipped her type skills for years, so I'm really excited to take her class! I'm also hoping to follow it up with a class or two from Mary Kate McDevitt, another hand lettering goddess I admire.
 

Breaks Are Totally Ok

Perhaps the biggest shift in my mindset is realizing that it's ok to take breaks from the business. Actually it's not just ok, it's essential to be a happy, creative business owner.

That revelation actually started back in December when I was neck-deep in work, and then I opened an email from Do What You Love. Beth Nicholls was sharing her very personal story of being in a constant loop of burnout---quick break to recover---repeat and boy did it sound all too familiar!

But then she said something that gave me pause: "...so we have decided to take December off – no classes, no deadlines, no stress." How could a business owner just stop working for a month?

At first, I didn't understand how it was possible, but as my own personal burnout was manifesting, I realized how could a business owner NOT stop working on occasion to recharge?!?

Of course at the time I knew I couldn't just drop the ball and take January off – actually that should be plural since I was juggling so many different balls in December (PHRASING! <--Archer reference, I couldn't help it!) – but I knew I wanted to take some time off to help find some happiness and get a bit of my design mojo back. So after planning things out, I've decided to take the entire month of March off from my business.

Now that doesn't mean I'll become a hermit over the next four weeks while I recharge, I'm actually hoping for exactly the opposite, but it does mean that I won't be creating any new designs until early April. 

As for my blog, if I feel like I have a personal story to share, I may jump on here to share it, otherwise you can still keep in touch with me on Instagram. Toodles til April!