Hitting the Reset Button
sometimes you just have to know when to say when. This last week was one of those times. We've been burning the candle at both ends and holding a torch under the middle for a bit too long. It's slowly been becoming more clear, but moving into last weekend it was like a neon sign burning outside your hotel window all night. If i didn't take jen away for a bit of a reset she seemed likely to either leave me or kill me in my sleep (okay that's ever so slightly dramatic, but just barely). We decided to take advantage of both our places being booked for the long weekend and booked a room at the coast for a mini getaway. We also stumbled upon a sweet package deal for a "girlfriends getaway", so we booked a spa package as well and I went along as jen's girlfriend for the weekend.
We made the last second rush (though really it feels like we've been doing that for 3 weeks) to get both places prepped, put the finishing touches on about 20 minutes before each guest walked in and took off for the coast. It was just what the doctor ordered. A few long naps, a few too many movies, and the absolute impossibility of checking items off the to-do list and the bonus of wine country on the way home. Insert deep sigh here.
Top the whole weekend off with the absolute pampering that is a massage and we were in bliss. We may have just made a pact to ourselves to do this at least once a month...i can neither confirm nor deny.
And now we begin taking deeper breaths. And figuring out where we want to go from here. Obviously our push has been mostly focused around whatever takes us to finding passive income, but now we need to refine a bit. We have guests in our house through mid-august...what will we do to fill the time, and do we want to block off the weeks following so that we can enjoy some of summer in our own space?
How many clients do we want to work with as zenbox, and how busy do we want to be? I met with a few friends this last week that have drafting skills and might be interested in taking on some of the portions of the job that i don't love, which would free me up for more focused design time...but we still have to figure out where we want that to fall.
It's funny how much it has started looking like a job in the last few weeks, which makes me skiddish. Add in there a few depressing days at the city trying to get permits, and a few less-than-positive conversations with a client and it really makes me start questioning the whole thing.
I want to design amazing things. I want to help people find financial freedom and design a space that fits their lifestyle and enriches their lives. But at times it feels more like I'm being a counselor than a designer and often one working pro bono. Jen points out every time I send an invoice how I don't bill nearly the number of hours I've worked, and thus far Ive never minded. After all...we didn't start zenbox to make money (though it would be a nice side effect to doing what i love).
I realized this weekend however, that as long as clients are thrilled about the project it's all worth it to me. Once they start having less fun, worrying about the money and in this case even questioning our billing- that's a whole different beast. I realize I'm willing to work dozens and dozens of hours for free as long as someone is (or appears to be) appreciative. But a question about my billing practices when I'm already giving them countless hours and going above and beyond what i believe anyone else would do- that makes me simply want to walk away from the "job" all together.
There's a chance I'm just too sensitive for this game.
Don't get me wrong, we're not complaining. Far from it actually. We wake up each and every day counting our blessings. We have worked our asses off to get where we are... but we feel no less lucky for the opportunities that are coming our way and that we are chasing down. Mostly we are surprised, shell-shocked even, and at a bit of a loss on how exactly to proceed. How to handle the interest in our homes when we want to be there, and how to handle the interest in zenbox when our goal was/is to relax, play and be free.
We clearly still need the money, but balance is the discussion at hand these days. How to balance all of the things we are excited to be taking part in, but still somehow live the simple and happy life that we started down this crazy path to find. More like the one we had a few short months ago and a bit less like the life we've been living the last month during the remodel. Balance seems very far away right now, but we've got it in our sights and we're chasing it down.
It's all a good reminder why our goal has always been to create passive income. Money not related to hours worked will mean we don't "have" to work for anyone and we can walk away whenever we like. That will distinguish between jobs we are taking because they truly feed something in us, and jobs we take at some level still just for the paycheck. That has always been the end goal (even if quitting our jobs and running away doesn't seem much like a plan to get there).
Anyway... I guess we'll be making the decision about what or how large zenbox is moving forward soon enough on. At the end of the week we will have roughly 1000 people cycle through our little zen loft during the course of a day for the Portland ADU Tour. I'm certain we will meet several people looking for their own ADUs and garage conversions, and a few of those we will be excited enough to help through the process. Just how many remains to be seen.