15-20 years ago, a young man started out with the goal of getting as busy as possible. Chasing the dragon and making that mullah baby! Work booked in a month in advance, my chin held high, a sense of accomplishment.
After ups and downs, nearly in clasp of said dragon, I pondered my aching joints thinking, “man, only a month worth of bookings would be a nice break from this shit I’m knee deep in”.
I pushed to mid 30’s. More skilled and building a reputation. Three months bookings ahead. Although the joints didn’t ache any more yet, the brain struggled to keep up as I tumbled and stumbled along my path….still the dragon eludes me…bastard.
I’m now facing 40. My body is fucked and my head is mush. Six months. Not 1, 2 or even 4. We’ve been working on a 6 months schedule for such a long time now, I forget even what job we did last week, let alone a month ago. Where the fuck did that dragon go? I swear I saw him yesterday…..
It’s funny how you consider yourself “busy” in life. At any given time, a person or contractor can consider themselves busy. But there’s always another new, crazy level of “what the actual fuck is this” you tumble into, (if you’re trying hard enough), that just makes the last section of busy look like a sunshine and lollipops.
I love what I do. I really do. I’m a bush kid full of ADHD and had basically no chance at what “normal” people would consider a productive life through education. I grit my teeth, worked through my problems and figured it out for myself. Every penny and accomplishment earnt, through blisters, blood, sweat and tears.
I’m also so damn thankful these days that our clients, and people in general, can look past my personality disorder, look beyond the small things that make me hard to deal with on a social basis, but then take notice in the hard work I put into my trade and business, see what I am working my ass off trying to acheive, so my client, who has taken the time to show faith in my abilities, has something truly wonderful and inspiring installed in thier home.
It’s a funny game though in my line of work. You seem to be struggling early on, not keeping up with the rest of your peers throughout life as we’re learning our skillset. Then we start to make progress, start to see something moving forward as we get better. Then by the time we really get bloody good at what we do, we’re burning out by all the hard work it took for us to get here. A viscious cycle. But one well travelled all the same.
Myself, and now my wife since she came on board, have been running into brick walls for a long time now. Working our fingers to the bone until we physically and mentally can’t push any harder, then taking a week or so off to reset again, before jumping back in the deep end. But, those little resets are not working anymore.
We’re only back a week or so after a reset and I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I’m not enjoying what I do. All I can see if tough bloody jobs in front of us…that dragon so far from reach at the peak of the new hill that seems steeper every month.
You see I’m the guy contracting the $50k project, 6-8 employees onsite, concrete pumps, supplying all materials, thousands of dollars on the line if anything goes wrong, and be calm as a fucking cucumber, having a laugh with the lads and getting shit done. She’ll be right mate.
But recently, I’ve been snapping over absolutely minor, stupid details of everyday work. Things like a skip bin hasn’t been arranged. Dumb frigging things. It’s time to step back.
I guess maybe, have we reached the absolute pinacle of what “busy” can be? Maybe we can’t push “busy” any further? 6 months bookings with 70-80 hours a week trying to stay on schedule for months and months and months on end, without end. I never knew busy until it finally slapped me on the ass as I fell back down that hill, exhausted, watching the dragon fly even further out of reach.
Either way, we’re stepping “busy” back and taking back control of our (my) life. I am quite aware in a modern society, I will be working (to some degree), until I’m frail and old. If I don’t slow down a bit now, I will not make those old, frail bones to begin with.
I think the hardest thing with having a 6 month schedule ahead, is that even if you only have minor delays here and there, it’s nearly impossible to stick to a date given to a client. Imagine trying to take some personal time off in there as well? Taking even a week every 6 months just to reset and keep the quality of work to our typical standards? Impossible. Almost as stupid as trying to catch a fairytale dragon.
Clients from here forth, will be given simple a month in which we expect to start their project. At least that way, WHEN we’re late, it’s still (hopefully) at least in the same month that we advised them of (lol).
To maintain a small business. Maintain work standards. To not become an Ogre and want to rip peoples heads off on a daily basis….exceptions need to be made. Money is the only thing driving us to push the extra hours. I will still make the money, just over a longer period of time and who knows, maybe I’ll rediscover the reason I love my decorative industry as much as I did a few years ago. Maybe I’ll finally find those hours to put down a few new artistic designs I’m always thinking of……
Maybe is better than never, at any cost.