Every time we fly the Flight Attendants remind us that unless we look after ourselves first, we won’t be unable to help anyone else – “Adjust your mask first before attempting to help others”. What a great life lesson…. if we are running on empty then there is nothing left for anyone else. This obviously applies to our whole life, not just in an emergency situation. It is essential that we make sure that we look after our own health & welfare if we are ever going to be a meaningful member of our families and our communities.
Bubbles & Bling is the result of my failing to take this advice. I think I always thought that it was selfish to look after myself first, but now I realise that unless I look after myself, I will have nothing left to give to others. I’m sure I always knew this on an intellectual level, but at a gut level, I was running around trying to do it all and effectively running on empty. I’ve spent years trying to be all things to all people and finally realised that the cost was too high and the benefits were too few. Running a small business for many years has meant too much time at work, too little time with family and friends and unfortunately, in today’s economic climate we have not even had the financial rewards to balance it out. Like a lot of other small business people when the times got tough, I decided to just work harder. I cancelled holidays – worked weekends, worried throughout the night and just tried ever so hard to fill all of the roles in the business that I could. This is a very common scenario but it is fatally flawed – we can’t do everything no matter how much we try and no matter how many hours we spend at the office, so the business suffers and so do we. The physical, emotional and health costs of small business owners in Australia must be significant, and it would be interesting to see this studied.
In the next few weeks, the sale of our business will finalise, and this will mean that I will once again be faced with the question of “what will I do when I grow up” and what am I going to do with all of this new free time? I have already had several careers in my life, and these have been diverse. I starting my working life working in administration and then going back to study as a mature aged student I worked in a Welfare Field. I’ve worked in positions as varied as a Conveyancing Clerk, Bookkeeper, Parole Officer & Social Worker. Later, when I had small children, I worked from home as a Computer Trainer doing consulting work with small businesses helping them set up to cope with the transition to GST in Australia. I was lucky, and at the same time, there was a rise in electronic record-keeping so I had an interesting and varied client group and I loved the work. During this time, I was also blessed to be able to spend huge amounts of time with my two children watching them grow and joining in the day-to-day activities that they had.
Then we purchased a business and for the last 13 years I have been the C.E.O. of a Motor Dealership, working in this mostly male-dominated industry and although I’ve enjoyed the work, and the customers our industry has been hard hit by the rising Australian dollar, overseas disasters and the burgeoning choices available to consumers. Although it has been a hard industry to work in I’m sure it is still one of the most exciting and dynamic sales areas left and many people will go on enjoying working in the Motor Trades for many years.
When I started this role, I was one of only a handful of women working as Dealer Principals in Australia, and this gave me an interesting perspective. I served as the first-ever female President for the Motor Trades Association in the Northern Territory, a position that I held for six years and then through that appointment I also served as a Director on the Boards of Motor Trades Association of Australia and later on the newly formed Australian Motor Industry Federation. I’m grateful for the opportunities that my role has given me, but it is time to look for new challenges and time to look at other opportunities to use the skills I’ve acquired.
In a short few weeks, I will have the luxury of not having to get up to go to work – sounds lovely, doesn’t it! Firstly I plan to spend some time on personal tasks, spend more time with family & friends, spend more time relaxing – but then what. I’ve spent my whole life being busy and now just as I feel that I am in the prime of my life I will suddenly have less to do than ever before. Obviously, I will need new challenges, but before I can even think about that, I need to adjust my own mask. I’m going to take a very deep breath and have a rest. I’m going to take a Gap Year, and during this time I’ll try to discover the path for my next adventure, so this has led to Bubbles & Bling. What will it be – who knows – basic to my Mission Statement will be a deeply embedded acknowledgement of the need to have a better balance between work and life. Whatever comes next, I’ve made a promise to myself – my life will have a lot more Bubbles & Bling than it has at the moment. Wish me luck.