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Let it Breathe

by Ryan Guina

One of the most difficult things for me to learn about running a business was when to back off and let things go. As any blogger or webmaster can tell you, watching traffic stats or other metrics can be addicting. You want to know how much traffic is coming to your website, where it is coming from, where it is going, etc.

The same thing can apply to your finances, business, career, or anything else which you are passionate about – especially when you are excited – such as when you are just beginning your journey or you reach a new milestone.

This is especially true about parenting. As the father of a newborn girl, I want to be there for every moment. I want to see her when she rolls over, sits up, crawls, speaks, walks, etc.

But then you realize your child is going to grow up regardless of what you do, and will even thrive if you just give her the space she needs to discover things on her own. So while that may mean less peaking in on her during nap time to make sure she is still breathing, it also means the new milestones come as a surprise, and thus, are more special.

A business, or your career, or your finances, or anything else dear to you is the same way. You need to pay attention and nurture it, but you don’t need to miss the forest for the trees. Instead of getting caught up in the minute to minute or hour to hour trends, take a step back and take a 30 thousand foot view.

What is the daily trend? Weekly? Monthly? Yearly?

Failure happens. It is natural to be disappointed when it takes longer to pay of your credit cards than you thought it would, or if you miss a promotion at work, or you fall short on any other goal. But failure is an opportunity to grow and learn, and sometimes that is more valuable in the long run.

Success and growth take time, and the goal is to see a positive trend as time goes by. That means making plans and following them, and making adjustments when major events dictate changes need to be made. And 99% of the time, slow and steady will win out.

So the next time you get impatient by a perceived lack of progress, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Sometimes you are making more progress than you think you are. Sometimes you just need to let it breathe.


Published or updated December 23, 2009.
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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Financial Samurai

Ryan, is it weird that I haven’t checked my Google Analytics account for my site in 3 months? Maybe I should.

I’ve got a 3 year time horizon for my site. In 3 years, I’ll decide whether to continue or shut it down.

The one thing I really enjoy is just learning from readers. and hearing their different points of view. That’s what makes me happiest!

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2 Blessing

Both articles have made my day. In the present economic situations and other difficulties of life, I have learned to let it breath and not to be too much in chase of finance or to be perfect, God is in control.

Thank you so much, the articles are timely.

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3 Don@Moneyreasons

@Financial Samuri,
Great attitude! I like the idea of setting a time goal, then using that as whether to continue or not!

@Ryan,
With your child, hopefully you aren’t like me and start running behind her with a pillow everytime she try to walk…

As for the checking webstats, since I’m pretty new to the scene, I check my stats daily (and then some). I’m still trying to find my inner voice ;) I think if I ever get over 100 unique visitors a day, then I’ll start to let it slide a little…

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4 Ryan

Don, I’m of the opinion that you need to fall before you can walk. So the answer is no. She will get her bumps and bruises, but that comes with life. :-)

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5 Ken

Thanks for the reminder to step away and smell the roses at times. If I don’t I miss the other ‘important’ things like family and relationships.

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6 Ryan

That’s kinda where I am right now, Ken. I’ve been working too hard and not spending enough time with my wife and daughter. They are more important to me than career progression or “material things,” and I need to show them that. :)

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7 David @ MBA briefs

Great advice, sometimes it’s hard to step away from something you’re really into and let things progress as planned. I have to confess to obsessing over what content is getting the most traffic so much that I can’t write sometimes; I just recently did what you suggest and stopped worrying about the traffic and writing about things I’m interested in again.

I have to worry about the flipside and not taking a balanced approach to things. I’ll spend all my energy in one or two areas and neglect other things. This is a personal weakness I’ll have to put on my New Years resolution list.

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8 Four Pillars

Very nice article. You definitely have to let kids find their own way sometimes.

When my son was very young, I can clearly remember a couple of times I tried to save him from falling down and I ended up making things worse by accidently hitting/kicking him a bit as I reached for him with my arm or leg. After that I decided that he would be better off just falling to the floor. :)

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9 Joe Plemon

Ryan,
Thanks for the timely reminder. Yes, details are important, but can be counterproductive if one obsesses over them. I compare this to working on a golf swing. One can get so focused on keeping your left arm straight, head still, posture correct, etc, etc that you forget to hit the ball. Sometimes it is just better to relax and hit the ball. With golf and with life.

Congrats on your newborn daughter.

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10 Neal @ WealthPilgrim.com

Ryan,

I also needed to see this and I also love Samurai’s attitude.

I suppose the need to constantly check stats, bank accounts, numbers on the scale etc is a need for validation outside ourselves.

If I do the best I can, why do I need some number to tell me I’m doing well?

Had I looked at my numbers for my business when I first started, I would have quit quickly and that would have been terrible.

Luckily, I just kept going – mainly because I saw no alternative at all. I had no option but to keep going and trying to grow. Fortunately, it worked out.

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11 Laura

Thanks for the reminder! I’m a always have to be busy person and I get nervous when I have free time. One of my mail goals this year is to learn to relax and take time for myself, friends ,and family more. Your article just struck the right chord with me!

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12 Ryan

Laura, I know what you mean. I feel like I always need to be busy as well. but now I’m placing a focus on working smarter, not harder, and the results so far have been very encouraging. :-)

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13 Rich

Love your phrase “let it breathe.” I think this is an important concept for everyone to lern if they want to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Thanks for sharing.

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