It’s funny how my final diary entry corresponds with the unusual confluence of three holidays: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and the start of the Christmas season. The funny part is that as I reflect on this year, reviewing my writings in an attempt to find a theme or a lesson, what strikes me as the only possible theme is “excess.” In a week full of too much eating, too much shopping, decorating, celebrating and gathering I also see my business efforts over the past year as excessive. In my home-based, solo travel business, I’ve just got too many turkeys in the oven, too many guests at the table, a fridge over-flowing with left overs and far too many “to-do” lists. It’s just impossible to give each holiday, (and in this case each project) the respect and attention it deserves. I find that in my attempts to do it all, I am losing the original passion and reason for doing it.
As an aging baby-boomer, I should know better. Isn’t everyone talking about “downsizing” and repeating the mantra that, “less is more?” Yet, even though I began the year with every intention of staying focused, honing in on my Tasteful Travel (culinary and wine themed) niche, I inadvertently widened my road. I got side-tracked and experimented with a wide variety of social media marketing initiatives and found it hard to keep up. I attended too many conferences and have tried in vain to keep up with too many different suppliers rather than nurturing relationships with only a few of the most relevant. I’ve taken on projects outside of my specialty and was not pleased with the result. In short, I’ve worked a lot of overtime without giving my core business focus the respect and attention it deserves. As a “big picture” thinker, I’m full of ideas and dreams, but I don’t have the time and energy to implement them all. I see that it’s time to start down-sizing and re-focusing my business goals and daily activities on only those directly in line with my specialty.
I write this as a self-review and not a confession. My involvement as a writer for this column has allowed me the opportunity to document my activities and thoughts over the year and then to look back on them in judgment. In my first column, I said I was looking forward to sharing my successes and failures with readers and I think I’ve done that. Your comments and the writings of other agents have encouraged me and helped me grow and have shown that I’m not the only one facing issues like time-management, technology, client gifts and advertising budgets. I had anticipated that through the writing I could exercise my discipline and creativity and this has been especially enjoyable for me. Overall, this little gig has been a valuable and positive experience which I am very grateful for.
There is an interesting thing about diaries; reading your own is a sometimes painful reminder of the lessons you have learned while reading someone else’s may help you feel better about yourself or possibly challenge yourself in new ways. Put more succinctly by humorist David Sedaris, “If you read somebody’s diary, you get what you deserve.” Already I’m taking steps to make sure 2014 will be a year of moderation rather than excess. This week I’m setting goals that will help keep me on the narrow road, working less while being more efficient and keeping my passion alive. I hope you have been aided or challenged in some way through all of the diary entries this year.
Pam Hallberg is a travel consultant who enjoys arranging food and wine themed tours and cruises. She owns her own home-based business, Hallberg Travel & Tours: Creating Tasteful Travel Experiences.