Bear Maked is no longer my full-time job. Does that mean I failed? Did the business fail? I don’t really know how to judge it. Do I feel like I failed? No, not at all. Are there clear opportunities to do better? Absolutely, there usually are. Reflecting on how I started on this journey, and the main steps I’ve taken, I can see some decisions that I made, and some that I never actually committed to, and why they may have gotten me here.
The biggest contributing factor was a lack of direction. I knew I wanted to make stuff, and make videos about making that stuff. But I also started vending at craft shows, and thought that was fun. I never found a groove for either one of those things. After every craft show, I thought I should make that my focus, and maybe cut back on videos. But every few months I’d put out a run of a few videos in the same number of weeks, and decide that I’d focus on projects with videos. I constantly waffled between those two, never really committing to either.
Then last year, after a rough few days (to put it very mildly), I went into hibernation. After that, I could never really get motivated again to put myself to work. I don’t know why. I still love to make stuff. Whether it was building up inventory for a craft show, or crafting a project just for a fun video, I couldn’t find the drive to commit to doing it at the level needed to call it a ‘job’ anymore. Of course I didn’t realize this for a while. I never really stepped back to think about it. I just kept trying different things to spark that drive. Nothing worked.
Eventually, I got a part time job doing maintenance for my city. I live in a very small town, so I thought since I can make the time, and they need the help, sure, won’t hurt to work a few days a week. That very quickly turned in to me putting in 40 hours a week. And since I was having a good time with the work, I didn’t miss my shop. To clarify, I didn’t miss my shop enough to make me tell them I was working too many hours.
The strangest moment came when I got my first paycheck from the city. It had been so long since I had been able to make a solid amount of money with Bear Maked. Thankfully I have an awesome and patient wife, so it wasn’t much of an issue. But, I knew that my lack of an income was a problem. So when I got paid, and I was actually able to contribute to our monthly bills and such, it relieved a huge amount of stress I didn’t even notice I was carrying around. My own stress about it, as well as the nagging feeling that I knew I was causing the wife an extra amount of stress as she was trying to always support my broke-ass.
Eventually the city ran out of work needed for a part-timer, and I was put out to the curb just like the garbage I had been helping to collect every week around town (not to say they didn’t treat me right, I just couldn’t avoid that metaphor. John, Mike, and Denny are all good dudes!). But, quite suddenly I was thrust right back into “AHH MONEY STRESS” mode. I liked that job. I liked that money.
I didn’t have to think long about what to do next. I needed to find a job again. The city job just kind of fell into my lap, it being a very small town and having a mother-in-law that knows just about everyone and everything that’s happening around here. But now, I needed to actively seek employment. Something that even a year ago I never thought I’d do again. Maybe that’s where you could call this whole thing a failure? When I left Verizon, I planned to never work for anyone else again. Those days were done. Going forward I’ve got my own business and that’ll sustain me. Clearly that was misguided.
So now I’m back working for a large company again. But it’s a job I enjoy doing. I work mostly by myself with easy to manage responsibilities, and I’m constantly doing something. I’m not used to working 12-hour days yet, or having a weird schedule. So my ability to tackle projects right now will be intermittent at best. But I am no longer causing myself an unknown amount of stress, and my wife doesn’t have to worry about a lack of financial support from me. Bear Maked may have failed to meet goals, and be my primary income. But Justin is growing as a person and realized that sacrifices had to be made for the well-being of his family. There’s no better success than that.