Monday, September 25, 2017

Setting Priorities: Why I Stopped Direct Sales

Please note that this writing very much reflects my personal experience with Direct Sales.  I personally know many women, in particular, for whom Direct Sales works wonders. I also will not swear off Direct Sales forever - but I know that, in this season of my life, I can no longer devote my energy to this type of endeavor.

After a summer of focusing on repairing a fragmented mind, I knew I still had work to do.  Over a year and a half ago, I made a choice to begin selling for a Direct Sales/Multi-Level Marketing company, in addition to my full-time job.  It felt right in the moment, but the more time I took reflect on where I wanted to focus my energies, the less I wanted to keep selling.

I took an unofficial break from Direct Sales for the summer - no major announcements, no cancelling of websites or subscriptions - and took a look at my businesses again once the school year started. After a great deal of reflection, stopping still felt like the best choice.  And here's why.

1.  I desperately need a social media break. Direct sales, at least the model I tried to follow, required my near constant presence on social media. I needed to make posts, answer questions, post sales, go live, and more.  When logged on, I would, of course, wander over to explore other posts, peruse sales, and more.  And I would get lost.  While I'm not swearing off social media (I'm fairly certain some relatives would disown me should I stop sharing photos of the kiddos), I need the option to take extended breaks.  When I no longer felt the necessity to check-in online, exploring social media become fun again. And it also opened up the very real need to unfollow people I don't actually know.  I no longer need my social media feeds to serve as a business avenue, and I'm enjoying what I see a lot more these days.

2. I value fitness.  I've lost almost ten pounds since I stopped using most of my free time on direct sales.  I had seriously considered continuing with one of my businesses, but when I spent (off and on) bits and pieces of two days trying to simply log on to the company's site to place an order, I finally saw the light.  The evening of the second day, I chose to go for a run with my son instead of refreshing the website all night.  That felt amazing.  In the weeks that have followed, I have made similar choices, and I feel so much more like myself. More importantly, I recognize my body more than I have in months. I have my eyes set on more changes, and now I have the time to make them happen.

3. I want to see my friends as friends, not customers. This point, in particular, feels especially personal.  Some Direct Sales mavens are true champs at building a customer base well beyond their friends.  That's not how the process flowed for me. And I started to entertain the thought of no longer asking my friends to buy products from me.  I liked the way that thought felt, rumbling around in my mind, and so I officially made the call to quit.

4. I want to be better at what matters.  I had spread myself far too thin and wasn't really good at any one thing anymore. I started this school year without a single thought of selling products to customers.  I can schedule my weekends around my son's soccer schedule and not around sales parties.  Coworkers have commented that they notice my improved/increased focus, and while I'm still struggling to keep afloat as the parent of a new kindergartner, at least I have the mental space to try!

5. I have chosen to pursue minimalism where I can.  I have worked through several books on minimalism, have gutted our home (and will continue to do so), but my next step in minimalism is to structure my whole life around these principles. I know that I can't quite follow true minimalism (I like those new pairs of Converse a little too much), but I can definitely spread a healthy dose of this philosophy in my life.  That means paring down commitments. I did this carefully and strategically - with intention - letting go of commitments gradually over time.  I checked with myself with each "no," ensuring that I wasn't flaming out or burning bridges.  Several months into this process, I still feel confident in my decisions and know that I may have more to make.

No, I don't have a big tell-all story. I won't even name the companies I quit.  I do know that I had grown tired of talking, thinking, and worrying about these small businesses. I wanted room in my mind for my priorities to spread out, to deepen.  I can be more deeply involved with reading to my son at night.  I can pay more attention to my students. I can text with my best friends instead of running sales. I can dance to Moana with my daughter as long as she wants.  I can sit with husband and watch television instead of my phone.

I don't have less in my life after quitting direct sales.  Instead, I have more of what matters.  

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