I’m a big believer in doing things on our own terms, in our own way, and by our own rules - especially when it comes to building our own creative life and careers.
And this isn’t just my authority issues talking; I really do believe that the best things happen when we question all the “rules” that constrict us along the way, develop the ability to push through boundaries and see things differently and, most of all, protect our creativity and our vision from being stifled while we work hard to make big and beautiful things happen with our work and our lives.
We’ve all heard the phrase: comparison is the thief of joy. In this digital age, it’s so easy to see what’s going on around us and compare our own life, our own decisions, and our own highs and lows to other creatives in our industry. We can start to make decisions in response to the decisions and values of others, instead of developing our own ability to listen to ourselves. This is a sure fire way to find ourselves with a creative career that is unfulfilling, lacking in impact, and dissatisfying along the way.
Maybe you worry if you’re doing it wrong because your business doesn’t look like others in your industry.
Maybe you’re afraid you just don’t have “what it takes” because your brain isn’t wired in the way you’re told it should be.
Maybe you just can’t stop scrolling through social media and comparing your 90% to someone else’s 10%.
Or maybe you can’t see where your own goals, vision, and dreams fit in an industry where the noise seems to be catering to something else.
Whatever it is, I have three questions for you today if you feel like comparison and self-doubt are holding you back from truly finding freedom and fulfilment in your work and your life.
1. How do you want to be spending your days?
It took asking myself this question to remind myself recently of what it is I truly want to spend my days doing.
I spend the majority of my work week with my coaching clients. And I love this - alongside content creation, working with clients is where I truly feel like I enter my zone of genius and where I’m able to do my best work and, more specifically, the work that I feel I’m here to do. So many creative friends (with very kind intentions, of course) have told me I’m crazy for spending so much time every week in meetings - and when I hear of the awesome work my creative friends, peers, and the people I admire and respect are doing with passive income I can start to worry that I’m doing this whole creative business thing wrong.
But when I ask myself the question - what do I want to spend my days doing? - my answer currently looks a little something like this:
- Coaching calls
- Content creation
- Exploring and spending time with the people I love
I had to remember that working with clients one-on-one is what I came here to do, and it’s what truly lights a fire in my soul and makes me excited to get out of bed every morning. And I’m thankfully also able to dedicate entire days in the week just to content creation and I have enough freedom to take time off to travel and explore throughout the year too.
This is a very roundabout way of me saying that sometimes I think it’s so easy for us to get distracted by the awesome lives of the people around us that we can forget about what it is we truly want to spend our days doing.
So ask yourself this question: how do you want to be spending your days? Sign out of social media so you can’t be distracted by how awesome other people’s days look (sometimes this can take us away from our own vision for our life) and write down what those dream days look like for you. What is the work you want to be doing? What is the life you want to be living?
2. What impact do you want to have with your work?
There is so much money talk in the creative business world, which is awesome because it’s great to see each other succeed and see that anything really is possible when great ideas, hard work, and determination are working side by side. But sometimes thinking so much about how much money we want to make can distract us from exploring an even more important question: what impact do we want to have with our work?
Who do we want to help? How do we want to serve? How do we want to find fulfilment through our work? What ideas do we want to make space for? How do we want our business and the work we do to make people feel? What’s the bigger picture?
When we decide how to monetise, scale, and grow our business before honing in on the impact we want to have, that’s when things can start to get messy along the way. Especially for purpose-driven, big-hearted, curious creatives like you and me. This is way more than just a way to pay the bills for us.
Turn off the noise, forget how everyone else is telling you to run your business, and ask yourself: what impact do I want to have? What contribution to the world do I want to bring with the work I do each day?
3. What do you need for a happy, healthy, and creative life?
When we choose to live a creative life, when we decide to make our livelihood from the work we feel called to do, and when we’re doing it with our values by our side every step of the way, our end goal is usually a happy, healthy, fulfilling, impactful, and sustainable creative life. The best part? We get to define what that looks like for ourselves.
Here’s something I’ve seen so many of my clients struggle with: chasing after what they think they want, instead of making space for what it is they truly need to cultivate and build for the life they really want to be living.
So write a list. Mine currently looks a little something like this:
- Freedom to work where I want to
- Financial stability and independence
- Clients who I’m able to do impactful, transformative, and purposeful work with
- A business that allows me to do work that feels bigger than just my own needs
- Space and time to explore and develop my ideas
- Freedom to define my own schedule and routine
- Space to take care of my health and my wellbeing
- Space to nurture and nourish the relationships that matter in my life
- A commitment to my own personal growth and development
- Meaningful connections through both my work and my life
Look at your life and your work and ask yourself - what do I need for a happy, healthy, and creative life? Write it down and let it guide you with the creative, business, and strategic decisions you’re making along the way.
To quote Mary Oliver:
I want to encourage you today to do it on your own terms, in your own way, and by your own rules. If you’re stuck in the comparison trap, or if you’re struggling to break through all of the noise, I hope these three questions can help you on your way to finding focus, clarity and direction moving forward.
And if you're happy to share, I’d love to know your answers to these questions in the comments section below.
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