My main role as a creative coach in my engagements with my clients is to hold space, ask the right questions, and support them to discover their own answers and move forward in their creative work and lives in a way that works best for them. But there’s also space within my coaching practice to offer personal insights, encouragements, and ideas that may be of service to my clients in their journey’s along the way too.
Today I want to share with you five pieces of encouragement that I share often with my clients when they’re in a situation where I hope it may help them to explore a different perspective and discover how best they can navigate their journey along the way. I never have all of the answers, but if I could encourage you to explore anything in your creative work and life right now it would be the following five things:
Align your expectations with reality
As creative business owners, we’re constantly putting ourselves and our work out there, and it’s inevitable that from time to time we may feel disappointed or like we’ve “failed”. When I start working with a new client and they share that they’re disappointed in their growth in their business so far, or when they worked really hard on a recent launch and feel disappointed that they made £2500 instead of the £25,000 they were hoping for, I always ask the same question:
What were your expectations built upon? Was it on the success stories of others? Your big and awesome hopes and dreams? Or was it rooted in the reality of your business right now?
I believe in dreaming big, in reaching for the stars, and for believing that we’re capable of anything and everything. But I also believe that business is a journey - it’s very rare that we get to where we want to be overnight. And the success stories that take up so much noise on the internet can cloud our perspective of the reality of building a creative business online from scratch.
Next time you’re setting a goal for an upcoming launch, or setting goals for your business and income, ask yourself: have I aligned my expectations with reality? Am I giving myself permission to dream big, push towards big goals, and set myself no limits, while still honouring the fact that this is a journey and that sustainable success takes dedication, time, and hard work?
More than anything, when we align our expectations with reality, we set ourselves up to exist in this journey for the long haul. We’re not in this for the quick wins or overnight success, instead we’re committed to making this happen every step of the way. And we leave ourselves open to the wonders of the big business wins too - but we don’t assume that we’re entitled for them. Instead, we work hard for them and are grateful for everything we make happen as we go.
Take full responsibility and ownership of your journey
The only person who can do the work to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be is yourself. We blame circumstances outside of our control, lack of motivation and inspiration, too much competition, not enough time, and lack of support for why we’ve not made happen what we say we're aching to make happen along the way. But I really believe that what we’re able to do with the cards we’re dealt in the moment we’re in says so much more about us than what we are able to do when everything is all lined up exactly the way we want it to be.
No else can do the hard work for us. It’s no one else’s responsibility whether we make our dreams come true or not. Luck and “right place right time” will always play a part in this, but we cannot take advantage of the good luck and opportunities that may come our way if we’re not already wholeheartedly showing up and doing the work. The minute we take full responsibility of our journey, that’s when we can truly thrive in it along the way.
Commit to honouring your potential
There is nothing more powerful of a pull for so many creatives than the desire to commit to honouring our potential. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Self-Actualisation is at the very top of the pyramid. Our basic and psychological needs must be taken care of before we can reach the top, but once there we are able to achieve our full potential in whatever path we have chosen (or in some cases, whatever path has chosen us).
It’s easy, once we’ve been in business for a while and maybe met some goals already, to become complacent and disengaged from our potential. And in seasons, this is okay - if we’re aching for a little rest or time away from the pursuit of our craft. But I would encourage you to consider always staying hungry, to commit to honouring your potential and becoming the person and the creative you’re meant to be. We only ever stop growing if we stop choosing to show up and stay open to evolving as we go, and I truly believe that there’s a deep fulfilment that comes from committing to our own journey of self-actuliasation along the way. The secret is? Honouring our potential doesn't have to look how it looks for other people. It doesn't always have to look like bright lights and 7-figure success. You get to define what it looks like for yourself.
Be in this for the long game
What’s most important isn’t what we make happen in the next month, or 3, or even 6, it’s what we make happen with our business over a lifetime. If you want this to be your job for the rest of your life, for this to be the way you provide for yourself financially and contribute to the world, you have to be in this for the long game. It’s so easy for us to get lost in and distracted by the here and now - to worry so much about what results we’re getting in our business in this season, and forget to plan intentionally and purposefully for the next seasons ahead to come.
Once we can shift our mindset to more of a longer game vision, we can free ourselves up in so many ways. We give ourselves permission to not having everything figured out right now. We stop feeling so overwhelmed by all of our ideas and desires, as we trust that we have enough time to make it all happen, and we see this journey like a marathon instead of a sprint.
When we obsess over instant gratification, we sacrifice sowing seeds that will be reaped in the long run. Explore what being in this journey for the long game looks like for you - be brave enough to slow down and see the bigger picture. You have a whole lifetime to do everything you’re aching to do - but you have to do the work to make that possible for yourself. If it’s a choice between overnight success without solid enough foundations to save you from fizzling out faster than you started, or a long and joyful career that was maybe more of a slow and steady burn - which one do you choose?
Look inwards for your core answers and desires
My last piece of encouragement to you today is this: you are the expert in your creative work and life. The answers you want and need are almost always already available to you - but the noise of everyone else may be blocking you from hearing them. When we disconnect to our own core answers and desires, we start to build the life we think others want us to build, the kind of life that others will approve of and be comfortable with. But then we feel stuck, unfulfilled, and disconnected.
Be brave enough to carve out space and time to listen to yourself - journal, invest in a coach, meditate, whatever it is that helps you to connect to your core. We lose ourselves when we look to others for our answers - we disempower ourselves from discovering that we’re wildly capable of making intentional and purposeful decisions ourselves. It’s uncomfortable sometimes, to really pay attention to our truth, but it’s a discomfort that’s always worth it.
More than anything, I hope some of these may resonate with you and support you in your creative work and life along the way. Explore how you feel about each of these ideas and encouragements - find your own truth in them and take what can serve you and leave the things behind that won’t. Whatever you do, keep on living a life that feels most meaningful to you!
I’m rooting for you!
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