At the very beginning of January 2016 I decided to make this a wholehearted year.
I shared what this meant for me in-depth in this post here. To stay as wholehearted and intentional as possible in 2016, I’ve decided to take this year quarter-by-quarter and embrace my own approach to the 12-week year. Quarter 1 has now come to end and looking back it has probably been my favourite ever quarter in my creative life so far.
I’ve slowed down, I’ve focused on digging deep and doing only the most essential work, and I’ve committed to reconnecting to my creativity, my wellbeing, and my best ideas. Today I want to share with you some of my reflections on Q1 and the biggest takeaways and lessons from this season in my creative work and life.
1. Intuition and intention before strategy
Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned as a business owner this season is that I run my business from a place of intuition and intention first and strategy will always come second to that. My bigger vision and the heart behind my work fuels me so much more than results alone ever can - and strategy by itself without intuition and intention guiding it cannot serve my bigger vision along the way. This may go against the grain of what we’re taught online as creatives, but I’ve found so much more peace and focus in my business by letting my intuition and bigger vision guide the way and building my strategy to serve those instead of making myself smaller to fit around one-size-fits-all strategy and quick-fix formulas.
How this has practically looked in my business is focusing more on how I want to feel in my business, and what impact I want to have with my work, and how I want my business to enable me to live the life I want, instead of being laser-focused on results, figures, and statistics instead. I’ve still been able to reach my income and creative goals, but without feeling like I’ve had to compromise my core vision, intentions, and values along the way.
2. Rest before you're tired
After burning out pretty badly late last year, rest and my wellbeing have been at the forefront of my focus during the first quarter of this year. Making space for more rest, prioritising myself as much as I do my business, and embracing a healthier and more focused routine has changed everything for me this season.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is this - I have to rest before I’m tired. If I wait until I’m burnt out, recovery takes so much longer and my business, my creativity, my wellbeing, and relationships suffer so much more in the process. Instead, if I actively make space for rest and recovery time every single day, week, and month, burn out can hopefully no longer be a part of my creative work and life. Making rest as much of an essential as work has enabled me to function at my highest level in both my work and my life during this first quarter of the year.
3. I have to live it to give it
A huge lesson I’ve learned is this: I have to make space in my own work and life for what it is I’m trying to deliver through my creative work along the way. I encourage my clients to be brave, to create outside of their comfort zone, to listen to their values and intuition and stay true to them every step of the way, but I can be of no real use to them if I’m not also prioritising that in my own creative work and life.
Embracing that part of my job as a creative coach is to be the very best, most intentional version of myself has been one of the biggest catalysts for freedom in my creative life this season. I can no longer hide behind excuses or fear or the distraction of "busy" - instead I know I have to wholeheartedly engage with my life and my values if I want to truly show up and be of value with my work along the way. This has made scheduling my own personal growth, development, and wellbeing into my routine so much easier when in the past guilt would hold me back from valuing my own journey as much as I do my clients and the growth of my business.
4. Trusting yourself, your business, and the process
For a long time I approached my business from a place of anxiety, scarcity, and fear. I would worry about money more often than what was probably healthy, and I would question every decision I made and wonder if I was just doing everything wrong and whether I even had “permission” to be a business owner in the first place. This fuelled my struggle with imposter syndrome and left me feeling very tense and uneasy in my creative work and life.
This season I have been digging deep and working hard to trust myself, my business, and the process more so that those anxious feelings can no longer distract me from doing my best work and living my most wholehearted life along the way. What I’ve accepted is that I have to trust in what I’ve built, in my ability to make things happen, and in this journey that we call creative living if I truly want to thrive in my business, creativity, and life. Finding the courage to give up control, be more present in the everyday, and really start to trust myself, my business, and the process has been an incredible experience so far this year. I wouldn’t say I’ve completely mastered this yet - I have a feeling it will be a lifelong journey - but I’m finding so much more peace along the way now that I’m accepting that trusting myself more isn’t the same as being complacent, and instead it’s exactly what I need to stay focused on what truly matters along the way.
5. Margin is where the magic happens
One of the biggest things I’ve focused on this season is being less busy and making more space for margin in my schedule each week. Last year I was just jumping from meeting to meeting, task to task, with hardly any downtime in-between. I was running on autopilot, just trying to keep up, and by the time I was done for the day my tank was completely emptied and in need of recovery before jumping straight back into it the next day.
This year I’ve embraced margin - time throughout the week and in my days where there is nothing scheduled other than just space to create, explore, and exist. And this is where the magic has really started to happen - my best ideas, my deepest work, and the personal growth that has fuelled so much joy and discovery in this season. By leaving behind “busy” and instead embracing a more focused, intentional, and purposeful routine, I’ve found myself actually achieving more and thriving more in my work and my life - and in a way that speaks so much truer to my values and vision along the way.
More than anything, this has been my season of choosing more. More joy, more focus, more clarity, more peace. My work and my life have worked alongside each other in a way that has really complimented the growth and joy of each, and the biggest lesson I’m learning is that finding fulfilment as a creative business owner starts with deciding what that truly looks like for you, and then making space for it every step of the way.
I hope Q1 has treated you well. I’d love to know in the comments below - what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned this season?
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