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Finding motivation in your business

I recently invited a portion our Braid newsletter list to “ask me anything.” Over the next few weeks I’m going to share some of those questions and my answers. If you’re not subscribed to our list feel free to sign up here:

Question from Karen:
I know what my dream job is, but still feel like I have to have a salaried job before getting to the dream job; I'm the family's sole breadwinner. So how do I find momentum to promote my current work to get a salaried job when my enthusiasm is not super high?

I eventually want to market my watercolors of public paths (note cards and calendars with mini-path network hikes on the back) and eventually add to that teaching plein air painting along the paths. But right now I have to focus on gathering samples, creating a portfolio and website, and start marketing myself for the next salaried day job. How do I stay focused and keep the prize in sight to stay motivated?

Karen




Hi Karen,

Thanks for sharing all of this. In reading your email, it sounds like you know what you need to do. But I have three insights that might help you find the motivation you’re looking for.

tips for finding motivation

TAKE THE SMALLEST NEXT STEP
When I’m not feeling motivated to write or design, my solution to this is always to "just open the file." Or it might be "just lace up your shoes" when I don't feel like exercising.

In other words, just do the first and smallest next step. That's all you need to do. In fact, the prize doesn’t even need to necessarily be in sight to be working for it. It might be well around the bend, but you can still take the next steps to get where you want to go. Don't worry about thinking about the big picture in your day-to-day – that's enough to paralyze anybody from doing anything at all.

The next smallest step for you, Karen, might be deciding which pieces to put in your portfolio. And for today, that’s all you need to do. Tomorrow you can apply for the jobs. The day after that you can start the framework for your website. Task it out and check off the to-do list. You don’t need inspired-action to take small steps.

CREATE THE FEELING NOW
Anytime I am feeling impatient for my next big dream, I try to create the feeling of achieving the goal now.

creating the feelig of success

For example, my big, scary, and improbable goal right now is to have my own bestselling book published and on the shelves in airports. Even typing that out now gets my inner critic going off on a tangent with things so harsh I won’t even share them here. But instead of giving in before I even get started, I give myself a minute to think about what I’ll feel like when I have my bestselling book in the airport: I’ll feel confident, knowledgeable, and legit. That feeling will make my conversations more generous, my time more valuable, and my posture a little taller. So why not have generous conversations, strong boundaries, and good posture now? When I feel the feelings of success before I ever achieve it, it makes me move through the world with confidence. That confidence then cultivates the motivation and behaviors that deliver the success I’m wanting with that much more ease and speed.

So for you Karen, imagine how you will feel when you’re supporting yourself with your watercolors and workshops. How will you move through the world once you’ve achieved this goal? How could you begin behaving as if success is already yours?

The answers to these questions might circle you back to taking the next smallest step to making the dream job a reality now. Maybe you find yourself having conversations with potential collaborators who will help you host a teaching workshop on the weekend. Perhaps you carve out just 30 minutes a day to begin painting now.

KEEP THE PRIZE IN SIGHT (LITERALLY)
My final recommendation to your question of “how to keep the prize in sight” is to literally create space for the vision. Mood boarding by cutting out inspiring images from magazines and tacking them to a corkboard in your home is an old school way of doing this. Your brain will acknowledge these goals on a daily basis and work toward them for you, even when you’re not feeling motivated or inspired to do the work yourself. And if you haven’t done The Chalkboard Method yet, this might be a great way to create space for your goals as well.

Moodboard for motivation

Finally, I want you to trust that you’re doing everything you can, in the right time, to make your creative career a dream come true.

Keep going,
Kathleen

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love and business

Tara here, and I want to talk about love. Specifically the word “love,” and if it has a place in your business or your brand. We all hear and see it all the time: “Do what you love!”

Everyone says “do what you love!” But does love have a place in your business?

using the word love in business

We say it too. It’s inspiring, and it’s a reminder to make our own rules and define our own success. But I also know a lot of us pepper the word “love” into our business all the time—especially when we’re talking to a new client or a new collaborator and we want to express how we can help them.

How often do you say the word “love” in your emails or posts to your clients, prospects, or peers?

So social media posts aside, let’s talk about when you’re having that new potential client conversation. They are usually over email, the prospect is inquiring about working together, and you’re giving them a glimpse into what you do.

So here’s how—in the course of an email—I might drop in the L word without even realizing it:

--

“I love the vision your are sharing with us.”

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“We love working with creative entrepreneurs like you.”

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“I’d love to share some examples of the kind of work we do.”

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“If I can walk you through the process, you’ll love what it can do for your vision, your positioning, and your brand.”

--

I’m being genuine, but I’m also taking a shortcut using “love” to infuse the enthusiasm and warmth I actually feel, and also not freaking people out with all-the-words or sounding like a consultant who is all business, no personality.

This is completely socially acceptable. Depending on my client, it’s business-acceptable too. But add in exclamation points to the end (do it, go back and read this with exclamation points) and it can start to sound a little too perky (and desperate to over-promise and over-please).

If I were to be more accurate with my words, cool it on the eagerness, and not just type “love” willy-nilly, what I really mean to say taps into more of my “expert and guide” voice:

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“I appreciate you sharing your vision with us. That was thoughtful of you, and I’m glad you reached out.”

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“We specialize in working with creative entrepreneurs like you.”

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“If I can share some examples of the kind of work we do, you can start to see the deliverables we can create for you.”

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“If I can walk you through the process of what it’s like to work with us, and what you can expect along the way, you can start to imagine what our method can do for your vision, positioning, and brand and see if it’s a fit for you.”

--

You’re expecting me to say, “cut out the love-talk and use more of your expert-guide voice.” But I’m not. it’s just how we are as creative entrepreneurs—it’s a mix of both. Some days I go with the love. Some days I go with the guidance. Usually it’s a mix of both. There’s no formula to it other than the voice in my head that says, “check yourself here, are you being real?”

We love the idea of loving our work and our clients. But really, we just want to exchange our talents, our time, and our guidance for compensation and appreciation for a job well done.

professional client emails

Maybe that is the definition of loving the work we do after all.

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How to Balance Learning & Doing for Entrepreneurs | Braid Creative

balance learning & doing

Kathleen here. Last night I was browsing the Kindle bookstore looking for a fictional book I could escape into. Before I knew it, I was browsing personal development and business books. Does this ever happen to you? I’m guessing you’re a student of life and just as invested in learning All The Things as I am.

The hard part is balancing the learning with the doing. It’s easy to begin to hoard knowledge without ever implementing it. Or becoming overwhelmed with all the things you should be doing according to the last book, course, or webinar you attended.

don't hoard knowledge

So today, I want to share a couple ways I’ve balanced learning and doing:

1. Take stock of what you already know

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the things you don’t know, make a list of everything you’ve already learned. Think about education, courses, books, and conferences you’ve attended. Make a list and next to each one write down even just one thing you learned.

2. Want to go back to school?

Any time I start fantasizing about getting a masters degree in creative writing, I decide to just sit down and do some creative writing instead. Sometimes the best way to learn is by actually doing the thing. (And on that note, can I get an honorary master’s in business from somebody???)

3. You don’t have to know it all

You guys, it wasn’t until early last year that I knew what a “content upgrade” was. Just recently I learned the importance of an auto-drip sequence for your email list. I was running a profitable and successful business long before I knew what a sales funnel was or even had an email list. There are a lot of people trying to scare you into buying their thing in order for you to be successful, but if you learn one thing today it is this: you don’t have to know it all to be successful.

4. Set a “learning” intention or goal

Before you read another book or buy another course ask yourself “What is it that I want to learn?” So for example, let’s say I pick up the most recent Seth Godin book, before I crack the spine I might say something like: “I’m hoping to learn just one technique for growing my list.” or “I want to get more comfortable selling myself.” That way when I’m reading through the content, I’m focused on acquiring knowledge that will support my intention, rather than getting distracted or overwhelmed by all the content.

5. What’s the key takeaway?

And how are you going to act on it? Any time I go to a conference or read a new book, I reflect on the one thing that really stood out and I act on just that one thing. For example, early last year I was at a small mastermind retreat in Mexico with a few creative entrepreneurs. I learned a lot of things, but the one thing that stood out most was that I should be adding content upgrades to my most trafficked blog posts in order to grow my list. I came home, looked at my metrics, designed some worksheets, and asked my assistant to help me with the technical side of adding opt-ins to those posts. Since then my list has grown by 2,000 people.

how to balance learning & doing

The final thing I want to leave you with is that you don’t have to be an expert in the idea you’re implementing before you try it out. But it’s not enough to hoard knowledge without ever acting on it. So… what’s one thing you want to learn? What’s one thing you learned recently that you can implement that you haven’t acted on yet?

what's one thing you want to learn

P.S. Lately, we’ve been telling our ECourse students that if they just tackle ONE lesson and learn ONE thing they’re going to get the most bang for their buck in Lesson 3: Your Creative Expertise and in Lesson 5: Shaping Your Brand Messages. Okay, that’s two lessons. But truly, if you JUST did those two lessons you’re going to learn a lot you can immediately act on to attract more dream clients.

Our Braid Method Branding ECourse has 7 modules, a workbook filled with branding exercises, audio tracks (so you can learn on the go), and a live quarterly masterclass where we dig in and answer any questions you might have. This course is DIY at-your-own-pace. Learn more and see if it’s a fit here.

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THE BRAID BLOG from TARA AND KATHLEEN
Braid Creative & Consulting is branding and visioning for creative entrepreneurs and purposeful businesses. The Braid Blog is where we share weekly insights and resources for getting clear about your vision and voice, sharing content that attracts your dream client, and creating the brand positioning you want to be known for.

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