New Year's is probably one of my favorite times of the year – because there is nothing I love more than new beginnings. There is so much promise and potential with each passing year. But with that comes a smidge of fear and potential for (bum-bum-bum) FAILURE. If you hate New Year’s resolutions it might be because it’s too mainstream and trite to set impossible goals on January 1. I’m with you and would agree except that I’ll take any occasion to get my dreamy goal-setting on. Or you may dread New Years because every year you make a new resolution and lose momentum after a few weeks – only to make you feel guilty and worse than if you had just kept coasting along as-is.
So today I’d like to invite you to try a new approach to setting your New Year’s resolutions. I want you to grab two sheets of paper. On one, draw a line down the middle – on the left side write down “2015 / Reflect”. On the right side write down “2016 / Dream”.
STEP 1: Reflect.
Get really honest here. Take the time to be real with yourself about regrets or where you could’ve improved. But on the flip-side this is no place to be humble. You can brag on yourself about all the things you did right and use this space to give yourself a big pat on the back.
• What went right in 2015?
• What would you do differently?
• What was the biggest lesson you learned?
• What did you create?
• If you could sum up 2015 in just a few words what would they be? And why?
STEP 2: Dream.
Get dreamy here. This is going to look suspiciously like traditional New Year's resolution goal setting here. But you’re not married to anything you write down. In fact, spoiler alert: you’re going to destroy this piece of paper after you’re done using it to brainstorm.
• What goals would you like to accomplish in 2016?
• What’s the biggest risk you could take?
• If you could travel to one place where would you go?
• What does your ideal day look like?
STEP 3: Burn.
Take your 2015 / 2016 Reflect & Dream sheet of paper and cut it in half. Burn the 2015 reflection. You got it down on paper – you honored your past and got dreamy about the future. But guess what? You don’t live in the past anymore. Now take your 2016 dreams and set fire to those too. I know it sounds a bit woo, but I believe some magic happens when you quite literally put fire to your dreams.
STEP 4: Feel.
Now bust out your second sheet of paper and label it “FEEL”.
• Start a brain dump, mind-map, or organized list of things you would like to feel in 2016. Write down as much or as little as you’d like. If you’re like me you’ll start listing things you want to do – that’s okay. Just ask yourself “How do I imagine it will make me feel when I meditate / exercise / write…?” – those feelings words are what you’re going for.
• Once you’ve had a good brainstorm circle, highlight, or somehow narrow in on three to five words that really resonate with how you’d like to feel.
• If you need more help determining your core desired feelings, or simply want to dig deeper and more thoroughly into this, I highly recommend Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map. She’s revolutionized the way I look at goal setting and for that I am forever grateful.
Ta-da! These “feeling” words aren’t your resolutions but rather your intentions for the new year. These feelings will dictate every decision you make moving forward. It’s not about setting goals but letting the way you want to feel drive the actions you take.
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P.S. If you like this post you might like my DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions. It’s 4 emails x 4 weeks (16 emails total) for just $40. Complete with worksheets, exercises, mantras, meditations, and to-dos for time management, decision-making, and strategies for living more of what you love – in work and life. You can learn more about what you’ll get and purchase anytime here.
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Tara and I work with lots of creatives who want to empower, inspire, champion, and charge. We love some grand vision as much as the next guy but these kinds of lofty goals always leave us asking “Okay, that’s great – but what do you actually want to be doing all day?”
If you can’t identify what your day of empowering and inspiring actually looks like, in very specific detail, than you’re setting yourself up for failure.
A couple weeks ago we touched on this very topic in our Brand Visioning Webinar.
Empowering, inspiring, and championing are really great core values – but what’s the action? (click to tweet) And how do you actually explain how you provide that to your audience?
You have to remember that you cannot sell inspiration, you cannot sell empowerment, and you cannot sell customer service. (click to tweet) Those are things that people experience after they’ve already hired you, so you need to get specific about what you’re offering that might create those experiences as a byproduct.
One of the reasons this gets so hard for creative entrepreneurs is because often we have so many different interests, and we don’t want to “limit” ourselves to just one thing. But you have to remember: It just starts with one thing, and you can always add on those layers to weave together your various interests into a cohesive brand later on. Nothing is permanent, you can always change it if it’s not working, but you’ve got to get specific or your followers will be confused as to what it is you’re actually offering.
So try this:
Ask yourself: If you could just do one thing all day, every day, what would that be?
Then ask yourself: If you could stop doing one thing, what would that be?
Now, let’s put the big picture aside and get specific about what you want: Do you want to be making things with your hands? Are you designing or delegating? Do your meetings take place in coffee shops or do you prefer to keep your communication streamlined to email? Are you blogging, Tweeting, and / or Facebooking? Are you teaching, guiding, and coaching? What do you want to be known for? Are you selling a service or a product? What’s the deliverable? What’s your creative process? What do you not want to be doing?
If you’re frankly not sure what you want to be doing all day, you’re not alone. Try this exercise to create a specific vision of what you want your ideal day to look like:
We’ve all found ourselves at times feeling overwhelmed, scattered, and spread thin at what’s supposed to be the ever-fulfilling dream job we’ve created for ourselves. I think it’s because we don’t have a clear vision of what we want our life (or job) to actually look like. We’re overlooking the details for a lofty ideal that we can’t quite pinpoint. So sign up for our Letters for Creatives Newsletter to get our Ideal Day worksheet that will help you to really narrow in on your dream day.
Be sure to get as specific as possible about how your future self experiences the day using all five senses – what you feel, what you smell, your environment, the kinds of conversations you’re having, and the work you may or may not be doing. Be mindful about not getting too generic or broad with your vision – the dream is in the details! Start a Pinterest board to bring visuals to your dream day.
Now once you’ve day dreamed about your ideal day take just one element of that day and make it a reality. Start small and commit for 40 days – this will make it more likely that your new dreamy habit sticks! If you can incorporate this aspect of your future ideal day into your present day reality you’re one step closer to living that vision.
The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to supporting themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.
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As creatives, we are so often trained to adapt our style to the task at hand. We are taught that the approach to each project should fit the challenge, and our own hand in getting there should leave no trace of our own point-of-view. Like creative chameleons, we are there to make our product or service fit the client’s wants, needs, and desires.
But we’re going to object to this one – just a little. Now before this ruffles feathers (which it does, oh my!), let us tell you why. You’re not just a conduit with impeccable taste, an impersonator of any style who also knows their way around (pick one) a laptop, a lens, a drafting table, a chef’s table, a spreadsheet, a yoga mat. Designers are not just pixel pushers, photographers are not just camera operators, writers are not just transcriptionists, nutritionists are not just diet coaches, and life coaches are not just a shoulder to cry on.
You don’t have to be a creative chameleon, erasing all trace of your own style or point of view, to create, advise, guide, and make – for others. (click to tweet)
Of course, we want to create (and create results) for our clients. But this should not be mistaken for operating on puppet strings. How do we balance approaching their wants and needs with respect and empathy – while still asserting our creative expertise?
Your creativity and your knowledge is how you serve. Your creativity is the gift you bring to the party. But what if you could be the kind of creative who’s known for her really great signature style or her tough-love approach or her unusually subtle yet instinctual approach? What if you could be that friend who doesn’t necessarily stick to the line-item gift registry, but always gives the most thoughtful, unexpected, memorable, and personalized presents?
That’s a gift in itself – to be able to create something that completely fits the person you’re giving it to, but still has this quality that always reminds them of you. They may not even realize it, but the “you” is woven in there, and it’s part of the reason they love it. You weren’t just invited to the party to bring a gift, you were invited for what you bring to the mix.
You weren’t just invited to the party to bring a gift. You were invited for what you bring to the mix. (click to tweet)
We’re not saying be a wildly unpredictable, loose cannon – the kind of creative that no one knows what they’re going to get – “when she’s great, she’s great, but don’t catch her on an off day!” We believe (strongly) in balancing this signature style point-of-view of yours with a very logical and reassuring creative process. Your process is what gets you the collaborative input you need from your client.
Try this: Start claiming your words. What are the words that describe your ideal project or engagement? Your approach? Your personal style? Your aesthetic? Are you all about handcrafted? Or clean lines? Are you more dark and evocative or whimsical and vintage? Are you a listener? Are you a tough-love cheerleader? Are you a storyteller? Are you an advocate? It’s hard narrowing in, and we know you aren’t just ONE style, but we bet you could sum up your approach in just a few words if you really had to. Think of it like the desert island question: “if you were stranded on a desert island and could only work in this one style or approach for the rest of your life, what would it be?”
Declaring your style is a small but mighty first step to becoming a creative who is sought out for their specialty. (click to tweet)
Your Style Declaration. Fill in the blanks to describe your work style or even your personal brand style: “My work style is ______ [ earthy ] ______ meets ____ [ empathetic ] ______.”
Then elaborate a little more:
“Where you might see this is when I use _______ [ one of your special skills here ] ______, or I share ________ [ one of your behind-the-scenes approaches here ] __________.”
Then make it a little more collaborative, how you get inspired, and then how you in turn inspire or guide your clients:
“I draw inspiration from ____[ what fuels you to do what you do]______________, and I hope I inspire my clients to ______[ what fuels your clients / their results / after working with you________.”
This isn’t you in a vacuum working solo without any input or collaboration, after all! But it is your style declaration. And it’s just the first small, but mighty, step in becoming a creative expert who is sought out for their ability to inspire, guide, make and deliver on their true specialty.
The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.
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