Kathleen here and today I want to admit that work, life, the blend, and the balance has managed to kick my ass this week. Back-to-back client meetings, planning for the future of Braid Creative, creating content, coming down from a big talk and already prepping for the next – it's the good kind of stress that I typically thrive on. But then add to the mix 1.) a nocturnal baby with a stubborn fever, 2.) my own symptoms of unrequited wanderlust, and 3.) a serious case of “never-enough-time-itis” – and I'm melting down. So even though a big part of my work is coaching other creatives through the work / life hullabaloo I'm still susceptible getting stuck, scattered, and spread thin.
But here's the deal... I'm comfortable admitting that I don't feel like I have it all together all the time because most of us don't. Think of the most successful person you know. Even she suffers from insecurities from time-to-time. I mean, I bet even Beyonce has her days! As I get vulnerable with my creative confidants and tell them that I'm burning out they almost seem relieved because "ME TOO!" – from homework battles with their kids to the general pressure of running your own thing and chasing the dream. It can be overwhelming.
So what do you do when you feel like you've taken a work / life beating? Follow the energy. Let me explain.
IDENTIFY THE ENERGY LEAKS
First, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Get centered. Now, take stock of what's going on in your work and life. Mentally walk through your day from beginning to end. Where are there energy leaks? For example, how does your email inbox make you feel? Is it draining? How are your client meetings? Do you feel fried after working on a project? How is your sleep? What about your relationships? Do some of them leave you feeling toxic? How do you feel after spending time on social media? Do you feel connected or like you've been caught in a comparison trap? Energy leaks can be big and little – from abusive clients to a broken pen you keep picking up. Try to be honest about the big ones and mindful of the small ones.
DO MORE OF WHAT GIVES YOU ENERGY
Alright, now that you've identified the energy leaks it's time to pinpoint the things that give you energy. If you're an extrovert you might get energy from coffee with a new friend, a fun networking opportunity, taking a new class, or having a dinner party with pals. If you're an introvert you might gather energy from a good book, a long walk, or meditation. (If you're like most creatives I know you have a good mix of intro and extro-vertedness – so a mix of both may do you good). Now take stock of the work you do – which projects make you feel really good? What kinds of clients do you seem to have the most chemistry with? When it comes to exercise do you feel more restored and energized after a sweaty yoga session, a long run, or some intense crossfit? What creatively energizes you? Do you love writing, taking photos, sketching, gardening, cooking?
Once you pinpoint what gives you energy start doing more of that. Make it a part of your job description. Do the things that give you the most creative energy first thing in the morning and right after lunch. Develop a new offering or product that utilizes more of what energizes you. Or maybe just keep it for yourself (as a passion project or hobby) but schedule time for it into your day or week. Oh, and the stuff that drains you? Do less of that. Try delegating it to someone else or just don't do it at all. Or at least take a closer look at it and ask yourself "why" you're doing it and how it could be less draining.
What are your energy leaks? Let us know on Facebook!
Need more Creative Coaching? Check out my DIY Coaching for Creatives email sessions. It's $40 for 4 weeks of how to live-what-you-love content delivered straight to your inbox. See if it's a good fit and sign up here.
If you need a little help shaping up your blog, social media, or even everyday words- our next Braid ECourse, Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You is now open for registration and will be in-session October 17 - 26. Learn more and register here.
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Last week I gave a talk at The Circles Conference, a two-day gathering for designers and artists to learn and get inspired. Because I only work with other working creatives I decided to use this chance to talk about so many of the patterns I see – the struggles but also daydreams we working creatives all seem to share in common no matter what city we live in. Most of us share The Dream of having a job with purpose, creative fulfillment, and control of our own schedules. But we also share The Fear. The fear that keeps us from creating that dream job, from leaving the day job, from owning our expertise, and the fear that has us feeling like frauds.
These are painful and relatable fears we have as working creatives – but we gotta push through them so we can get back to work, right? So how do you push through the fears? I suggest the following:
Get specific about the worst case scenario – what does failure actually look like?
Get specific about the ideal day – what do you really want?
Make a mantra to help remind you of your dreams
Make a decision and move forward
You can see more by watching the Circles talk I gave here.
The questions I got from the crowd were so great. Here was one that really stuck with me:
“How do you know if you’ve made the right decision?”
My answer? Surprise, surprise – it’s get specfic. When you set goals, and get really specific about those goals, you’ll know when you’ve achieved them and you can celebrate your success. Whether that’s a certain salary, a dreamy partner-in-crime, the perfect car, or a big vacation. Be clear on what success looks like so that when you get it you don’t move the bar higher without acknowledging your accomplishments first.
But as I was reflecting on that question on my road trip back home, I think I was being asked: “What if I look back and realize my decision was wrong?”
So here’s my answer:
The decision itself doesn’t matter nearly as much as the act of deciding. In other words, I believe that if you really know what you want and make any decision at all it will move you closer to where you need to be. Whereas spinning in your head by weighing out all the pros and cons and possible outcomes of your decisions won’t get you anywhere.
So the question then becomes: what do you really want?
I’ll be writing more about pinpointing what it is you really want in this week’s Letters for Creatives – which you can sign up for here.
Our Braid ECourse Dream Customer Catching is in-session this week but our next ECourse Shape Up Your Content: Tame Your Ideas and Tell People How to Buy You is now open for registration and will be in-session October 17 - 26. Learn more and register here.
Craving more work / life introspection? You might like to try the DIY Coaching for Creatives email sessions. Sign up to receive 4 weeks of creative coaching content delivered straight to your inbox for just $40 anytime.
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My favorite thing about owning a business with my sister is that when we go into business-planning mode we can speak candidly and with total honesty about our money goals. We can say things like “I want to be able to buy a freaking vacation house” or “I want at least 8 weeks of vacation a year” without feeling self-conscious or judged by the other. You see, it’s not just about a number – we’re able to really dig in and explore our goals, desires, and dreams. It’s not just about how much we want to make – it’s about how we want to feel.
It usually boils down to us wanting to feel rich, wealthy, and successful. They might all sound like words for the same thing but they aren’t. When my sister and I get specific about what being rich, wealthy, and successful really looks like, this is what we find:
WHAT DOES “RICH” LOOK LIKE?
- expensive raw denim
- staying in a fancy hotel
- buying a new car – with a sunroof
- hiring someone else to clean my house
- ordering take-out from a fancy restaurant – on a weeknight
- subscribing to Amazon Prime and a United Mileage Rewards credit card
WHAT DOES “WEALTH” LOOK LIKE?
- having brunch with friends that lasts all day long
- picking my baby up early from daycare
- working out in the middle of the day
- donating to charity (without having to Tweet about it or pour a bucket of ice over my head)
- my modest heirloom wedding ring (my husband told me we could get something fancy – that it was just a placeholder – but I love it)
- ordering prints of my Instagram photos
- road trips with my girlfriends
WHAT DOES “SUCCESS” LOOK LIKE?
- a client that cries when she finally gets a brand that looks and feels like what she’s been trying to express all along
- a really nice email response to one of our Letters for Creatives
- record attendance and an engaged class in our ECourses
- being asked to speak at a conference
- being able to hire really talented employees
- having a new client waitlist
- coaching someone through a creative challenge
- feeling like an expert
Notice any patterns? The “riches” are all about the things you can buy. “Wealth” is about the experiences you can have when you don’t have to worry about money. And “success” is the demand, growth and necessity for what it is you’re selling, what it is you have to offer – and the higher-purpose reason why you do what you do.
So what makes you feel rich, wealthy, and successful? Let us know on Facebook.
P.S. I’m speaking at the Circles Conference on Thursday! The on-site conference is sold out (no pressure, or anythign) but you can buy a Circles Live pass at 75% off here by using the code andkathleen75 when you check out.
P.P.S. Our ECourse Dream Customer Catching is now open for registration. We share more secrets for attracting dream customers by getting narrow with what you offer. This ECourse will be in-session from September 19-29. Learn more and see if it’s a fit here.
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