It only took a few months of working for myself to realize that being your boss doesn’t always feel so dreamy. You still have deadlines and tricky clients (or lack thereof) to manage. You might find that your newfound flexibility is a double-edged sword that has you working evenings and weekends rather than 9-5. And trading in stifling security for vast uncertainty sometimes has you wondering which is the better deal.
My motivation for being a self-employed creative entrepreneur is to be wildly productive and living the dream – for my days to always feel ideal or at the very least to feel like they’re on my own terms. It sounds hedonistic, yes, but I’ve learned that living the dream takes equal parts vision, discipline, and perspective.
My sister (and business partner) Tara recently let me borrow a book called Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. This book was originally published in 1955 but it’s themes of slowing down, craving a simple life free from distractions, being a creative, being a feminist, and managing a work / life balance as a mom and wife … they strike as eerily relevant over half a century later. Anne Lindbergh wrote Gift from the Sea when she took a brief solo sabbatical to an island. Lindbergh intentionally makes space from everyday demands she encourages her readers to do so as well. She actually recommends taking a week a year for yourself, a day a week, and an hour a day.
You’ll have to read the book yourself – you’ll feel like you’re doing yourself a classy favor. (Bonus points if you drink it with a glass of white wine on your screened-in porch.) But I wanted to share this one excerpt where Lindbergh talks about designing one perfect day. It resonated as I’m always examining my days and what could make it more ideal, or dreamy, or productive. So, Lindbergh describes her most perfect day in detail – from slow coffee to meditatively washing dishes to undistracted writing time to bringing the day down by sipping on sherry, sharing stories, and taking a long walk along the sea. Lindbergh then ruminates on what makes it so perfect. Here’s what she writes:
What a wonderful day … What has made it so perfect? Is there not some clue here in the pattern of this day? To begin with, it is a pattern of freedom. Its setting has not been cramped in space or time. An island, curiously enough, gives a limitless feeling of both. Nor has the day been limited in kinds of activity. It has a natural balance of physical, intellectual, and social life. It has an easy unforced rhythm. Work is not deformed by pressure. Relationship is not strangled by claims. Intimacy is tempered by lightness of touch. We have moved through our day like dancers, not needing to touch more than lightly because we were instinctively moving to the same rhythm.
She goes on to articulate the importance of being present and what that looks like. For as much as I’ve been told to “be present”, I’ve never heard it described in a better way:
The joy of such a pattern is not only the joy of creation or the joy of participation, it is also the joy of living in the moment. Lightness of touch and living in the moment are intertwined. One cannot dance well unless one is completely in time with the music, not leaning back to the last step or pressing forward to the next one, but poised directly on the present step as it comes.
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In our next Letters for Creatives I’ll be sharing more ideas on how to make your days a bit more perfect and what I’ve learned in my own chase for the ideal day. Plus, when you sign up for our newsletter you’ll get your own worksheet on how to design your own ideal day (but I’ll be sure to include it in our Letter in case you missed it the first time around). You can sign up for our Letters 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.
Our Braid ECourse Dream Customer Catching: Embracing Your Expertise and Attracting What You Track will be in-session September 19 - 29, 2014. If you are a writer, designer, coach, or creative who understands the importance of narrowing in on your niche for building your business but don't quite know where to begin this ECourse is for you. Learn more and enroll here.
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There is nothing more frustrating for the creative entrepreneur with big ambition than feeling like nobody is listening, reading, or buying what you have to say, write, or offer. It’s especially deflating when you feel like you’re giving it everything you’ve got only to be greeted by chirping crickets in return. You might start to play the “if only…” game. “If only Seth Godin was my dad.” or “If only I had more talent.” or “If only I were friends with Marie Forleo.” or “If only anybody knew what a difference I could make!” It’s easy to throw yourself a pity party, but that’s the last thing you want to do when you feel like nobody knows who you are.
So what should you do when you’re not getting the recognition you desire or deserve? Here are a few ideas.
WHEN NOBODY KNOWS WHO YOU ARE … GET TO KNOW YOURSELF
You can lose yourself when you spend all your time trying to impress anyone and everyone who might read your blog or buy your product. Stop thinking about what “they” might like and start thinking about what it is you really want to do and be. Start by simply asking yourself “What do I want?” and go from there. Or dig deeper with daily meditation, journaling, ECourses (we’ve got one or two you might like), or hire a coach for some outside perspective and accountability.
Related post: Grounding Exercises for Dreamy Creatives
WHEN NOBODY KNOWS WHO YOU ARE … GET TO KNOW SOMEONE ELSE
If you want someone to buy your product go buy something another creative has to offer. If you want blog comments then first go comment on someone else’s blog. In other words, start creating good karma for yourself by being a someone to another creative who might feel like a nobody. You just might make their day – and you might make a new friend.
WHEN NOBODY KNOWS WHO YOU ARE … SHOW UP AND BE SEEN
If you’re feeling like nobody knows who you are show up and be seen by saying yes to as much as you possibly can. We’re talking conferences, clubs, coffee with creatives, volunteer projects, a fun workshop, yoga class… I promise after a few months of saying yes, showing up, and being seen you will no longer feel so anonymous.
Related post: How to Find Your Creative Community
Our most popular Braid ECourse Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do will be in-session starting this Friday, August 22nd. You have until THURSDAY to register. Learn more to see if it’s a fit and sign-up here.
Or if you’re craving more work / life introspection dig in with our DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions. You can sign up to receive 4 weeks of creative coaching content delivered straight to your inbox for just $40 anytime.
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Our friend and internet-awesome-maker Sarah Von Bargen is re-launching her Post College Survival Kit – if you just graduated college and have spent one last summer kicking it on your mom’s couch watching Sex and The City marathons wishing you were Carrie Bradshaw (but feeling a bit more like Lena Dunham from Girls) then the Post College Survival Kit is for you. Or if you’re about to enter your senior year of college and are already freaking out about the real world that lies ahead … well, The Post College Survival Kit is for you too. Anyway, as part of Sarah’s launch she asked us to share a few bits of advice we’d like to give to our younger selves. Here’s what some of the Braid team had to say:
DON’T BE FREAKED OUT THAT EVERYONE KNOWS SOMETHING YOU DON’T from Tara
My advice to my younger self would be the rules of the real world really aren't that different than school. It kind of flies in the face of most contemporary advice of "you learn way more in the real world than you ever can in school" and that's true, you do learn more. But your confidence level to take on that learning shouldn't be diminished by the fact you're on a new playground. Don't be freaked out that everyone knows something you don't. If you were a wonderful writer in honors English, you probably should still write in your job (even if it's not in the job title). If you were a class clown, your charm should still show up for you in relationship building. Your talents don't disappear, they just get shy for a while. That's natural, but don't let ability-bashfulness keep you from putting your best stuff out there.
DO THE WORK THAT YOU WANT TO BE DOING FOR YOURSELF from Kristin
Now that you’re out of school you will finally have free time to do the work that you want to do – even if it is only on the side. Then put that work you want to be doing in your portfolio. Don't get bogged down by other people's opinions about your work, even if it is your greatest hero, because everything is subjective. There is a market for almost anything now! So follow that niche thing that you want to be doing.
MAKE FRIENDS WITH OTHER CREATIVES from Kathleen
I was really intimidated by the idea of networking after graduating from college. I thought “networking” was reserved for business majors and sorority girls, and I thought it was something you only did so you could get a job. Now I know that networking is just another way of saying “make friends with like-minded people.” My advice to my younger self would be to simply make friends with young creative professionals who will geek out about Wes Anderson films and typography with you… because in ten years you’re all going to be creative badasses.
What advice would you give your younger self? Let us know on Facebook.
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