Turning ‘meh’ into ‘yeh!’ A time to pause and reflect.
This is a ‘get things off my chest’ personal reflection post. I actually started writing this during mental health week a fortnight or so ago. I was inspired by other business owners and fellow creatives who had the gumption to admit that, despite running one’s own business often being described as ‘living the dream’, more often than not, it’s actually really bloody hard.
I’ve hit a time of self-analysis and reflection recently (over and above the usual daily dose!) This has been prompted by me deciding to finally get on with updating my website this year. Four years into the business (call this a late birthday blog post) I’m not ashamed to admit that there’s days when I get really stressed – and it’s never about the creative work itself.
Possibly the self-reflection also comes from turning 45 this year (that’s officially middle age, right?!) The four year timespan also seems to be my default for questioning career position – four years is the average amount of time I’d spend full-time in my previous agency jobs before getting itchy feet.
So, I currently feel at a very ‘yin yang’ stage where darker thoughts about the business, collide with working on gathering client feedback for my new website (helped by the brilliant Valuable Content) – all of which has been hugely positive and makes me smile.
In the following words, I try to balance darker thoughts with the positives. Personal to me, but I hope that, once shared, they resonate with other sole business owners and creatives:
Pressure to ‘keep up with the Jones’
‘MEH’: What if I roll my eyes every time I see a motivational quote on social media? What if I sigh when I see yet another group of business people on LinkedIn, bragging about the award ceremony they’ve attended last night?
‘YEH!’: The larger percentage of stories people share on social media, I imagine, are positive and lifestyle-bragging. I certainly rarely share the gripes and moans (until now). Social media often has a ‘rose-tinted spectacle’ nature to it. I’m as guilty as anyone else. I need to remember to breathe, step away from Facebook and think of all the positives in life (of which there are many) that don’t need the help of someone else’s motivational quote.
A reflection that I should have progressed so much further
‘MEH’: I fall neatly into the trap of comparing myself to others who started their businesses at the same time as me. Sometimes I feel like they’ve progressed so much further than I have.
‘YEH!’: At least I’ve gone and started my own business – and clients love what I do. I have older friends and ex-colleagues who are still working for ‘the man’ and spending their working days grumbling about it. Who’s to dictate how far my business should have progressed after four years anyway – other than myself?
Guiltily feeling that graphic design shouldn’t be the ‘be all and end all’
‘MEH’: More recently, I’ve felt the need to investigate vocations other than graphic design. From a morbid perspective, when I’m on my death-bed, I want there to be another career achievement that I’m proud of, rather than graphic design being the only thing. Dark thoughts indeed!
‘YEH!’: There’s still so much time. Forty-five isn’t that old, right? (Please confirm!) Also, the great thing about working for myself, is that I have the flexibility to research and even volunteer in some other areas, whilst still maintaining a high quality design career for the moment. (Clients, don’t panic … Creative Cadence isn’t closing anytime soon!)
Some creative people seem to be able to do everything
‘MEH’: My core creative talents originate in brand identity and print design. Many creatives nowadays claim to be able to do a whole host of things themselves – web design and build, animation, video production / editing and 3D modelling.
‘YEH!’: I play to my strengths. Specialism is a good thing – recent client feedback has said so. I have the freedom to call upon other experts for their specialisms. This means that the end product is so much better than it would be if I were to try to do it all myself.
So … this is what keeps me awake at night and stresses me out during a bad day. It’s not a cry for help, just an admission that this is flippin’ hard work sometimes … and I’m only human. I’m too often guilty of putting a brave face on everything. At the end of the day though, my talents allow me to take many client’s ‘meh’s’ and turn them into the ‘yeh’s!’ of marketing and design. This is what they love and it truly makes a difference to their businesses.
I hope you’ll appreciate the honest reflection tone in which this is written. I’d love to hear about the daily ‘meh’s’ that keep you awake at night – what do you struggle with?
Maybe we can help turn them into ‘yeh’s’ together?
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