If you’re entering the unknown as a creative entrepreneur, here’s some advice to help you stay balanced from the start.
When you take the bold move into a career as a creative entrepreneur, you’re in for a crash course in “making something out of nothing.” That’s the definition Frank Zappa gave to art itself.
“Art is creating something out of nothing.” —Frank Zappa
It’s an inspiring thought. And also a scary one.
If you’re finding your way in a creative career—not just the artistic parts you love but all the promotion and sales things you’ve never done—then you know the excitement (and the panic) of first steps. It’s a lot. With all the questions and the research and the trying of new things, there’s so much sudden change and growth. It can be mentally and physically exhausting.
So if you’re walking into the unknown, we’ve compiled seven tips to keep you calm(er) while you take your first steps toward your dream.
1. Be a good boss to yourself.
If you’re working for yourself, you have to hold yourself accountable in both your personal life and your work. In other words, you have to be a good boss to yourself. A good boss doesn’t let you miss deadlines but also doesn’t demand around-the-clock work hours. A good boss doesn’t let your skills stagnate but also doesn’t give up on you for not knowing everything right away. Be the boss you need. Manage your time well, and give yourself opportunities to grow and time to learn.
2. Don’t expect to be an expert immediately.
Trying to push yourself to learn everything there is to know all at once will likely make you spin out, get discouraged, and want to give up. Start where you are and learn as you go. Not only is it OK to start without expertise in every single area of your new career; it’s required. If we had to be experts before we could do anything, we’d accomplish nothing. It takes courage to start when you don’t know it all. If you’re out there making a shaky start, you are our hero. Keep going.
3. Take breaks.
If you’ve ever reached that point of spinning out because you’ve been working nonstop, you’ve learned the hard way how important it is to take breaks. Yes, there’s so much to learn, so much to do, but you need to schedule rest and play. If you notice your brain resisting one more bit of information, you need to put on the emergency brake and take a moment to rest and refuel. According to a Princeton University study, “Executive function can be restored and mental fatigue overcome, in part, by interventions such as viewing scenes of nature, short rest, experiencing positive mood, and increasing glucose levels in the body.” So let the work go for a while. Do some things you love. “Waste time,” because it’s not a waste at all. Eventually you’ll miss the work and feel eager to get back to it. Rediscovering that kind of internal motivation is priceless.
4. Celebrate your successes, even little ones.
While you’re getting up to speed as a creative entrepreneur, you might find yourself focusing on what you don’t know and completely overlooking what you have learned and accomplished. Take a minute, step back, and recognize that victory you’ve achieved. It’s not nothing. It might be a small step, but it’s movement toward your goal. If you’ve ever watched a baby take her first step, you know that movement is monumental and worth cheering for, even if she tips over backwards immediately after. Honor your own baby steps. No matter the outcome of those first uncertain steps, you’re training your brain and building your creative muscles to do what used to be impossible for you. Soon you’ll be sprinting toward your dream.
5. Don’t hyperfocus.
Healthy focus will help you complete each step in every project. However, watch out for negative hyperfocus. If you fixate on a detail you’re convinced you’re doing wrong, you won’t have opportunities to complete and share that project. Little things become way too big when you hyperfocus on them. Don’t overthink it. Do your best. Finish this task, and then let your work exist outside of yourself. Only then can you learn what resonates with others and apply that knowledge to the next task. You’ll gain confidence with each new effort.
6. Live in this moment.
When you’re starting something new, sometimes it can consume all your mental energy, all the time. Don’t forget to notice the other things in life that bring you joy. Let moments of happiness and wonder sink in. Schedule work-free quality time with your family or friends, play with your pet, take slow walks, and breathe in the fresh air. Yes, you are super passionate about your work, but you are not only your work. Be intentional about enjoying your full life, because that joy will come through in everything you do.
You are not alone. Connect with others who’ve gone down a similar path. Seek out other creative entrepreneurs online, and make intentional connections with the people around you. Don’t underestimate the value of talking with your friends and family. They know you best, and they’ll often have insights that are perfectly suited to you.
That’s what we’ve been learning at Cuppa Wow. Our creative interviewees have had great tips to share, and you can find those in our articles. And we know we’ll learn so much more from you in conversations ahead. If you’re a creative entrepreneur, we’re cheering for you. We hope you’ll find inspiration here as you share your gifts with the world. Thanks for being part of this supportive creative community!
Have some tips for staying balanced while launching a career as a creative entrepreneur? Please share them in the comments!