Building a successful creative livelihood is a balancing act. Not necessarily the work/life balance we hear so much about (I really don’t think this exists, we ARE our businesses!), but a good amount of both taking in information, and putting good work out into the world.
I believe that learning and idea time (input) is just as valuable as creation time (output). They need to be working in tandem and feeding each other to have true balance and build a livelihood that suits you best, and serves the people you care about most.
You’re a creative. The very definition of creativity is taking what has already come before you, spinning it up, shifting it a bit, and making something uniquely yours. Your business is no different than creating a painting or a piece of music.
I think we’ve all been guilty of this from time to time: listening to the stories of others, reading just one more article that promises to have the answers, and spinning our wheels planning instead of, ya know, DOING the tasks that will get us closer to our ultimate goal.
In order for these two types of energy to work in balance, there needs to be some strategy and a structure to them both, otherwise you find yourself scrolling through Instagram or Pinning mindlessly at 3pm and you haven’t done anything for your business that day!
Here’s a how I personally approach the input and output of my business, but adapt these suggestions to what will work for you and the lifestyle you want to create.
Limit the influencers you listen to or read. Choose only the ones who’s message really resonates with you, and that you get the most value from as a result of following them. This is key: if you are not getting ACTIONABLE advice from a resource or blog you’ve been following, stop following it. You can still pop in from time to time and say “Hi.” Do this by editing your mailing list subscriptions, social media feeds, and any online groups you are a part of.
Take a BOSS day. I’ve been implementing this for myself a lot recently. If my head isn’t “in it” for some reason, I close the laptop, get outside and explore. Discovering places or having new experiences creates new neural pathways in your brain. Translation: You get inspired by new experiences and are able to translate that into your work.
Enjoy media that has nothing to do with your business. Music, movies, and books help inspire and stimulate that creative part of our brain. Go to the new art exhibit in town, see a fascinating documentary at the independent theater, or head out to support a local band that you’ve been interested in.
Putting our gift out there is where we can spin our wheels a bit as well. Don’t get caught up in the trap of having an “I need to try out this one little thing to see if it works” list. Instead, take a look at your near-future, big picture goals.
What will it take to get there? What is essential to get done in order to achieve what you want right now?
- Setting up your website?
- Creating a new line of clothing for the season?
- Taking a course to learn a new skill that will help you up your game as an entrepreneur?
Decide on the most important goal for your business, and focus on only the tasks that will help you get there during your work time. The other little things can wait, and, in actuality, they probably don’t matter for the growth of your business anyway!