sketchboard blog

Take stock and head on to better creative goals

By Helena Palha Oct 23, 2016

Stop tricking yourself into believing this isnt the right time

Happy Halloween!

Yes, time flew by as fast as ever. If you’re like me, you’ll be getting ready to start taking stock of your year right before mid November.

This year I got off to an early start, focusing on my creative career. I did some soul searching and managed to boil my ideas down to just a few points. This blogpost is my way to share that insight and welcome you to share your ideas with the Sketchboard community.

Treat your creative career goals like you’d treat your personal goals.

If you’ve been wishing for a change in your creative career, you need to stop tricking yourself into believing this isn’t the right time. If there’s nothing you can do to start that change within the next 24 hours, what makes you think you’ll ever get there?

The challenges you find will always be directly connected to your creative limitations. Overcoming those limitations is a matter of respecting your creative nature and learning to take advantage of it. So let your change happen your way, and don’t get stuck thinking you need to get to a point others would see as “ideal”.

If you put all your energy into reaching that “ideal” before you can get started with any change, you’ll probably not have enough strength to follow through with it. In fact, most professionals rarely come across an “ideal”. To make your pursuit for change more efficient, start by prioritizing results instead.

If you ever tried making major changes in your personal habits, you’ve probably seen the impact of putting results first. Approach your creative career goals the same way you’d approach things like dieting, exercising, quitting smoking or learning a new language. You can always tell yourself you’ll start tomorrow, but that won’t get you where you need to be to feel happy or satisfied today. If you’re unhappy today, you’ll still be unhappy tomorrow.

Always remember where you want to get

It’s extremely important to see your goal, independently of where you are now. The thought of achieving your goal should provide the motivation you need to keep activating your creative brains and doing actual work. If you don’t make an effort to produce actual work now, you’ll lag behind and block progress. Progress is a major key to a fulfilling work life. It’s the healthiest and most reliable way to grow.

On the other hand, stagnation can come when you avoid actual work for the sake of listing all the reasons why you can’t do it right now. In other words, the moment you stagnate is the moment you stop growing. All living things need to grow. Don’t kill off your creative career just so you can obsess over the “right way” to be a creative. There’s no rights or wrongs in creativity. If there were, we wouldn’t have both classical music and indie rock.

Don’t put off what needs to happen. Give your creative career an opportunity to grow by doing actual work. There’s no better way to know yourself as creative, figure out your limitations and learn to take advantage of your strong points. You won’t know what you can achieve right now until you start doing it. Assume it can always be made easier as you go, and use the tools you have where you are now.

Take a rational approach to self-worth

If you’re setting out to start a new creative project, remember to give yourself a margin for error. This doesn’t mean you’ll set yourself up for failure. It means you’re leaving space for life to happen. For example, if you work as a freelancer, giving yourself a margin for error means quitting the “survival only” mindset. Surviving isn’t thriving. It’s as close to stagnating as you can get. If you’re setting out on your own as a creative, you need a substantial profit to make sure everything can keep working well. And yes, your creative insight is worth that profit. After all, with work life becoming more and more automated, creativity is turning into a premium skill. The wider culture you’re in might not always value creativity, but if you’ve ever used it to your advantage, you need to appreciate it and price it accordingly. Don’t try to make yourself the cheapest. The cheapest can hardly ever thrive, and it’s not likely to stand the test of time. Instead, shoot high enough and set goals you can grow into. That way you’ll leave room for every-day life to keep running, and you’ll give yourself the space you need to continue growing as a creative professional.

If this post helped you in any way, feel free to pass it on to other creatives and join the conversation.

The Sketchboard team would be more than happy to hear from you!