With everyone showing their best life reel online, it can be so hard to avoid comparing your success to others. I love the quote by Jon Acuff, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” Amen!
Still, that’s easier said than done. I will admit to feelings of jealousy. People that travel, do styling, and remodel their homes really gets me sometimes. It’s definitely because I love to travel, style, and redesign my home. Those are all things that we have put on hold as we, I say we because it was a family decision for me to start my own business, focus on building up Tipsy Studio. Our goal was for me to work from home, because it matched the values and vision we had for our family. So, I don’t have new hardwood floors, and we are dealing with the old carpet. However, we met our goal! It took longer than expected, but I am making the same amount of money I was making at my job as an Art Director. So, isn’t that success? We have some catching up to do from my very long maternity leave, but that subway tile back splash is totally in my future. I try to take note of the times I feel jealous as a reminder of the goals I want to accomplish, while reminding myself of the achievements I have made.
Another time I feel so much pressure to compete is when I compare the success of my business to that of others. Recently, someone in a Facebook group that I am a member of stated she was booked a year out! I was so jealous! I immediately felt like crap. What am I not doing that she is doing? I am great at what I do dammit! I had to stop and think about how much I have learned and how much I have grown my confidence, skills, and income. In the scope of my career as a designer, it may seem small. But in my time as a business owner, it’s huge. You never know the work someone puts into their business before and after they launch.
So, how do you measure success? I think this is different for everyone based on their personal values, goals, and mission. When you are really clear about what those are it’s easy to put your initial jealous feelings into perspective. A weekend on a zip line is Belize looks way more fun that doing dishes, but are you a failure for not having the same experience? What is a goal you failed to meet? The next step is breaking down your goal into proactive steps. I like to do this per quarter. Then you have something to hold you accountable, keep you in your lane, and celebrate with some of those wants. Hello, girls weekend!
I hope this helps you by fueling your drive to succeed instead of beating yourself up. We all have a different journey for a reason, just lean into it.
I was thinking about how we all have those “go-to” items in our closet that make us feel the part we need to play in the moment. Maybe it’s a pantsuit to look professional for a meeting, a sexy black dress for date night, or a soft, oversized sweater when we are stressed.
Two weeks before my 16th birthday, my Dad passed away, and my world was turned upside down. I was shocked, sad, and wanted something to just be normal. So, I quickly went back to school. High school turned out not to be the place to escape the sad looks and “I’m so sorry” comments. They were all meant in kindness, but hard for me to swallow. I wanted to block it all out, and I was crumbling inside. So, I went for the clothes that made me feel strong. This came in the form of my favorite shoes. My black combat boots. I wore them with flowing dresses, cut-offs, jeans, and overalls. I felt tough, in charge, and a little bad ass every time I put them on. It was a period in my life where I really needed that.
I don’t have those boots anymore, but I definitely still have times in my life where I need to feel like a bad ass. Being an entrepreneur, a Mom, and a woman is not for the faint of heart! We all need our boots, friends, music, tea, or whatever to give us the armor we need to stand a little taller when we are really struggling.
What do you wear or surround yourself with to make you feel more confident?
I was meeting with a new client who is a fine artist. She wanted to discuss how I could help her market herself to sell more work. She was feeling stuck because she didn’t know how to make a strategy to generate an income or what to put on social media. As we talked more, I found out the reason behind this was mostly because she was comparing herself to what she saw other people doing on social media, and she didn’t feel very legit. It seemed to her like everyone she went to school with was so much more successful than she was. She let this influence how she made decisions for her business. For example, selling prints of her work would help bring in more income, but she wondered if she would look like a professional artist. Her bad feelings came from comparing herself to others and it was holding her back.
If you Don’t Quit, You Will Probably Succeed. I read this somewhere recently and I thought, “THIS IS SO TRUE”! I know there are many things in my life, like attempting to play piano and guitar, that I just quit. I think about it often, and I can hear my mom saying, ” you are going to regret this!” If I had kept practicing piano, imagine how good I would be 20 + years later. My daughter is an amazing artist. Her favorite subject to draw is animals. She gets so frustrated and down on herself when she tries to draw people, because it’s hard for her. I have to remind her that she draws animals all day everyday, and it’s easier because she has had so much practice. She just needs to practice drawing people too.
Before I decided to work for myself full time, I was an Art Director at a Fortune 100 company. We were an umbrella company for 25 smaller ones around the world. There were a lot of meetings, presentations, and pitches. It was a male dominated industry and company, with only 10% of our company being women. I have to say, it could be really intimidating sometimes. While being friendly and building relationships with co workers and clients, I was very concerned about being taken seriously and seen as a professional. As a result, I formed a mask that I wore to do my job. I prepared for those board rooms in the clothes that I chose, my posture, and my speech.
It’s the dream to ditch the commute and work in yoga pants, but many people find the transition harder than they thought. Making it work is all about setting boundaries and testing what works best for your life.
Developing a work space
There are so many distractions at home that you don’t have in your office; those dishes in the sink from breakfast or that load of laundry waiting to be folded. You don’t have your regular co workers, but you do have family at home that don’t understand just because you are home, doesn’t mean you are not working. You may also find that friends and family now think you are available for anything and everything.
I was having a coffee date this week with a fellow entrepreneur, who is a business consultant. We were talking about how no matter how solid your business plan is, there is a always a learning curve when it comes to working for yourself. It takes time to put your plan into practice. It takes time to perfect your systems and see what works and what doesn’t. Of course, there are always the unplanned events. Clients come and go, and family emergencies happen. Then, there are the unknown factors.
One of the things I liked best about working as an in house Art Director was when I left work, I really left work. It was a clear boundary. I didn’t bring work home, I didn’t even think about about work, except to dread going when I would rather stay in bed. Working for myself is wonderful. I can sleep late, meet friends for lunch, or go on field trips with my daughter. Sounds amazing right? I rarely do any of these things! I actually have to remind myself those are the reasons I wanted to do this. Having a flexible schedule to spend time with my family is my big why, but I have to check myself often and remember this. Because when your paycheck is completely dependent on you, it is really hard to have boundaries. I feel the need to work all of the time. I always think just one more hour, one more email, and I will be ahead. In addition to client work I am constantly updating my onboarding forms and redesigning my website. I have realized that I will never be ahead and there will always be something more that I can do.
That mix urgency and fear can be paralyzing. I don’t think it is really productive and definitely not creative. I always get more and better work done when I have a good work life balance. I don’t know if there are any coasting periods to running a business, but for now I am doing my best to set boundaries and stick to them. Where do you need to set more boundaries in your life?
I went back to work when my oldest child was 7 weeks old. It was horrible and I cried everyday. I was angry, sad, and resentful. So, 10 years later, I am working for myself, and I am so thankful that I can stay at home with my baby, Josie. For the first month, I scheduled out social media for my clients, didn’t take on any new projects, and budgeted for the change. Everything was fine for the first 3 months.
Then I wanted to pick up more work, but the baby wasn’t sleeping. So, I thought I would work on getting her on a schedule first. I told myself, “all babies are different, maybe she just needs more time…I can make this work”. I was 6 months in and I was struggling! Who can work in one hour increments?
I started off each month with a new plan to make it work. After 8 months, I was stuck in a place of needing to take on more work, but not having the time to do it, and not making enough to justify full time day care. I was left feeling super stressed and not fully enjoying the time with my children because I was trying so hard to do it all. None of it was working. I found myself trying to code a website with a crying baby on my lap and tossing my keyboard across the room. I cried a little too and waved the white flag.
Your creativity is a tool that you have to learn how to use. When your creativity is how you make your money, you can’t watch Netflix and hope it shows up. Life gets so busy, especially when you become a parent, that it can feel like you have lost your mojo. It’s a gift that doesn’t go away, but you have to learn how to nurture it and ignite, when, maybe, you didn’t have to before.