I stole the title for today’s post from the name of a yoga class, run by the amazing yogi who taught me the foundations of yoga 3 years ago.
Every time I find myself feeling like I’m nailing a pose and staying totally present within it, I mentally thank her. She taught me how to slow things down and notice what my body was doing every part of it. To really take time to notice, notice ,notice. Not to be goal oriented about it but to continually assess and adjust. To look up once in a while, to stop and smell the flowers. I have realised that I could do with applying this technique to the rest of my life so today I decided to take a look at my need for speed and how I can step back for that and enjoy the slow!
At the beginning of this year, when I decided to get serious about turning my design work and blog into a full time business, I started an exercise where, at the end of each month I take a look back at what I have achieved and set some goals for the month to come. I find it so easy to get something finished and then move onto the next thing without taking the time to appreciate or review what I have accomplished. Making a written list forces me to take stock, pat myself on the back for things that went well (something I definitely need practice doing thanks to the hypercritical monkey in my brain) and also to see what I didn’t do, why I didn’t do it and what I can do better or differently.
This morning I wrote my list for April – Here’s a summary of whats on it
- Crochet Patterns Released: The Heart-lines Shrug, The Strings of Life Shawl (The Everyday Hugs Cardi snuck back into March!)
- Planned and made sample and video tutorials for my first ever CAL which will start in May – the Maslow’s rainbow vest (coming soon!)
- Made a modified version of The Upside-Down Pullover for the summer
- Released a new tutorial in my crochet basics series
- Made my first ever dress (this was on my new years goal list!) – the Tilly & The Buttons Cleo
- Designed 12 new products (wow – was it 12??) for my new Live Creative Range
- Sourced suppliers and printers to bring two products to market – have you seen my Live Creative Tees? Please have a peek and tell me what you think!
- Started a new freelance VA job with a new client
- Landed a new super meaty copy writing job for May
- Met a bunch of new creative lovelies at the In colourful Company Colour walk in Brighton – networking scares me but I love these photowalks because they are full of people who are scared by networking but love meeting other creative people!
Here’s a peek at some of my work…
This list may not go on for ever, but I look at it and remember how much work went into each item and can actually feel a sense of achievement.
It never seems to be enough though. Even now, as well as when I’m in it, I constantly think I should be working harder, getting more done, “hustling”, (*cringe*), writing more posts, putting out more patterns, pitching more to publishers for freelance design work, getting better at twitter, instagram, facebook (eurgh, facbook is a disaster!), pinterest, output output output! It sometimes feels overwhelmingly relentless.
So today as I take stock, I ask myself why. Why do I want to produce more? Why am I so rarely satisfied with the volume? Why do I have to keep going at such a rate? Is it society who tells me to or is it something in me?
Here are some of my instant responses to the why: I need to make money to pay the bills so I don’t have to go back to the traditional day job, I need to keep things fresh so my audience don’t get bored, I have so many ideas I just want to get out there, I need to keep up with everyone else, I need to prove to the world I’m not sat on my arse watching Jeremy Kyle all day, I need to be better at everything…
The internal monologue goes on but I’ll stop there because when I looked at them closely, I realised that most of these ‘reasons’ are actually nonsense. I’m going to start from the end and work backwards to take a look at each one and see if it’s something I can call bullshit on!
“I need to be better at everything”
I will get better with practice, but it takes time, and dedication. I learn by messing up, so I need to let myself mess up! Part of learning is taking the time to look at what works and what doesn’t so take the time to do that.
And for God’s sake, just have a bit of patience woman – no one is perfect and no one ever will be!
“I need to prove to the world I’m not sat on my arse”
Why? If i’m not hurting anyone then who even cares if that’s what I’m doing?
People who don’t know much about the blogging and freelance world of self employment have a very different view of it than those who live it. Instagram doesn’t help as it’s presents this illusion of lifestyle bloggers swanning off to ‘free’ events (nothing is free) getting treats and nice clothes to wear… I don’t see myself as a lifestyle blogger but that image certainly bears no resemblance to my reality!
Part of the proving to the world I’m not lazy includes proving it to myself. I still can’t quite believe I’m no longer in a traditional day job and I still feel guilty about that. I think that’s because I’m trying to do what I love and doing what you love doesn’t feel like work. Though all the stuff that goes along with it (accounting, negotiating, technical confusion, GDPR, marketing etc. etc.) often does!
I am so conditioned by society into thinking that my value is based on salary, seniority and shoe collection, that changing things up to focus on my fulfilment and wellbeing over the material things seems like bucking the system somehow. I’m talking about my own judgement of myself here as well as my perceived judgement of the outside world.
I think the new emerging gig economy, where people are choosing to do more of what they love, is starting to change this attitude both within myself and without, but it’s a slow shift!
“I need to keep up with everyone else”
No I don’t. I’m in a lot of forums with creative entrepreneurs and the comparison game is the devil. I’m normally quite good at admiring what other people do from a positive space, because I believe that quality lifts the whole industry. But every now and again I’ll see a designer who is so awesome that I just think I might as well pack up and go home right now, because what they are doing is so fantastic, or they are so far ahead of me I feel like it’s pointless to try and play catch up. That’s a tough one to deal with so I try to remind myself that everyone is at a different stage on their own path and I just to keep doing my own thing.
There’s a great line in the Baz Luhrmann song, Sunscreen (which I have probably quoted before and probably will again because it’s a little like my life manifesto):
“Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes your behind, the race is long, and in the end it’s only with yourself”
Yes we are all influenced by what we see, but, for me, trying to emulate what others are doing would not feel right and anything I produced from that would feel tainted somehow. Like it’s not mine. So when I catch myself starting to compare, I switch of social media and go pick up a book or go for a walk or do something which will restore my external perspective.
“I have so many ideas I just want to get out there”
Well. This is a tough one. Because this is the doing what I love bit wanting to take over. I love designing and trying out new ideas. Each design sparks something new and ping, I have 5 more things I want to try right now. I must IMMEDIATELY go and by yarn for that project. I actually never want this one to go away. It is my life blood. However, it’s not very practical!
I have to find the balance here, because there’s the designing then there is the pattern writing, editing, making, testing, photographing marketing (I won’t go on as I wrote a whole other post about what goes on behind a design). Making a business out of your passion is not as simple as just doing what you love. There is a bucket of hard work that goes along with it. So I just need to be realistic about what is achievable.
“I need to keep things fresh so my audience don’t get bored”
This one is a bit of a reflection of the instant gratification society we live in. I heard an interview with the producer of Stranger Things recently who was talking about how they spend a year putting their life and soul into making something they are proud of, they release it to great acclaim and after 24 hours, people are demanding the next one. It’s kind of depressing!
We consume at such a huge rate, we are used to having more more more on tap 24/7. It’s not just me that doesn’t take the time to slow down and appreciate things – it’s driven by society. But once I realise I’m part of it, I can get off this merry-go-round!
The old adage quality over quantity is needed as a reminder here. Quality takes time. If you want quantity go to Walmart or Primark! There’s nothing like the pressure to produce to kill creativity!
I also think back to my recent post about decision making where I talked about choice – where too much choice leads to no choice! It’s a less is more thing. Something else to remind myself of when I get the urge to produce for it’s own sake!
As I write this, I have actually had a bit of an epiphany about how to tackle this one. Because I’m lucky enough to have so many ideas, I need to learn to focus on picking the best ones and seeing them through with a level of quality and enthusiasm which I am happy with. There are times when I have rushed a pattern out because of my self-imposed deadlines but then I’ve not promoted it much because I felt like I could have done a better job – where is the time efficiency in that vicious circle?? So I need to recommit to not doing that anymore. To make a decision to only release things when I am totally satisfied. If that means that I don’t hit my arbitrary targets then so be it, the world isn’t going to end! This is obviously different when working with publishers where I don’t control the deadlines, but when it’s my baby, I actually get to decide. I think I had forgotten that!
“I need to make money”
The money thing. This is not something people feel comfortable talking about. But I’m going to just be up front. I don’t make much from my crochet design. It’s a hard way to make a living for established designers and I’m relatively new and largely unknown so I knew it was never going to make me a million overnight. That said, my pattern sales are actually doing pretty well (in my opinion – I have no benchmark obviously!). I still get a huge buzz every time I get an email ping notifying me of a download, and those of you who have an etsy store… that ker-ching notification sound you get on your phone when you make a sale just makes me do a happy dance. Is it a faux pas to admit that? I don’t care.
So how can stopping and slowing down help with this one. Well I think it links back to the quality issue. I’m not going to go into a full on analysis of my business strategy here but, what I’ve noticed is that there are a few of my patterns which do really well and some that kind of fester. So I need to focus more on the ones people like, make more of those and bingo – I’m away. Because it’s that easy!!!!
Sometimes I get a feeling with a design, where it just falls into place and I know it’s going to be well received. Sometimes I put my heart and soul into a design and I sell next to nothing. It can be hit and miss but if I stick to creating things I believe in then even if they don’t sell, I have still created something I love.
I will probably always need a second source of income on top of the crochet design I do. I love all of you readers, especially those of you who get to the end of these epic posts which come out of me every now and again, but I don’t have the kind of traffic where I can sit comfy with my add revenue! I’m okay with that because it means I’m not a slave to google analytics and it forces me to explore other things I love doing (like writing!) and find ways to make that pay. I am not remotely driven by money but I do need to keep a roof over my head and the wi-fi on!!
As a final side note about the dollar, at the weekend I listened to a podcast about deciding to become rich which kind of blew my mind. It was with Jen Sincero, the author of How to be a Badass at making money, and talked a lot about money as energy and the complexity of people’s relationships with it. It’s well worth a listen (the book is on my wish list – and that’s totally an affiliate link below!!)
So it seems that for every reason I have to go full steam ahead, there is a counter argument for slowing down.
I’m not saying either is right all the time and that we should all stop pushing ourselves forward or working hard. I just wanted to share the other side, that going slow has enormous value which I think is hugely underrated. Not by me anymore, just writing this post has given me a bunch of new ideas as to how to approach my life and business.
I hope reading it has done the same for you!
P.S. You can read more about my affiliate policy here