I started 2017 feeling reasonably optimistic (although around 00:10 on 1 January, I had my suspicions that by next new year we'd be laughing hard at ourselves for thinking that 2016 was rubbish and willing it to be over - little did we know we'd be doing this before the end of January...), I had a list, I had a plan. It started with aiming for a January sale as successful as last year's...
So the sale completely bombed and January was a very poor month for my business. Never mind, push on with the rebrand (which as been very well received and I love it), new collection, plans for the year... then I was ill. Then a week later I was ill again but this time it was a full fever, 17 hours in bed even though I have a child ill (so really bad - most parents will agree that you have to be hospitalised in order to get to stay in bed when you're ill - ranging temperature or no raging temperature) I really couldn't get up.
I had a whole week of being properly ill and that's when my slightly fragile motivation vanished. Completely. As I write this I'm still recovering and feeling a bit wobbly. But also not really sure where to go or what to do next. January was an expensive month (rebrand, new collection) and I currently have no money coming in.
So I decided that step 1 was to identify why my motivation has gone AWOL - not being well ALWAYS makes me anxious and miserable, every time; work dropping off a cliff when I've been busy and hopeful ALWAYS makes me anxious and miserable, every time; oh and everything that's going on in the world - I'm not going to go into that - we're all struggling there to some extent and I've already lost way too many nights sleep (and will no doubt continue to).
Right - identify the problem - now how to fix it? Well, with regard to being ill I will get better but should probably make more of an effort to rest and get better properly - not something I'm very good at. With regard to business being slow - I've been here before and it's always picked up before, so I should cling to that. With regard to the world, well - giving up on the thing I love because of it would just be wrong.
I did what any self respecting person does in 2017, and headed to the internet for help. On the basis that there's nothing fundamentally wrong, how can I regain my creative mojo? I found a nice piece by Susan K Perry in Psychology Today which set out steps to get it back - all good but maybe for when I feel better:
- make the thing you're doing more challenging - I wonder if at the moment I'm just going through the motions of launching my new collection, I've done this before. I've changed a few things so I'm more effective and have planned better, but maybe I'm already bored of it (eeek). How can I make this more challenging?
- taking a fresh approach - so doing the same old thing in a new way - is planning actually not such a good thing for me and spontaneity with my work is better? The extra planning is my fresh approach...
- look at it from a different point of view - hmm, I've approached it from mine, and my customers' - not sure who's next, the cat?
- find your intrinsic motivation - this came up everywhere I looked (including in this great Bustle.com article which I'll reference again below). I thought I knew what this was but I'm starting to question it. This is also something that comes up very early on in the Dream Plan Do planner.
- forget the goal and find the fun - well I have done a little bit of this - see Wednesday's post. Maybe I need to do more - but I'm even struggling to find the motivation to draw for fun...
- not enough pressure - I think it's the opposite here - I put myself under way too much pressure. One for another post of it's own perhaps.
The Bustle.com article is a 9 point plan! Possibly more than I can cope with this week! It goes right back to basics though with identifying your strengths - I took this VIA Survey of Character Strengths, the results of which weren't surprising, but it did leave me feeling a bit flat and questioning whether I have any real, useful strengths at all.
The article also advised setting really big juicy goals (al a Dream Plan Do again) - I have one of these, and 3 years in I'm starting to suspect it's ridiculous and totally unattainable. Most people would say that the juicy goal is a 10+ year aim though so giving up on mine after 3 would be silly.
I then had a reminder of something I haven't done post my coaching session last summer - rearrange my working day (I wrote about a typical one on Monday but still I didn't think about it!). When are you at your most creative? Do the creative stuff then and plan everything else around it. Oh and exercise - I walk a lot but I've been skipping yoga because I've not been well enough - hmmm.
It went on to show examples of the daily schedules of creatives - my first reaction being "well mine is dictated by school hours, so I just have to fit in what I can" - actually having daily deadlines you can't move like that can be a good thing. Tomorrow I'm going to work on planning my days better - and then start being strict with myself (you will have fun Kate, dammit).
Then we have all the things I'm always shouting about - tenacity (people often congratulate me on this, but I think mine's gone on a winter sun holiday or something, it'd better come back - here's a piece in the Huffington Post about finding your "True Grit"), doing things that make you uncomfortable (see my 2017 goals), accountability - its often the fact that others are relying on me that keeps me going so this is definitely true, and fighting the beast that is procrastination.
Well, what have I got out of this exercise? One blog schedule gap filled... Not sure if I'm feeling more positive or not but perhaps I need to sleep on it. Facebook reminded me of a day out I had 3 years ago today - when I'd just started working for myself and I was full of excitement and enthusiasm. I realised straight away that I need to get that back - just not quite sure how at the moment...
p.s. After I finished writing this post, I came across this article on Talented Ladies Club which pretty much sums everything up for me (if only I'd found this first!) - Three steps to avoid energy burnout if you're an introverted entrepreneur - maybe I would be better off with a "real" job!