Do What Inspires You. And Nothing Else.
I don't know how it is for other creative entrepreneurs, but one thing that bums me out is when my creative work actually becomes a task. 'Task' to me is something that you don't really want to do, but it needs to be done. I feel like the creative part should never be a task. But when I'm uninspired, sometimes what should be the fun part can be reduced to that. I'm sorry but I want every photography opportunity that comes my way to make my eyes glitter and my heart skip a beat. I want to rush home and edit, edit, edit all night because I just cant wait to see the final outcome. I want this every time. And I don't think its too much to ask seeing as this is my business and all. I want to be inspired. Always. Is there anyone else out there that wants that for their business?
I am a creative entrepreneur. It's important that my creative work inspires me inside and out all the time. It is so freakin’ important. Doing what inspires you allows you to continue to grow on your own terms and nobody elses. Staying inspired allows you to keep the freedom that, if you’re like me, you crave. Freedom is one of the luxuries of being a girlboss, is it not? It allows you to stay in control, after all it's your creative outlet, am I right? Aligning yourself with things that literally give you life is the best gift you could ever give yourself. And when you feel like a rockstar you will continue to create and perform like one.
Taking on projects or feeding ‘opportunities’ that don’t align with who you are or what you care about...its draining. It's drag-yourself-out-of-bed-why-the-hell-did-i-even-agree-to-this draining. And who wants to feel that way about their own business? And the more you do it, the more it takes a toll. And then here comes the depression, the 8 bags of chips, the hours spent on craigslist searching for job because you don't know if you are cut out to run your own business. But you are cut out. You just shouldn't be adding certain things to your priority list.
As a creative entrepreneur, sometimes I find myself in positions where I am faced with the daunting decision to either participate in something that I pull absolutely no inspiration from or simply...say 'no'. Do you ever experience that? I mean, I want to be as helpful as possible at all times to as many people as I can. I try to smile and be polite, because, you know, I'm literally the face of my company. But that doesn’t mean I jump for joy at every ‘opportunity’ that comes barreling down the contact form rabbit hole. Sometimes friends ask for favors that don't align with my brand or even my interests. Sometimes people ask for help expanding their portfolio and reach out because I seem super approachable. Sometimes industry friends email me about ‘unpaid opportunities for exposure’ that they think would be totally awesome. More so for them. Sigh.
I'm just gonna be straight up. If you aren’t jumping for joy when an ‘opportunity’ first presents itself to you, don't even lie to yourself. We can just call it what it is. Uninspiring. You don’t really want to do it. You don't see how it would benefit you. It doesn't even pay enough to make up for it. And guess what? It’s ok! We’re all adults here (right?). One of the great things about adulting is the part where you’re allowed to say 'no' and nobody can yell at us for it. Except your mom. I'd advise not to say 'no' to your mom ever.
Think about it...
..that time you thought taking on a certain project was gonna suck for you, what happened? Oh, it sucked.
..and that time your first thought was ‘ugh’ when you first received some text about doing something, but you said yes anyway, what happened? Oh, you hated it and the pay didn't even cover your cell phone bill. Yea.
Opportunities are not always going to align with what you got going on. And you don't always have to make up an excuse for why you should partake. "Well I might meet someone I need to know" "I could use this for practice" "It's only a few hours". All very valid reasons I'm sure. But the thing is, you don't have to find a reason to do something that you don't want or feel like doing. Theres no rule that says you have to accept everything always. If you feel yourself being pulled in the wrong direction, do your best to find your way back as quickly as possible. Veering off track has never helped me. It always ends up leading me to more opportunities on the same wrong track. The best way to stay on track is by understanding what gives you the most inspiration, and doing that. There is nothing wrong with saying 'no' to things that do not inspire you. Nothing. People see that you’re awesome and they want to work with you. Of course! Why wouldn't they?! That still doesn't mean every opportunity is right for you. And that’s ok. And they'll get over it and you wont lose your mind.
Once you start your business, once you start working towards your dream, once you figure out 'your thing', don't lose your spark! Pay attention to what truly inspires you. Know what makes you come alive inside. And do that. Be that. Hold onto that.