So often I hear creative women talk about feeling stuck, like they just can't figure out what to do next.
This happens in many contexts, like when you're just starting out and trying to figure things out or later on when you thought you had it all figured out, but suddenly you've hit a roadblock.
I've been there too. A lot. Many times it manifests itself by keeping me paralyzed and unable to work and other times, it leaves me trying to run in a million directions at once, trying to piece everything together, but ending up further from where I even started.
When this happens, one simple solution is to learn to focus.
Now when I say focus in this context, I don't mean literally 'get focused' and 'back to work.' What I mean is that you might need to shift your focus and attention. By learning to focus on one thing at a time, you will become instantly relieved of the pressure to perform at everything and learn what things you do and don't like doing for the long-haul.
*Note: Some people do extremely well with managing several talents, passions or skills at once. But not everyone and certainly not me. The notion that you have to inject your "lifestyle" into everything you do is false. Don't get me wrong, I love me my fair share of lifestyle websites and bloggers, but it's not the only way to live a creative life online or manage a business. It took me a long time to learn this and I hope I can help you learn it so much faster.
Being a multi-passionate person is truly a gift and a way of life, but when you're trying to do everything at once, you better bet your butt (that's a lot of B's!), you are going to start feeling the burnout and the feeling of being stuck. Do you have to do one thing for the rest of your life ever? Mmm nope, but figuring out how to focus on one thing or one message, at least for a little while, will leave you feeling infinitely lighter. I like what Veronica from Two Easels has to say about finding a niche for her business and her craft: "The most important aspect of art is to communicate a message to your audience. It doesn't matter how you do it, as long as that message is heard and felt." What she's saying is that she can change her art and the mediums she chooses, but as long as she focuses on her message (at least the one she's chosen for now), she can do anything. I love that.
If you're multi-passionate or feeling stuck in a rut or feeling like you don't know what steps to take next, try these things to learn to focus your time effectively:
> DO ONE THING FOR SIX MONTHS
Six months. That's it. Make a list of all the things you want to do, close your eyes and pick one. If you feel like you want to write healthy recipes and do watercolor art and teach meditation, that's too much and you know it. You know it because you feel it. In this case, choose writing healthy recipes. Go all in for six months. Create a food blog, cook everyday, practice your writing style and food photography style, study others who do the same (not too closely) and give yourself the title of "food blogger." For just six months.
If at the end of six months, you're totally on a role and you're loving life and you're gaining traction, keep going. You can infuse your other interests as you go from there. If you're feeling drained and uncool, that's cool too. On to the next! Does this method sometimes cause stress and feelings of failure? Yes. But how else will you know what you LOVE until you try some things? How will you know where to put your mental and financial resources until you've spent a significant enough time really diving in? Six months is all you need - pick something.
> FIND COMMONALITIES IN YOUR INTERESTS
If you're feeling like you just can't pick one thing (or you've already succeeded at one thing, but you're missing your other interests), another technique is to find the common ground between your interests. Your hobbies don't have to be your job. There is so much pressure these days to create a life full of passion, that you have to pick your hobby and make that your job. But I can tell you from first-hand experience, it doesn't always work that way. As one example, you can find my past self food blogging here, but you may notice that isn't what I'm doing today. Many people on Instagram know me as a girl who does abstract geometric watercolor. I loved both of those hobbies immensely, but they both burned me out. I didn't love every aspect of them. I thought very deeply about how I could use the lessons I learned from those ventures to come to where I am right now. I loved teaching people about how to live a healthier life and I loved being a part of a creative community. So here I am, working towards creating a community where creative women can learn to live happier, healthier lives full of clarity. See what I did there? You can do that too and you can probably do it before you go through several years of trying so damn hard. You probably already know what your interests are so break them down to their cores to come to a more clarified conclusion.
> START SMALL TO GO BIG
In several of the Facebook groups I am a part of, many for creative entrepreneurs, so often I see beginners (hell, I would even call myself one) going ALL IN right from the beginning. And I don't mean all in with their attitude. I mean, getting a custom $4,000 website and all the hottest email marketing tools right out of the gate. Now maybe it's the risk-averse part of me that just shivers when I see this happening or maybe it's my experience with multiple failures that gets me nervous for them, but I say you can start small when it comes to some things. You can use a free email provider and a basic website. You can just worry about one social media platform to begin with. If you're a beginner, go in with all of your heart, but not all of your resources. (tweet that) You'll find that your tastes and your goals change quickly over time.
> THINK ABOUT YOUR CORE VALUES
When all is said and done, when it comes to the creative work you do, whether it's personal or for business, thinking about the things you value most will bring you back to Earth. If you're having trouble figuring out which direction to go, make a list of your most basic priorities. Which of your options can best serve those? More than one? Go back to my first point. It's possible you'll make a mistake here. No one is perfect and we always make "bad" decisions. When I started my food blog, I thought it was going to be so great for my family and for a while, it was. We cooked all the time and ate healthier and more diverse foods, but when I started to burn out, I hardly cooked at all. In retrospect, it didn't serve my family. When I finally let that go as a viable business option for me, I began to enjoy cooking and baking again. When I create things now, I ALWAYS think about my #1 priority and why I wanted to work for myself to begin with.
What do you think? Can you commit to at least one of these strategies? I promise that if you do, you'll feel light as a feather and ready to tackle the most important things in life and business.
In case you're still having trouble, I've put together some of my favorite ways to get my mind in the right place - download the checklist below!