Feeling stuck… in my creative business
In our ‘feeling stuck’ series we want to unpick what’s holding you back, help you gain clarity and move forward with confidence. For the first instalment, we’re focusing on feeling stuck in your creative business.
Perhaps you’re years into running your business, but have come to a point where something needs to change. You don’t feel aligned with your original vision, your work feels stilted and the fires of passion you once felt for your work have gone out. Or, perhaps you’ve recently launched your business and are feeling overwhelmed. You’ve got so much hope wrapped around your venture, but self-doubt keeps creeping in, leaving you paralysed.
Whatever your scenario, we want to help you move out of this stuck feeling. Below are some ways to do just that.
Make time to take a step back
Whether you’re new to running your business or have years of experience under your belt, it’s easy to become bogged down by the day-to-day tasks. This can make it hard to step back and look at the bigger picture. If you’re feeling stuck right now, this is exactly what you need to do.
Book in a day (or a few) where you can do this. If it’s possible, you might enjoy removing yourself from your usual working environment. A change of scenery can inspire fresh thinking and get you out of ‘employee’ mode and into ‘CEO’ mode.
Once you’ve made time for this work, get yourself a pen and paper. The act of writing by hand can slow our thought process and encourage us to be more reflective. If this doesn’t feel right however, of course, feel free to use your laptop and a blank document instead. Make your environment as comfortable as possible, get your favourite hot drink in, light a candle, look out the window, take a deep breath and do the following.
Come back to your ‘why’
Often when we’re feeling stuck or lost, it’s because we’ve veered away from our values and purpose. When you first launched your creative business, you no doubt had a reason behind it. You had a mission, a purpose, your ‘why’.
Remind yourself of this ‘why’ now and write it down. If you can, try to sum it up in one or two sentences. Read it back and check-in with how it makes you feel at this moment. Does it still stir excitement? Does it feel right? How is your body responding to this purpose? Have your shoulders dropped and your jaw unclenched? Or have you tensed up?
Remember, it’s OK if this purpose doesn’t feel right anymore. We all change and evolve as we grow, so it’s natural that our business will too. If it doesn’t feel right, you might find it helpful to check back in with your core values and how these relate to the work you want to do as a creative. Try journaling about this and see if you can create a new purpose that feels more aligned. Once you’re happy with your purpose, move on to the next step.
Run an audit
Now you’ve reminded yourself of your ‘why’ (or have created a new one) it’s time to figure out if your business is helping you do this. Sometimes we fall into a routine of doing things in our business because that’s what we’ve always done, or that’s what a self-professed marketing guru has told us to do. Now is your chance to really figure out what’s working and what’s not.
Make a list of everything you do in your business and review how it’s going. What impact are these tasks having on your business? Are they aligned with your overall purpose? What impact are these tasks having on you?
Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.
– Oprah Winfrey
There will always be some tasks we need to do as business owners that we don’t love (taxes anyone?), but if there’s a task that drains you and you only do it because you think you should, ask yourself what would happen if you let it go. Now is the time to shrug off any shoulds holding you back.
Now, make three new lists. One list of tasks you’ll stop (either by letting them go or outsourcing them), one of tasks you’ll continue (tasks you enjoy and are having a positive impact) and finally a list of tasks you’ll start (new tasks that will move your business forward).
Make a plan
Hopefully by now you’ll be feeling more fired up and excited to make changes. To ensure you move out of this sense of feeling stuck and into action, you’ll need to make a plan. Set yourself some goals with realistic deadlines and figure out every step you’ll need to take to get there and plot these into your calendar.
When making this plan, remember – it’s OK for it to flex and change. If this year has taught us anything it’s that we can’t plan for everything. Instead, be compassionate with yourself if things go awry, take a breath and re-plan.
Chunk down your tasks into small steps to help them feel more manageable and plan rewards when you achieve your goals. This can help you stay motivated and gives you a chance to celebrate your wins and boost confidence.
If self-doubt is holding you back, you might find it helpful to identify any limiting beliefs and use affirmations and self-care to counteract them. Everyone experiences self-doubt, it’s like an overly cautious gremlin that takes the wheel and steers away from risk. The trick isn’t to get rid of it entirely, but instead to find a way of letting it sit quietly in the backseat so you regain control.
Instead of looking for all the reasons it won’t work – start counting all the reasons it will.
– Reese Evans
Create space for creativity
Within your plan, ensure you’ve made some room for creativity. You are a creative business owner, which means some element of your work requires creative thinking. It can be easy to expect this to simply ‘happen’, but the truth is, we need space to make this happen.
We need time to feel inspired, however it is we do that. For some it may mean setting an afternoon aside to catch up on reading, watching movies or visiting galleries. For others, it may mean making time for long walks in nature and learning something new. Whatever it is that inspires you, create space for it.
Remember you are the heart and soul of your business. If you’re not feeling your best, your business won’t perform. So do what you need to take care of yourself and your creativity.
Rally your support system
Written down in black and white, the advice above seems relatively simple. But when we’re doing it in real life, it can become more complex. This is why it’s so important to have a strong support system at your side. This may be a group of fellow creative business owners, friends, family or simply others who ‘get it’.
Lean on this support system regularly and ask yourself if you could benefit from any extra guidance. Business coaches and creative coaches can help if you find yourself struggling with any of the steps outlined here. There’s no shame in reaching out for help and it may give you the spark you need to rekindle those fires of passion about your business.