Where am I going with this?

For the past few weeks I have been racked with worry about where my business is going.

I have been asking myself questions about my life and business.

What exactly am I trying to do?

What is my business for?

What’s the purpose of my business, my life?

I have looked at many sources on the subject, reread books, listened to podcasts. All in a desperate attempt to answer these questions that have plagued me for months.

Trouble is the advice I get is often the same. That you have to have some vision or idea of where you want to go, and a plan for getting there.

My problem is I don’t really know what I want in such precise terms.

I have ideas, certain themes that have come up again and again in my deliberations. Things like a life’s passion, purpose, growth, change and much more.

But I’m unsure how those themes would look in a business model. What am I working towards, seminars, workshops, consulting? My doubts are too strong for me to be sure.

A similar thing also happens with the writing itself. Trying to write a good post appears to involve a whole lot of rules. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what makes a good post.

When I write, whatever passion that was in the post, can be stripped away by the critical part of my mind. It tells me to make sure I obey the rules I have read about. The right length, right structure, right images and more.

Further still there’s also advice on when to post, social media strategy, post layout, and more.

As a beginner you can get lost in this advice, I did, and to a certain extent still can be.

All this doubt results is what you might call Creative Anxiety. The worry that you’re not doing it right when it comes to art and entrepreneurship.

All these rules are sucking my enjoyment out of writing and ideas. I can’t keep working like this. I don’t feel happy with the work I am producing or the process itself.

In the beginning

Our grand business undoubtedly is, not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. – Thomas Carlyle

I realise now that what’s important when starting out is not plans, or visions. But learning to hear that inner voice, the one that drives you, then creating a habit to act upon it. Further still is learning to quiet that fear voice inside telling you it won’t work or you’re not good enough.

Instead, forget about who you are creating for, what you should be creating, and the right way to create. Suspend that critical voice and just create.

I think creating this way produces far more compelling work than the prosaic method of following rules. The trouble is, the constant advice encourages us to think too much.

Let your passion lead you to your creative voice. Just write and draw and get it out there. It’s more rediscovering that passion and Intuition.

Doing this will serve beginners better in the long run I feel because people respond to passion more.

The same goes with individual pieces of work like blog posts.

Too much advice can leave us worrying about how we will meet it, and the fear we never will. Helpful advice in this regard can be counter productive.

Instead just create with no plan or audience in mind. Create the art for yourself first and focus on getting better at creating.

Give yourself permission not to have a plan or goal, and ignore that voice telling you otherwise.

Some ideas on where to start

Writing X amount of words per day or a set amount of time is one practice advocated by many writers. Because it helps flex those creative muscles and gets you into the habit of creating.

Write what you are thinking, as the words come into your head.

Another idea is to work on awareness, recognise when you feel strongly about something, then create.

For drawing try squiggle birds shown by Dave Grey.

All these ideas are there to break done the resistance that you can’t or shouldn’t create. Something, anything just to get you started.

The Unknown

The future is uncertain, particularly when you are just starting out. Don’t fall into the trap of over analysing and planning in a desperate attempt to be efficient. Worrying about such doubts eats away at your time and energy.

You can’t see clearly into the future. Only with hindsight do things become understood.

We need to take a step back from certainty and accept a a paradox of a ‘certain level of uncertainty’.

To stop trying to know it all before work begins.

Instead we should be focusing on listening to that voice within and learning to express it more and better. The mystery that is creativity and purpose come from within, and can’t be turned into a flowchart or a map to be followed.

In business and art you first need to find that compass of passion inside before you draw the maps and make the plans.

Given all this I am now trying to pull back from knowing and planning. Instead I want to focus more on how I want to feel. Practice more creating, using my own feelings as a guide and connecting with other people who feel the same as I do.

As for what I am going to do about my business, I will try to accept the fact that I don’t know where this is heading. Accepting that fact can be liberating, I no longer have to do it perfectly and know it all.

Doing all the things I need to do and perhaps nothing will happen for a long time, years in fact. I just need to work hard and be patient.

My plan is not so much written in detail, but more about knowing what I want. I want to Create and Connect. All I can do now is move in the direction that seems right for me. The rest I will figure out on the way, or is in the hands of the gods. Eventually I will get to where I want and need to be.

calvin and hobbes writing project

Image Credit:  Ann Dudko

Image Credit: Bill Watterson

7 thoughts on “Where am I going with this?”

  1. Amazing post. I absolutely love this! I love your vulnerability at the beginning and how you’ve accessed what truly matters to you – creativity and connection.

    Both are so important to me. When I’m having a bad day (or week) I sit down and work on my writing. I often get plagued with thoughts about it being not good enough. But i recently realised that it doesn’t matter if it’s good enough. Because it’s the process that I love. Not the outcome.

    • Thanks for the comment Roisin

      Hearing that inner voice has to be the first step because you can’t succeed without it. Later stages are just learning how create better art.
      Business talk today is often about authenticity and finding your voice.
      But the inner voice is something only you can find, there are no maps to follow. So you have to do that hard inner work that allows you to hear it better.

  2. Hi Richard, you articulate what so many of us are struggling with or have struggled with: “expert advice” versus “inner voice”.

    The Internet is a two-edged sword. While we have easy access to the expertise of others, it can also backfire. At one point, I was subscribed to so many experts, I suffered incapacitating overwhelm every time I looked at my email inbox.

    There is a time to listen to others and a time to let that inner voice take wing. I’m coming to learn that the inner voice wins, every time. Without it, you will never offer what is unique to you and no one else. That special something that only you can give cannot be unearthed using the rules of others.

    Does that mean we’ll make more mistakes? Yup. But better to make those mistakes than to be a shadow of what you might have been.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Modern society smothers our creativity. Claiming that conformity is the better path to take.
      When I started out I too go lost in the endless advice given by experts. It stopped me from creating in a way I felt comfortable. Instead I would fret about how i was ever going to meet all the recommendations offered by these experts.

      Hearing that creative voice has to be the most important first step.
      I found a lot of inspirational advice on writing, and less tips from the Unmistakable Creative Podcast by Srinivas Rao.
      I highly recommended it.

  3. I agree- I think if you have something to communicate- be it through art, music or words, you should find that inner voice and act upon in. Just create in your own way!

    Like you say, It seems there are rules and a framework to apply when converting that creativity into certain types of business, but first thing’s first. Trying to lay the framework out first before establishing an enthused, creative mindset is probably what will stifle a lot of people.

    • Well said Ben. There is too much emphasis on following rules and checklists at the start. The availability of the internet means advice can be found very easily, too easily. Sometimes you have to step away form others and create something about what you feel.
      No-one can tell you how to do this, and nor should you worry about what others think. The art you create can be just for you.


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