How To Get Back On Track When You Are Losing Steam

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Losing Steam

Some days you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and feel like blah. Perhaps you are physically tired, anxious, uncertain, generally out of sorts… all of the above?

It can be a struggle to get out of bed and start your day. You feel like you have so much to do, but you can’t get yourself to be productive.

Are you losing steam? Losing motivation? Is this failure? Are you giving up on your dreams?

Doubts immediately swirl in – what you are doing with your life and if it’s worth it or going anywhere at all. The inner critic starts to take over…

I know the feeling and I know how unhelpful it can be to wallow in all of those depressing thoughts. This kind of dip is inevitable, because we all have these kind of downer days. The question is, how do we snap ourselves out of it?

Get Back On Track

The trick is to have an arsenal of tools that will snap you back into positivity and action. We will all have different options that will work for us, so it’s important to explore and identify your unique triggers. Here are some ideas:

  • Re-energize: What activities actually build up your energy level? Usually surfing the internet is draining and not at all restful even if it seems like a zombie mode of intaking inspiration. Perhaps it’s better to get outside? Get some exercise? Go to a bustling cafe and grab your favorite drink? Take a hot shower? What does it for you? What helps you to snap out of lethargy?
  • Self-care and love: You might just need some pampering and self-love. Does that mean a spa day or scenic drive? A red velvet cupcake or a steamy cappuccino while reading your a book quietly? We all need downtime and some TLC. Have you been neglecting yourself?
  • Revisit your mission: Whether it’s the mission statement for your business or your life mission statement, it’s a good idea to regularly revisit the core “why” – the guiding light that defines all we do. Many people have a favorite quote or a poster stuck on their wall as a reminder of what drives us to do what we do, day-to-day.
  • Friends and loved ones: I think we often forget that as humans we are social animals and sometimes it could be that isolation is contributing to our downward spiral. It’s important to interact and be social. Oftentimes, friends and loved ones will help trigger your usual self and get you back on track. They will provide you with unconditional love and support… so use it! Maybe you just need a hug?

Remember that we all have bad days, when everything just seems off. Help yourself by taking note of what helps you get out of that darkness and always know that tomorrow is another day!

What methods do you use to help you get back on track when losing steam?

Creative Success In Just 10 Minutes A Day

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In talking to many creatives online, I’ve realized that so many of us are blocked and stuck in paralysis. We have dreams and goals, but feel that it’s too far fetched, too difficult or too late to start working towards them.

I want to help us break through the false impression that success only happens with massive action and investment (whether it’s time and/or money).

I’m certainly not against the times in our lives when a major change certainly can kick us into action… but on a day-to-day basis, experience tells me that just 10 minutes a day can lead to success.

We often underestimate the power of incremental change and progress. Consider that 10 minutes a day is over 60 hours of time in a year. That’s like spending more than a month of business work hours – straight – on one project… and that is a substantial amount of time for many types of projects.

When I became a mom, I had to learn the hard way to make use of all the little bits of in-between time I had available to me. The luxury of giant blocks of free time are rare! And if you think about it, the availability of little chunks of time is much greater in our lives today. Waiting in lines, the transition times between errands and tasks, the few minutes before your day starts or day ends… lots of little pockets of time. It makes so much sense to learn to make use of them, rather than just letting them pass you by.

To give you some examples of how 10 minutes a day can lead to success for various projects and goals, consider this:

  • Daily doodle/drawing/pattern/collage projects even with a quick 10 minutes means you will have 365 entries at the end of a year. Even if you skip days you would have still accomplished a lot. That is why I love 100 day challenges or daily routines of that sort. It’s a great way to develop a creative practice routine.
  • Daily exercise like a set of crunches, lunges or stretching poses. It always seems like nothing, but if you actually take action for 10 minutes a day, you’ll be surprised how much more fit you’ll be after a year of practice. Again, even if you skip a few days, the results are still better than doing nothing. This kind of practice can be as simple as a 10 minute walk around your work building at lunchtime!
  • Meditation for 10 minutes a day. It’s a great way to give yourself that calming, centering time. You’ll be surprised how this simple practice might change the way you feel the rest of the day! Not to mention, it helps when you are going through a difficult situation – deep breaths, right?

You might agree with the fact that daily routines are great, but perhaps have trouble keeping up. So how do you set yourself up for success when it comes to nurturing a daily routine?

  • First you have to set up the goal or activity you are wanting to accomplish. Keep it simple and realistically possible for a short period of time.
  • Then you have to simply make it easy for you to jump in and spend those 10 minutes of time when it comes along. Like having your sketchbook always ready and available. Or memorizing those exercises you want to do, so you can break them out anytime anywhere.
  • The point is to set yourself up for success and just keep moving forward day by day, chipping away at it.
  • Finally, don’t let a missed day trip you up. Think of every single day as a new start. Doing something sometimes, is better than nothing all the time.

Daily routines work for so many creatives and if you ask anyone who has achieved any kind of success, they will inevitably tell you it’s the slow and steady work of chipping away at the task.

If you need a bit of motivation, think of declaring your intentions in public or getting a partner or buddy who wants to do this routine with you. Accountability works and community motivates! Generally you can also keep your eye on the prize and visualize all that you will accomplish by the end of the year.

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I’ve embarked on the #100DayProject, posting my simple pencil sketches on Instagram daily. It’s a small creative exercise, but it’s about keeping my drawing muscles flexed and turns out to be a fountain for inspiration. A simple creative play exercise can turn into a full-fledged idea and project!

Are you ready for creative success?

Print On Demand With Society6

You might already know that I have a Society6 shop, an online print on demand service that many artists use to promote and sell their designs. All I have to do is create the artwork and upload to Society6 to offer the design for sale on a variety of products.

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This type of service (and there are many out there) enables an artist like me to concentrate on creating – while Society6 products and ships the actual product. It sounds like a pretty cool service, but as with any new technology, it comes with some pitfalls.

Recently, I ordered my own Lovely Leaves Drifting Down Tote Bag to test out the product in real-life and the general customer experience. I was so excited to finally get the package, but was so disappointed with the results. The design was really faded looking, none of the vibrant color that I had originally in mind.

This is what the product looks like online:

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And this is the tote bag I received in the mail:

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It seems as if the bag had been used already or faded by the sun, right? I immediately wrote to Society6 and expressed my concern in misleading customers… what we see online doesn’t match the product. They apologized for the issue and reprinted the tote bag. When I received the replacement, I was much more content with the results. You can see that the reprint on the right is way more brilliant and vivid. Yay!

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I’m glad to have raised my voice and ask for a replacement, but makes me wonder if customers are getting the first or second version? When you don’t have full control over your final product, it can be worrisome, because ultimately it’s your design and name out there. I do hope that people realize they can comment regarding the results, because ultimately when you buy online, you only have the online image to refer to. So speak up and make sure you get what you expect.

What’s your experience as an artist or customer, working with online print-on-demand shops?

If you want to see my other designs, check out my Society6 shop. I should note that I’m definitely grateful to be able to put my work out there in the world with Society6 and even if there are a few kinks to work out, they are doing a great job at helping to promote artists and their work. So thank you to Society6 as well!

Now I wonder what to do with the more faded looking tote bag? Hmm…

 

How to Move Past a Disappointing Business Situation

LTieu-How-to-Move-Past-a-Disappointing-Business-SituationI believe that we all have great ideas and it’s exciting when passion for the idea drives us to take action and put ourselves out there. We all know it’s scary, but creatives do this kind of thing every single day. Unfortunately, not every launch or effort is accepted with open arms. Especially in the beginning of our creative businesses, crickets chirping might be a pretty common situation.

We’ve all experienced a disappointing situation in our creative careers – perhaps it’s something we have to get used especially when it comes to new and innovative ideas. But the question is how do we move past this common bump in the road?

I’ve tried many different creative experiments in the last 10 years of working online in one way or another. And yes, I certainly know the sting of disappointment. However, I’ve learned from experience that although it’s important to acknowledge my feelings at the moment, it’s essential for me to take a deep breath, step back and ultimately reframe my perspective – in order to move forward.

Too often, we get stuck on factors that we have no control over and it leads us to doubt our talents, our creativity and our efforts. Ultimately, that is the road to death for many great ideas… because more often than not, you just give up after the initial try.

I’ve learned that you need to concentrate on what you can control. Remember that it took Edison a 1,000 failed attempts before he invented the light bulb. He kept going. What would our lives be like today if he had just given up?

Are you getting no response to the artwork you put out there? Having trouble selling your goods at shows and markets? Results not as stellar as expected for your latest launch?

Acknowledge that there is a problem to face. Yes, you are disappointed, so there’s room to grow, right? Now let’s step back and concentrate on what can be done to alter the results.

Give it time

As amazing and viral as the internet might be, everything takes time. Beginners often think that success can be overnight and don’t realize that there’s usually a long history of blood, sweat and tears behind the scenes. Ask yourself if you have given your project adequate time to grow?

Get more eyes

It’s easy to think that all eyes are on us whenever we put ourselves out there. Those feelings of vulnerability are on high, especially when it comes to creative businesses and our personal talents. But the reality is that no one is really looking or paying attention most of the time. We are all so busy with our own lives, don’t think that posting something online means that everyone in the world has seen it. This is why marketing is so important. If no one sees your amazing idea, how can they ever appreciate it? Ask yourself if perhaps you just need to work on getting more eyes on your project.

Edit, alter, curate

When you do have an audience, listen to them and remember that there’s always room for improvement. Nothing is perfect and revisions are inevitable. In fact, they only make the end product better over time. Make a list and start working on it. How can you make your product or service even better?

The lesson here is to realize that there’s always something you can do to move forward and past disappointments. You DO have control to change the situation and improve your results. Just change your perspective and work your way towards success. It might be a bumpy path, but you can and will move steadily along if you keep at it. So get to it!

The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate.
– Thomas Watson Sr.

Photos on Instagram

Did you know that I’m posting on Instagram pretty regularly these days? I suppose it’s an easy way to share, almost like microblogging that is totally visual. I’m finding it super inspiring and a fun way to share given all the challenges and hashtags to explore. Here are a few of my recent favorite snapshots…

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Are you riding the Instagram wave?

March 2015 Memory Book Pages

Another month has flown by and that means another set of pages in my memory book done! I’m still loving this new method that is sort of Project Life, sort of planner, sort of minibook combined for my scrapbooking. Just a huge mix to accomodate whatever I have for the month.

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I did have a big mishap on one page, smeared/dropped ink on the white page and over the bottom photo. It was one of those cringe – oh crap – NOOOOOOO – moments! If only it looked organic and pretty, unfortunately it sort of turned brownish and looked so gross!

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I reprinted the photo, but the page was stained, so I tried to cover it up with embellishments.

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It was really frustrating and I was angry at myself, but gotta let go. Oif! Had to focus on the elements I enjoyed creating… like sewing on vellum and sewing transparencies over photos for the little insert.

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Supplies are from the March Project Life® Kit that I subscribe to by Studio Calico. Of course, I also use whatever fits in from my own stash and designs. I rediscovered all my sparkly pens, so used that to journal throughout.

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Again, I’m a bit worried about how big this book is going to get since I’m only on March and it’s pretty chunky already. Although I love to document, I’m always worried about how much space things will take up. How will I make it to the end of the year?

From Idea to Design

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I’ve been working on greeting card designs for Happy Print Club and wanted to share a bit of the process of how a simple idea can branch out into many design variations and ultimately a final product.

For me, the idea for a greeting card can pretty much spawn from all kinds of inspiration. Anything from seeing the patterns and colors in nature while taking walks to flipping through my favorite magazines to conversations and just taking notice of the world around me. Sometimes an idea comes out of doodling a particular motif and playing around in my sketchbook, but sometimes it’s like a eureka moment when an image just pops up in my mind. I create really simple thumbnail mockups for whatever ideas I have and certainly not all of them are followed through on.

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When I’m sufficiently motivated, I decide if I’m going to create something more polished and pick my medium – either using traditional art materials by hand or working digitally on the computer. When it comes to digital design, it’s especially easy to create a lot of variations and test out different color combinations quickly. For this particular example, I wanted to create an everyday hello card and tried out a bunch of my sketched out ideas in Illustrator.

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Varying the scale, layout and motifs – I usually spend quite a lot of time just playing around. Sometimes the design is very similar to my sketch and sometimes it can just go in a totally different direction. I find it helps to work on a design, then let it sit for a few days so you can revisit with fresh eyes. Somehow, I always have a different perspective when I work in this way, rather than rushing through things.

In the end, I scratched my own full-color sunburst option because I wanted something less ink-heavy for printing. I tested out a super simple classic option to oversized cutoff type and the cute sun motif… I’m still wondering what option is the best for this card design.

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Do you have a preference? Usually, I keep all the source files for the variations I create, just in case I want to revisit the idea or use an element for another project in the future. In the end, I just have to choose the option I like the best and go with it. I think it’s okay to sit on things, but at some point you have to launch!

That’s pretty much my straightforward process from idea to final design. The timeline varies from one day to many many weeks. Sometimes an idea just sits in incubation for a long time because I’m not as motivated or it doesn’t turn out as planned when I dive in. I’m pretty sure most creatives have a whole lot of work they are sitting on – unfinished works waiting to be rediscovered and dusted off. Or just ideas that linger, but don’t really result in anything.

That’s probably why it’s important to keep exploring, sketching and ultimately creating a lot… but picking and choosing what to follow-thru with and actually finish up.

What’s your creative process like? Would love to know how you go from an idea to finish project!