It doesn’t have to be perfect but you do need to start

I started my business with a small amount of savings that had to be my actual pay (think coffee money) and cover all business costs until the business started providing for itself. My partner took on the heavy lifting of household finances and I was free to work on my business. That first year I needed every cent to pay for room hire, art materials, insurance, coaching and all the other bare basic start up costs for an art therapist.

At the start it felt like EVERYTHING cost money, money I didn’t have.

I wanted to start getting clients, but I didn’t have business cards or brochures, and I didn’t have fancy professional photos, or a logo or designer so how would I get started?

Bottom line – I just did.

A few hours with a graphics software and some photos I’d taken myself, a small black and white print I’d made a few months earlier and I had a logo and brochure designed. Less than $200 with a cheap online printer and a week later I had my first actual ‘collateral’* for my business.

(It wasn’t easy. Well tbh making it once I started was actually easy but GETTING STARTED was excruciating. I procrastinated like anything for months before I finally jumped right in.)

So then the brochures arrived.

I wish I could tell you I was highly systematic and confident in handing those bad boys out. But I wasn’t. I gave some to friends and asked if they could put them in their favourite cafes (because I was too shy). Within a few weeks had my first paying client (that was like magic – I couldn’t believe it actually worked! I almost fell off my chair when she called asking about an appointment).

โ€œWinners take Imperfect Action while others are perfecting their plans.โ€ โ€“ Kevin Nations

The moral of the story is that even if you are a cheapass, oh I mean frugal, oh I mean skint, first business owner or stepping out into a brand new creative project you need to START. NOW. With what you have. Without putting yourself into financial ruin.

You can work on the packaging as you go, you can rebrand later when you are making a profit. Sure your materials might not win any awards for prettiest graphics, but here is what I know for sure**: if you don’t put yourself out there and tell the world you are open for business you will not have a business.

  • Having 100 business cards out in the world, even if you think the graphics are less than superb, will build your business faster than a very good intention to one day have the perfect business card designed and made.
  • A business Facebook page that you use once a week and are still figuring out how to use has more chance of helping clients find you than the strongly held wish that someone else would come and save you from all things social media.
  • Five posters up in cafes will get more attention for your workshop than 100 in your bottom desk draw.
  • A simple web page even if it’s just ONE page with your name, one paragraph about what you do, photo and contact details is better than no online presence at all while you secretly hope you will one day wake up as a confident web designer and all your problems will be solved.

Now I’m not talking about skimping on the core stuff, the things that create your service and provide a reliable experience for customers. Your training. Your insurance. Your legals and professional memberships. Your supervision. Anything where there is a set quality expected by your customers or law. But there are certainly other areas of your business where ‘some’ is better than ‘none’. In my experience these include marketing, an online presence, getting the equipment you need to do your job, providing yourself with mentoring or coaching support, putting time aside for self care.

In these areas I encourage you to embrace the idea that it absolutely doesn’t have to be perfect, but you do need to get started.ย 

 

*Fancy marketing terms for branded things you use with clients like business cards, brochures, posters, ebooks, stuff like that

** Don’t you love this phrase?! My friend Karen Gunton uses this all the time. When you’re stuck or confused she suggests you ask “What do I know for sure?” and list those things.


Does this resonate? Have you started something with imperfect perfect action? What is one thing you might get started on NOW even if it’s not perfect?

 

 

 

 

Who wants to play?

Who needs an an infusion of deep, soulful, playful creativity at their next face to face event!?? I’m open to fresh collaborations in Australia in 2018 (or Europe May/June 2018). I would love for the right fresh fun collaboration plans to wing my way.
Imagine….
๐ŸŒŸA visioning session before your content master class, to connect people deeply with their what, why, how and who
๐ŸŒŸA break out group at your conference with gentle art therapy based processes unleashing new ways of seeing old problems
๐ŸŒŸ A creative morning session each day of your wellness retreat

I am flexible, practical and creative when it comes to planning events and collaborating.

I create a safe, sacred, well bounded group experience.

I am a qualified transpersonal art therapist and coach and experienced group facilitator.

Who wants to play!?

Drop me a line via my contacts page to start a conversation.

Courage, self criticism and stretching ourselves

I want to reflect on my recent experience of having a podcast interview, and share these with you in case they help you to ‘step up’ and get out of your comfort zone.

Recently I was guest on the Recovering Perfectionist podcast and spoke with Claire Barton about being a scanner and not being tied to just one career, hobby or focus in our lives. I love Claire’s work, I’ve enjoyed working with her, and she is a great source of info on business systems. To be honest I’m a bit of a fan, I find her down to earth and warm manner really delightful.

We had a great chat and then earlier this week it was published both as an iTunes audio podcast and also as a YouTube video, so I listened again to remind myself of what we covered.

Just like any creative endeavour there can be mixed feelings about the ‘end product’. For example I notice that the sound is a bit iffy my end at the start of the interview (internet connectivity issues). I don’t look right into the camera because I’m looking at her face on my screen, so I look a bit shy and distracted, always looking slightly away. As I watch I cringe a bit about random things to do with how I move my hands so much, or that I’m wearing foundation when I normally don’t so my skin looks strange to me.

These are fairly normal ‘oh no look I did a bad job’ kinds of observations that come up from fear of making a fool of ourselves, fear of appearing incompetent, fear of being rejected or ridiculed. As a recovering perfectionist myself I have an eagle eye for my own flaws and am great at spotting them.

However, as I watch I am also pleasantly reminded of the genuine connection we shared that day and the interesting topics we discussed. I am pleased when the audio sorts itself out and works again. I like my earrings. I feel proud of myself for stretching my experience and saying yes to a recorded video, when in the past my interviews for radio or online have all been just audio.

So on this day of being aware of something new and of myself, being in the public domain, I gently hold these mixed feelings. I know that I have learnt things by doing this, the sky didn’t fall in, and the world is still turning. I know that I will feel more confident the next one I do. I am aware and pleased that the inner voice of celebration and encouragement is louder than the inner voice of criticism. I know that these mixed feelings about our creative endeavours are part of the ride, and I’m glad I continue to get outside my comfort zones so I have fresh reminders of how that feels, and can walk alongside my clients who are doing it too.

I encourage my clients to start before they know every single little thing, as it’s in the doing that we actually learn. I am on the same path of exploration as they are, as we all are, and today I celebrate our small and big acts of courage.

scanner podcast

Links
iTunes Podcast – bit.ly/TheRecoveringPerfectionist
Podcast episode – Episode #30 – https://www.clairebarton.com.au/podcast-feed/30
YouTube video episode –https://youtu.be/e1-nNslnkBo

 

Mini creative recharge project – noticing beauty

Checking in and focusing on the beauty around me is one of my low key, completely free self care activities. If I’m feeling tired or noticing that I’m very ‘in my head’ I bring my attention back out to the world around me. I often use flowers as a focal point – what flowers can I see in my neighbourhood that completely capture my eyes and lift up my heart? The more I set out to notice, the more I see. I then shift into feelings of awe, appreciation and wonder. I notice myself slowing down. I feel more abundant and expansive.

Here’s your invitation to notice something beautiful this week.

Flowers not your thing? Try looking for striking shadows, or amazing angles and lines in the urban environment, or colourful tiles, or maybe the changing colours in the sky. I find having just one thing I’m looking for keeps the project feeling more fun and do-able.

To create a permanent record of your noticings try making an album on your facebook page or in your phone and saving photos into that.

Or print your photos old school style, and make a huge artwork of them for your wall.

A simple creative recharge project that is free and you can do anywhere.

Have fun!

Let me know how you go!

If you were going to do this project right now, what thing would you look for daily to bring your attention to beauty and wonder? Let me know below: your idea might inspire someone else too!ย 

5 things (that might be) stopping you from success

“Don’t wait until to know who you are to get started, the way you figure it out is by making things”
– Austen Klein (who wrote Steal like an Artist)

I’ve been working with coaching clients for two years now helping people get moving towards their wishes.

I love how unique each person is: there are no two exact life stories or sets of passions of strengths. However with the smart, sensitive, creative and multipassionate people I work with (and if you’re reading this you probably fall into this camp too) there are some themes I notice in what blocks they face in taking practical steps towards their long held dream.

1. Your sense of time. As a creative person you might be used to bending and stretching time, falling into pockets of time, and squeezing outrageous abundance out of a short period when you are feeling inspired.

But here’s the thing: time (and your productivity) can’t be expected to deliver such bounty every second of every day.

There will be days when you are doing tasks that are less fun and just do take way longer than you wish they would. Start noticing how long tasks take – not how long you wish they would take. For example ‘updating your finance spreadsheet’ is something you pretend will take 15 minutes but actually takes 3 hours, or ‘making a brochure’ you wish would take half an hour but might actually need to be your main focus for a couple of days. You may not want this task to take so much time, but being realistic about how much time it needs will stop you overscheduling or over committing and will help you give yourself permission to take the time the task actually needs to get done.

If you are still learning the task, or don’t actually know all the steps that it needs feel free to double the time you give yourself to do it – you might need it. Leave the warp speed productivity estimates for the work you really love, and leave plodding time for plodding tasks. Solution: give yourself chunks of time to do things, especially the hard and boring stuff.

2. Fear of being criticised. You want to hit publish on that first blog post but WHO ARE YOU TO HAVE AN OPINION?

You are acutely aware that everyone, from your grannie to that mean girl who never liked you at school, to that awkward guy on the bus will be able to read it and pass judgement on you. They will hate it! They will think you are too mean/ critical/ soppy/ whiney/ happy/ angry/ average/ boring/ spiritual/ emotional/ low-brow/ high-brow/ entitled/ egotistical… They will think you are an amateur/ sell out/ hard nosed bitch/ ruthless bastard/ band-wagonist/ dilettante/ unprofessional…. And whatever else is on your ‘secret fears about myself’ list.

This is deep and painful stuff.

This fear feels like the fear of being rejected, shamed, ostracised. It is the fear of showing our authentic selves and having it not be accepted. It is the fear that we will lose face, reputation, career opportunities, friends or loved ones. This thread usually runs very deep to childhood or whatever situation we first experienced being criticised for who we were, often because others weren’t comfortable with that aspect of themselves or because they expressed their care through criticism or a strong focus on fear and safety, rather than encouragement and love. Going after our own dreams is one sure fire way to come face to face with this stuff.

But please don’t let the fear be the reason you stop.

Get help! What you need is a cheer squad, a tribe, a little safe corner, a mentor or a coach. Speaking these fears out loud to someone who you feel safe with, feeling the pain, shedding a few tears and then taking the tentative tiny baby steps just out of the comfort zone with a trusted other by your side is deep and powerful work. You are rewriting how you see the world – from scary and unsafe and unsupportive to warm, embracing and encouraging. No wonder this is hard to do alone. Solution: feel the feelings and then take safe, baby steps.

3. Your dream has had the enthusiasm dry up and just fear and doubt remains. The dream you had has been sitting on the shelf in the back of the cupboard for so long it no longer looks sparkly and fun but feels like a giant mess of guilt and self doubt. Imagine it cobwebby and covered in dust. It kind of radiates fear when you think of it, and you feel super guilty for leaving it there for so long.

You need to dust off the cobwebs and get a burst of enthusiasm for your dream!

Find someone safe to talk to about the dream. Give yourself space to feel any sadness or guilt or self criticism or any other feelings that have come and settled on it while it was on the shelf. Now let’s get it sparkling again! You need people who see it as absolutely possible, doable and just exactly the kind of thing someone like you might do. When you light your dream up with enthusiasm and sense of possibility again it is a pleasure to be around it and start taking action towards it. Solution: do what it takes to make your dream feel like a happy place again.

4. All or nothing thinking about research or prep has hijacked you. Does this one sound familiar? ‘I can’t possibly start my book because I haven’t finished all the research and I’ll have to research everything so actually I’ll never be ready to start’ or ‘I will never be able to start a business because I would need to do elleventy billion courses first and I don’t have time’.

Do you? Do you really need to do ALL the things?

Can you cheat? Can you just ask three people who know a lot about that thing and see what they say? Can you find one good article that reviews a bunch of stuff and just decide from that? Can you do three hours of research and then start? Sometimes we set up an imaginary perfect scenario as an excuse for why we can’t start – because no busy human has the time or energy to follow our imaginary regime we then have a great excuse to never start.

Imagine you HAD to start tomorrow. What is the bare minimum research or preparation or whatever it is that you could do today? If you reaallly had to? Do that! Then start. And do more along the way as you need it. You’ll have better questions to ask once you get some hands on experience and real life under your belt anyway, so your learning will be richer and more targeted. Solution: don’t believe your hype, you know enough already, just start.

5. Your old mask doesn’t have room for the new you. If you want to BE something but you don’t see yourself ever doing that thing it can be hard to make the shift to owning that part of yourself.

You want to write / sing/ paint/ design/ build / connect but you don’t see yourself as ‘the type of person who…’ (does that thing). Your old identity doesn’t have room in it for this new part of yourself and it resists the introduction of the new.

Try doing a bunch of things that will help you believe that you are the kind of person that does (your thing).

Painting? Go to classes, go to galleries, read books about painting, share your work, tell people you paint. Before long you will believe it. Running marathons? Get outside in your running gear, read fitness magazines, listen to podcasts about running, run around the block. Eventually you will own this thing ‘running’ and see yourself as some one who runs. You can be a beginner, be still learning, be a dabbler but you need to find a way to glue this thing to your sense of YOU. Doing the thing is easier when we don’t have internal resistance because it doesn’t align with our self image. Solution: do all the things you think a writer / painter/ rock climber / business person does, it will help you absorb the new identity with more ease.

These are some of the most common blocks I see stopping people from taking action towards their most heart felt dreams. What else? What do you notice stops you? And more importantly how do you overcome it?

I’d love to hear what resonates most with you from this blog. Comment below or send me an email!

Grief Awareness

Loss and grief are fundamental to human life. Grief can be defined as the response to the loss in all of its totality โ€“ including its physical, emotional, cognitive, behavioural and spiritual manifestations โ€“ and as a natural and normal reaction to loss. Put simply, grief is the price we pay for love, and a natural consequence of forming emotional bonds to people, projects and possessions. –ย Christopher Hall MAPS, Director, Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement

Grief is something that can occur for many reasons.The kinds of losses that can cause grief include but are not limited to:-
– death of a loved one
– death of a pet
– divorce and/or seperation
– miscarriage, baby loss, abortion
– loss of employment
– loss of cultural identity
– any other loss
If we have experienced a ‘non traditional’ loss we may find that those around are less understanding of our grief, or that support is not at hand. If we have moved countries, transitioned from one role to another, retired, left a role we used to play but are now no longer needed to, this can all result in grief.
So what can we do?
Naming it for ourselves (‘I am grieving this loss’), expressing it, journalling about it, making up a story to express it, drawing about it, being immensely kind with ourselves, making space for emotions to come up, working with a therapist can all be powerful ways to support ourselves through this experience.

Here are some stories of grief.

Here are some great resources about grief and support that bereaved people may appreciate.

Below are some organisations that may offer support groups, training and reading materials.

More information:

The NALAG Centre for Loss and Griefย 

More about this organisation: “The NALAG Centre for Loss and Grief is a not for profit organisation with Centres and Branches in Dubbo (Head Office), Mudgee, Mid North Coast, Bellingen/Nambucca Shires and Sydney (Telephone). At the NALAG Centre for Loss and Grief we provide FREE loss and grief support to those who are grieving.

The NALAG Centre provides quality professional education and training in the area of loss, grief and bereavement. Throughout the year, we schedule workshops and we are also available to conduct customised training upon request.

To promote awareness of loss and grief in the community, NALAG conducts events such as Grief Awareness Month, The Walk towards Hope for Suicide Prevention and the Remembering the Babies Ceremony. Our various Centres and Branches also hold community awareness events and education sessions.”

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement

More about this organisation: “The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement, as the largest provider of grief and bereavement education in Australia, works to build the capacity of individuals, organisations and communities in order to enhance wellbeing following adverse life events. The Centre is funded by the Victorian Government Department of Health as the statewide specialist bereavement service.”

Compassionate Friends Victoria

More about this organisation: “At The Compassionate Friends Victoria you will find the special understanding of those who have โ€œbeen thereโ€. There is no pressure to talk or not talk, cry or not cry, just a chance to be yourself, to have time-out.ย We offer a safe haven, a listening and understanding ear, a place where you can let down the mask, and if you wish, talk about your son or daughter, brother or sister who has died. We donโ€™t promise a miracle cure, just comfort and the consolation and hope that broken threads can be picked up again.For more information and 24 hour support:ย Phone (03) 9888 4944, Country Victoria freecall 1800 641 091″

Source of the quote: here.

Does your inner child need some play time?

What do you do that is playful, open ended and full of joy?

In my experience, connecting with the inner child needs a few foundation- conditions to be in place…. For me these are:

  • Feeling safe – no one is criticising or judging me, I can’t ‘fail’, I’m not scared of making a mess or getting something wrong
  • It’s ok to be me – there is room for diverse outcomes, I know my unique expression is welcome, I’m not having to work to a detailed map, I’m not forcing my outputs to match someone else’s
  • Other people are playing too – it’s not a competitive environment, people are relaxed and seeing what emerges, I can concentrate on me because everyone is engrossed and taking care of themselves
  • There is a sense of wonder and awe – maybe the space feels like a place out of time, or the materials are delighting me, or the depth of connection with others is making me feel like anything is possible.
  • My senses and imagination is engaged – I feel lit up and enthusiasm is driving what I do

Connecting with that inner sense of joyful exploration might feel different for each of us.

No matter how we do it, it is wonderful to put down the weighty responsibilities of adulthood and deep dive into playfulness from time to time. Let’s schedule it in!

If you are in Sydney and would like some time to play, perhaps with a young person in your life, check out my ‘yarn dolls’ workshop. This Saturday Mixed Media Mini Masterclass is in Glebe on Saturday September the 23rd at 1-4pm. Places are strictly limited so please reserve your spot while there are still some available.ย Book now.

An afternoon of play – no homework, no prep, nothing you need to bring. Just come along and enjoy.

 

Tell someone!

My #geniustip for today is to tell someone they have inspired you or you love their work!!! Or tell others!

That might seem totally obvious but it’s been a recent revelation and a whole lot of fun for me.

The last two weeks I have consciously given myself permission to be a raving fan girl about all my favourite business peeps. It all started when I wrote a review about a service provider two minutes after our session finished. She made it look pretty and popped it online, and I felt a warm glow that not only had I enjoyed a great productive session I had helped another woman in business.

If I’m honest, I had been holding back from doing this before. “What if they think I’m just a fan and not a peer?”, “What if other people take my recommendations and go and work with them instead, will I be doing myself out of business?”, “What if people don’t take me seriously anymore if they know I need help and get help in certain parts of my business?” Or even, in my darkest moments, the green eyed monster of envy and scarcity with thoughts like “they’re already doing so well, why should I help them?”. But I’ve crossed that line, that fear line that was keeping me a bit resentful and quiet.

So now I am talking up all the women who have helped me whether through one on one services or even just a super helpful video or tutorial.

For example Natasha Berta has helped me figure out how Instagram works just this week, Claire Barton is a great help for getting organised, Julie Nelson is a whizz with personalised natural perfumes and is making me one! That’s just some of many. I will celebrate what they do and tell other people about them if I think they might be looking for what they offer. And even more importantly I’ll let them know that I appreciate what they do.

Here some tips on how you can do the same, in the spur of the moment:

๐Ÿ’š Reply to that blog post or newsletter you love with a short comment if it genuinely moved or inspired you

๐Ÿ’š Let someone know if they are on your wish list for working together

๐Ÿ’š Tell someone if their attitude, energy, know-how, kindness, consistency or other thing is inspiring you

๐Ÿ’š Suggest new offerings of someone you like working with doesn’t have exactly the thing you are looking for but you super want to work with them

๐Ÿ’š Tag biz people in posts when you tell others about their services (hint: write @ and then their facebook page name after that to ‘tag’ them on facebook).

And I don’t mean me! I mean anyone who is giving you a useful download of inspo or info that’s helping you stay afloat or row your boat!

Of course this applies to friends, family, neighbours just as much if not more.

Outside of a business setting and just as human beings, how many people are waking around not knowing that they light up the day for someone? How many people can’t see their own warmth, wisdom, generosity and need to be gently reminded that someone appreciates it?

๐Ÿ’š Send a thank you card to a friend

๐Ÿ’š Tell someone close to you the thing that amazes you most about them

๐Ÿ’š Tell a family member what you really appreciate about them

๐Ÿ’š Drop around a casserole or some flowers to someone having a rough time and tell them you care and that you believe in them

My coaching trainer and mentor Barbara Sher says “praise makes you brave”. I believe it. None of the hyper critical self-doubting narratives in my mind over the years have helped me become a better person – they keep me scared, hidden, or overinflated, running, chasing or miserable.

Genuine praise, speaking about the things you like most about someone (without slipping into hero worship, we need to know our own value too) is a generous free gift we give others.

We could all do with some encouragement
We sometimes can’t see ourselves clearly
We don’t always know how we’re shining

Tell someone!
Say what’s obvious!
Be free with your genuine admiration and encouragement.

Being free with our words of appreciation and encouragement is also great for us. I’ve found it’s an easy and free way to give myself a mood lift, and create a feeling of generous abundance. Even if you’re shy – I dare you!

It’s OK (really)

It’s ok to not have a plan
It’s ok to not feel good enough sometimes
It’s ok to need support and encouragement
It’s ok to struggle with your ego
It’s ok to feel jealousy and envy
It’s ok to not know what you want or to want everything
It’s ok to feel like everyone else has it figured out except you
It’s ok to feel hopeless
It’s ok to be tired, or lacking motivation
It’s ok to be anxious, frightened or scared
It’s ok to be uptight or a control freak
It’s ok to be chaotic or a slob
It’s ok to be driven and ambitious
Sure it’s not necessarily comfortable, or glamorous, but we really don’t need to despair about our worth as a human being if we find ourselves facing our hard to face stuff.
Everyone has stuff to deal with.
It’s ok to love ourselves even if we aren’t perfect.
Let’s practice accepting ourselves with kindness.
Let’s practice noticing our feelings and behaviours with curiosity not judgement.