This month, Love Indigo Creative turned one! I can hardly believe it’s been a whole year… last April when I was in Spain, I opened my doors to freelance work for the first time since leaving New Zealand. I dreamed that it would be the start of my nomadic creative life - working for amazing clients while exploring the globe and being my own boss.
I did what I usually do: I leapt in with both feet and hoped I’d figure things out along the way. In all honesty, I’m glad for my naivety. I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t truly anticipate the learning curve I was about to undertake. When I look back at how much I’ve grown in the last year, I can honestly say one thing:
Starting your own business will catalyse a life-changing phase of personal growth.
Every fear and seed of self-doubt will be magnified. There will be times when you feel like you’re drowning, completely overwhelmed, and you’ll wonder why the hell you thought this was a good idea. You’ll look at what everyone one else is doing and tell yourself you have no right to be a designer/writer/coach/business owner, because everyone around you is already doing it better.
You will be called upon to pick yourself up, again and again, and delve deep into reserves of resilience and courage you didn’t know you had. But you DO have them, I promise.
You must learn to get comfortable with uncertainty, to sit with the uncomfortable-ness of it all without letting fear take over.
It’s not an easy lesson, but it’s a crucial one that comes with time and experience.
I’m reminded of one of my favourite quotes from Brené Brown’s Rising Strong.“The middle is messy, but it’s also where the magic happens.” Brené talks about how there’s a part of the creative process where you’re too far in to get out, but you can’t yet see the light at the end of the tunnel - this is where we all struggle with doubt and uncertainty. Here’s the part I love the most:
No amount of experience or success gives you a free pass from this part of the process, it only instills in you the faith in your ability to navigate the dark.
You can apply that idea to any situation that fosters uncertainty: Will I sign enough clients this month? Will I be able to pay the bills? Will my client like the work I send through? Will anyone buy my product? Am I good enough to do this on my own?
Here’s one example that most of us face: fear of not making enough money.
The first time I couldn’t pay myself for few weeks in a row, fear took the driver’s seat. It told me I wasn’t good enough, that I’d never get out of debt, that I should probably just get a real job so I could pay my bills. I went deep into the fear spiral before I realised what was happening. The anxiety and self-doubt were crippling.
But I got through it. By the third or fourth time it happened, I had the experience that allowed me to say “I am supported. Things have worked out every other time, and I trust that they’ll work out this time too”. Rather than completely succumbing to fear, I was able to sit with the uncertainty, take actions to change the situation, and trust that I would get through.
For me, yielding to uncertainty without becoming fearful requires two things:
1. Take Action
If the uncertainty is about money (for example) write down everything you could do to generate extra income - following up leads, having a sale, creating a new product, selling some of your possessions. The fear of not being able to pay your bills is a justified one, but there are always actions you can take to reduce the risk of that actually happening. Now, take action where you can. You'll feel better for having taken steps to mitigate the risk involved.
2. Cultivate a Positive Mindset
Different tools will work for different people, but here are a few that help me...
+ Inspirational podcasts/videos
If you’re feeling low, listening to someone in a positive headspace can quickly shift how you feel. Try TED talks, The School of Greatness or The Lively Show.
+ Mantras or affirmations
These will be different depending on the situation, but a few of my favourite money ones are: My life is overflowing with abundance. I trust that I am supported and provided for. I have unique and valuable skills that are worth paying for. My go-to for any situation is Gay Hendricks’ Ultimate Success Mantra: “I expand in abundance, success, and love every day, as I inspire those around me to do the same.” Write them down, meditate on them, try EFT, or repeat them out loud.
Particularly great if you find yourself in a lack mentality (focussing on what you DON’T have, rather than what you DO have). Listing everything that you’re grateful for is an easy way to shift your focus back to all the great things you have in your life. This is a good practice to do at any time, not just when you’re feeling low!
+ Talk to someone who’s been through the same challenge
This may not be your bestie, mum or partner, as much as they love you. I have an accountability buddy who I talk to every week, and it’s so nice to chat with someone who really understands the challenges of trying to make it on your own. Often just speaking my fears out loud is enough to take the edge off them, or to highlight where I'm sabotaging myself.
+ Keep a collection of positive feedback
Whether this is a testimonial page on your website or a folder in your inbox, it’s so helpful to re-read all the lovely things clients have said about the difference you’ve made to their lives or businesses. When self-doubt is taking over, affirming that what you do DOES make a difference to others is a game-changer.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic (or anything else you want to chat about!)
How do you cultivate a sense of calm in the face of uncertainty? Hit reply and let me know.