The Big New Idea: creative hibernation

Creative hibernationThis time last week, it finally hit home after weeks of anguish and confusion: I need to actively put myself in creative hibernation.

I’d kind of told myself that I wouldn’t be taking on new clients or actively promoting my mentoring services while I set up my content studio here in Cambridge. Well, somehow I still managed to have new clients to call, pieces of work to do, and plenty of non-studio stuff to do. I had told myself this, but I hadn’t really put anything in place to enable me to carry it out.

Then, I was in a spin, because a couple of mentoring clients, for their own different reasons, have paused or reduced their mentoring time with me. A coincidence, and something I know is all about them (because I know them and their businesses well), and yet, because I was relying on income from my current mentoring clients to sustain me during these building months, it hit me hard.

Here’s my thought process: Do I change course and start advertising my mentoring services? I’m pretty sure I need the cash, and I can probably handle the additional hours. [Insert breakdown here.]

Even the thought of taking on more work, investing in new clients, and thinking about quick-win money making threw me into some dark, deep layers. Because it would break me, and I’d feel badly about launching something new that didn’t have my careful thought behind it.

Just adding more workload is something I’ve inherited from other people – it’s not my natural way of working, and I know it doesn’t cultivate my best work. But the messages are so pervasive in the work culture. We compete with busy-ness. We hold our worth by how tired we are. Well, it really doesn’t work for me.

Adding more work would also be self-sabotage, which my fear of success is really invested in! The truth is that I’d delay setting up something new because I needed to make money now, and I’d keep doing that for 70 years, probably.

Here’s what has really helped me to stay committed to the content studio: accountability to other people (our trial photoshoot is booked for this weekend) and investing in the branding. I don’t want to lose the money or time or goodwill I’ve already invested in those two things, and I know that if I pulled out of either now, I would lose momentum, which would be twice as hard to get back later.

After some serious(ly helpful) conversations with my coach and others, it became obvious that I had to re-commit myself. Let me be clear: NOT EASY! I am still reining in the negative voices and the fears. I’m giving them a little space to be heard, but mostly trying to turn the volume down. That allows my true values to show through. The ones that believe in quality, thoughtfulness, creativity and courage.

Thinking about who I really am, how I like to work, and how this is a temporary situation helped me to decide to put myself in creative hibernation.

So what does creative hibernation look like?

  • An out-of-office on my emails, telling people I’m not available for new clients or projects until August
  • Proactive emails to people telling them I can’t work on certain things
  • Making a list of the things / people I am available for
  • Actively pursuing all things content studio as my main activity
  • Allowing myself to dive into the work, for extended periods of time
  • Giving myself a stricter bedtime (10pm) so that I don’t get exhausted

Giving this period of setting something up a name has really helped. I find it easier to tell people, “I’m in creative hibernation right now.” And let that do the talking. There’s no decision about whether to do a piece of work or not – I’ve already decided what I’m doing and not doing.

And I continue to develop my ability to trust. Trusting that this period of creative hibernation (aka struggle, blind faith, deep commitment and investment) will pay off. That clients won’t forget that I offer mentoring, and that I’m really good at it. That this is temporary.

It feels so much better to be able to turn my attention to writing the stuff that needs writing, organise the stuff that needs to happen, and developing relationships with the people who are going to help.

Oh, and photoshoot this weekend! I mean, that’s going to be fun to share…


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Enter The Forge

Life's too damn short to chase someone else's definition of success. I'm here to give you the courage and tools to forge your own path.