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Business

Dealing with boredom at a job you created & (most of the time) love

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Boredom has some nasty effects on creative entrepreneurs. It makes us feel lethargic, lazy and drives us into a deep, dark pit of comfy blankets where we watch Arrested Development reruns instead of work. So I’m told.

Don’t get me wrong. Watching Arrested Development reruns IS fun, if we’re taking a day off and are actually happy about our current state. It’s not so fun if creative collapse and/or borderline depression have a foot in the door.

Sometimes boredom exists and we just have to deal with it. As creative people, we want to be inspired and moved and productive all of the time. But that’s not real life. Even if we outsource tasks that aren’t our strengths (accounting, SEO, etc.) and outsource tasks that aren’t the best use of our time, we’re still going to get bored. At these random little moments of resistance, we must push through! Practice discipline. Sit down and do our work!

Boredom usually happens when we get a little too comfortable with routine. Let’s stop getting comfortable with routine! Boredom for creative entrepreneurs looks like this:

1. We’re feeling uninspired.
2. It seems like everyone else is doing something awesome.
3. Thoughts like, “ugh, ick, bleh” run through our heads.
4. We feel antsy every time we sit down to work.
5. Our tasks seem tedious.
6. We’re overwhelmed.

These thoughts/feelings are valid. We can go ahead and slump and pout around our offices. Give a good yell or long and exaggerated sigh. And then, we have to knock it off! Boredom is our own fault. We are creative people, afterall. Let’s get creative with ways to keep our businesses and our mojo for our businesses riproaring in the right direction. There is beautiful and bright light out there, just passed the dark and swampy blahs. We just have some creative problem solving ahead of us. We need to seal up that little black box of boredom and chuck it in the ocean. Intention is half the battle. If we sit at our desks and think, “I’m bored. This sucks. Bleh. Booooooring.” That’s how our days are going to go.

If all we did, as wedding photographers, was meet potential clients, shoot their weddings, edit their weddings, design their wedding albums and deliver their images and did that over and over over and ooooovvvvveeerrrrr again, we’d meet a lot of awesome people and get to be photographers BUT, I’d get bored. Not to sound like I don’t love love and happiness or I don’t enjoy my job, but we crave newness within our routine. We thrive on ideas and adventure. So, we do all of those things over and over and over again, but we’re always giving ourselves new challenges along the way with these tasks and the time we have between these tasks.

A few examples of things we’ve said over at our wedding photography business when boredom crept in:

  • Let’s make a mini vacation out of that New Orleans wedding coming up.
  • How can we streamline album design, so we can get the books to our clients even faster?
  • Editing is getting me doooown. Let’s figure out our options for outsourcing.
  • You know all those people we know dying to learn how to use their DSLRs? Let’s teach them!
  • It’s been a busy few weeks, I’m sick of sitting at my desk, let’s watch Arrested Development reruns and eat ice cream (SEE!).
  • It’s been a busy few weeks, I’m sick of sitting at my desk, sunset run on the bay tonight?
  • Michael & Perrin LOVE film, let’s shoot a roll for their wedding and surprise them with it!
  • Let’s start taking our potential clients to get frozen yogurt instead of going to coffee.

Not every idea has to be monumental. But a little change in direction will get us to that bright, beautiful place where inspiration and productivity are bumping elbows, racing to our doors.

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Business

How to get in the creative zone

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Every designer, photographer and writer knows there’s something out there, be it a place, a Spotify station, a type of experience that sets them free into an untouchable sacred zone. A place where they turn all Girl on Fire, Katniss-like. Fierce, flying with ideas and intentions that are hot, hot, hot. There’s a flow & rhythm in the zone. It’s where you get stuff done. It’s what helps build confidence and excitement about your task, your motives, your endeavors. It’s a place that sometimes sneaks up on us and we need to act fast and get down to business before it slips into the abyss.

When creatives arrive at this place, it’s magical. Steven Pressfield talks about it this way in “The War of Art,” It is commonplace among artists and children at play that they’re not aware of time or solitude while they’re chasing their vision. The hours fly. The sculptress and the tree-climbing tyke both look up blinking when Mom called, ‘Suppertime!'”

You feel at home with your mind and your work when you’re in the zone. It’s peaceful and exhilarating all at once. You want to be there All. The. Time.

But, the zone is hard to come by when we’re feeling distracted, uninspired or too busy. Just like anything, the less and less we show up in the zone, the harder it’s going to be to ever get back. There will always be something or someone trying to keep us from the zone. Just like an athlete has to overcome his defenders, screaming fans cheering for the other team and booing his efforts or the debilitating memory of last game’s missed shots, as a small business owner, you must wade through the crap and find your sweet spot.

So, how do you get in the creative zone? Here are a handful of simple and effective ways you can prepare to arrive & stay in the zone:

  • Clean your workspace.
  • Exercise.
  • Fill your stomach with something healthy.
  • Go do something outside.
  • Get everything else out of your brain and into a notebook or Evernote or somewhere where you don’t have to think about it until you need to.
  • Meditate. Relax. Just sit and breathe for a second.
  • Close your email.
  • MOVE YOUR PHONE OFF YOUR DESK.

Because it’s such a unique place to be, we sometimes make our arrival to the zone way harder than it needs to be. That, my friends, is called good old fashioned procrastination. There’s no magic way to get to this magical place. You must be diligent and create it for yourself.

Now, go…

Categories
Business

Defending your dreams

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Being a creative entrepreneur does not mean you suck at life. It’s just the opposite, really. But your parents or some of your peers might not see it that way. They might think you have your head stuck in the clouds.

“I was convinced my mother-in-law thought I was eating Bon-Bons all day.”
When we started our photography business in early 2009, our office was in my in-laws’ garage. Spiders kept me company while the hubs held down another job. I was convinced my mother-in-law thought I was eating Bon-Bons all day. They didn’t quite understand what we wanted or why we were trying to build what we now have. They thought Jesse should pursue medicine or at least something where he would be taken care of by The Man. I was frustrated because what we wanted made so much sense to us. Why couldn’t they see it? It doesn’t matter. It didn’t matter. But I let it affect me. BIG mistake. I should have kept my eyes forward. Sometimes all people want is for you to be happy, they just want you to find happiness the same way they did.

Not everyone has the desire and sense of adventure in their blood that entrepreneurs do. Those people might not ever get it. Nine to fivers find great security and confidence in benefits and health insurance that is automatically taken from their paychecks. And that’s totally cool. We don’t need to knock them. We just can’t let them dampen our dreams or steer our self-worth.

The funny thing is, older generations should technically totally understand. Why wait for retirement? Let’s get this party started NOW. Yes, plan for retirement. But let’s live now AND live later. Let’s live our WHOLE damn life, shall we?!

“Keep those spiders at bay and go have a Bon-Bon. You deserve it.”
If you’re stuck in a crummy spot right now, trying to explain to your parents or anyone else that this is the right move for you, you are not alone. Hundreds and thousands of us have been there before. Don’t let it shake you. Keep those spiders at bay and go have a Bon-Bon. You deserve it.