Almost all the creatives and solopreneurs I know are trying to find balance in their personal and professional careers. I know it’s an issue for me, so a couple of years ago when Dan Blank from We Grow Media offered a course on building a sustainable (read that again. Sustainable, not insane) career as an author, I jumped at the chance. I think Dan is a smart guy, and he’s just so cute that I want to pack him up and sit him on my bookshelf. With that being illegal and possibly creepy, I settled for the class.
Since the first book in my Texas Nights series was published in August 2013, I’ve released almost 20 novels and novellas. I say this not to brag but to illustrate the speed at which publishing currently moves. Back in the “good old days,” it might’ve taken an author well over ten years to do that.
I know I can’t craft a twenty- or thirty-year creative career, remain sane, and spend time with my family if I don’t take a breather to assess what I’m doing and figure out if I’m spending my time on the right things and people.
So how can creative pros and solopreneurs find balance?
1. First, ditch the word find.
That makes it seem as if we’re skipping through the grass hunting for an elusive easter egg with a hundred dollar bill stuffed inside. You don’t find balance. You create it.
2. What you think of as balance may be bullshit.
I would apologize for the profanity, but I’m not really sorry. That’s the way I talk. I once read a post by Michael Hyatt that impacted the way I define the word balance. You can read the post for yourself, but what I pulled from it was what we’re calling balance is actually being at rest. He said balance doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t always feel calm. That sometimes it’s like being on a Ropes course where your legs are shaking, your arms are thrown wide, and you’re hanging on like hell to the person beside you.
3. Get (painfully) clear on what matters to YOU.
Not your best friend, not your competitors, not other creatives or business owners you network with. You. This means you have to slow down for long enough to think. Why are you chasing success? And more importantly, what is that success? Setting your priorities is hard. That’s why so few of us do it. But people, you make epic shit. You already do the hard work.
4. Once you’ve given yourself a little tough love, look at your commitments and make some hard choices.
You will need to cut some. Maybe you can no longer be PTA president, room mom, and queen of the entire universe. Or maybe you just need to say no to that weekly coffee date. You don’t have to quit everything and squirrel yourself away in your creative/business cave. But you do have to make choices.
5. Don’t just consider your business and creative work when you’re thinking of your goals.
This became clear to me when I was doing some homework for Dan’s class. I had both professional and personal long-term goals. But the short-term stuff? They all supported my writing and publishing goals. How am I supposed to have a strong, loving relationship with my husband and son when NONE of my short-term goals include them?
I wish these five pieces of advice would be all you need to create a balanced life as a creative pro, but they are a good start. A better start than many people every make.
I do hope they’ve made you realize balance doesn’t just happen. It’s something you have to work for.
And if you think you can have everything you want? Well, it just ain’t so. But the great news is with a little thought, you can make time for the pursuits and people you love most.