As an independent, a full time indie-entrepreneur, a maker of things that sell, a creator of my own wealth, a designer of my own creativity over time, I feel a strong call to do more things my way for the results I want.
Which, for many of us, seems to beg this question: can you give more of yourself over to being a creator?
Often times I hear it referred to as “pursuing completely” — like, how completely are you pursuing your thing?
I think this plays solidly into that dream of being an artist who abandons herself to her work.
Like, many of us really, if we’re honest, feel like we should have that kind of abandon, conviction, sold-out-ness to the thing we’re pursuing. Right?
BUT, what if pursuing that thing is putting other things in our life in jeopardy?
What if we want to pursue our blogging more completely, BUT our blogging isn’t contributing to our financial needs yet. We want to give blogging more time because maybe that’s what’s necessary for us to even get to a place where we can generate revenue, BUT, spending more time there may take away from the job that IS earning us revenue, or our family or other relationships that might be good for us to keep in tact as well.
So, today we are going to talk about this: how much are you pursuing your thing AND how much SHOULD ANY OF US pursue our thing?
Should we leap with abandon and trust the universe and the intention of our hearts to construct the solution in real time? Or does being cautious really give us a better chance at success?
In case you aren’t familiar with what we do here, we make honest, in-depth conversations on topics like these for indie entrepreneurs.
It’s like hanging out with really experienced entrepreneur friends.
If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to our podcast in your podcast app and get every new episode as it comes out.
Here’s the podcast conversation where we go deep into the topic for this article:
In the episode you’ll hear from Paul, who sent us a really nice audio note which sparked this whole conversation.
Here’s a couple notes from Paul’s audio note:
- I always dreamt of making a living off creating content that i care about. I’ve made content, but I’m not earning a living yet.
- I once hid from a young creative entrepreneur in the restaurant I worked at. They had pursued it completely, I knew in my heart that I wasn’t pursuing it completely.
- I felt shame because I knew in my heart that I’m not pursuing what i really want with everything I had within me.
- I realize now I need to be open and admit to people I need help pursuing what I want to do.
Paul, thank you so much for being a part of the Fizzle business movement and for sharing your voice with us.
“How cautious should you be in your creative business?”
A little while ago Corbett Barr wrote an article titled Money is not the Point. He brings this up in our response to Paul’s story.
If you talk to Paul just about his art, not about his money or job, I bet Paul could talk all day on it. How did he land those guests? What’s it like to talk to someone with so much gravitas!? (Paul has had a long-time radio show and interviewed tons of big guests.)
But when you’re talking to peers, money is used as a measuring stick a lot of the time.
Sometimes this is how we judge ourselves and how completely we’re pursuing our creative work: how much money we’re earning from it.
Do you think that’s the right stick to measure our conviction and creativity by?
In step’s response to Paul’s not she kept thinking of the word “influence.”
“I think about how this manifests on social platforms. A lot of us fall into the trap of competing with our peers. What if you just thought more about your customer?”
Who cares if your peers find your stuff? Who cares what peers think of your stuff?
To these questions Steph responds: what if you cared more about your audience and the problem you’re helping them solve?
She continues: “This kinds of thoughts have helped me around this topic because my whole energy changes when I really connect with my audience.”
Both insights from Steph and Corbett are bang-on in my experience and point to the fact that we’ve got to be very careful what we measure ourselves by.
If you worry about not being committed enough to your creative work, DON’T judge yourself by either money or peer influence alone.
Money matters, but it’s not the point.
Influence and respect is, for many of us, essential, but might be best treated like salt in a recipe: you can overdo it.
So, be careful how harshly you judge yourself by these two metrics.
Now, Paul bravely confesses to feeling some shame in his audio note. He effectively hides from seeing someone in a restaurant “because this other person is ‘pursuing it completely.’”
Paul continues, “I felt shame because I knew in my heart that I’m not pursuing all that I want with everything I had within me.”
These are just the words he used as a kind of shorthand, but I think it’s something a lot of us have felt.
“I wish I was pursuing this completely.”
“I need to be pursuing this more.”
“Things will work out different for me if I was pursuing it more completely.”
The first step here is to acknowledge that we all have an obstacle that keeps us from going all in. To some degree all of us have some kind of experience with this.
And so this is how we disarm the shame like this: we see it, we share it.
“Shame cannot survive being spoken, cannot survive empathy.” – Brené Brown
“The thing that I’m constantly concerned about is “paying the bills.” Sometimes I feel like as a business we have to pay the bills, earn a living, and maybe that keeps us from going ALL IN on something that could be really magical for us. Maybe we need to cruise up to the arctic and take a crazy step to find the magic for us. Maybe that’s the case for Paul too, and many of us.
I don’t know though, it’s really hard to know what you should do. I’m one to be a little more conscious. Experiment with the new thing a little bit before cutting off all ties, revenue sources, whatever it is, before jumping off because maybe then you’ll have a better shot at both fulfillment and achievement.” ~ Corbett Barr
So, to me this seems like a place for a very delicate balance.
Now, I personally have had times in my life where I KNEW I wasn’t giving myself over completely to a thing that was kind of calling to me.
I think a better language for that might be: I wasn’t totally acting in accordance with my conviction — that I really desired to head a certain direction but I was too afraid in my mind and didn’t let myself fully engage in that direction.
This is a repressive posture — kind of like the mind repressing the heart, for lack of better terms at the moment.
So clearly there is a way to live that’s too imbalanced in favor of fear, leaning too hard towards “what will they think!? Who do I think I am!?”
So, we need to balance that with our heart, our desire, being honest with ourselves that, “hey, actually it feels really good to go this way and I really want that.”
But it is also possible to have an imbalance of too much heart, too much desire.
You really love making comics, so fuckit, let’s spend all our time doing that and hope the universe takes care of us. I don’t think that’s serving your desire very lovingly. I think that puts too much pressure on the shoulders of your creativity.
It’s very dangerous to think, “Hey, I’ve repressed my natural creativity so much, and it feels so good to pursue it, so I’m going to just flow completely towards that feeling even though it’s scary and go super hard after it, pursuing it completely.”
It might be the right direction for you to head more towards the heart (in my life it clearly has been), but you can head gently in that direction. You don’t have to drive 100 miles per hour to arrive safely at your destination… in fact, maybe going that fast makes you less safe.
Now, in Paul’s situation, I hear something that is absolutely magical: I hear heading towards better balance.
It’s almost like he’s saying, “I’ve been too afraid to pursue harder what I know has been calling me. I’m ready to lean into the fear a little bit more and surrender a little bit more of myself to this thing.”
“I’ve been too afraid to pursue harder what I know has been calling me.”
I think this thing that Paul is saying is SACRED, you guys. To head towards that calling AT ALL is a kind of sacred path.
And you don’t need to head towards it at 100MPH to be in the flow.
So, as you think about your creativity, look for the BALANCE for YOU right NOW.
As you think about whatever thing is the thing that makes you feel the “oh my gosh, this might not work” feeling, look for the BALANCE… for YOU… right NOW.
Those three words: balance, you, now. What is the balance of courage, for you today… that’s the way to think about this question, about if you’re pursuing it completely or not.
Because we can obviously live with too much fear and not enough passion or desire or feeling. But maybe the other side is true as well: we can live with too much blind passion that we’d actually enjoy a lot more if we allowed ourselves to go a little slower, drive at a more sustainable pace.
Maybe in this sense we can not only live passionately, but also be good stewards of our passion.
A specific business element that may help many of us is getting clear about our MVI — “Minimum Viable Income.”
This is a concept we created to answer this question: how much money do you need to make in order to support yourself (and possibly a family) on a monthly basis?
What makes sense do you about this question? How do you feel about how “completely” you’re pursuing your thing?
Have you learned anything about this on your own journey so far?
We’d love to hear it in the comments below. Please share!
Thanks for reading. Hope this was helpful. Please share if it was!
Every week we talk with entrepreneurs. We talk about what’s working and what isn’t. We talk about successes and failures. We spend time with complete newbies, seasoned veterans, and everything in between.
One topic that comes up over and over again with both groups is mistakes made in starting businesses. Newbies love to learn about mistakes so they can avoid them. Veterans love to talk about what they wish they had known when starting out.
These conversations have been fascinating, so we compiled a list of the 10 mistakes we hear most often into a nifty lil’ guide. Get the 10 Most Common Mistakes in Starting an Online Business here »