8 Things I've Learnt This Week

Disclaimer: So, some of these things I knew already but was reminded of them this week! While we're on the subject, they didn't all happen this week either, but “8 Things I've Learnt Or Been Reminded of In The Past Couple of Weeks” didn't seem quite as catchy. 1. Get specific about your goals or expect never to achieve them

This came from straight-talking business coach Linda of The Master Fixer. She led a mini goal-setting session at the Bristol Small Business Boost Networking Club run by Jo, otherwise known as the Digital Marketing Fairy, and it was really empowering. We were each tasked with setting goals for the end of Q1, Q2 and Q4. Not only did these targets have to be extremely specific (i.e. not just "more clients" but how many), but we even had to think about how we would reward ourselves when we hit them. As is often the case, I found myself using language that suggested I didn't truly believe I could reach mine, but Linda encouraged me to say “I will...” which is powerful in itself! Spending some time thinking about how you'll feel when you get to enjoy the reward is a lovely little exercise too!

2. Don't live in the gap (between where you are and where you want to be)

I heard this on a CreativeLive talk by Peter Voogd and it really stuck out to me. It's so easy to look at other people in your industry and focus on how much further ahead they are than you, or look back at your mistakes and wish you'd done things differently. Peter reminds us that dwelling on the negative like this will do nothing to help move us forward, so focus on the now and do whatever you can to close the gap! Another great resource on this topic is this short, lighthearted video based on a speech by Ira Glass.

3. The only way you'll find your voice is by writing

This actually ties in really well with Peter and Ira's messages above; the best thing you can do to improve your craft is to just DO IT. This, of course, applies to your main creative endeavour, which for me is photography, but also works on any other skill you're trying to hone. For example, at the moment I am really enjoying blogging but I would love to get much better at it and I acknowledge that it's going to take months and years of writing consistently every single week for me to really refine my voice and become a more confident writer. It helps if I imagine that nobody's going to read it anyway, but maybe that's just me! More on the topic of finding your voice here.

4. How you live your every day is how you live your whole life

This is the first of many, many tips I've picked up from one of my absolute favourite podcasts, Being Boss and it came from an interview with coach and author Katie Lee. It might seem totally obvious when you look at it typed out like that, but how often do we forget this when we're in the thick of it trying to build our businesses? Katie makes the point that sometimes you have to take a step back and look at your life from the outside; are the things you do on a daily basis the things you really want your life to be made up of? Is there room for more of what makes you happy and less of what drains you? She also reminds her clients that more often than not the changes that we want to make are possible right now, we just need to get clear on what we want and then take small steps towards those things.

5. Fear and creativity can co-exist, if only you let them

I just finished Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic and I really loved it! I might have to dedicate a whole blog post to it because there were so many gems of wisdom, but this is an important one for fear-obsessives like me! Some days I let my fears consume me, which I know is detrimental to my productivity and is why I'm so interested in finding ways to live with it instead of fighting against it. Elizabeth says that she chooses to actively make space for fear in her life because fear and creativity go everywhere together and she cannot live a life without creativity. In her signature charming style, before embarking on a new project, she writes a letter to her fear in which she invites it to come on a road trip with her and her creativity. She grants fear permission to have a seat in the car and make itself comfortable, but forbids it from doing any of the driving. I love this analogy and I think it's going to be really freeing for me to try and think like this too. Buckle up, friends, we're going on a road trip!

6. There exists such a thing as Instagram scheduling, and it's revolutionary!

I have dabbled with scheduling posts on Facebook and using Buffer for Twitter, but never found a free tool for doing the same with Instagram and I've been letting this hold me back from posting consistently, until today! I came across Later on a blog and immediately assumed it would be a paid tool, but to my delight it's free if you're just using it for yourself and don't want to post more than 30 photos a month (that's plenty for me right now)! There's a web app and a mobile one so you set up account online then download the mobile app and sync the two together (it actually does this for you when you sign into both). You can then bulk upload images into your account and schedule your posts ahead of time using the calendar, you can even preview what your feed will look like, which explains how those super stylish Instagrammers achieve such beautifully curated feeds! Phew, they are not wizards after all! Your posts won't be published automatically but you'll get a notification on your phone when the time comes and it will copy the caption to your clipboard and take you to Instagram to do the deed, easy! This video explains it all really simply.

7. Clarity and certainty are not the same thing, and thinking that they are will only hold us back

I love this distinction made by Jen Carrington on her Make It Happen podcast. As a creative entrepreneur she really gets the struggles of not knowing what's around the corner and emphasises how important it is to accept the things that are out of our control. Jen says that waiting until the outcomes of our actions are certain is what causes us to waste time and put off doing the things that deep down we know we want to do, which makes so much sense because of course nothing is ever 100% certain. She gives the examples of publishing a blog post, launching a website or writing a book and reminds us that “regret is ultimately a choice and not something that happens to us.” So, if we don't want to live with regret, we just have to get clear on our goals and then go and do the thing that will get us there! You know what your thing is (mine is launching a new website and I am committed to making this happen in one month), go and do it!

8. Comparison is the thief of joy (I definitely knew this one already!)

Sara Tasker of Me and Orla has a wonderful podcast about the platform that has launched her career, Instagram, where she interviews other brilliant photographers and shares her tips on getting the most of out of the platform. This episode about what to do when comparison makes you feel like you're failing is full of so much sound advice. “We cannot be curious and afraid at the same time” so instead of ruminating over what other people are doing, turn this into curiosity to fuel your own personal progression and stop being afraid of not being good enough. Another key message is not to compare your beginning to someone else's middle. I totally agree with this one and often have to remind myself that the only person I should be competing against is the person I was yesterday. As long as I do one thing every day to help myself move forward, I can feel good about myself and ignore what everyone else is doing.

I hope some of these were useful for you! What did you learn this week?