Here are 25 tips for building a wonderful creative professional life:
1. Choose specific patterns for your creative life. For us, these recurring themes are:
Training, technology, techniques and methods.
Keep your materials orderly.
Keep our procedures simple.
Keep your legal and financial matters organized.
2. Pick a niche wisely and serve it. Because we wanted to keep our business relatively small and family centered, we mostly work for small and medium-sized businesses. Picking a niche and setting up shop in it is the key to not getting overwhelmed. Live comfortably and wisely in your niche, enjoying it and progressing in the things that you love. Your talents, resources and finances are all things that build your niche, so build them daily. Work within your personality and talents and find work that does so. There’s lots of room for you in this world, and it isn’t as a recluse – far from it.
3. Combine the patterns that work in your niche into a system that works for a variety of circumstances with some adjustments. Organize your databases, filing system and storage systems so they are up to date and easy to keep current. Use templates and style sheets to simplify projects. Create and follow standardized workflows for every type of creative work you do. We have a website workflow, photo and video workflows, an app workflow, a book workflow and a small graphics projects workflow. They keep us moving in the right direction when we are down in the weeds with a complex project. For projects that cross the lines between various types of media, such as an app with an accompanying website and printed materials, develop a method for seamlessly integrating projects for efficiency so you can multi-purpose their basic content.
4. Displace consumerism with producing and planning. Pare down your consumption while you are trying to produce more until you are meeting your needs.
5. Plan every day. You either plan or fail – there are no other options. Terrible messes ensue when people fail to plan. Planning enables you to predict and shape your future to a much greater extent than you could otherwise do.
6. Be careful about the expectations you borrow. The right expectations are those that enable you to be healthy, happy and progressing, with a cheery, simple life. Dress functionally, comfortably, simply, attractively, appropriately and moderately within your budget and follow the same goals with the housing and car you have. Try to get these items as close as possible to being exactly designed for the lifestyle you want to lead. Then spend the rest of your efforts on your important relationships and talents so you can serve mankind to the fullest.
7. Arrange your finances well to eliminate debt, have emergency resources, and pay for your expenses and education throughout your life. Concentrate on what is needed and reject what you don’t need.
8. Don’t do one thing and say you are something else. Reality is very honest. You are a professional author if you write and publish your writings. You are a professional photographer if you take pictures and publish them. So do what you say you are now. You will find a deep personal sense of satisfaction coming into your life as you move forward in this way. Be a model of who you really are and can be every day. Don’t fragment yourself by trying to do what you aren’t.
9. Life becomes complex when people have terrible role models. Don’t try to hang onto these role models or you will miss the chance to make yourself into a model of what you should be. Take a new direction that exemplifies order, simplicity, wisdom and professional organization. Positive means positive – a happy, productive, healthy life - and you can’t give that to anyone when you aren’t giving it to yourself. Work hard, exercise, take care of your health, educate yourself, develop your talents, build your spirituality. Refuse to live in a crazy, insane world. Live sane and happy and productive by doing all happy, productive, healthy things. Avoid those who would waste your life and theirs with craziness. Take responsibility to shape your world and chart your future all of the time.
10. Give yourself both lots of space and lots of structure of the right kind by bringing order to your life.
11. Realize your limitations and work within them. Don’t have unrealistic fairy tale expectations of yourself and others.
12. Make progress.
13. Take joy in personal independence and accomplishment and reward yourself for it.
14. Take responsibility for the way you treat others.
15. Never think you have to put up with any kind of abuse. Abuse has no use. Many systems have the idea that abuse of their employees is a necessity. In fact, many people would get along just fine without criticism and abuse, much better than they do with it. People can have non-abusive work that they love and nothing bad will happen. They can give up an obligation to be critical and judgmental and nothing bad will happen.
16. The only way to deal with disasters is to rebuild, not to keep dealing with them. Your major tasks are to build good steady skills and employment, and this is plenty to be going on with. This will ground your life in reality, and that is what it needs – the limitations of caring for yourself and your family provide the exact structure that you need.
17. Don’t live vicariously. Live wisely for yourself and let the chips fall where they may with others.
18. The real history of the world is one of sharing or contributions on the part of everyone who has lived on it. The aristocracy owned the lovely porcelains, paintings, furniture, buildings that others made, but the people who made them became them. They are the ones who developed the skill, talent and abilities. This is the meek inheriting the earth. The point of life is becoming, not doing, so in the end, the meek of the earth inherit it because they have experienced the personal growth of creating beautiful things, planting and tilling, cooking, carpentry – the experience of creating.
19. Certain behaviors and actions and attitudes are toxic to living organisms. Because they are widespread does not make them okay, any more than an oil spill is less toxic to living organisms because it is widespread. Likewise, the fact that many organisms may survive an oil spill and even help to clean it up in the short term doesn’t lessen the long-term toxic effect on them. They become coated with the oil, which destroys their insulation against the elements. In an effort to cleanse themselves, they ingest it, becoming poisoned and break down inside. Avoid toxic influences because some cleanups are impossible in their entirety. Avoid them so that you can stay free and clean.
20. Learn to be really, really good, organized and fast at what you do. This means work, work, work, practice, practice, practice, and train, train, train until you can do virtually anything in your niche.
21. Go for results. If you feel like things are a waste of time, they are. Give them a miss. Be honest about projects you don’t support and don’t do.
22. Don’t define yourself by your income, high or low. People can waste their entire lives and have either high or low incomes. Just because someone pays someone a high income doesn’t mean they are wealthy. Look at what they spend their time and money on. Spend your life making a good solid substantial difference.
23. Anger is manageable, but it is a skill and knowledge that must be learned. Anger is a meaningless, generic term. Feelings are not just general, ever. They are very specific. We know what we are struggling with or can identify it with a little trouble, and if we learn to do that and bring it out directly and honestly and work on it, we have no need for anger. Otherwise, unsolved problems build up until they are overwhelming. Whatever is against doing your mission needs to be gone around, avoided or removed. Anger management is an important part of this because all work, right or wrong, is going to meet obstacles and if you zone out into something else, get discouraged, allow yourself to be bashed, blow up, break things, etc., you will never achieve anything worthwhile.
Where did people get the idea that just because something is the right course, it doesn’t take constant work, planning, tweaking, overcoming obstacles? Waiting for a magic solution holds you back. It absolves you of the responsibility to make the right thing work, but it doesn’t get you anywhere or out of any problems. If you want to get out of negativity, you have to take responsibility to do so with constant hard work. Anger and fear are the biggest impediments to progress, so you need to learn to manage them. Start out petrified and angry, and then work through the problems gradually and the fear lifts.
Long-term perspectives and plans are extremely useful in solving anger and anxiety issues. They provide a perspective outside of the issue of the moment that enables you to judge that issue in the context of your life as a whole. They chart a direction that if followed day by day, takes you inexorably closer to what you want and away from that which you don’t want. You for example are highly unlikely to pick up someone in a bar if you have charted a course that takes you far away from bars and picking up people. Chart a course that takes you as far away as possible from that which you don’t want and as close as possible to that which you do want.
24. Co-dependencies are a way to rob people of responsibility and freedom of choice. They are built on reinforcing and recognizing weaknesses, not strengths, to make people more dependent on each other. Get out of situations that reinforce weaknesses and block talent development. A debt chain is a codependency pattern. Generational divorce is another, as is any addiction, which passes in a chain from one person to another. So discard co-dependencies and build up strengths in yourself and in others.
25. Don’t fear to live sensibly and do good, for it is in the good you do that you will build a sure foundation for the future.