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    Category Archives: Finding Balance

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    How to succeed as a multi-passionate creative


    By Bec Mackey

    Do you find yourself pulled in different directions by your work and your creative projects? Are you easily distracted by a new idea or flash of inspiration, only to abandon it again shortly afterwards? Or maybe you’re trying to juggle working and paying the bills with a creative side project, and finding it hard to manage both at the same time. You may beat yourself up for being fickle, unable to commit, or to make a clear decision. But despite what we’re told by society, not everyone is built to have just one linear career path, and being easily distracted isn’t necessarily a bad sign. If any of the above resonates with you, it may just be that you are multi-passionate.

    Being multi-passionate is a gift, so embrace it! There are many people out there who would kill to have your energy, curiosity and ability to see inspiration everywhere. Multi-passionate people can draw connections where others see nothing, and this is a highly valuable skill, particularly if you work in a creative industry – or would like to.

    However, having so many interests and ideas can feel like a burden at times, and indecision about which path to take and what to focus on can contribute to a lack of confidence. It may seem like all external messages are telling you to commit and let go of all of your competing ideas – to settle down and choose your niche. If you don’t have just one job, title or simple elevator pitch to sum up what you do, its easy to feel isolated.

    Multi-passionate people are almost always highly sensitive and very creative. This sensitivity, although an incredibly valuable trait for artists, communicators and business owners, means you probably pick up on a lot things, both negative and positive, that others don’t. If others have judged you for being changeable, or all your friends and family have solid careers and can’t understand your various interests, you may have taken this to heart and let it stop you from embracing your multi-passionate nature. This can lead to confusion, lack of motivation, and sometimes paralysis about which path to take next.

    Here are some tips to help you move forward and thrive as a multi-passionate creative:

    • Let go of the need to define yourself by one job title or career path. It may seem that this is a cultural expectation, and that many people you know define themselves by their job title. But if you’re multi-passionate, it won’t help to try and fit yourself into just one defined category. Be true to yourself – own your diverse skill set and know that there is a place for you too.
    • Find a tribe of like-minded multi-passionates. Look out for other people who value curiosity and exploration in their career, and are interested in many different areas. It can stimulate your energy levels to be surrounded by others who get excited about new ideas and have a range of projects on the go. And when things get challenging, you’ll have friends and colleagues around that understand where you’re coming from and can support you without judging your hybrid career. You might even discover someone wonderful to partner up with – multi-passionates are great collaborators!
    • Read about the profound things multi-passionate people (sometimes referred to as polymaths) have done through the ages. Having a defined, specific ‘thing’ to do for work is a relatively modern phenomenon. Even in more recent times, the revolutionary multi-passionates are there if you look for them. Maya Angelou is a fantastic example of a polymath who defied categorisation in her work. She may be most famous for her poetry, but she was also an accomplished dancer, journalist, editor, teacher and activist (who worked for Martin Luther King, no less!).
    • Define your overall ‘why’ and then you will have a long term vision that will help with direction and focus. Watch Simon Sinek’s famous TED Talk ‘Start With Why’ and complete a simple ‘why’ exercise for yourself. Focus on what motivates you in life generally, rather than worrying about defining your why for multiple projects or business ideas. Discovering what motivates you and what is important to you will provide you with a compass of sorts, and help you understand yourself better.
    • Resist the urge to do everything at once. Get good at time management or find help from a coach or course to enhance your skills in that area. You’ll feel better once you are taking small steps, even if its simultaneously in a couple of directions.
    • Don’t give in to the paralysis that can come with having too many ideas. Choose one of your most dominant ideas– one that hasn’t gone away for a long time, or one of the most viable, and run with it. The upside to this is once you start to see progress, your confidence will increase and you can get out there and impact the world as only a vibrant, multi-passionate person can!

    Bec Mackey is a writer, teacher and producer of screen-related things. She uses a decade of experience in the business sides of media and arts to help creative people fund and promote their work in ways that work for them. Bec writes about funding, promotion, creative careers and life on her website, Brightside Creatives.

    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Finding Balance, Growing a Business, Starting a Business | Comments Off on How to succeed as a multi-passionate creative
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    How to chuck a sickie when you’re self employed


    By Jes Egan

    Taking a sickie when you are running your own small business can be a very hard thing to do, with too much to do and no-one other than yourself or a few employees to pick up the slack. Sometimes it’s harder to accept illness and take a day to recover than it is to just keep on going and to put your health on the back burner.

    When you are running a small creative business you are often doing a bit of everything, if not everything and having a day off sick can mean that things don’t get done on time or get done at all and this can lead to a loss of income, unhappy clients, delays etc. But sometimes an illness or bug will just stop you in your tracks.

    Don’t feel guilty about taking a day to look after yourself, to be able to continue your business running you need to be fighting fit. And to do this sometimes it means you have to spend a day or two in bed, doing nothing, other than resting and recovering.

    Here are a few of my tips on how to manage such days when they come around:

    Write a list

    Write down all the things you were planning on getting done that day, the little things plus the big things. Put it all down on paper or online so that it is out of your head.


    Look at that list and prioritise it: is there anything that absolutely has to be done this day? If so, is it something that can be done from your bed or couch? Move all other non-vital tasks to the next day or later that week.


    If you have the option to delegate anything from that list then do so. Getting help where you can is really important to reduce your workload on these sick days. If you need to deliver, pick up, place an order etc then ask a friend or relative if they could help you out with that task.

    Do it early

    If you have to do something that can’t wait and that no-one can help you with, then do it early in the day so you can rest and not worry for the rest of the day. Get it over and done with so it isn’t weighing on your mind.

    Manage expectations

    If there is a knock-on delay for delivery from you taking a day or so, send a few emails and let people know that this is coming. Manage their expectations so when you are back you have less work to tidy up. It will also stop people chasing you up and hopefully stop any anxiety you may have about the delay. If you are a heavy email user, put your out of office message on, if it is an option. Once you have done what you need, turn your emails or phone off and try to rest fully without distraction.

    Don’t feel guilty

    Taking time out to look after yourself can be easier said than done - try not to feel guilty or worry about it. Stress doesn’t encourage recovery!

    Taking time out and not continuing on is sometimes not an option, but either is looking after yourself. So where you can reduce the workload when you’re sick and take a day to focus on you, because without you there is no creative business.

    Jes is a ‘practical creative’ and a very busy lady, doing the business in a digital agency, being an artist and an university lecturer. Follow Jes on Instagram.  

    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Finding Balance, Growing a Business, Starting a Business | Comments Off on How to chuck a sickie when you’re self employed
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    Creative blues: five common fears and how to beat them


    By Emma Clark Gratton

    Working for yourself or passionately following a creative project requires a level of mental toughness and self-confidence that is hard to maintain. Dealing with rejection, financial challenges, working long hours with just yourself as taskmaster… all these things can build up until you are having an existential crisis before your morning coffee.

    To make it even more difficult, these days of stunning Insta feeds and #humblebragging tweets can feel that everyone else is kicking goals while you are still slogging away. The reality? Even Frida Kahlo and Gertrude Stein and Madonna have done crappy work, and spent days pottering around in their pyjamas eating toast and not producing much. The people who are at the top of their game aren’t talking about it on Facebook, they are simply doing the work.

    Here are some of the most common fears, self-doubting phrases and negative feelings that crop up, and how to deal with them.

    I don’t deserve this!

    You do. Whether you are taking the giant leap of quitting your day job, or simply ditching a family Game of Thrones marathon to dig out your old painting gear, all creative pursuits are worthwhile and valid. At the risk of sounding like an inspirational Instagram post, we only get one life, so why the hell wouldn’t you give it your best shot?

    It is not a matter of 'deserving' or 'earning the right' to be creative. You don't need to justify it to anyone!

    But (insert name here) is already doing this waaaaay better than I can!

    You know the feeling: you’re feeling pretty good about yourself, chugging along on your creative projects,when a friend/colleague/stranger makes a big announcement. Perhaps they have an amazing book deal, or a huge solo exhibition, or they landed their dream creative job in Japan. You hug them and celebrate, but deep, deep down you feel a little stab of “Why not me? What is wrong with me? Do I suck?”

    Morrisey even wrote a song about it: “We hate it when our friends become successful”, which goes “You see, it should’ve been me / It could’ve been me / Everybody knows / Everybody says so.”

    This is a hard feeling. This feeling doesn’t make you a bad person (you can be genuinely happy for someone and still be slightly jealous at the same time), but it can be useful to examine that feeling further. Remind yourself of all the cool stuff you HAVE done, and the awesome things you are planning to do.  There is room for all of us, and there is plenty of work to go around.

     I don’t know what I’m doing!

    Want to know a secret? Nobody actually knows what he or she is doing. It is a total ruse! Making mistakes, failing spectacularly, and starting again is all part of life. There is nothing you can’t find help on, either online or by asking people who have done it before.

    When you are feeling overwhelmed and lost, try to cultivate a “what if?” attitude. Just try something that feels like a fairly good idea, then go from there. And remember, no one was born knowing how to code, or design, or knit. Learning new things is part of the fun!

    But this is too scary/hard/overwhelming!

    All the best things are scary. Sometimes, jumping in headfirst is the only way to give yourself the kick you need. But if you are feeling overwhelmed, then break the task down to the smallest component that you feel comfortable with. Want to start your own Etsy business but feeling totally overwhelmed? Just start by making a list of the kinds of thing you could sell. Take tiny, incremental steps towards your goal, then use the momentum to keep going.

    I’m too poor/lazy/busy!

    Well then, do what you can. Anything is better than nothing, right? Even the busiest working mother with multiple kids and a busy job can find time to crochet a few rows before bed, or scribble out her plans for starting a ceramics business. Work with what you’ve got. Heaps of resources and creative inspirations are free: go to the library and borrow art and business books, practice your floristry using blooms from your garden, or write your novel on your lunch break from your desk job.


    Generally, a good way to deal with these kinds of doubts is to allow yourself to fully experience the negative feeling, acknowledge it, and then get on with your day. Let the fear and negativity in, say hello to it, but don’t let it stop you from getting on with being awesome. A favourite quote of mine is “A garden grows where you water it”, which means the things you nurture and pay attention to are what will grow the fastest. This goes for thoughts and actions as well as gardens: prioritise your creative pursuits and see what happens.

    If you are genuinely struggling with anxiety, depression or feelings of overwhelm, I cannot stress the importance of talking to someone. Talk to your partner, your mum or a friend who gets it. Otherwise, seeing a counselor is an excellent way to sort out any issues in an objective way, and can help you get back on track. You don’t need to be in the depths of depression to seek professional help. In fact, seeking help when you are feeling good can help you handle the more serious emotions when times are tough.


    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Finding Balance, Growing a Business, Starting a Business | Comments Off on Creative blues: five common fears and how to beat them
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    Interview: Kate James, creative coach and mindfulness teacher


     In our modern world of beeping notifications, competitive parenting and constant connectedness, mindfulness is becoming a sought-after approach for creative people looking to rest their busy minds. Kate James of Total Balance coaches her clients on balance, meditation and living purposefully.

    What drew you to becoming a coach and mindfulness teacher?

    I’ve always been interested in people and what makes them tick. I spent over a decade working as a business manager for creative businesses and while I loved the work I was doing, I wanted to help people in a more purposeful way. I considered psychology or a natural therapy but I wanted to incorporate my interest in creative business into my work so when I heard about coaching in the early 2000’s it seemed like the perfect option.

    The mindfulness part came about six months after I started the business. Whenever a client was stressed, I would recommend that they learn meditation. It had changed my life and I wanted to share that with other people so despite a real fear in those early days of speaking in front of groups, I began teaching and a few years after that, it seemed like a natural progression to start running meditation and yoga retreats.

    Who is your typical client?

    My clients are generally quite similar to me! Most are introverts and deep thinkers. They want to do what they love and what they’re naturally good at. Most are creative in some way and many have their own creative businesses.  They live to experience life. They care about making their lives beautiful in simple ways - good food, travel not just to tick a box to say ‘I’ve been there’ but more to learn about new cultures; they want to contribute to society in a meaningful way and they’re interested in the idea of discovering and living a purposeful life.


    How would you describe your work?

    I work with people who want clarity about their direction. Once they have a greater sense of where they want to go (either work wise or personally), I help them feel confident to pursue the things they care about. This often results in a client starting a creative business even if that business sits alongside a more mainstream role that helps pay the bills.

    My interest in mindfulness influences how I work with clients and I’ve developed a framework about how to live and work mindfully which I share with clients who are interested in mindfulness.

    The most common feedback I get about my work is that I help people to become conscious of how they hold themselves back. I help them to quiet the inner critic so they can tap into their own innate sense of creativity and wisdom.

    What does a typical day involve for you?

    These days I’m actually fairly structured in the way I manage my time. It’s taken me years to learn how to do this but it has made a huge difference to my stress levels and my productivity.

    I wake pretty early and start every morning with meditation and yoga. I get emails out of the way first and if I don’t have early clients, I’ll work on one of my writing projects for a few hours. Occasionally, I take a notebook and a cup of tea into the garden and sit under the birch tree to write.

    I always stop for lunch and I’m generally with clients in the afternoons. Some afternoons, I sneak off for a walk along the beach but this doesn’t happen often enough.

    I do the financial stuff on Friday mornings and reward myself by taking the afternoon off to have lunch with a girlfriend.


    What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

    It’s hard to choose one because I’ve had a few opportunities over recent years that have blown me away. In 2009, Tourism NT took me on a weeklong trip to Darwin and Kakadu so I could help them with a PR campaign about the importance of taking holidays. It was the most amazing experience.

    Getting my first publishing deal at the end of 2014 was pretty incredible and it’s been fantastic to see the book selling well and to have a second one published this year.

    What do you do for fun?

    I love to cook so we have friends or our girls and their partners for dinner here. Chris and I also head out of town every couple of months and we do lots of walking and taking photos (a shared passion). Our lives are pretty quiet these days but that’s my idea of pure joy.

    What's the best piece of advice you've been given?

    Be kind, be courageous and be authentic. Share your gifts with the world and dare to play a bigger game than you had imagined for yourself.

    You can find out more about Kate at Total Balance.

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    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Finding Balance, Interviews with Creative Women | Comments Off on Interview: Kate James, creative coach and mindfulness teacher