Fighting perfectionism and getting started.
Let’s start at the beginning.
One day, when I was in my early 20s, I was out running errands. As I drove, I had all the usual worries running through my head. Some of the thoughts were mundane, like, “When am I going to find time to finish that painting for class?” or “Do I have enough money in my bank account to cover those groceries?”. Other thoughts were more serious. The most pressing at the time was, “How am I going to turn what I love, drawing, into a profession?”.
Society teaches us a lot of misconceptions about artists. We are taught that they are flakey, disorganized, self-indulgent, and perhaps worst of all, that artists are doomed to living in a cardboard box (I could go on a whole rant against capitalism here, but I digress). With all these negative stereotypes, its no wonder that I feared the worst.
I saw a literal sign.
As I was driving along that day, my anxious mind was mulling these fears over. Its hard to let go of worrisome thoughts, even when they no longer benefit us.
That’s when I saw a traffic sign. It read “Begin One Way”. Of course, it was referring to the street going from two-way to one-way traffic. In my busy mind, I interpreted it differently. To me it was saying, “begin your journey one way. Just get started. You can make changes as you go along."
Of course! All this time I was looking for the one *correct* way to move forward as if there was only a single path to choose that would lead to fulfillment, wrongly believing that all the other paths would lead to failure.
This insignificant traffic sign became a sign of comfort and reassurance to me. Like a mantra saying, “just try something, it will all work out." To this day, when I see one, it seems to be winking at me.
And don’t worry, I’m an excellent driver. 😉
Where to begin.
As I’m starting the Dog Sweater Money blog, I think about this sign. Its so easy to dream about starting something, but much harder to actually get started. There is a desire to get everything right on the first try. The perfect words, the catchy headlines, the best photography.... It can all get a bit overwhelming. It may even stop you from doing anything.
I wanted this post’s byline to be “how I stopped overanalyzing and learned to love the journey” but it didn’t feel honest to me. The truth is, I overanalyze ALL THE TIME. I can have craft supplies in my shopping cart for weeks just trying to decide which shade of orange ribbon I should buy. Even as I write this, I’m full of doubt. Will anyone besides me even read it?
What about procrastination?
Procrastination is real and its oh so satisfying. Ever notice how when you need to really hunker down and focus, the little tasks around your home suddenly seem like priority number one? Need an example? Go look at the top of your refrigerator right now. I think you’ll agree it needs to be dusted right this very second.
Any creative person has a tool chest of procrastination techniques. We feel we need to first buy the right equipment, do the market research, or set up a picture-perfect space to work. Its tempting to spend so much time prepping to make something new, that we run out of time to do the work! Can you relate?
And this applies to everyone, not just artists. Think about a time you had to draft a paper or read a book for a school report. I bet it was hard to press pause on your day and get started. Suddenly other “important” things come up. Like, when is the last time you sorted your pencils?
The magic of beginning
But once you get started, something magical happens. I’m not talking Tinkerbell soaring down from Cinderella’s castle, type of magic. This is something even more exciting because it’s something we can create for ourselves.
These are times where you get to be completely in the moment. You are in your head, but not in the normal “in your head” over analyzing things kind of way a , rather in a much more satisfying way, where you are singularly focused on the task at hand.
Take drawing a picture, for example. It can be tricky to get started, but after a few minutes, the rest of the world melts away. The T.V. becomes a murmur, the sun sets without me noticing, even the aches in my back don’t bother me. All that matters when I’m drawing is following the curve of someone’s eye with my pencil, sketching in their strands of hair, catching the highlights, filling in the shadows, and bringing their presence to the page.
This feeling is not unique to drawing. It can be felt while tending to a garden, walking in the woods, listening to music, or maybe even scrubbing the kitchen counter. Anytime we focus on the task at hand, we have a gift of telling our busy minds “I’ll catch up with you later."
Knowing Which Signs to Pay Attention To
Of course, not all ventures are successful. For every time I make an amazing drawing, there are probably two that end up in the recycling bin. Sometimes a portrait may have all the right elements; the eyes, lips, and nose look just right, and yet somehow it fails to really look like the person I’m trying to draw. It is a process of beginning one way, coming to a roadblock and starting again.
Beginning Blog Sweater Money
Starting this blog is no different really. It takes courage to form thoughts into words. Before hitting publish, before anyone else reads the post, there is the uncomfortable process of reading those thoughts back to yourself. It can feel like reading an embarrassing diary entry, only this one has just been written and you can’t tell yourself “silly me. I was just a kid then”.
And with all this discomfort, it’s no wonder that when we embark on something new a little voice keeps saying “Is this worth all the trouble?” On Cathy Heller’s podcast Don’t Keep Your Day Job, she talks to many successful entrepreneurs who struggle with this whisper. It never goes away completely. Their advice? You have to talk over the whispers of doubt. You do that by working. Just keep going. In other words, you begin one way.
On the Don’t Keep Your Day Job podcast, Cathy also talks about the importance of purpose. It is a superpower that will drown out those whispers even when they say things like, “hey, you aren’t making much money doing this” or “you’ll never be successful with that few followers”.
The driving force behind Blog Sweater Money
So what is the purpose behind the Dog Sweater Money Blog? First and foremost, I’m going to share my adventures in running a small creative business. I don’t have a marketing or business background. I’m an artist with a painting and drawing degree. I’m also a goofball who loves puppies, drawing, and Saturday morning cartoons.
My desire for this blog is to give other dreamers like me a head start when it comes to beginning their own business. I am here to encourage and support you. I’ll share the tricks I’ve learned and also some of the failures along the way.
Oh, and also… there absolutely will be cute puppy photos! In particular, there will be lots of photos of my amazing Boston Terrier TINA!
This blog isn’t just for creative entrepreneurs though. Perhaps you are here because you want DIY craft inspiration. Perhaps you are nosey and want to see my messy art studio, that’s ok too. Or perhaps you’re here because you are a friend of mine and want to support Dog Sweater Money. In any case, I’m so glad you are reading. THANK YOU!
As I start my very first blog, I vow to adhere to the street sign’s message. I will begin one way. My posts may not always be as polished as I'd like. There will be grammar errors. There will be thoughts not quite formed. There will be times I’ll wish I hadn’t hit publish.
What’s more important, is that I’ll be contributing something. Its only when we begin taking action that we can hope to make an impact. Will you join me?