Here's the thing: comparison

Comparison is the thief of joyEvery Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.

I am a massive Pinterest fan. It’s my happy place, and I particularly love hanging out on my Mantras board. Full of bits of wisdom I’ve collected, I quite often scroll through finding something that resonates today, something I need to hear.

And this quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” by Theodore Roosevelt is one I often come back to.

It’s also something that’s come to mind this week as I’ve been working with my mentoring clients. Almost everyone has told me that their anxiety, worry, distraction comes from getting stuck in the spiral of doom on social media, thinking about what everyone else is doing. And wondering if they measure up.

It’s a catch 22 of human nature. We’re genetically programmed to learn by watching others. That’s how we learn to talk, walk and exist in the world. In the business world, there’s a good argument for keeping on top of trends, checking out ideas, and being part of the collective.

On the other hand, we all have this annoying thing called shame, which tells us we’re not good enough, we’re not keeping up. Here are some of the things I’ve heard from clients:

“Oh, they’re so much more together than me”

“They’re always bringing out amazing new products – how do they do it? They must be better than me”

“Should I be doing that? Everyone seems to have a plan”

And it becomes a spiral of doom.

You see someone else doing something you’d love to do, or you see them doing what they do really well. And you worry that you’re not doing it “right” or doing enough. And you get caught in the crippling fear – once you’re in the spiral, the good ideas don’t come, you can’t concentrate, you’re too afraid of doing it wrong.

Because the thing about the spiral of doom is that it takes you away from what you’re doing. Because, in many ways, if you’re running a creative business, your work can’t be compared to others’. You’re doing something unique. You can’t be compared.

And you also don’t see the other side of the story. Out there on social media, no one documents the months of prep, or the kitchen sink full of dirty dishes, or the 27,000 bad ideas. When you’re seeing what other people do, you’re seeing what they choose to show you – it’s often authentic, they’re not trying to pull the wool over your eyes – but it’s the good bits. The curated collection of their lives and businesses.

So here’s the thing:

You don’t need to compare yourself to others. It will steal your joy, happiness, and creativity.

Today, this weekend, next week, consciously disengage from the spiral of doom. Instead, make a list of all the things you’re proud of, or all the things you’d just love to do. Pin this quote. Come back to your creativity, your inspiration, your business and life.

Protect yourself from the thief of joy.

Extra note: If you want to learn more about shame, the spiral of doom and how to live with it, I heartily recommend starting with this TEDx talk from Brené Brown.

Additional extra note: Do you like my watercolours? So fun! If you fancy having this (shaky, imperfect) piece as a reminder to avoid comparison, drop me a note in the comments.

Here's the thing: quality vs quantity

Quality vs quantityIt’s the end of my second week of self-employment. Woohoo!

Except some of the woohoo has started to wear off and I am approaching a problem I didn’t think I’d have: too much work.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a great problem to have. I’m delighted that so many amazing entrepreneurs and designers have been in touch and want to work with me. That is awesome.

But it’s thrown me into an old battle that I’ve had with myself several times over the years – the old quality vs quantity argument.

You see, I’m a big quality person. I live to do a good job, and I love to do a good job. Quality is one of my core values – as a human and as a business.

But there are lots of things I love to do! I had hoped to launch an e-course for August – something I’m really excited about – but trying to squeeze that in would mean lesser quality for my existing clients. Which is not somewhere I’m prepared to go. So the e-course will have to wait.

These first couple of weeks have been an absolute delight – I am thrilled to be doing work I truly love with people who I believe are also doing work they love. The learning curves are just starting to creep in, and I’m noticing them as much as I can. Which is all any of us can do.

So here’s the thing:

We all walk the line between quality vs quantity. We’re not machines, we can’t just increase our output to do more at the same quality level.

So where have you been on the spectrum this week? No judgement, just noticing. And where would you like to be? Is there something – like my e-course – that you could drop or re-think to ensure your quality level is where you want it to be?

And the final thing. I have a couple of business mentoring spots left, so if you’re considering working with me, now’s the time to get in touch. For content creation and online shop reviews, I’m booked up until the second week of August. (Woohoo!) If you’d like to book some work with me in August, let me know.

We’ll be on to Christmas prep before we know it…

PS There’ll be a letter going out to subscribers next week. If you want a little thing from me in your inbox, subscribe below!

Here's the thing: over-simplifying

Simplicity

Every Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.

I’m a big fan of keeping things simple. I’m a big fan of clarity. I’m a big fan of editing.

With so much stuff to read, things to do, decisions to make, it’s no wonder that there’s a growing trend towards modern minimalism. We’re going back to basics all over the shop – and it’s great!

But. (And you knew there was going to be a but…)

Sometimes it’s possible to over-simplify. Sometimes we cut out some of the really interesting, juicy stuff because we feel like we need to be on point. Or maybe we worry that no one will care about that important nugget.

For example, you might be writing a description of one of your products, and you’re trying to keep it simple and straightforward, so you describe it as very specifically for a single gifting occasion. Which is great, in theory, because people like knowing the occasion a product relates to. But maybe you miss out on another opportunity, another gifting occasion or use for the product that lots of people like. And you miss out because you were trying to keep it simple.

Or perhaps you’re writing an email, and you want to keep it fairly straightforward. But you don’t miss out a quick “how are you?” or a “have a nice weekend”. These things add to your connection with people. And connections are important.

And sometimes over-simplifying means we forget the truth about life: life is messy. Thoughts, feelings, to-do lists, the creative process – none of them fit completely into a neat and tidy little box.

So here’s the thing:

Today, or over the weekend, acknowledge where you’re really, really trying to simplify something that just won’t go. Notice what might get missed if you force it. See if you can spot the meaningful mess that makes up your life, your business, your creative process.

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Need some help figuring out how you might be over- or under-simplifying? Take a look at my new services – there might just be something there for you. Or get in touch to see how I can help.

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