By Joie Foster
You work toward a goal for ages, but when you finally achieve it, it feels like nothing more than a checkbox to be crossed off on your way to the next thing. Your sweet victory suddenly tastes so bland. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Today I’m going to share three tips to help you stop moving your creative goalposts and celebrate wins!
“Congrats on hitting 500 subscribers on Instagram, that’s huge!” my friend exclaimed at our monthly tea and art get together. I had been trying hard to expand my followers and it was working. But before I even thought twice, I heard myself say “I’m going to need at least a thousand before anyone notices.”
In the immortal words of Zach Morris, time out.
Right there. Did you see it? The goalposts moved. I had originally set my sights on 500, but the moment follower #500 subscribed, it no longer seemed like it was “enough.” “Enough,” of course, being that unattainable concept that always stays one step beyond our reach.
Whether you’re an author, illustrator or underwater basket weaver, we creative types have some pretty bad habits around this concept. “Yeah sure, it’s great but what’s the next thing?” is a typical refrain I hear. If we aren’t careful, we can end up feeling like our careers have stalled out!
So what can be done about this? I’ve got three tips I use to amp up my inner cheerleader.
DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Easier said than done, I know, especially in the era of social media oversaturation. Comparing myself to other artists is a sure-fire way to toss accomplishments out the window. It’s so easy to forget that every post featuring a fellow artist’s new book or finished illustration is only the tip of the iceberg; below the surface is a monumental effort and, very likely, the same feelings of this project not being (gasp!) “enough.”
TALK TO YOUR PAST SELF
It’s unfortunately easier to focus on how far you must still go when you don’t remember how far you’ve already come. When I’m feeling particularly stuck, I write a letter to Past Me from five years ago, telling her about all the things I’ve done since then. Turns out Past You will probably be over the moon with everything they’re going to achieve!
THROW A PARTY!
Literally. It may sound silly or frivolous, but this is one of my biggest helpers! A good friend of mine recently published a new book; instead of immediately getting to work on the next one, we arranged a release party with a local bookstore and invited all of our friends. It wasn’t anything extravagant, some cupcakes & crafty decorations, but it acknowledged the accomplishment which gave it more gravity.
Try it! Finished the first draft of your manuscript? Pizza party! Completed that online master class you’ve always talked about? Grab some friends, we’re going bowling! It doesn’t even have to be anything big. I once printed a great email I received from an AD, smothered it in glitter, and put it on the fridge. That’s a party all on its own!
Remembering to focus on your own journey instead of others’, remembering how far you’ve already come, and making achievements into a big deal worth celebrating are all great ways to keep yourself moving forward. Suddenly, it’s easier to remember that those 500 Instagram followers are a pretty great accomplishment after all!
How do you handle achieving your goals? Do you have other great tips for keeping yourself feeling like you are “enough?” Be sure to share them in the comments, or @ me on social media!
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Joie is a glitter-loving artist whose greatest dream is to make you laugh at her ridiculous characters. You can see her most recent work in the all ages graphic novel Aspen Mascots, or on her website. She also welcomes you to pester her on social media: Twitter: @JoieArt and Instagram: @HeyJoieArt
Photo provided by Joie Foster. Illustrations copyright Joie Foster, used by permission.