I recently posted about feeling a bit lacking in direction and a sense of what I should be doing with my life. I got hyped up about mermaiding and freediving but maybe maybe jumped the gun a bit by trying to set these things into some kind of definite ‘thing’ I was going to do, before I’d really had a chance to try them out. So for now I am just seeing where these things take me. I am going to March of The Mermaids in Brighton in July though, which I am really excited about!
This month I’ve had the good fortune to talk with and listen to some really interesting people that have been pushing me to really get to the bottom of what’s been bugging me about my business (and my life!) as it stands. I’ve been loving hearing from you guys too, and your comments always seem to push my thinking on what I’ve been posting about. It’s great to hear such supportive things about my blog and what I’m writing, and seeing people join in with my #creativekickstart challenge. I am really appreciating being part of a wider community of bloggers.
One of the people I’ve been chatting to is Ebonie Allard, The Entrepeneur Enabler, who met me for coffee
last week a few weeks ago. Aside from being a beautiful person inside and out, she really has this ability to cut to the heart of a situation. She asked me some questions that really made me reassess how I measure my own success. I like having goals, and I have tended to set myself earning goals to push myself to achieve more. After talking to Ebonie I wondered if maybe viewing my business in those terms was causing me to pin my happiness and self-value (Is that even a thing?) on how much I earn, rather than the creativity and freedom that running my own business gives me. This has been a huge mindset shift for me, and one that is really changing how I approach work and family time. She has also sent me her free ‘7 steps from Argh to Aah’ eBook which I’m excited about working through over the next month or so.
I also went to a great Brighton Etsy Team talk from the guys at The Happy Start Up Company. The key thing that I took away from the talk was that happiness in what you do professionally is linked to a sense of purpose. As soon as they mentioned it, I realised that this is what has been lacking from my business.
Based on this realisation I googled ‘ how to find my purpose’. I can’t decide if it is sad or amazing that I did that and that this is something lots of people google, and that there are people out there writing about this exact conundrum. Anyway. I found an exercise where you just keep writing what you think your purpose is until you write an answer that makes you cry. I’m not quite sure if I totally got there as I was trying to fit this in around Etta napping, and despite my resolve to remain focused on my task, life kind of got in the way. It was definitely an interesting exercise. One of the surprises for me was to realise that I don’t just have one mega-purpose but many mini-purposes. This seems to fit in with a phrase that I’ve been trying to keep in mind lately: ‘I am multitudes’. I think Amanda Palmer said it. Keeping that idea at the back of my mind in all the things that I do reminds me that I don’t have to put myself in a box, or only do one kind of thing both work-wise and more generally.
The other surprise was that the answers that really resonated with me were not ‘things’ that I could achieve but ‘ways’ I am meant to live my life. I definitely expected that some big ‘thing’ that I was meant to do would come out during this exercise. I suppose this makes sense – if my purpose was to e.g. climb Mount Everest and then I climbed it, the whole point of my life would pretty much be over. But if my purpose was to approach life with a sense of adventure then that sense of purpose could permeate my life so that it influenced not just where I booked my holidays, but my outlook on a day-to-day walk to the shops. I am slightly (ok, very) embarrassed about typing out the paragraph that caused the biggest surge of emotion in me during the exercise, because I think it might seem a bit (a lot) corny. In fact this post has been sitting unfinished in my drafts because I was debating whether to even include this part at all. But seeing as lots of the other things I was typing during the exercise seemed to be about letting myself be vulnerable, so that others would feel able to do the same, here goes.
This is what I wrote: “Chart your course through waters unknown. Dive deep into the depths of life, feel the joy of movement and the water supporting your body. Look with love at life’s mysteries. Listen with love to the stories around you. Allow those experiences to change you and let you grow. Let the beauty and mystery and magic of the world live through you. Don’t be afraid to share your beauty, your story, your love with the world, and let the world be changed by you.”
So both my understanding of how I measure success and my understanding of purpose have been totally flipped over the last few weeks. I’m trying to use my new-found sense of multiple purposes to drive what I want to create, for fun, for my Etsy shop, and here on the blog in terms of writing. There is definitely a sense of wanting to celebrate the beauty of nature, which I think was originally a very deep motivating factor in making my kanzashi flowers, but it got a little lost along the way when I tried to condense everything into easy to understand ‘product lines’ for customers. I really want to bring this back again by taking time out to be in the garden, or go on walks, or collect flowers and to just enjoy nature without it needing to feed creatively into something definite.
Something unexpected that came out from doing this exercise was this sense of wanting to listen to other people’s stories. I only fairly recently came across Human’s Of New York (HONY) and I think that maybe reading some of these stories of everyday people has affected me more than I realised. Also through the course of my work with Deaf adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems, I felt I came across many extremely interesting people whose life stories would very rarely be heard by anyone – because of complex language needs, because of being tucked away in institutions, or because nobody thought to ask. I realised that when I went through back pain and anxiety that i could have been someone who just dropped off the map, into a place where the rest of the world was not really interested in understanding my experience, but this didn’t mean that I had nothing of value to share with the world.
There are so many ‘hidden stories’ out there, I am thinking about starting an interview series in my blog, but I haven’t quite fixed on who I will interview or what about. I don’t quite know whether this thread of interest will go somewhere, or where it will go, but I would love to hear your ideas about this. If you think you have a story to tell, I would also love to hear from you.