Stacy and I met in the Master Gardener’s volunteer training several years ago. She’s got such a positive energy, and her smile always puts me in a better mood. Her compassion for other people and the whole world runs deep, and it shows through everything she does – a true hero in my book!
She’s a teacher by trade and has started her business, Personal Pep Talk, with her husband Eric this August. I absolutely LOVE their Personal Pepe Talk card decks – I use mine every day to practice gratitude and give myself a little TLC ❤ And her art is so charming and sweet 🙂
In her weekly newsletter, Monday Morning Motivation, Stacy shares tips on how to live mindfully and her intention for the week. What a wonderful way to start your week, right?
You can get a weekly dose of positivity and mindfulness from Stacy here.
I admire Jessica Swift‘s work as a surface designer so much! Her work is so colorful and cheerful, I can’t help but smile when I see her creations 🙂
So when I discovered her email series, 100 Uplifting Days, I wasted no time. I immediately signed up and enjoyed every single email that came for the next 100 days!
Every day, I’d get an email from Jessica with her colorful art and encouraging messages in my inbox (see photos above). Oftentimes, her message was SO spot on for what I was feeling that day, it really lifted up my spirits.
I was sad when the 100 days were over (FYI, you could unsubscribe and re-subscribe to start a cycle again :D), but Jessica’s been sending out extras occasionally, so I still get her beautiful reminders here and there.
The visual of her email is so yummy. It’s a treat for your eyes and your soul! You can sign up for her emailhere.
For those of you who don’t know, Marie Forleo is a life coach and entrepreneur, and I’ve been a fan of Marie TV for a couple of years.
Her motivational messages and practical tips for following your passion have been instrumental in my own journey, and I appreciate her sense of humor (and entertaining visuals on the show) when I need a little laugh 🙂
Since I don’t have time or energy to keep track of all the shows and podcasts I love (which there are many!), I signed up for her email so whenever a new content is posted, I’ll be notified.
Even if I don’t have time to watch or read her content right away, I always skim the email to get the gist of it. To me, Marie is a super successful celebrity, but she’s not afraid to share her human side generously with her viewers. When she’s answering questions from her viewers, I often feel like she’s directly talking to me because she makes it so relatable.
If you want practical and entertaining tips for your life and business, you can subscribe to Marie Forleo’s newsletterhere.
These women give and share what they know so freely. Their wisdom adds so much to my life, and I hope you’ll find them helpful, too!
(I’ve been inspired to create something similar for my email subscribers, too… Stay tuned for any updates!)
Now, tell me what your favorite e-newsletters are. Please share in the comment and tell me why 🙂
I didn’t have a goal of painting so many works in blue. But it’s one of my favorite colors because it’s soothing and calming. So I just kept painting in blues! (At the time of writing this article, I’ve painted in blue for 31 days straight. Wow!)
I like the challenge of using limited colors (and of course the limited timeline I set to complete a painting). Restrictions encourage creativity. The more limitations you set on your creative practice, the more creative you think!
Just think how you’d feel if you have a huge blank canvas with unlimited color palette and materials to play with, and you can paint whatever you wanted vs. someone tells you you need to draw a cat using just red and blue on a 4″x4″ piece of paper? See what I mean?
Of course, there is a danger of your practice becoming stagnant over time if you’re not intentional about working in a limited color palette.
When I feel my blue paintings are getting stale, I switch to different subject matters or add different elements. For example, I was painting still life at first, then abstract, and then more representational works.
One day, I did a lettering piece for one of my daily paintings and really enjoyed it, so I created a series of encouraging quotes in blue.
You know I love creating art with encouraging/motivational quotes! First of all, I do it because I need a positive reminder. And I know I’m not the only one who needs to hear it, so I like to share them 🙂
Art has the power to make you feel. When you see a powerful message represented in an art form, it goes directly to your heart, doesn’t it?
That’s how I feel about these paintings – somehow, these encouraging messages resonate with me on a deeper level than just hearing someone say it.
If you’re feeling blue today (pun so intended!), I hope these paintings will cheer you up! 🙂
I recently posted this video on Instagram and it resonated with a lot of people.
You are making a difference even if you are not making $
I often get anxious when I’m doing things that are not actively paying the bills, like gardening, making food from scratch, and taking my mini sabbaticals every 7 weeks.
I could decide to let them go so I can spend more time on growing my creative business (and I almost did give up on gardening a couple of years ago). We only have 24 hours a day, and if we wanted to create time for something important, you just need to say no to other things.
But really, I often get my creative inspirations from doing things like gardening and cooking healthy meals from scratch.
Gardening gets me in touch with the seasons and nature. It also gets me outside of our house regularly. I’m a homebody and would stay home for as long as I care to admit if I let myself 😀
I also feel empowered knowing that we’re able to meet at least a tiny portion of our basic needs ourselves.
Making food from scratch might take longer and could actually be more expensive than buying prepared or processed food, but it also helps me feel good in my body and mind.
Cooking is a very hands-on creative activity with an immediate reward (well, most of the time anyway) and gives me a break from a lot of thinking and computer work, too.
I also feel annoyed by other household chores, like cleaning and grocery shopping, but if they don’t happen, my working environment wouldn’t feel as good and productive.
Yes, as a creative business owner, I need to be making money and maintain a strong focus to achieve that goal.
I constantly think about how to create a life where I still enjoy the craft and have a sustainable business doing what I love. I need my life to be meaningful and joyful so I can continue creating work that brings others joy ❤
These other things, though they don’t seem to be directly helping me bring in the big paycheck, are part of what keeps my creative reservoir filled. And it’s my professional obligation as a working artist to do so.
If you ever felt guilty for taking the time out of your day to attend to “other” needs, think of how those activities are helping you to stay well-rounded so you can focus on your goals.
Remember, your creations have values. It makes people happy and feel warm and fuzzy. It makes them laugh out loud. It makes them think or cry. People are moved by what you create. It’s truly magical!
Keep putting yourself out there even if you don’t feel it’s making a difference today. Believe me, you’re making a difference by doing what you do!
My short answer: it comes from my deep desire to make my art business successful. I daydreamed about becoming a full-time artist for so long, and once I had the opportunity I wanted it to work out so badly. I hate letting myself down. And since I’m just a one-woman show right now, if I don’t hustle, it won’t happen. And I’d be a very sad person if I failed!
Even though I had a great job, it’s no surprise my heart wasn’t in it 100%. I was sad that I wasn’t following my creative passion all the time. I was frustrated that I couldn’t devote more time and energy into my art business. I had this yearning to have my life centered around creativity, and my reality wasn’t matching my vision.
When I quit my day job last summer, my reality finally matched my vision. And the scary thing was, I didn’t have any more excuse for how slow my business was growing. There was no “oh, well I have a day job and don’t have time to do my art and make my business happen!” It was time to hustle. It was time to do what I said I wanted to do for a long time. People around me seemed to think I could do it, and I had to prove to myself I could do it, too.
It’ll have been 6 months since I quit my day job when this post comes out, and the best thing about running my own show is actually not the fact I have more time to make art (because actually, I do a lot of other stuff to run the business than making art…), but it’s the fact I get to make decisions about my work and do what I love on my own terms. It also means if I slack off, it’ll take me longer to achieve my goals or not at all.
Sure it can be hard and stressful, and there are many annoying things about being your own boss. But it’s also extremely fulfilling. I just love it and want to protect it as much as I can!
With that said, I have other tools to keep me motivated and disciplined for the long run. Hope you’ll find them helpful!
1. Find your “why”
When I work for a goal, like working out regularly and sticking to a healthy eating habit, I need to have a very clear purpose. If I don’t understand why I’m doing something, I tend to be less engaged with the process, and it usually won’t last.
So when I quit my day job last summer, I spent half a day creating my artist manifesto. I went through a whole process to clarify why it’s important for me to have art and creativity as a center piece of my life. It’s a declaration of how I want to be in the world. You can peek into my process here.
My artist manifesto is put up on the wall by my desk, and every time I look at it, I feel encouraged and centered.
2. Seanwes podcast
I get SO much motivation about creativity and business from a handlettering artist/entrepreneur, Sean McCabe’s contents (especially his podcasts and YouTube channel). When I feel like slacking off, I listen to his podcast and get fired up immediately. You must check out his work if you’re a creative entrepreneur!
This 2-minute video always gives me the motivation boost! Show up every day for two years.
3. Public Commitment
When I’m working on something big or new, I like to let the public (i.e. social media & blog) know that I’m doing it and when. It worked really well when I worked on my 365 Day Happiness Project from 2014-2015. Even though my audience probably isn’t tracking what I’m doing as closely as I am, it gives me the extra motivation to say it out loud to the people who support my work.
4. Track your progress
I like to write down what I’ve accomplished every day. For most days, it’s small things like, writing a blog, sketching ideas for new work, or shipping my Etsy orders etc. But I’m no longer saying “What did I do today?” and actually see how productive I’ve been. And if I hadn’t been productive, I could review the day to see where I got stuck.
What’s great about tracking your progress, ideally every day, is that you can see how your everyday small accomplishments are helping you achieve your big goals. What you do every day, though it might seem unimportant, counts.
I hate doing finances. I just find no joy in the bookkeeping activity! But I make myself do my finances at the beginning of each month. I usually have a pretty good idea about how much revenue I had the previous month, but it’s nice to see the actual numbers especially if it’s more than what you thought! And it makes the year-end tax preparation a lot easier…
I also started tracking my social media following monthly a few months ago. I don’t want to put too much weight on how many people follow me on social media, but it’s good to know that my audience is growing 🙂
5. Accountability Partner
I have a few accountability partners I meet on a monthly basis. Having a one-on-one accountability and a dedicated time and space to talk about your goals and challenges is very helpful. It’s like when I know we have a visitor, we do a better job of cleaning our house. When I know I’m going to have my accountability meetings, I’ll be extra motivated to get stuff done. I wrote my experience with my accountability partners here and here if you’re interested!
6. Set a deadline for a project (even if it’s fake!)
I’m not gonna lie – If I don’t have a deadline for a project, it will NOT get done. It’s a fact. When someone (usually a personal friend) wants me to do something for them and tell me “whenever you have time, no rush!” It just won’t happen. I need a hard deadline to get motivated!!
So when I don’t have an external deadline assigned to me, I usually set one for myself and pretend it’s the hard and fast timeline to get something done by. I often combine this with the public commitment piece for extra motivation!
For example, when I had offered to teach my block printing class and group coaching sessions this spring at a local art school, I set the dates and time for the classes first and started promoting them before I had the contents. This way I have to make it happen, and it helps me backwards plan all the steps to execute it.
7. Develop habits that set you up for a long-term success
Of course, I’m human, and if I’m on all the time, I’ll eventually burn out. I believe firmly that avoiding burn-out is one of my top priorities for my long-term success and well-being. If I lose joy in what I do or get sick because I neglect to take care of myself, all bets are off, right?
Some of the habits I’ve developed for self-care are: getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night, getting up early and do something productive first thing in the morning, workout regularly, eating a healthy diet, no social media during meals, making sure I have plenty of alone/quiet time, and taking every 7th week off to recharge.
As you can imagine, maintaining these habits are not always easy! It means you have to say no to many things you enjoy doing. But that’s the thing about habits – once you get used to doing something over and over, you’ll start to feel off-balance if you don’t do it! And even if you slip every once in a while, it’ll be a lot easier to get back into it. If you’re trying to replace some of your unhelpful habits with more helpful ones, I say go slow, focus on one thing at a time! Be patient and kind to yourself if it doesn’t happen as quickly as you want. Developing new habits takes time.
Finding your motivation isn’t easy – especially if you’ve been trying hard for a long time and haven’t seen any significant results. These tools have helped me find a motivation when I felt like crawling into a hole and forget about everything. I hope it’ll inspire you to come up with strategies that work for you!
Take care, my friend 🙂
p.s. My Creative Coaching service is officially open! Let me know if you’re a creative person needing help getting stuff done. Learn more here.
Today I wanted to reflect on taking detours in life. As you may know, I started dabbling in creative stuff a little over 5 years ago in my early 30s. I opened my first Etsy shop selling crocheted wares in 2010, but I treated it as a hobby for the first few years.
Meanwhile, I was working full-time at a non-profit social service organization as a program manager. Work was rewarding and also challenging. I had been there for almost 10 years, and although I was able to keep things fresh by moving to different positions and taking on different responsibilities, I started wondering about my future and what other career options I might have. I had worked for the same organization for all of my career and just wanted to try something different. Something less stressful and with more money would’ve been nice, I thought.
I knew what I needed was to gain practical skills that built on what I was already good at. I did some brainstorming and thought becoming a Japanese/English Interpreter/Translator might be a good fit. I have the language skill and had done informal interpretation and translation for our clients before, so why not? There was a certificate course offered at a local college near I used to work, and I had a friend who was going through the program at the time, so I talked to her about it and decided to enroll.
If you took this certificate course full-time, you would finish the required courses in a year. But Since I had a full-time job, I took one or two classes at a time. So it took me a little longer to finish. I enjoyed being back in school. There is something about having a schedule and place to be and be in the “learning” mode on a regular basis. I enjoy reading articles or taking webinars, but I find in-person hands-on learning to be the most effective format for acquiring new skills.
Anyway, the program was great, and I was learning a ton about professional practice of language interpretation and translation. I made new friends, and that was a lot of fun, too.
About midway through the program, or maybe it was more towards the end, I started having a feeling that it might not be what I wanted to do for a living. It just didn’t seem like a “fit” for me. I was doing well in class but wasn’t excited about it. I would dread and put off doing the homework until the last minute. It was painful to have to go back and edit my translation work over and over again. And the thought of becoming an interpreter and the responsibility and spontaneity of the interpretation work made me anxious. Like anything else, I’m sure things would become easier with more experience, but I’m a think-before-doing kind of person, so being in a position to think and act on your feet all the time seemed super stressful. I completed all the required courses but opted out from the second year program after that.
While I was having doubts about my future as a language interpreter/translator, I started looking into other career opportunities. Around that time, I was becoming more serious about pursuing my creative interests. I was getting a little tired of crocheting products then and was rediscovering my childhood love of drawing. Drawing and illustration seemed to have more potential for business growth, or at least it seemed more straight forward to me than having a handmade product-based business.
But how could I become a full-time artist? I didn’t have a degree or formal training in art. I thought being a successful artist was reserved for only the most talented and the privileged.
After having another brainstorm session (yes, I like to brainstorm :)), I thought, I could be a Graphic Designer! Graphic design seemed like a good, employable skill to have, and you also use your creativity in design process. What a perfect combination! Excited, I enrolled myself in the Graphic Design Certificate course at the same college I was working on the Interpretation/Translation Certificate. I overlapped being in two programs until I finished the first year courses for the language program.
Again, I totally enjoyed being in classes and learning new skills. All of the instructors were working professionals, and I loved hearing their real life stories.
And then, the little voice in my head started talking to me again. “This might help you get out of your current situation, but is this going to make you happy?”
I was creating a bunch of new illustration work for my design assignments, and that was the fun part. When we present our work to the class, I knew mine looked different than most other students’. When it came to doing the actual design work (i.e. “making something look good and functional” in a nut shell.), my heart wasn’t really in it. I just wanted to be drawing more.
I still finished the program after a few years, and on my very last portfolio review class, my instructor recognized my passion for illustration and suggested I pursue what I truly loved rather than graphic design. I felt so free. Finally, I knew, like I really knew, that I didn’t want to compromise any more and decided to give my 100% to pursuing art.
When I share this story with people, some people are surprised and tell me “It took you that long to figure it out??” I understand where they’re coming from, I guess. Yes I invested a lot of time and money into getting the education and training in the fields I chose not to pursue. It might seem wasteful to others. What if I’d started pursuing art more seriously 5 years ago? Maybe I would be further ahead in the game by now. I get it. But I don’t think it was a waste at all! In fact, I gained SO MUCH from it!
First of all, it fulfilled my needs to learn new things and grow. Much of what I learned is totally relevant to what I do today.
For instance, the interpretation/translation program challenged me to think differently about communication. A lot of people think, if you speak multiple languages, you have the natural ability to interpret or translate effortlessly, but it’s SO false! Taking in sometimes very complex information in one language and putting it out accurately and in a culturally relevant way in another language is no easy feat. It goes way beyond just knowing the languages literally and takes deep understanding and appreciation for cultures and history. Do you ever use online translation tools, like Google translate? Maybe it kinda works sometimes for some languages, but it usually returns very confusing and often hilarious results. As a relationship-driven person, I appreciate knowing how artful and thoughtful language communication really is.
Many things I learned through the Graphic Design program are obviously super relevant to my art career today. Knowing the design principles is very helpful in putting together effective and aesthetically pleasing visual materials. And of course, knowing how to use a software, like Photoshop and Illustrator, is critical in my day-to-day work.
I also want to mention that I made a conscious decision to choose options that wouldn’t require me to get a loan and go in to debt. So when it was all said and done, I was not in the red. And my busy schedule forced me to be more efficient, and I learned to juggle school work and full-time job for a few years. In my “detours,” I made new friends and developed relationships with mentors. You really can’t put a price on relationships that add so much to life!
I have absolutely no regrets about taking the long way to figure out what I wanted to do. I’m actually happy that I took some detours. Making the choice to pursue my passion after having some life experience and trying out different options helped to confirm that I’m on the right path. Choosing your passion and switching a career later in life takes a lot of courage. Maybe 10 years from now, I might have a totally different path again! You never know 🙂
If you took many detours in life, or if you don’t know what your path is yet, don’t worry – nothing in life is wasted. What you do today still counts 🙂
I’m in awe as I write this blog post. How can it be the last post of 2015??
Today I wanted to take a minute to look back and reflect on my accomplishments this year! If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you know a lot have happened. And let me thank you first of all for supporting me and encouraging me along the way!! It really means a lot.
I’m not very good at talking about my successes, so here I am, doing something a little scary!
1) I completed the 365 Day Happiness Project in April.
In April of 2014, I started a daily drawing project about happiness. I didn’t know if I was able to commit to it for a year but just had to do something that puts myself out of my comfort zone every day. I successfully completed in in April of 2015! As a result, I’ve grown my audience, have gotten multiple opportunities, and have deepen my art style and practice tremendously. I wrote a 9-part blog series reflecting on the project here.
If you’re in or near Seattle, I’m having another show in January at a non-profit coffee house Luther’s Table in Renton, Washington. Come on down and enjoy my original drawings 🙂 Part of the sales is donated to the organization.
Now that I’ve had a break from doing a daily project, I’m planning on starting another one in 2016! I’ll let you know what and when it’s going to be, but I plan on starting it in the Spring of 2016 🙂 Woo hoo!
2) I quit my day job.
Now this is huge. I left my day job of 14+ years at the end of July to pursue art full-time. It was one of the biggest life changes I’ve ever experienced besides coming to U.S. at age 18 and getting married 2 years ago. It was a scary and difficult decision, but I knew it was the right thing for me. I haven’t regretted that decision once! I share my process of quitting my day job cold-turkey here.
3) I had 4 art exhibits and 8 arts/crafts shows.
When I completed my 365 Day Happiness project, I ended up with a bunch of new works with the theme of happiness. I’ve developed more confidence as an artist through the project, too, and it gave me a push to put myself out there even more. I had 3 shows from the art work I made for the Happiness project, and one show for my new watercolor abstract work.
I’ve also been doing a lot of local arts/crafts shows beginning this summer. l love interacting with my audience in-person and am learning a ton about doing shows!
4) My revenue grew 6x compared to 2014!
I’ve seen significant growth in my revenue after I quit my day job in July. It really goes to show that when you work hard and put yourself out there consistently, opportunity will come. And I have more flexibility to say yes to these opportunities without a regular day job. Granted it’s still not a very big amount, I still want to celebrate it!! Here is to more revenue growth in 2016! (<– insert sounds of glasses clinking here.)
5) I started a weekly blog and continue posting every week.
I knew my goal for 2015, if I didn’t do anything else, was to practice writing more consistently. I was feeling pretty good about where my art practice was going, but writing always took a backseat. I just didn’t enjoy it as much and didn’t know who I was when it comes to writing. But I knew in order for me to push my art career to the next level, I needed to add writing to my tool box.
So I made a public commitment (this works for me very well) to start publishing a weekly blog every Sunday beginning in June. I mostly write about what I’ve learned about creativity and motivation. It doesn’t always come naturally but I carve out time to write first thing in the morning every day.
Just like working out, writing is a muscle. You practice it consistently even when you don’t feel like it, and you’ll be stronger and more comfortable. I’ve found my writing “voice” through my consistent practice and have noticed it’s not as much of a pain to write any more – in fact, I enjoy it now! I love hearing how my blog is helping people, too 🙂
A quick advice to people who want to blog more consistently: 1) Write and have multiple posts in a queue before start publishing it. I try to have 4 posts in a queue regularly, so when I’m swamped or take a time off, I’m still on schedule. 2) Write like you speak. This is another great advice that helps me with writing. As a non-native English speaker, I’ve been conditioned to follow grammatical rules to a T especially when writing. But I watched a webinar of Laura Belgray, who is a super funny and talented copy writer, and it changed my belief about writing “correctly.” I highly recommend you download her 5 Secrets to Non-Sucky Copy on her homepage. When I try to write like I speak, my writing is more engaging and personable. And I have more fun writing that way!
6) I started a monthly newsletter in August.
This also adds to my writing goal for this year. I wanted to reach my audience who may or may not be following me on other social media platforms and give people a convenient way to get updates about what I’m working on. Though it’s still fairly new, I’ve been getting pretty positive responses from my readers so far. If you enjoy reading my blog and want to get more of that good stuff, sign up for my newsletter here! 🙂
7) I offered a monthly art subscription service.
At the end of last year, I thought about what I can do to challenge myself on the product end and offer my audience a convenient way to get their hands on the new products I was making. Are you familiar with the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) concept? You’d typically pay a subscription to a farm and receive a box of their seasonal harvest weekly or so. It’s a way to support the farmers directly, and you get fresh, local produce regularly!
Anyway, my concept for art subscription, 2015 Gift of Happiness, was very similar to that. Customers will buy an annual or 6-month subscription and get a product from me every month. I also send my subscribers a special newsletter every month talking about the story behind each product.
I think the concept itself was great. But my timing and marketing were not very well planned. As a result, I had a very small number of subscribers, so financially it was not very successful. BUT I was able to put more care and attention into each subscriber and was able to connect with them at a deeper level. That’s an opportunity only possible when you have a small number of people to interact with.
Let me share what my happy customer said about the monthly subscription!
“I have really enjoyed my subscription to Honeyberry Studios recent product series. Yuko’s joyous attitude really shines through in the delightfully colorful designs and products she sends out, and always with great packaging. I especially like to gauge the progression in her practice as an artist and illustrator via the series. I highly recommend her products and services!” – Jafon Hakkinen, Receiver Design, SF
Yay! I ❤ my customers. They’re just the coolest!
Through the process I learned much about putting out products, so that was a big plus! Whenever I have a less-than-successful launch or project, I just consider that I’m paying to learn, just like going to school! I’m paying for my future more successful self 🙂
With that said I’m going to put a hold on the subscription service in 2016. I might do it again later on as I grew my audience and interests. Stay tuned!
8) I completed two monthly art challenges.
After I finished my year-long daily art project in April, I was a little lost. It was such a huge part of my creative life, and suddenly my routine had to change. I was still making art every day, but it was just not the same.
So I was delighted to join a couple of art challenges on Instagram in June and August with an illustrator Janine Crum. Janine would send out a prompt every day throughout the month, and we draw and post what we made on the internet. It gave me the sense of direction and a new challenge as I had never done prompted drawing like this before.
If you’re interested in what I and other artists made during those two challenges, go to Instagram and search #MakeWithMe
9) I learned how to block print on fabric.
Learning how to block print on fabric was another game changer for me!! I took an online course, Design, Carve, Print (new class coming up in February of 2016!) with Jen Hewett in February, and it totally changed my creative practice in a big way.
I immediately fell in love with the process of block printing on fabric and have been incorporating the technique in many of my works ever since. It’s so meditative, and I love that I can make art that people can use every day! I wrote about my experience in the class here, and you can check out some of my block printed goodies on my Etsy shop 🙂
I just signed up for a screen printing class at a local arts organization in February, am super excited about that too!
And, I’m teaching my very first block printing class in Seattle this spring!! If you’re local, I’d love to have you in the class! Registration opens on February 1, 2016 🙂
10) I started working out.
This may seem unrelated to my art practice, but I’m proud to have overcome my fear of gym and have been working out consistently for about 9 months now. OK, “fear of gym” may be an exaggeration, but I was intimidated by it and had been avoiding it for most of my life. I thought gym was a place where young, good-looking, and athletic people went to do their perfect routines, and people like me, who were uncoordinated and not athletic at all, didn’t belong in there. I had also injured myself running in the past and was not sure of my ability to do it right.
But I took out the courage to check out the gym in my neighborhood and started working out with the owner/personal trainer. If you had not worked out before or just want to push yourself more, I highly recommend working out with a trainer! Yes it’s more $$ but it was totally worth it. He encouraged me and pushed me enough so it was challenging, and I learned the right way to work out and became more confident in my physical ability, which is a big deal! It also changed my belief that the gym was full of young, good-looking, skinny people – all kinds of people work out there – lots of people of color, older people, families, people with different abilities and shapes etc, so I feel very comfortable.
Our personal training sessions ended a long time ago, but I still go about 4 times a week and sometimes join their group exercise classes. I feel more energetic and strong when I work out. It gives me the mental discipline so I’m able to stick to things that are challenging outside of the gym, too!
11) I started taking mini-sabbaticals every 7 weeks.
I shared the concept of Small Scale Sabbaticals a few times, but I started taking every 7th week off in October to recharge. Since I quit my day job, I was just going and going. I felt like I couldn’t stop working because there are so much to do, and I was inpatient to get where I wanted to be. Inevitably, I started feeling burnt out. I decided to implement regular breaks and have taken two sabbatical weeks since. It’s been AMAZING! Though stopping everything for a week feels a little scary, it makes me work harder and more productive when I’m “on” and helps me to focus on self-care when I’m “off.” Read more about my experience and thoughts here.
12) I started meeting with accountability partners.
Accountability partners are someone you check in with regularly for support and accountability around specific goals. I have two awesome accountability partners I’ve been meeting with monthly, and I look forward to our meetings every month! It’s so nice to be able to talk freely about how things are going and share the struggles s as well as successes. I interviewed my accountability partners in these posts. If you’re curious about having an accountability partner, I say do it! It has given me and my partners so much.
13) I’m a Creative Coach!
Since I quit my day job, I’ve been thinking of ways to combine my two passions: art and helping other people, and came up with this brilliant idea of becoming a Creative Coach. I have the experience and skill set of helping others in a non-judgemental and strength-based environment, and what better way to help other artists and makers achieve their creative goals than to coach them?? I’ve been running a pilot program and working with a couple of clients one-on-one for several months. And I’m loving it!! You can learn more about my thoughts and meet my fabulous clients in these posts here.
I’m opening up my Creative Coaching practice officially in February 2016 and can’t wait to help more artists! For more information, visit my Creative Coaching page! I’m also kicking off the new year with a free 4-week challenge starting Monday January 4, 2016! If you’d like to receive a weekly email with prompts, tips and helpful tools from me to set and work on your creative goals during the month of January, sign up here.
I’m also planning an in-person Creative Coaching workshop series in Seattle this spring. Ah, so many possibilities!
14) I created a drawing tutorial.
It’s been on my to-do list to create a drawing tutorial for quite some time. So I was delighted when I was asked to create one for Wing, Worms, and Wonder blog hop in October!
I created a nature drawing tutorial using markers for the blog and had a lot of fun doing it 🙂 If you’ve missed it, you can check it out here.
As a result of this collaboration, I got invited to be a Guest Teacher for Kiala Givehand‘s The Journey Within: A Year of Handmade Art Journals! I’ll be working on another goal of mine: producing a video tutorial, for this project 🙂 My video tutorial is scheduled to appear in the e-course in March of 2016, and I’m SO excited for this opportunity! You can learn more and enroll here. I’d LOVE to have you in the class and learn with you 🙂
And this wraps up the recap of my successful moments in 2015! Tell me what you’re proud of this year! Pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you’ve put in to achieve your creative goals. The seeds you sowed this year will grow next year and beyond 🙂
When I used to work for a non-profit social service organization, about half of the funding came from government and municipal entities. The contract renewal and budget approval time of the year was always stressful. I wasn’t the financial decision maker so I only knew the financial state of the organization on the surface level. But after the recession, we were under a constant threat of losing governmental funding. It was really sucky. It was terrible to work your butt off to help people in a bad situation and to be told (indirectly, in their action) that your work was not important enough to continue funding for.
Luckily, domestic violence victim advocacy community had a really strong presence in the region, so with the strong public pressure to the government, we were able to continue receiving their funding every year. But other social service agencies were not that lucky. Many of them had to reduce program offerings or forced to do more with less. And at the end of the day, the point is that we had to fight for it. We had to prove our worth to the funders to continue providing services. Which is pretty crappy.
On a similar note, I’d hear from time to time that public schools were cutting music and arts programs for financial reasons. I would have the same yucky feeling whenever I hear the arts are the first ones to be cut. What kind of a message does that send?
It says that arts are not as important as other subjects like math and science. It says that arts do not bring as much value as other things people are willing to fund.
As artists and makers, we need to pay attention so we don’t internalize these negative messages ourselves. I’m not saying that arts should be prioritized over other things. I’m saying that the unique value arts and creativity bring need to be recognized, and people, young and old, need to be encouraged more to nurture their creative side.
I saw a statistics once that people “lose” their creativity at a significantly high rate after age 8. And it spikes again after retirement. Interesting, isn’t it?? The presenter explained that it’s not that our creativity naturally declines, but rather we’re just not encouraged enough to be creative as we get older. And many of us when we retire and get out of the expectations of the workplace find the space to be creative again.
In this video, Brené Brown (my hero!) talks about creativity and vulnerability so eloquently and describes how kids get discouraged and shy away from engaging in creative activities after getting bad marks in art classes or teased because their creation doesn’t look a certain way. Early experience of shame around creativity really sticks with you. It’s so powerful that some people avoid any creative activity like a plague!
Have you been to a non-arty conference or workshop where the facilitator asks you to draw how you feel or what your ideal self looks like or whatever? I never really understood why people were so embarrassed to share their drawings with the group. It struck me after watching that video that I was naturally a pretty good artist as a child and never really experienced negative interaction around creativity growing up. So even though I’m not a master artist and get insecure around my art sometimes, I never feel ashamed of my creation. On the other hand, I was not very athletic and was often ridiculed in P.E. class, so I dreaded and avoided (and still do!) any sports activities. It totally makes sense! The shame I felt growing up left such a bad taste in my mouth about any physical activity. I’m slowly recovering from that now as an adult… Yikes.
Let’s go back to the conversation of values that your art and creativity bring, shall we? When I hear value, naturally, I think of money. Social media is flooded with the v-word. I’m sure you’ve read a blog article or two talking about how to bring the most value to your clients etc. While the money-making aspect of business is very important, I sometimes feel lost when I think of what “value” my art is bringing to my audience.
People can buy my art prints, but it doesn’t make them more money. Well, at least not until I get super famous and people start fighting over my work 😉 But you know what I mean. So what is the value of my work?
I bring this up because I provide “nice-to-haves” for a living. You know, I’m not fixing someone’s car or rescuing people out of a burning building or anything. And it makes me doubt my work’s value sometimes. People don’t “need” my art to survive, right?
It’s true if you want to think of it as an absolute necessity for survival, like if you’re stranded in the middle of the desert, you’d probably choose a drink of water over a cute drawing of a cat. But we don’t get stranded in the middle of the desert very often. At least many of us don’t… So why do we measure value of our work against something super tangible or basic human needs?
Think about what values you’re getting out of the things that are not directly helping you make money or do specific things. I know you have them! Like your favorite shows on Netflix. Art on the wall. How about your cat that’s snoozing on the couch for 12+ hours every day?? You have them because they’re clearly filling some needs you have that are not tangible.
We have a Netflix subscription so we can watch shows that entertain us. I have many art on the wall made by artists you’ve probably never heard of because they make our home beautiful and inspire me to create more. I have a cat because he gives me the unconditional love and the comic relief. Oh, and apparently petting your kitty lowers your blood pressure! I guess that’s a tangible benefit they have 🙂
Do you see? Just because they don’t directly help me make money, it doesn’t mean they don’t have a value. And you might have noticed that they’re all helping me to stay well and happy – which is super important if I’m going to keep working hard and thrive as an artist.
If you’re able to read this blog that means you have access to internet. That means you can afford “nice-to-haves” in one shape or another. Think of why you chose to have those things in your life. It doesn’t have to be a physical “thing”, either. Maybe you’re subscribed to an online artists’ community. Maybe you work out with a personal trainer. Are they less important than having a cold, hard cash in your hands right now? Not necessarily, I bet.
How are those things making your life better? Imagine if you don’t have them, how would your everyday life be different? And how do you think your creativity is making other people’s life better? I know many of you have taken the time to tell me how my blog and art work have inspired you. You have no idea how much your words of encouragement mean to me! Yes, money can certainly motivate you to do things, but that’s certainly not the only thing or even the top 5 motivating factors for many of us.
And on the flip side, if you didn’t have these “nice-to-haves” for whatever reasons, you’d definitely need to use your creativity to make your life more interesting or convenient, wouldn’t you? After all, that’s what we did as kids. We made up stories and characters to entertain ourselves. We could get lost in the world we created for hours and didn’t think it was waste of our time. There were no boundaries or limitations of what we could do with our creativity and imagination. And it can still do that if we let our creativity run free. It’s just that we picked up some baggage along the way and learned to hold on to certain things as our security blanket. Being creative has become riskier as we got older.
Creativity is a gift that keeps on giving. Everyone has it. But many of us were told it’s not that important or you were not that good so we stopped nurturing them. When your creativity is not nurtured, it becomes more work to access it so you don’t even bother trying.
Being creative is empowering. It lets you see things in different ways. You realize you can do things you never thought were possible. You learn to adapt to difficult situations with grace.
Whether you’re a writer, a singer, a dancer, a painter, a poet, an actor, a comic etc. etc. etc., you’d be doing a disservice if you were holding yourself back because you don’t feel like you’re providing any values. Don’t believe it if someone treats your work as “less than” because it’s not perceived to have values in a conventional or super tangible way.
What you do is important. Without art, this world would be so boring and not really worth living for. So don’t wait till you retire to find your creative sparks again!! Now is always a good time to start.
p.s. I’m participating in the Journey Within blog hop by Kiala Givehand this coming Tuesday, December 22! Come on by and join me in a couple of days 🙂 I’ll be sharing my holiday food tradition with my drawings!
Last week I shared here that I’ve been coaching other artists and helping them stay on track to achieve their big goals. My Creative Coaching service is still in a pilot stage, but I’m really loving it and am looking forward to taking on more clients in February 2016!
Today, I wanted to share some of my current clients’ experiences and give you a peek at what it’s like to work with me as a Creative Coach. First of all, I want to thank my clients, Michelle and Sarah, for being so open and letting me share their experiences with you all!
So, a few months back when I was thinking about starting a Creative Coaching practice, I reached out to a couple of people whom I thought would be a good match. First person I reached out to was Michelle Greco (www.michellegreco.com). I reached out to Michelle because she’s been following my work on multiple platforms and had been really engaging and encouraging. She’s a poet, writer, and a photographer, and has been pursuing painting/drawing lately. I had a feeling she’d meet my “ideal client” profile and emailed her to see if she would want to work with me.
I got a very enthusiastic “YES” from her, and we’ve been having bi-weekly sessions on Skype since September.
Michelle, like many of us, has multiple passions and talents. She also has a demanding day job as a writing instructor and was having a challenge making time to dedicate to a meaningful daily creative practice.
In our first session, we narrowed down her goals to something reasonable yet challenging enough. Since she was struggling with keeping a consistent art practice at that time, we spent time problem-solving around that particular challenge. One of the roadblocks for Michelle was that she’d come home exhausted after work, and setting up her drawing/painting materials was just too much work.
So when she found the Paper app, she found a way to draw on her mobile devices without the hassle of setting up. She could spend as little as 2 minutes to create a quick doodle and post it on her Instagram. I could tell that was a big game-changer for her! Michelle also uses this productivity app to keep her motivated to accomplish different tasks daily and weekly. It has a note feature she uses to write down one or two things she’s grateful for each day as part of her “Practice Gratitude” habit. What a wonderful way to stay positive every day! 🙂
So I asked Michelle how our Creative Coaching work has been helping her achieve her goals, and here is what she had to say:
Yuko’s coaching has been helpful in several ways. The first is accountability. Up to this point, I’ve had a lot of trouble keeping a daily artful practice. Since September, though, I’ve only missed a handful of days, and even then, I catch up. I think this is largely in part because I know Yuko is looking out. Her likes and, especially, her comments have kept me motivated to keep creating because, if anything, I know at least one person will take notice if I don’t post. Her comments also help me gauge what catches the eyes of my followers and what styles really capture who I am as an artist.
Another very useful aspect of coaching has been reasonable and adaptive goal setting. At the end of our sessions, Yuko and I set goals for me to accomplish. They keep me focused while also being flexible enough so that if an original goal isn’t working, there is space in the plan for fine tuning. Yuko helps keep me in check too. For example, when I mentioned starting a podcast, her first question was a firm but open, “I want to ask are you sure you want to start a podcast when you already have quite a bit on your plate?” That’s something I normally wouldn’t ask myself, and it forced me to reevaluate why this particular project was important to me and how I could make it a sustainable practice.
Lastly, Yuko’s coaching has helped me see the fruits of keeping a steady creative practice. Over the past three or so months that she’s been guiding me in my creativity, I’ve started an e-mail prompt challenge (#MuseMoments), which has grown my newsletter list, been asked to present a lecture on the intersection of poetry and art, and had two pieces I created during my daily art practice accepted to a local gallery exhibit. I’m supercharged by these opportunities!
More importantly, however, I’m proud of myself and so grateful to Yuko because I now see that I can keep a daily practice and achieve a personal goal.
It’s been amazing to witness Michelle’s journey – with the right tool and additional accountability and support, her art practice has been very consistent, and I can tell she’s become more comfortable exploring art in her own way, too. She’s also started a podcast recently and has been creating new episode every week. I’m very happy she’s found multiple ways to express her creative talents so successfully! You can hear her talk about what her daily art practice has been like on this episode and her steps on accepting her art for what it is here. I really admire Michelle’s courage and generosity for sharing herself so openly with her listeners!
OK, so let me now introduce you to another person I’ve been working with! Sarah Golden from Maker Maker (http://www.sarahgolden.org) and I met in an online block printing class called Design, Carve, Print in January 2015. (By the way, I highly recommend this class if you’re interested in learning how to block print on fabric!!! Jen is an amazing artist and a great teacher.)
Sarah and I have been internet friends since then, and I’ve been really inspired by her beautiful work and just how consistent she shows up for her creative practice. She prints her simple and beautiful motifs on fabric and turn it into accessories/eye candies you will fall in love with. She’s also a mom to adorable 2-year old twin girls, and I still don’t know fully how she manages all of that…!
I reached out to Sarah wondering if my Creative Coaching service could be helpful to push her creative business forward. By the way, I just wanna say that I wasn’t reaching out to people whom I thought were “less successful” or somehow struggling – I hand picked people who were already working hard for their goals and seemed open to learning and growth. That’s absolutely the number 1 prerequisite to success!
Anyway, I was delighted to get Sarah on board! When we met for the first time, we went over her goals and challenges. Sarah is a very talented artist and designer – and she’s also a strategic-thinker, who keeps her eyes and minds on her long-term business success. It’s an ideal balance for someone who runs a creative business. Her challenge was all of her short-term tasks and ideas were getting in a way of her focusing on her long-term projects. She had an overwhelming list of things to do, especially leading up to the holiday season, and didn’t have an effective way to prioritize her tasks.
We discussed urgency vs. importance of the tasks at hand, and I introduced her to the decision matrix I’ve used in the past.
You may have seen this tool before. If not, I totally recommend you incorporate it into your priority-setting activity! This article and this one give you more details on how to use the tool if you’re interested!
Sarah reported back to me later that this tool was extremely helpful in organizing her thoughts. Although she doesn’t pull this out every time she makes a decision, it gives her mind a little more space to sort things out so she doesn’t get overwhelmed.
For Sarah, what’s most helpful about working with me as her Creative Coach is to have a consistent person to talk things out with and to ask her questions. She’s been accessing other support and resources to grow her business both online and in a group setting. And when we meet, our time is intentionally focused on her and her business. I ask her questions because I’m truly curious to know more about what she’s been working on and how things are going. And by having her explain to me and digging even deeper, it gives her the clarity she’s been looking for. Sarah is always full of wonderful ideas, and after each session she feels lighter and is ready to move forward with more clarity.
Sarah’s been offered some pretty amazing opportunities lately as well, which I’m not able to share yet, and I’m so honored to be part of her creative journey! Be sure to follow her on social media and be inspired 🙂
Can I just say – I’m so lucky to get to work with these amazingly talented, smart, and hard-working people?? I said this in part 1 of this blog post last week, but I’m so privileged to be able to pursue my passions so wholeheartedly. Making art and helping people feed my soul like nothing else can. And doing more of what I love actually help other artists be inspired to achieve their dream goals? I can’t even handle it!!
I’m so looking forward to opening up my Creative Coaching service officially to new clients on February 1, 2016!! If you want a consistent one-one-one support that’s going to help you push your creative practice (whether professionally or as a personal goal) to the next level, be sure to sign up to receive updates!
On that note, I’m off to my mini-sabbatical this week! Woo hoo!! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week! I’ll post a shorter sabbatical blog post next Sunday 🙂
I hope you enjoyed my interview with my friend and my accountability partner, Whitney Thoren, last week! It was nice for me to hear from her what her experience has been, and it also validated my reasons for having accountability meetings.
So, today you’re going to hear from my other (and original) accountability partner, Stefanie Robbins. Stef and I go way back. We were also co-workers at our old day job doing direct service for survivors/victims of domestic violence. We remained friends after she moved on to different things several years ago. By the way, many people have told me I keep in touch with my old co-workers/friends very well. And it’s true 🙂 As adult, I don’t meet new people or make new friends very often, so ones I like I want to keep forever!
Earlier this year, I was itching to get an accountability partner. I’d been an avid listener of Seanwes podcast, and they talked a lot about accountability meetings. (Note: this episode focuses on why, how, and what of accountability partners if you want to learn more!)
I started thinking of who would be a good match for me. It needed to be someone I like and trust, someone who is working on creative goals, and our personalities have to work well together, too. And ideally, someone who lives nearby (I hate driving.)
And guess what? Stef met all of my accountability partner wish list!
So I began writing her an email asking if she’d be interested in being my accountability partner and meet regularly to check in on our goals. I was SO excited to reach out to her because I just knew our meetings were going to be awesome.
She responded to me with an interest, and we had our first meeting in March of this year. We’ve been meeting monthly since then. We typically meet at a coffee shop in our neighborhood and check in about how things are going and how we did with our goals. We support each other and help set goals for our next meeting.
I really appreciate her warm and friendly personality. She’s honest and kind. I also feel honored to be part of her support system because her music is so amazing and powerful! Every one should receive the gift of her music 🙂
I’m friends with both of my accountability partners, so we do talk about personal stuff, too. I feel I can support a person better if I have a bigger picture of what they’re going through outside of their career/creative goals. However, that’s more my personal preference, and it just works better that way with friends, so if you want to keep your accountability meetings more business, I think that works just fine, too.
OK, enough introduction from me! Here is Stefanie!
Please introduce yourself to my readers. Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi All! I am a mama, a musician, a therapist and each of these identities are front and center in my life right now. I have two children ages 5 & 9 and, as a family, we stay very engaged in our school community, Jewish community and neighborhood. I work half-time at a community mental health agency providing counseling to young people ages 5-22 and their families.
Since I was a child I was singing and making up songs. I started voice lessons at a young age, participated in choirs and musicals, attended a specialized performing arts high school and began University as a Music Theater Major. As I was “launching” into young adulthood I had a crisis of confidence (maybe it was pragmatism?) and stopped most avenues for performing that were familiar and had a structure I understood.
For a while, I dabbled in a bands, songwriting with friends, and “a Capella” over the next few years but nothing really stuck and filled the music (on a soul level) and I was aimless. Other parts of my life were blossoming at their own pace and, over all, going well – personal identity, career, a wonderful partner and marriage, house, kids – but something was deeply missing and it was music.
Something shifted in me after having my second child and I knew I needed to pursue my music goals and reach my own potential. The universe aligned and many of my fears and questions got the attention and answers needed to press on. I continue to do daily work on resistance and pushing through my doubts (some days are easier than others) and struggles and have found mountains of support from friends, family and a community of artists/musicians.
I completed my first EP “In the Sun” and am currently working on my first full-length album with the goal of recording in January 2016.
Why did you decide to become my accountability partner? What were your initial expectations?
Yuko initiated the conversation about being creative accountability partners and a few things helped me reach the decision to say yes. First, being asked! That is a huge piece of the puzzle! I was inspired by Yuko’s courage to be an artist and because I know Yuko to be reliable and kind, so I felt it was safe yet there was still a little jump to trying something unfamiliar.
I was familiar with the idea of mentorship and have enlisted support of many more experienced musicians for guidance and advice. What was different about Yuko’s ideas is that it is a partnership. My expectations were that we could support one another in our individual goals and that when we listen and teach each other, we learn and apply it to our own stories as well.
How has having an accountability partner helped you? Any examples of the changes you’ve noticed or progresses you’ve made in your own practice since you started meeting with me?
Having accountability and specific, concrete steps toward meeting lofty goals has been incredibly helpful. I have set goals in the past but often left too much time in between the goal and the deadline. With this model, we meet monthly and set baby-steps toward an overall bigger goal. One example of a change I made because of this partnership is when I was approached to do a performance for a non-profit that would also help me raise money for my album production and I was afraid to say no and lose the opportunity EVEN THOUGH my schedule was packed with other shows that were taking a lot of time and energy that I needed.
Through the accountability partnership I learned to shift my ideas around timing – not doing everything NOW is ok – but looking at the ways I can move things to fit what I am capable of doing. I reached out to the person who asked me to perform and suggested we revisit the idea in the fall and that is what we did. It worked out and we are in conversations now about how we can work together.
In your own experience, what are the most valuable things about having an accountability partner?
The infusion of energy and intention around my music and goals is incredible. I may come in to a meeting thinking I have not done enough that month or that I am off track but the point of meeting is to explore what I HAVE done (and to celebrate that) and what barriers were in the way (mental, financial, health, etc.) for what I haven’t yet done.
I find it very pragmatic and goal-oriented but also validating and supportive of where I am now.
What do you think are important to look for in an accountability partner?
I believe the things to look for are a person who be consistent (monthly works for me, about 60-90 minutes), a person with non-judgmental approach, and an active listener, practical and lofty (able to hold both), some ability to be vulnerable and share their own stories and struggles, someone who is invested in their own goals and can relate to what the other may be experiencing.
Any words of wisdom for someone who’s thinking about having an accountability partner?
Find someone who inspires you and approach them with the concept. You may be really surprised but many people are willing to be part of your support network if you ask.
Wonderful!! Thank you for taking the time to share with us!
Do you have someone to check in about your goals? Find someone if you don’t! It’ll totally boost your motivation, and you can do the same for them too.
FYI – If you just can’t find someone in your community, I’m working on launching exciting new services to help provide on-going support and accountability to people pursuing their creative goals early 2016, so stay tuned!
I’ve shared in my past blog posts about how my accountability partners have helped me stay motivated and focused on my goals.
Accountability partners are someone you meet regularly to check in about your goals and provide support. Maybe you don’t need any external support to achieve your goals, but many of us do better when you know someone else is counting on you!
I used to practice Bikram Yoga (a type of hot yoga) a lot. The instructors often said “showing up is the hardest part of the practice” and it’s so true. You know it’s going to be hard. In the beginning of the class, I always thought “Why am I here? I’m going to DIE!!!” It’s SO hot in there. You sweat and hold difficult poses. You feel so beat and uncomfortable. But then after the class, you feel amazing. You feel so refreshed and renewed.
What motivated me to show up oftentimes was that I had a couple of buddies to go to the class with. Sometimes I gave them a ride, and the other times I just met with them at the studio. Either way, I chose to go to my yoga class because I knew they were expecting me to show up in some ways.
And once my yoga buddies moved on, it naturally became more difficult for me to consistently show up for the class. Boo!
Today, I want to shine a spotlight on one of my accountability partners, Whitney. We’ve been meeting monthly since June of this year. Whitney and I used to work together at our old day job and became friends. She moved on to a different job a few years ago, but we kept in touch because she’s a really cool lady and we like each other 🙂
Whitney has since gone back to school to get her Master’s in Organizational Leadership. She also quit her day job earlier this year to start her own consulting & coaching practice! Her thoughtful approach to helping others grow has really inspired me.
We were having dinner one day, and at that time I was contemplating getting a different day job that might be less stressful and draining. Whitney had just quit her day job then, and I had another friend who had just made a big switch to pursue her creative passion full-time.
I was totally inspired by their ability to quit their day job to pursue their dream and wanted a bigger push to make something happen in my life, too. I was telling Whitney about how my accountability meetings with my other partner, Stef, have been helping me stay on track. Whitney was going through her big transitions then and thought having an accountability partner might be helpful for her, too.
Naturally, we felt like we would be a good match because we knew and trusted each other already. We were also at a similar point in our life starting something new for ourselves and experiencing similar challenges. Plus, it helps me, an introverted homebody, get out of the house to actually see a friend regularly!
We usually meet once a month over a meal (brunch or lunch). Monthly seemed reasonable for both of us. You could agree to meet more often if it feels necessary and doable, but I wouldn’t recommend no less than monthly especially if you’re a procrastinating type 🙂
Anyway, I wanted to hear how our accountability meetings have helped her achieve her goals, so I interviewed her!
Without further ado, meet Whitney.
Please introduce yourself to my readers. Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi, I’m Whitney Thoren. I am originally from Colorado. I moved to Seattle about 6 years ago, which is when I met Yuko! I’m married to musician/designer, Irene. We live with our two cats in a funky old house in the north part of the city. I love to ride my vintage Honda motorcycle.
Earlier this year I left my full-time job, in an unrelated field, to start my own innovation consulting practice, Whitnums. I create and facilitate experiences related to change and growth for both for individuals and larger systems. I am inspired to help organizations be kinder and more empowering places for the people who work there. I’m currently in the process for building my reputation and finding clients.
Why did you decide to become my accountability partner? What were your initial expectations?
The idea of an accountability partner seemed to emerge organically for Yuko and me. We were both in similar places in our professional lives, and agreed that having someone to offer a more specific type of support would be value in our process.
Not sure I had any initial expectations? We talked about the ways in which we can hold each other accountable for the tasks we set for ourselves. I think saying out loud, what you are working on when you work for yourself, helps to keep you moving forward. When you work alone it is much easier to let yourself off the hook 😉
I experience our accountability relationship as space to bring our challenges, personal and professional. We don’t always need an agenda. One of the great things we can offer each other space to share our fears and insecurities too. Sometimes those meetings are the most helpful.
How has having an accountability partner helped you? Any examples of the changes you’ve noticed or progresses you’ve made in your own practice since you started meeting with me?
Our meetings gave me the push to try blogging! I feel insecure when it comes to my writing. It felt like a big leap to share something publicly, but I pushed through, and it was a real success. Now I just need to keep it up…
In your own experience, what are the most valuable things about having an accountability partner?
For me, it’s been really lovely to have someone going through a similar transition in life to talk with. Yuko understands the challenges AND the value in this process, no explanation required. Additionally, the consistency of our meetings is awesome. If I know I have a Yuko hang coming up, I better get my butt in gear 🙂
What do you think are important to look for in an accountability partner?
Someone who is serious about being there for you and has the space in their life for the commitment. Someone who is open to you and your feedback. Someone you trust.
Any words of wisdom for someone who’s thinking about having an accountability partner?
Go for it! Nothing bad can come from it. It is truly a special relationship to gift yourself with.
Thank you Whitney for sharing your experience with us! I’m so fortunate to have you as a friend and my accountability partner! I always look forward to our next meeting 🙂
Well, I hope you get a better sense of how helpful an accountability partner can be! In my next blog post, I’m interviewing my other partner, Stefanie Robbins. She’s an amazing person, and I can’t wait for you to meet her! Stay tuned 🙂