Sometimes, gearing up for a big job, a new business or a creative side project requires an assessment of our day-to-day schedules, routines, working styles and behaviors.
It calls for making changes and truly showing up to do the work—and that can be difficult. We have to make space in our calendars, we have to create time to creatively recharge. It’s not easy to quit old habits to develop new ones.
So, here are five tips from established creative entrepreneurs who have done the work and have something to show for it. Take a peek at how they’ve handled big shifts in their lives and careers.
1.) Identify your new priorities, and protect them.
When you’re starting a new venture, your network will change. The things you choose to do with your friends may even change, too. In order to sustain this shift in your life, you may need to make some tough choices about your inner circle, and embrace some new energy. “Eliminate all the depleters in your life. If you surround yourself with people that inspire and grow, you create so much. Instead of getting drunk every other weekend, use it to create something awesome while having fun. Your time is important and to waste it every weekend is not smart. If you’re hanging out with people who’re lame, then what are you going to strive for? But if you’re around people who’re kicking ass, you’ll kick ass as well,” Miki Agrawal, the founder and CEO of Thinx, said.
2.) Then, improve your core strategy and adjust the habits that matter most.
What are your objectives? What might you need to change about your mindset or working style to accomplish those objectives? Although productivity hacks and waking up early might be part of your strategy, make sure you’re centering in on your core mission and goals—not arbitrary tasks that have nothing to do with getting where you need to go. “When I first launched OV, I didn’t always know what I was doing, and I was impressionable, which meant that the last conversation I had would sometimes become the decision I made. There’s no way to really stop doing that other than to recognize how impressionable you are when you’re new, but that’s why I started focusing on mantras—phrases that aren’t directly telling me how to do something but are showing me a helpful way to think. When I admire someone, I try to find their operating mantra, test it out in my life, and see if it works for me. If it doesn’t, I ditch it, and what remains is almost like a collage that I can look at when I need ‘MENTOR ME’ guidance or inspiration,” Tyler Haney, the founder of Outdoor Voices, said.
3.) Quit habits that don’t center your focus.
Once you know where you’re head, drop those habits that aren’t good for you. Quit the forever Instagram scroll. Stop comparing yourself to people with careers that look nothing like yours. Do the things that feed you. “When it comes to managing my personal time, for example, I always choose sleep over watching Game of Thrones or scrolling through my Instagram feed so that I can wake up recharged and ready to face my day with optimism. Also, definitely don’t judge yourself, which can only add to our stress,” Arianna Huffington, the founder of Huffington Post, said.
4.) Then, find ways to practically hold yourself accountable.
You’ve also got to hold yourself accountable. Establish new routines, habits and tactics that help you keep to your goals. That may look like improving your organization skills, or figuring out new ways to work. Experiment! “Apart from living and breathing by my Google Calendar, and waking up to my iPhone’s alarm clock, I am quite low-tech when it comes to organizing my life. I use a notebook religiously to write down everything. It’s like my brain’s hard drive. It contains my daily agenda, meeting notes, and even just random thoughts or quotes that inspire me. I really love a to-do list — mainly because I can’t keep track of everything in my mind, and I love the feeling of crossing things off of it. But lately whenever I feel overwhelmed by the amount of to-dos on the list, I’ve found it helpful to jot them all down in my “notes” app on my iPhone and organize them by project instead; then I create a “Done” list that I move each completed task into,” Elaine Welteroth, TV personality and former Teen Vogue Editor in Chief, said.
5.) Last but not least, make space for joy.
This new venture in your life will require a lot of time and energy. Create time for rest, too, or you’re headed straight for burnout. Engaging in new habits and making lifestyle changes isn’t about getting rid of everything you used to love—keep some space for fun. “It tends to be that I’m exhausted, and that’s making me unwilling to think creatively. So I have a couple of triggers that help me get back to creative mode. One is to see something wonderful that I love. I’m on a script right now, and I didn’t feel like writing because it was summer and the weekend. And so I saw While We’re Young, which is very inspiring. That movie is incredibly different than my show, but Noah Baumbach is such a great writer and his dialogue is so funny. It made me think that in my mind, there’s an imaginary Noah Baumbach that I wanted to impress. And that made me want to go write,” Mindy Kaling, creator of The Mindy Project, said.
Jane Hervey is a creative entrepreneur specializing in communications and experience design. She lives and works in Austin, Texas, running a gender justice nonprofit in her spare time.