I know April is a funny time to talk about a word of the year. But then again, maybe it’s better, because the initial hype is over. (And most people have probably forgotten all about theirs by now.)
The truth is, I’ve never actually chosen a word of the year before, so I’ve been a little hesitant to share mine out loud.
But what started as a way to shape my personal life (I didn’t intentionally set it as a business word) really showed up in my business in the last month, so I want to talk a little more about it here.
Because it was my word of the year that led me to put my head down over the last few weeks and launch a new ebook.
Now, you’re probably thinking that a person who can conceive of, write, and launch an ebook in under a month probably has a word like hustle or focus.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Especially when you remember that this started as a personal word.
You see, my word of the year is indulge.
I’ll admit that this word started a little bit tongue in cheek. While everyone else was thinking about their diets and Marie Kondoing their lives, I wanted to do the opposite. I wanted a word that would let me fully embrace living in a glorious, material, sensual way, rather than feeling restricted.
In the first couple of months, this mostly manifested in the ways I spent my money.
I’ve always been a collector of handmade ceramics (it’s the one craft I have no interest in doing for myself, so I’m happy to spend with those that do it), so part of indulge was really doubling down on that, including purchasing a gorgeous handmade pitcher by ceramic artist Elizabeth Benotti, which for me, was the epitome of my word.
It also meant filling my studio with plants, first as a way to stave of the winter blues, and then as a way to simply slow down and experience real, non digital life. (Is it any wonder that indulge came about at the same time I was feeling frustrated with the amount of time I was spending on my phone?)
Saturday trips to the greenhouse also became another way to live the word indulge, as I sipped coffee and strolled through all the plants, just enjoying the greenery and breathing deeply. (It turns out I love the smell of dirt!)
Eventually, indulge became less about how I was spending my money and more about how I was spending my time.
And this is where it really showed up in my business.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a headline titled “How to Get Sh*t Done While Overanalyzing Everything.” Then I half jokingly sent it to a friend, telling her it was either a blog post or the subtitle of my autobiography.
I could have just left it at that. After all, I have plenty of other work on my plate.
But this is where indulge came into play.
I let myself start writing. And pretty soon, it became apparent that I had way more to say than made sense for a single blog post.
So I kept writing.
And then it hit me.
My word of the year, indulge, is just a more luxurious form of “try it and see,” one of my mantras, which became the title of the new ebook.
For me, try it and see represents a willingness to experiment in your business, even if you can’t predict what’s going to happen beforehand. (Because, spoiler alert: you can’t.)
Try it and see means that, when you have an idea for your business, or something you want to do, at some point, you have to quit researching and actually do the thing.
Because the only way to truly know if something will work in your business is to try it and evaluate the results after.
Indulge just takes this to the next level.
Indulge gives you permission to try it and see when try it and see requires a significant amount of your time and creative energy.
Indulge is what happens when you just have to make new work, even if your old work hasn’t sold.
Indulge is when you make time in your busy schedule to write the ebook, because you just have to get it out into the world.
In the years I’ve spent working with artists and makers, I’ve noticed most tend to fall into one of two camps.
The first are those who do allow themselves the time and space to explore lots of different avenues in their work. While this can be good, what I often see is that this group is so busy indulging that they never get around to the parts of their business that actually allow them to make money from their work.
The second are those who are so focused on how they are “supposed” to be making money that they won’t allow themselves to step off course for a second, even if their current course isn’t actually working. They’re so worried about being the first group that they aren’t experimenting enough to find the business model or body of work that’s really going to bring them success.
So how do you make the idea of indulge (or it’s more actionable cousin, try it and see) work in your business without just following every little whim?
How do you find the balance between being part of the first group and being part of the second?
You pair it with shipping.
I’m going to be totally honest with you. I’m not done writing the ebook yet. While I’ve gotten a lot written, it’s certainly still not done.
And there’s a reason for that. The first 80% of any creative project (especially one you’re passionate about) feels easy. It’s the last 20% that’s hard.
Really freaking hard.
That’s because it’s the last 20% that brings out all the insecurities and perfectionist tendencies and fear of failure.
So I trick myself into finishing that last 20% by shipping.
Shipping (a term I learned from Seth Godin) means actually sending something finished out into the world.
And in my experience, the best way to ship is to give yourself a launch date (and maybe even take pre-orders) before the thing is done.
When I decided to finally spend time with the stones I brought back from India (which became my Contra Collection) I set a release date and publicly announced it on social media and to my email list BEFORE I was done with the collection.
I made myself accountable for shipping so that I had to get over that last 20% hump.
The same is true for this ebook.
I’ve started taking pre-orders, and I’ve set an official release date, even before it’s completely finished.
Because now I have to finish.
As creative individuals, we’re often awash in more ideas than we know what to do with. And it’s completely impossible to tackle all of them. (Especially not at one time.)
But it’s also so easy to get bogged down in the day to day of running out businesses that we feel like we never have the time to dive into the projects that we feel the most drawn towards.
So even though indulge is my word of the year, I’m giving you permission to try it out for yourself.
Indulge means slowing down just enough to connect to the parts of your creative spirit that got you into business in the first place.
Indulge means taking a few hours or days or even weeks to get that idea out of your head and into the world.
Indulge means taking time to do things that inject some fresh energy into your business and life.
And indulge means giving a project or design (or even an ebook) enough time and space so that you don’t just start it, but actually ship it too.
Because it’s the ability to indulge that allows truly great creative work to come into the world.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
If you’re curious about how I get so much done in my creative business, that’s the subject of my new ebook! In Try It and See: How to Get Sh*t Done While Overanalyzing Everything, I’m sharing the mindset shifts you need to embrace in order to accomplish more in your creative business. (Without spending more time working.) Because the secret to productivity isn’t another system, it’s a better mindset. Click here to pre-order your copy now! (And save $10!)