It's that time of the year. We're sizing up our progress. We're wondering what the next year will bring. So I thought I'd share a few of my thoughts about growth.
Is it the numbers? Is it getting clients? When you're starting out, those two seem to be the only KPI's worth pursuing. But I've been there and done that and you know what? It's not all that meaningful or satisfying. Which is why I'm setting a different definition of growth for myself. Here it is:
A. To be able to create the work I want to create.
B. To make mutually empowering relationships with other creatives.
Doesn't that sound more meaningful? Sounds easy enough too? But guess what, it's not as easy as it seems. Why? Because you're always going to be pulled towards measuring your growth by the numbers and the clients. Numbers appear to give you social validation, but numbers are not always that meaningful. I had another account with 3k Followers, but only about 50 of them are meaningful. Nowadays, you can always pay for numbers, and thats just pointless.
Next, clients. As in everything in life, sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don't. Client work can be a mixed bag, so don't base your total growth on this.
So here's my case for using A. and B. to Measure growth:
To be able to create the work I want to create. This is work that is born from you. Or the idea that came to you and you some how decided that it was a good idea to create. This work is meaningful. It allows you to explore the idea, with no time pressures, no outside expectations, and you are under no obligation to share it. It's work that's creative and keeps you curious about it. People often call it "passion projects" but you don't always have to have passion. It's yours. You own it. It's within your control to do it or to stop and pick it up again later. It's work you can fully immerse yourself in the process. You can learn a lot from client work too, but the ramifications are less. So how do I measure this? By counting the number of these projects I am able to do or when I do this type of work, identify what I learned from it. Did I enjoy it? Does it keep me wanting to do more? What could I have done differently? Whats the next one? Did it challenge me? Did I improve?
To make mutually empowering relationships with other creatives. This one is harder because it doesn't only depend on you. It's about relationships. Specifically, relationships in the creative space. People are not perfect, including yourself. But it's a good goal to strive towards. I'm not interested in meaningless numbers or one-way-relationships. Our time is precious and we have to invest it right. If you support me, I'll support you. Thats my criteria. We all have to make sacrifices so why don't we just help each other out? Social media can be a tough place to find genuine relationships, but sometimes its the only way to expand your 'reach'. If I can make a handful of these relationships, I'd say I'd have conquered the impossible! All jokes aside, how do I measure this? I think the primary thing is value. Are we mutually adding value to each other? It's a good reminder of myself to always try to find ways to add value to people, because honestly, thats how we feel loved!
So these are the ways I'm going to be measuring growth in my work/life. And when i'm tempted to find ways to up my numbers game, or feel tempted to measure myself with the number of clients I get. This is my reminder that my growth happens apart from all of that. I hope this post helps you! And always keep creating...