Starting, Completing, Morphing, Quitting: 8 Commitments to Make When Working for Yourself

jumping in

You are an excellent starter. You have a new idea, something exciting that you think will grab you and take hold. You put all your time and energy in the beginning into it. You see the potential. You feel the heat in your body telling you ‘this is what will work!’

But then you get stuck and start questioning what you’re doing, and if this thing that you chose really is the answer.

I’m stuck right now with practice and writing. I strive for projects and creating solutions. I’m thrilled when something I help create benefits another person and I can see their eyes light up with possibilities and empowerment. From designing community gardens to clean water stations to office spaces, the people are who keep me going.

But doing these projects and getting paid is hard. I’m taking a few different courses to find strategies on how to sell my value, how to find my ideal clients, and how to rapidly test my ideas. But when it comes down to it, I think I’m just afraid to fail. Afraid to run through my savings again. Afraid to return to a job that I won’t enjoy. Afraid that I won’t ever find a way to make this meaningful work work.

Writing is also scary for me. It doesn’t always feel like a natural medium and ‘finding my voice’ is a work in progress. I refer back to posts by James Altucher, Carol Tice, Sarah Kathleen Peck, Jeff Goins, Corbett, Caleb, and Chase at Fizzle, and many more I find daily to try new methods and approaches–and ultimately keep me motivated.

Splitting my time between these two challenging activities is hard, and at times I think that a full-time job would be easier. And it would. But I don’t want to take the easy road, even at those moments when I think that’s the best answer. So what do I do?

I need to set my own guidelines. A sort of commitment contract with myself. Finding comfort in list making, this helps me set boundaries. And it’s Autumn, schools are back in session, a new semester has begun, and so I’m going to do the same–commit to a season.

I’m putting my plan out there. I’ll morph. I may pivot. I might quit by winter to try out the next idea. For now though, I know what I will do for the next three months, and perhaps this will inspire you to make a commitment to an idea you’ve had but are still waiting to try.

The 8 Commitments

1. Work on one idea

Taken from starting any business, there has to be one idea that drives your work. Mine is social impact design. I started Design Affects because I saw a gap in communication about this type of work. I also want to support design firms who are doing the projects. These two are intertwined because the work I do supports the writing and vice versa. So for the next three months, I’m going to write and design. This is not some big revelation, but I’m not going to try anything else new. For the moment. (For generalists, polymaths, etc., will this work for you?)

2. Complete what you start

I’m easily attracted to new programs and courses before I finish the one I signed up for. When I finish what I set out to do (even if it doesn’t turn out great,) the guilty feeling of having those unfinished projects is gone. So those two courses I started in January are going to get done by November.

4. Evaluate along the way

I’m going to journal my inner thoughts and struggles, some of which I will share, and others I’ll keep close to my chest. It may all just come out though. We’ll see how I’m feeling the day I post.

5. Be flexible

I must put a limit on this one because I like to sway and ohhh do I have a talent for coming up with a reason to do almost anything. So within my committed idea, I can adjust my time, my approach, and my strategy so that my plan isn’t so rigid that I miss out on something that could propel me. But not too much flexibility.

6. Don’t take yourself seriously

This may sound ridiculous, but taking myself lightly keeps me grounded. I don’t do this enough so I’m going to make it a point of it.

7. Take a scary risk each week

Whether it’s reaching out to someone I’ve been wanting to talk to or blogging about something I’m hesitant to share, I need to do this to break out of the comfort zone.

8. Find comfort in the ordinary

I’m swallowing the big lump that this new work style isn’t about consistency and safety so I have to find other ways to keep me fulfilled. Being active (running, yoga, walking, strength training) and cooking are two ordinary actions that I can take.

So here it goes! Eight commitments, one idea, and three months to make this work.

What about you? Will these 8 commitments work for you? What do you want to commit to do in the next three months? What’s an idea you’ve had brewing but haven’t completed? Comment below and let’s hold each other accountable.

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Image source: Katie Crepeau, author

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7 Responses to Starting, Completing, Morphing, Quitting: 8 Commitments to Make When Working for Yourself

  1. Thanks for the mention!

    In the next three months I want to be strong and turn down freelance gigs except for book ghosting contracts, which is my focus going forward.

    Also want to publish ebooks! I have a series of 6 to get out that convert Freelance Writers Den bootcamps into ebooks…first one is almost ready to go. ;-)

  2. Tyrone says:

    Awesome.

  3. Big John says:

    These are useful guidelines for anyone who is thinking of a new venture! Go, man, go!

  4. Hey Carol, Great article! Thanks for the shout-out, too. Love it.

    I like these ideas, and I’d add one more to the idea of “finishing what you start.” I think it’s important to also be able to kill things or pivot quickly, so to me, knowing when to finish or when to punt is critical. When do you stop and say, nope, that’s not for me? I’m done, move on? Because getting stuck in a course that you don’t love or need is not helpful, either–it just wastes your time.

    So, for me, knowing when to quickly stop something (and not feel guilty for it) is important. If I start a class or a program and I get halfway through–and I’ve learned everything I want to learn, or I realize the class isn’t for me, or I want to direct my energy towards a project that’s more important–that’s absolutely fine. Time is precious, and knowing that I paid $500 for a course and what I got out of it was, say, an overview of the materials; seeing how a course is set up; learning half of it; meeting new students; gaining more clarity; — that’s sufficient. And so when I drop the project, I do so with intention. I do so knowing that it’s OK to stop something if you’re clear about what you’ve gained and why you’re stopping.

    Feeling guilty about “not finishing” isn’t specific enough. If there’s something you really really want to do–like write an ebook–and you have that pang in your side about not finishing it because you know it’s something you really want, well, that’s fine. But if you’re feeling guilty about not finishing everything just because you want to close the loop–let yourself off the hook a few times. If you have an intention about starting and grace about quitting, you can get where you want to go faster.

    Just my two cents!
    - Sarah

    • katie says:

      Hey Sarah,
      Thanks for the comments! I appreciate your thoughts on finishing vs stopping when you’ve gotten the most out of something. I struggle with the guilty feeling of not completing something, even if I have moved on and/or gotten what I needed from it. So as you said, I need to work on the ‘grace’ for quitting and letting myself off the hook.
      Love reading your blog too!!
      -Katie

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