Ramblings, Small Business

What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do (part 2)

April 11, 2008

I’ve been dying to sit down all week to continue our discussion, “What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do“, about how to find your calling as a creative type. I’m so pleased to know that you’re following along because I’m confident that you’ll walk away inspired no matter where you stand on your current path. Thank you for making time to read this.

What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do (part 2)
I’m a believer in the power of many voices, which is why I’ve gathered opinions from artists, designers, bloggers, and other creative types over the past week, voices I find motivating and genuine, people I respect and look to as good examples because let’s face it, good examples are not always as easy to find as bad ones. What To Do… offers ideas and tips on how to find your calling from people who applied their own advice and found success. I’m sure their personal experiences will be of value and perhaps one of their voices will connect with you on a personal level and if so, I encourage you to comment and get involved in the discussion because your comments are as important as the blog posts themselves.

Before we get started I’d like to make a few things clear…

This series isn’t about bashing corporate America or to say that working for others in general isn’t a good choice. Often you can find your calling within corporate America and be quite happy there. Just because someone left their job to work for themselves doesn’t make them better or more enlightened than the person who decided to stay in their job. Even when you are your own boss you work for others. A freelance writer has obligations to their editors. An artist to their vendors. A designer to their clients. And when it comes to corporate America let’s face it, if larger companies didn’t exist here in America then smaller ones couldn’t function the same because we’re all part of a larger wheel, one economics class will teach you all you need to know about that. The canvas you buy to paint was born in a factory. I’m willing to bet that your paints came from a large corporate supplier as well. Those brushes too. We ultimately rely on the large and the small as a society. It’s not depressing, it’s just how things work.

I don’t believe that everyone needs to leave their job to pursue their own business. In fact I think that the freelance bubble will eventually burst just as the dot com era ended. Many who currently leave good jobs to freelance will not find success for one reason or another. In time the market in their new field will become saturated because the current, “there’s enough for everyone” mentality will ultimately, and unfortunately, prove flawed. Look at how graphic designers and even writers and photographers are starting to struggle due to all the newcomers soaking up current and potential clients. Some markets can only take so much. I didn’t see this a year ago but it’s crystal clear to me now that I have a few years of freelancing under my belt. There is enough if you are pursuing something as a hobby though so if you find you can’t earn a living doing what you love it doesn’t mean to throw away your passion. Make time to pursue it alongside of your day job.

I’m not a therapist nor am I a career counselor. Neither are any of the friends that I’ve invited to join us with their thoughts. This series is simply meant to encourage you and get those wheels turning, nothing more.

What To Do…
is meant to encourage and support everyone, especially if you’re looking to find your calling. Only you can decide whether or not to turn your passion into profits or to pursue them as a hobby to balance and fulfill you. I don’t encourage anyone to tell the boss to stick it and run off with passion to join the circus or be the next big thing in the design world. That choice can only be made by you. Just promise me that you won’t become a bearded lady or a clown because I’ve always been quite afraid of both. :)

It’s smart to explore all the options before taking the leap and to hear how others found success doing what they love for a living. It’s a delicate balance. One point to ponder is that perhaps you’re a great painter but if you were to quit your job to become one full-time you may fall flat. Sometimes the moment money mixes with something we love we can lose our passion, of course it depends on personality type. The stress of earning a living can negatively impact our work or how we view the very thing we once found comfort and joy in. Now when we sit down to paint, we’re not thinking of translating our feelings and ideas onto a canvas for the sheer fun of it, instead we may paint in a certain way using the more popular motifs for instance, to gain recognition and customers, to earn more money, or to see how our competition may react. For this reason and more, you have to consider all things before you embark on a career that involves earning a living from doing what you love.

If you’re just jumping in on this conversation and are a bit confused please read these two posts below so you can catch up. What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do and What To Do {part 1}.

So with that, let’s start with our first guest to speak on the topic… Stay tuned.

(image from ez at creature comforts gussied up by holly becker)


  • Reply carolyn April 11, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    I am so excited and truly need this at this very moment in my life. Thank you so much for reading my mind.

  • Reply Yoli April 11, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    I enjoy drawing, I never had any formal art training. I do hold a BFA, but it is in Theatre. My job is at a hospital monotoring heart leads…zzzz. I have to have a job but I am not defined by my job. I am so much more. I am a fencer and I love to draw and I love so many art forms but I do not make them my living. It is my private joy. I have to make a living and art should be a joy, not something that you sweat to meet deadlines. Some are very fortunate to have both their art be their jobs with extravagant deadlines but the reality to for most is the opposite. Great topic.

  • Reply TONYA April 11, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Thank you so much for starting this. What a fabulous idea. I had posted a comment on my blog a few days ago saying that I can’t find that one thing that I’m great at, that one thing that makes me stand out and no matter how much I would love to have my own business I don’t have the confidence to get started or even know where to begin and am always so worried that it won’t work and maybe I should keep what I do as a hobby. I’ll be checking back in for updates.

  • Reply Jennifer April 11, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Thank you for posting about this topic! I am in the midst of changing the direction of my business toward my complete “passion”. With this change there has been much doubt. Great to hear other woman’s stories whom have struggled to listen to their heart.

  • Reply Penny Boyd April 11, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Thanks Holly, I needed to hear this today. All the recent ‘what to do’ posts have had me very excited, and I’d started to put so much pressure on myself (again) to ‘find and persue it’, my passion that is. I have been putting far too much emphasis on the goal, rather than enjoying the journey, which is turning out to be a lot of fun!

  • Reply Anonymous April 12, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Ah this is great ! I need it !

    I have been struggling with What To Do for 3 years now! just talk and talk and nothing gets done due to limited Capital and not finding a location for a store and so on. after trying with Ladies fashion and accessories that I bought from overseas and sold at exhibitions and trade shows , then did another trade show of Kids and babies clothes.. i didnt yet find a passion..
    I am an architect and my husband is an engineer ..and every idea we had , always seemed to be STOLEN somehow by a Richer business owner who can afford to establish the business in a much more PRofessional way because they had more money than us.

    we covered those areas :
    1. HOme accessories and Decor ( Doesnt work , Plenty of this type of business is around , and with not much sales going cz of high costs )

    2. Fashion and accessories ( Again , same thing , many many many stores of that kind )

    3. cookware and baking utensils ( Big stores such as ZONE and Williams sonoma and so one are taking over .. our idea wont work)

    4. Art supplies ( thousands sell them in cheaper prices )

    so we are stuck again with what to do !!! :)

    Thanks Holy !

    Enterprneur Block

  • Reply cindy k April 15, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    i couldn’t agree more with everything in this article. i think the section about the shift that occurs from creating for the shear joy of it to a need to generate $$ to pay the bills is key. thanks for this series.

  • Reply cindy k April 15, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    i couldn’t agree more. your point about the shift that occurs when the creative work you do for the shear joy of it changes to a moneymaker is key.

  • Reply Anonymous April 22, 2008 at 3:16 am

    I’ve been designing home furnishings and outdoor products for years. I can’t seem to figure out what route to take in order for my ideas to hit the market. I’ve owned a specialty retail store and that’s difficult in our market. Oklahoma City is tough on creative design. It’s a much more laid back community. Oh well, we’ll keep plugging away. Check out my stuff if you get a chance. http://www.jbhodges.com

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