When I started my business as a graphic designer, I became so obsessed with goal setting, motivational podcasts and self-development. Then, I finally cracked...
After pushing so hard for months on end, my mood was awful. It would go from high to low on regular basis. Without overthinking it, I decided to take a break from my graphic design goals for a whole month. This is what really happened.
😱 I had an entire unknown month ahead
Since I wasn't tracking my numbers daily, I was nowhere near as active as I should have been in following up on business branding proposals. Not to mention, I took a month off from digital marketing (cringe-worthy, I know). This slowed down how discoverable my business was on Google, meaning business ventures eventually slowed to a halt.
With no branding packages or logo design packages for clients leaving my studio, things got really scary.
I felt lost; like I had no sense of direction
Let's face it, without KPIs in mind, I instantly felt less driven to be the best graphic designer in Australia. I started to wake up late and feel less productive. To be 100% honest, I even felt like I was wasting my life away. I found myself stuck in my own mind on more occasions than once. I would ask myself some deep questions, many of which brought chills to my spine.
I was thankful for the time I had to work on myself, but the effects of doing it so suddenly left me feeling stuck.
💡 On the bright side, I turned graphic design time into reading time
With my focus away from work, podcasts and motivational videos, I found the time to focus on an old hobby. With the constant influx of knowledge from these sources, my mind started seeking something different. I had the time to read again, and surprisingly, I read more books in a month than I had in the last ten years combined.
Funnily enough, graphic design work aside, reading was always at the top of my personal goal-setting list and new years resolution list. But, it was something I always procrastinated. Just like exercise, I always found a million and one excuses not to do it; until I had time to not make excuses.
☕️ Without piles of graphic design and business branding packages, I became more social
Whether you're a business owner, executive or employee, you are probably familiar with the feeling of guilt that comes when you are out partying but should be working. I feel like between my time as a graphic designer and my time as a business owner, this guilt multiplied. In many cases, it felt like if I stopped to have fun, I would be letting down my business.
Instead of chasing KPIs and ticking things off my list, I took the time to catch up with mates I hadn't seen in ages. Within only a few catch-ups, I realised that I undervalued those human interactions when I get too invested in my work. But, the meaningful conversations and good times I share with these individuals are so important. Plus, they can drive new ideas.
🔥 With less time at the computer desk, I focused more on my health (The biggest win)
Just like reading, committing myself to go to the gym twice a week or eating healthier has always been on my to-do list. But, they are tasks that I ultimately fail the most. By lessening my load and having fewer tasks to work on, which often filled up my mental space, I had the time to focus on the key to an extraordinary life; good health.
When I put down the custom website builds and business branding kits for a month, I visited the gym three times a week. Just like reading, that's more than I've done in the past ten years. On top of this, I spent more time meal prepping rather than making poor takeaway decisions.
I learned that I can have fun while exercising by adjusting my workout. Before long, my body started craving endorphins; AKA 'feel good' hormones. Of all my wins, this is the biggest by far.
📖 I started journaling
I've always wanted to try journaling, but I have never had the time. So, I downloaded Day One and hopped to it. Just like I brief my clients during our business branding consultation, I started with the questions I wanted to ask myself. I then answered them and reviewed them before I started my day. Though it only seems small, this simple routine really helped me shape my vision of the day with clarity. This is something I didn't expect from this experiment.
I also started to celebrate and appreciate the little wins more. I found that journalling let me focus more on the now, which was essential in helping me feel less stressed and more positive. If you haven't given journalling a go, I highly recommend it.
🧐 What did I learn from taking a break from my graphic design business?
We've heard it all before, life is all about balance. It's great to push your limits, but if you don't stop now and then, you will eventually break. Without goals, I learned that the chance of success is nearly zero.
I also learned that it's not the speed at that you achieve these goals that matter. Rather; it's about heading in the right direction and always preparing for the next step.
This experiment surprised me in many ways. Even though I wasn't focused on business planning during that time, I achieved many goals in other areas of my life. These areas, including mental and physical health, are the ones I've struggled with most in the past 12 months.
Here are my key takeaways:
When I stepped away from the graphic design work, I identified what was important for my business. I added a lot more goals and got rid of just as many tasks, which simply weren't worth investing in.
I simplified everything and made sure not to overcomplicate the process. This made it easier for me to follow, track and remember.
Using my journal, I know the details I need for each goal. Writing these goals down each day helps me find clarity.
For the first time in a long time, I feel fully charged and ready to take on the next challenge.
P.S. If you're interested in goal setting, I recommend this episode from The Mindset Mentor podcast by Rob Dial where he breaks goals into 9 different categories. It's an oldie but a good one!