Clarity. This is the word that underscores so much of what you do in connecting with and growing your audience.
Clarity of your own focus.
Clarity of voice.
Clarity of timing.
Clarity of who you want to reach.
Clarity of what resonates with these people.
Clarity of matching their need to the value you offer.
Clarity of what you should focus on, and what you can let go.
Clarity around what matters to you day to day.
Clarity of long-term goals that you reach slowly.
You’ll have no trouble finding “best practices,” marketing tips, social media tricks, and ideas around “gaming” Amazon. All of these things are simply fancy ways to package clarity. Tricks to lead you to believe clarity is a secret formula – one that others know, and you don’t. But it’s not: clarity is a process.
What I find ironic is how clarity is the antithesis of the feeling of overwhelm that so many writers and creative professionals experience.
I have been teaching a brand new course this fall filled with creative professionals trying to battle overwhelm and bring their career to the next level. They seek to find a sense of clarity in all they do, even as they juggle work, family, their creative pursuits, health, and so many other obligations.
In a recent lesson, I talked about the value of celebrating success. What I learned in the course discussions was astounding. So many people who venture out on their own as creative professionals rarely celebrate success. When they do, it is often only for huge milestones that come around only every few months or years, and even then, the celebration is a bit random. Most people have no system in place for recognizing and celebrating their achievements.
Their lives become a haphazard amalgamation of pressure, constructed from all of their responsibilities, while never truly stopping the churn to recognize what they have accomplished in the process. Clarity is critical for battling overwhelm, and for establishing a healthy relationship with all of our many responsibilities.
One writer in the course commented: “My moment of clarity came when I realized celebrating success doesn’t mean I’m a hedonist.” What I took from this is that there are so many internal boundaries around the basic task of taking care of oneself, and of recognizing one’s own achievements.
That isn’t to say no one in the course celebrates success; plenty do and shared some wonderful ways to do so. The challenge I posited was: How do you celebrate success on a daily or weekly basis? This timeframe was surprising to some — those who would only celebrate success on huge occasions, such as finishing an entire manuscript.
That is far too infrequently.
My favorite way to celebrate success came from Laura Brennan in the course:
“We have a fun and easy way to celebrate in our house: it’s called The Plate of Accomplishment. In going through my mom’s stuff, I found one lone, gorgeous dinner plate – shimmery, just lovely. So when one of us has an accomplishment to celebrate, they get to eat dinner on that plate. It comes out with much fanfare (a mini-parade, actually) and a song: “It is the Plate of Accomplishment, it is the Great Great Plate of Accomplishment…”
So often, we are good at recognizing the value of others, and we find it easy to encourage them to recognize their talent, beauty or value. Yet many of us struggle to do this for ourselves. It is not for lack of ego – I think that is a slightly different thing. For instance, consider the woman who knows that she is hard-working, professional, and doing great work – perhaps work that others don’t appreciate. Her ego is just fine.
Yet, how often does she take a long lunch break at a nice restaurant by herself to recognize a successful week? How often does she just close down email for the day earlier than usual, and not pick it up until lunchtime the next day – a pause to focus on her own needs? How often does she stop on any given day to recognize what she DID accomplish on her to-do list that day instead of what she didn’t? (My friend Cali Yost has a lot to say on this in her book Tweak It: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day. Worth the read.)
REFLECTING & PLANNING
This year, what did you do? This is a question I stop and ask myself in the last quarter of every year. From September – December I spend a lot of time reflecting on the year behind me and the year ahead. I usually take a better part of December OFF in order to go back to the well. To go back and find clarity of what I hope to accomplish, the actions that led me there, and the areas where I need to grow.
It is so easy to skip this. I was talking to my friend Gabriela Pereira the other day, who seemed to hit a number of great milestones with her business this year. She mentioned how she remembered me talking about my December ritual and is doing that herself this year. As I reflected on this, I considered what had to come into place that would allow her to truly take the time stop and reflect, breathe, and look ahead.
My entire process is about clarity. Of recognizing the passage of time, my long-term goals, and the short-term goals I need to take to reach them. It is about integrating new wisdom into my daily rituals, and on setting intentions for the next year.
For me, January 1 is not filled with vague resolutions, it is filled with a clear sense of purpose, and ideally: momentum. My goal for January 1 is one thing: clarity.
How do you recognize your accomplishments every day and every week?