This is an article from the original Real Talk blog, which is now archived here on the KP website!
I'm super excited to announce our first monthly theme, 'Success'! I felt this was a fitting choice for our first ever theme because it's kind of what prompted me to start sharing my real talk in the first place. Worrying about whether or not we are successful is a big thing for a lot of creative people. Our view on what success means can be affected by so many different factors - our backgrounds and experiences, other people's definitions of success, misconceptions, inner demons, societal pressures, what the media tells us and so much more. This month we'll be exploring the concept of success, its varying definitions, and some of the ways in which outside factors can affect our personal views on what success means to us. We'll hear from members of the creative community, learn about Imposter Syndrome and how it can skew our view of success, get real about the not-so-real aspects of social media, and so much more.
To get the ball rolling I wanted to share some things that I used to think about success, things I personally thought to be true, but that I now (with a bit more time and experience under my belt) consider to be misconceptions. These views were actually quite damaging to a younger me, and made me put a lot of undue pressure on myself, which didn't contribute positively to my creative wellbeing at all! Maybe you've thought them too at some point or another. So here they are, along with some rebuttals from an older, and hopefully more wiser me.
The more money you have, the more successful you are.
Ew, no. Sure, I like to be paid well for my work, don't we all? But to me, my career achievements and how good I feel about them often seem completely separate to how much money they brought in. There are so many aspects of my creative life that I consider successful, and most of those have nothing to do with money at all, so there.
Success is a portfolio of big-name clients
Having big names on your client list is impressive, but it shouldn't define success. Some of the most incredible creative people I know haven't once worked for a big name client, or even a client at all in some cases! And what defines 'big' anyway? Even that is subjective.
Success is creativity full-time, having a day job is for plebs
Ugh, triggering. I've done both (in fact I have a day job right now!) and I can safely say, I kicked goals and achieved amazing things regardless of my full-time or part-time status. Everyone's situation is different, and just because you have a day job doesn't mean you're any less valid than someone pursuing their creative career full-time. Both are great!
Success is finding one thing and sticking to it
I hope not, because otherwise I've failed big time! I'm someone who is constantly pivoting in their career. I have so many interests and I want to pursue them all, and no one can stop me dammit. Picking just one of these interests to pursue for the rest of my creative life makes me feel totally claustrophobic actually. Why not dream big and aim for success in all your chosen fields, you don't need to pick just one!
Success is being a martyr to your craft
Gross, no. We've all met a martyr. You can recognise them by how tired and unhappy they look. I know this because I used to be one. I used to feel like if I wasn't working on my brand 100% of the time, I was failing it somehow. But slaving away late into the night, not taking breaks, thriving on stress, not eating, not showering (ew), being too busy for your friends and family... none of this makes you a 'success', it just makes you burn out! We all go through busy times as creatives, it's part of the process. But realising the importance of finding balance, nurturing your mind and body, and not feeling guilty about taking time out will actually make you better at your job, not worse.
Success means constant motivation, inspiration and dedication
No mate. Having these things is lovely and feels awesome, but it's also normal if you don't feel like this 100% of the time. Creativity can come in waves, and sometimes you're just not vibing. You would never consider someone a failure during the times they weren't 100% jazzed about their creativity, so why would you think it about yourself?
I think it's important to say that despite feeling like I don't believe in these definitions of success anymore, sometimes I can revert back to them out of habit, and I have to try really hard to snap out that damaging way of thinking. It's a work in progress! But if there's one main message I want to convey this month, it's that SUCCESS IS RELATIVE. It means different things to different people, it can even mean different things to the same person (at different times in their lives). Some people might not think about it that much, but to others it could be the driving force behind everything they do. No one person is the same, and no single creative path is the same, so success is going to look different for each and every one of us. I think it's important to define success for yourself, and try to not let external factors influence this. It's also important to be open to your definition of success changing over time, mine certainly did, and will again I'm sure.
I hope you enjoy the thoughts and resources we'll be sharing in this first month of Real Talk. There's a lot of juicy stuff to discuss, so let's get stuck into it!
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Real Talk is an online wellbeing project for creative people, written and curated by me! Through a monthly newsletter we share original articles (like this one) and exclusive curated content that we feel will compliment the topics we’re discussing in our articles. Things like TED talks, podcast episodes, videos, wellbeing exercises, worksheets and many more inspiring resources. Sign up to our newsletter to get your monthly dose of Real Talk and be empowered to improve your wellbeing so that you can lead your best creative life!