Reviewing the Balance Sheet
Reflecting on being a 'creator' for 2 years
Hey everyone! We’re into December (can you believe it!) and the year is rushing to a close.
As 2023 is winding down, I’m taking stock of the main themes of my year.
One thing I’ve noticed is a shift back to performing traditional work. Where the pendulum swung out to creator mode earlier this year, it has swung back to corporate-type work now. Can I call myself a corporate-creator?
After giving writing, course creation and online teaching a solid go these last two years, I am spending more time on actuarial consulting projects again because my skills are recognized and rewarded there.
Despite having less time for writing and creating, I’m enjoying the shift in focus.
Looking back at when I started writing online at the end of 2021, I’ve had an interesting journey. I managed to get out of a job that wasn’t good for me, I met incredible people and I picked a bunch of new skills.
Most importantly, it instilled a valuable mindset. Starting to create myself and being surrounded by self-employed people, I discovered I too could design a life where I had autonomy and skin in the game. Where I could build things and work on projects I enjoy. Where I didn’t need to ask someone’s permission to take leave or see my friends and family.
This attitude can’t be taken away from me.
On the flip side, I also realized how difficult it is to make a life as a creator... I tried launching a course earlier this year which I had to close because I couldn’t sell enough seats. I made small amounts of money from ghostwriting, selling my self-paced drawing course and mentoring other writers. These were all stimulating experiments and good for the soul, but not enough to pay rent and living expenses. There were a couple of months where I made more from dogsitting than from these projects. It was a serious reality check.
Maturing and finding new goals
There is also an element of maturity coming through.
My views on traditional and creative work have become more nuanced. While I would still encourage people to try creating and writing and see what comes of it, I also realize not everyone can make it as a solopreneur. There are a few individuals who shoot the lights out and make a living from their videos and writing, while the vast majority of creators need to take on part-time work to keep their passions alive.
There are different ways of selling your skills and you need to find the best mix for you.
I found that my anti-goal (the negative experience I had in my old corporate job) wasn’t an infinite source of energy. I used that internal anger to quit and find a new path. I used it to build a writing and creating habit. But eventually, the fire fizzled out. Now that I designed a good life, there’s nothing to fight against anymore.
It was like working out intensely after going through a breakup. You hit the gym two times a day, crush your runs, and get in the best shape of your life. All to show your ex what they’re missing out on. This motivation lasts for a while, but it’s not sustainable. Eventually, you forget about your ex, life moves on and only internal motivation (working out because it’s good for you) keeps you going.
And I think that’s where I am now. I write because it’s good for me. What more do I want.
Balancing the books
What does the future look like?
For now, it looks like a balance between consulting for the necessary financial rewards and creating for the non-financial benefits — my mental health, leaving a legacy, making an impact, and meeting interesting people.
I can see the two worlds complementing each other.
I can do work I find stimulating — building tools and financial models, working with startups, and solving technical problems. At the same time, I can use writing to capture what I’m observing ‘on the job’. What are my reflections on managing people? What have I learned from dealing with clients? What creative skills can I transfer to my work and vice versa?
One day, I believe I’ll be grateful that I captured these observations. Similar to how I’m grateful for the observations and lessons captured in newsletters 1-58 up to now.
💬 Quote. If you’re also at a crossroads or reinventing yourself, take heart. Being comfortable with uncertainty can lead to the greatest growth and joy in life.
“Oscar Wilde said that if want to be a grocer, a politician, a general or a judge, then you will invariably become it - that is your punishment. But if you never know what you want to be, if you live what some might call the dynamic life, but what I call the artistic life, if each day you are unsure of who you are and what you know, you will never become anything and that is your reward.
…Not knowing what you want to be—reinventing yourself every morning; not being a noun, but being a verb; moving in life, not being fixed in life—is a privilege. And though it’s a difficult life sometimes, don’t feel bad about not knowing. It’s a wonderful thing.”
– Stephen Fry
Thanks tofor sharing the original video and capturing this quote.
🎙️Podcast. Making Sense episode #249 where Sam Harris (philosopher, writer, and meditation guru) speaks to writer and poet David Whyte. The whole talk is brilliant, but I especially enjoyed this extract where they compared travel (or a pilgrimage) to conversation.
“No one survives a real conversation if you’re sincere. The person that arrives afterwards is never the person that began in the first place.”
I like this. A conversation has the power to transform, give you new insights, challenge old views, and provide new information. You are richer for the experience.
✏️ Sketch. Pulling out an old visual from my gallery. Publishing my work has always been scary, but the more I’ve done it, the easier it has become to drown out negative self-talk.
📸 Photo of the week: Blood, sweat and luckily no tears. Throwback to last week’s Ultra-Trail Cape Town 35km race. One of the toughest, but also most picturesque, events I’ve taken part in. As if the 2000m elevation gain wasn’t hard enough, I took a tumble about 6km in to add some extra discomfort to the mix. Dug deep and eventually made it to the finish line. So stoked to see Jess and Lily there at the end.
Until next time - happy creating and doing your thing!
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