Yes, No. Can, Can’t. Have, Have not…
Such small, simple words but the thoughts and feelings behind them are huge.
I’m a recovering ‘cup half empty’ kind of person (thanks to Lea) and she still often has to pull me up on those little words when my initial response is ‘I can’t do that’ or ‘I haven’t got enough time’. But, I’m learning to recognise and catch myself as soon as I say them.
The power of positive thinking can be a huge advantage to you as an Illustrator (and a person) if you can learn to harness it – you know that feeling when the new jobs are coming in and money is flowing? It feels great doesn’t it?
It’s easy at those times to see how amazing and successful your career as an Illustrator could be, marketing is fun because you know it’s working, ideas flow, and every Illustration you produce glows with that positive energy.
Compare this to how you might feel when work has dried up, you start to doubt your skills, nothing you create seems to work out as you envisioned and you’re marketing out of desperation or even worse you stop doing everything, paralysed by fear.
Not pleasant and I bet a lot of us have been there at one time or another. I know I have.
I truly believe that the secret ingredient (all skill levels aside) to being a successful Illustrator is to keep that positive mindset regardless of how much work you have flowing in…and keep taking action, regardless of how you feel.
Imagine if…instead of just staring at your inbox hoping for a job to come in, you worked on new portfolio pieces, researched new contacts and reached out to prospective clients?
Imagine if…instead of just staring at your bank balance and worrying about how you’ll pay next month’s rent, you spent that time working on creating additional income streams to your business like writing an ebook, creating a range of prints to sell or offering online drawing lessons?
Imagine if…instead of sitting on your own, feeling lonely and isolated in your studio, you got in touch with other local Illustrators and organised a weekly get together to chat about being an Illustrator, what inspires each of you and brainstormed as a group ideas for marketing?
Nothing creates a feeling of positivity like taking action – I’ve learned this the hard way, frozen by fear and self doubt for much of my career.
It’s a horrible place to be and an easy one to slip back in to. I’m lucky, I have Lea who is such a positive force of ‘can do’.
I’m getting better at harnessing this mindset and the results speak for themselves…my work is getting noticed, I’m currently working with 3 publishers, have a very exciting meeting with another next month and in September this year I’ll have 2 books that I’ve Illustrated on the shelves of big book stores.
It’s still not easy learning to catch yourself when your initial response to something is ‘can’t’ or ‘haven’t', and to lift yourself when you’re feeling low, but it gets easier and easier the more you do it – and the zero2illo community is behind you, so use it.
Having a positive mindset does work, just remember those important words…YES, CAN and HAVE. They really do help.
Note: This post was originally featured in the February zero2illo newsletter – if you’d like posts like this delivered to your inbox before they feature here on the blog, sign up to receive the zero2illo newsletter (and get your free issue of the zero2illo Zine).