Self Employed Creatives and the Motivation Challenge

Self motivation is a challenge for anyone who is self employed. But it's a particularly tricky challenge for those in the creative industries. Why would that be? Well creative types, quite sensibly and obviously, often become self employed in order to be able to be creative and flexible in their work. Not for them the drudgery of a nine to five office job with a soulless boss!

But when you're self employed, YOU become the boss. And the employee. And this dynamic sets up a whole set of inner relationships and rebellions that need to be handled with care. Particularly when it comes to managing your motivation so that you can achieve successful outcomes for both your business and for yourself.

Assuming that at least part of the reason you're in business is because you want to make money, your inner boss will be need to be in a position to make strategic decisions, undertake planning activities and dictate hours of work.

And assuming that you're creatively self employed because you want flexibility and creativity in your working life and don't want to be dictated to, your inner employee will need a certain degree of freedom and leeway on the job.

So how is your relationship between your inner boss and your inner employee?

Recently I asked this question of a creative coaching client who was struggling to run her home-based creative business. She surprised herself with her reply! She'd expected to respond that her inner boss was terrorizing her inner employee and that what she needed was more freedom to work flexibly so that she could enjoy her working time more. What she discovered as she pondered the question, though, was that matters were in fact reversed... her inner employee was rebelling against her inner boss to such an extent that she despaired of ever producing any meaningful output.

To motivate yourself happily and successfully, it's clearly important to nurture a supportive relationship between these two parts of yourself. And that means engaging them in regular dialogue with each other. Your inner boss needs to understand what kind of flexibility works best for your inner employee. And your inner employee needs to understand what the boss reasonably requires in order to produce results that both will find satisfactory and rewarding.

Both your inner boss and inner employee will sometimes need to understand the principle of the delayed reward. Your inner boss, for example, is more likely to allow your inner employee to take that luxuriously creative hour for writing in the middle of the afternoon, if there's an understanding that the employee will work, and work far better, in the early evening as a result. And likewise, your inner employee is more likely to let your inner boss lay down some plans for future ambitious projects if there's an understanding between the two of them that the plan includes an allowance for creative travels and time out on completion.

So as you think about your conflicting motivations when it comes to work, creativity, self employment, money and flexibility, take a moment to be aware of the different parts of yourself that have a stake in the process. If you can involve each part in a way that allows it to have a say and to negotiate with the other parts, you're likely to achieve a much higher overall level of motivation in your work. And, of course, the corresponding success that comes along with it.

If you want some support to keep yourself creatively motivated, contact Mary McNeil at Create a Space. Mary works with artists, writers and musicians, supporting and encouraging them as they make creative living a practical and sustainable reality.

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