As creatives, we can be our worst critics and hard on ourselves. We easily fall into the comparison trap, and can get lost flitting from one thing to another trying to find ‘our thing’ or ‘our style’. The more you lack confidence in your work, the more you will struggle with creating it, being consistent, developing your skills and avoiding paralysis.
When you feel more confident in your work, you will be more efficient, spending less time second guessing it.
If you want to get good at what you do, you first have to feel confident about what you already do. This stops that cycle of doubt that makes you procrastinate, re-do, stress over and change your mind every minute about your work.
Once you put an end to that cycle of doubt in your work, you will then have that time you would have otherwise wasted, to just keep doing, and getting better. So until you allow yourself to feel confident with where you currently are at, you will struggle to get better and boost that confidence even more.
How to feel confident about your current creative work
It doesn’t matter what stage you are at, what other people think, or what other people can do. You internally need to find that confidence in what you create, so that you can go forward and continue to share, improve and grow as a creative.
STEP ONE: Stop Comparing
You have probably heard it many times. But comparison really will steal your joy. It can be a hard one for creatives, as we love to soak up inspiration and influence by looking at what other people are doing. Taking inspiration from a variety of sources, and finding creatives we admire and look up to, to inspire us to achieve better work.
Simply cutting yourself off and not looking at anything, is probably not going to help. The key is the mental shift, rather than the activity of looking. If you are spending too much time looking or finding it a problem on certain platforms, you may want to create boundaries for yourself. It could be setting time limits on how long you are on a platform or unfollow people who just get you feeling too down about your own work. Keep it healthy.
Look at the creatives you choose to keep looking at and following in a different way. Rather than one of how you measure up compared to them. Look at them as a source of inspiration and aspiration. I went into more detail about this in my post: 7 Ways to Deal with Comparison in Your Creative Business.
If you can turn comparison around, using it to inspire you rather then tear you down, it will help invigorate your creating as opposed to destroying it.
The key mindset shifts to remember are:
- Everyone focuses on different things, has different experience and advantages. How can you compare your watercolour art, when you have only been dabbling with it on weekends for a few months, and the person you are looking at has dedicated years to mastering it. Be patient with yourself and be proud of what you can do where you are at.
- Let other peoples work inspire you, not tear you down. Thoughts like ‘If I keep at this consistently, look what is possible’.
- Learn from others. What did they do to get to where they are, and how can you do something similar to improve.
- Celebrate what makes your work unique and distinct. It’s not a competition.
STEP TWO: Identity What makes Your work Distinct and Unique.
Just like in love, there is someone for everyone. We do not all need to be the same, and there is no such thing as perfect. We all have different ideas about what is ideal, good, wanted, beautiful and perfect.
It is the same with creative work. There is no use comparing yourself to others, or worrying about if your work is good enough or prefect enough. Because your work IS perfect for someone. There are people out there searching for the ideal creative to help them with a problem, be it the perfect photos, the perfect website, the perfect logo, the perfect painting to hang in their dining room. Everyone has different needs, tastes, interests and ideas about what is ‘perfect’. So what you do is going to be perfect in the eyes of the client or customer who is the right fir for what you offer.
There is no Holy Grail of perfection in creating, that we are all striving to achieve. No, we need to instead celebrate and feel proud of our own style, our own distinct and unique way of doing and creating things. Becuase the more we own it, and stick to it, and let go of that doubt and just focus on doing it our way, the more easily you will attract the people who are looking for exactly what you have to offer.
So identify how you are different, quirks and all. Celebrate it, share it, focus on it and don’t be afraid to get it out there. It is often people with distinctively unique styles that do very well because they stoped trying too many different things, unsure of themselves and trying to please everyone, but just focused on their way of doing things, and people fell in love with it.
People are tired of ‘sameness’ so be you and feel confident knowing, the more you are, the better you will do.
There is someone for everyone. Be more of who you truely are.
If you want help weaving more of who you are, and your own style into your brand, you can sign up for my free email course ‘Define Your Brand’s Visual Style’ below and take the time to define a timeless, unique style, that tells the story of your brand.
STEP THREE: Look at How far you Have Come.
It is easy to focus on where you are at now, and where you want to be. But if you want a nice confidence boost in your work, go back and look at older work. See just how far you have come. You may have forgotten because at the time you created it, it was the best you were capable of at that time, so to you, it seemed good then. Now tat you have more skill and experience behind you, look back at that older work and see just how much better you have got.
It will likely surprise you, just how bad your old work seems to you now when at the time it seemed good. It’ll be a great reminder of how much you have improved. And even inspire you to keep at it, because you can keep on improving.
Another fun exercise, is to get an old piece of work, and re-do it. I saw a challenge on Instagram once, with typographers and hand lettering artists recreating an old lettering designs. It was amazing seeing just how much they had improved over time, and how much better their work had become.
STEP FOUR: Have some Play Time.
If you are finding yourself getting caught up in ‘maybe I should try this’ ‘perhaps what I am doing isn’t that great, I should give this a try instead’ thoughts, then you are likely not giving yourself the freedom to play. Give yourself te freedom to experiment and try new things without pressure. Without the need for it to be perfect or professional.
This detaches you from the end result but also gives you space to experiment and give things a go, if you want to see if they will work or are worth pursuing. Take the pressure off. Give yourself hobbies. Then you may make discoveries in the play, that will lead to ideas that you can work into your professional work. But don’t have any expectations. If it is a flop, who cares. You got the experience and a bit of fun. Allow the chance for discoveries or unlocking hidden talents. Pressure can kill a passion before it has even begun. So let go a little.
STEP FIVE: Continue Learning
The more competent you get you feel more confident. This is why continuing to learn is so important. Just like learning to ride a bike, as you learn and get the hang of it, your confidence grows. If there are areas of your craft that you are struggling with, or feel you don’t know enough about. Take the time to learn, and as you gain understanding, skill and competence, you will feel more and more confident in your ability.
If you are looking for a place to brush up and grow your creative skill set Skillshare is a great start, there a plenty of inspiring short lessons to help improve your skills and knowledge.
Never stop learning and developing your skills. No matter how good you get, there are always new things to learn.
STEP SIX: Put your work out there.
Don’t be afraid to share your work.
Get the momentum going, the more you produce and share your work, the more you feel confident about what you are putting out there. As you see positive feedback, and people buying from you or hiring you, it builds up that confidence.
Confidence building opportunities come, by first sharing. Wait too long, and you will only build more fear, share now and the sooner you will get noticed.
And share it in lots of places. Social media, your blog, industry sites (when I started out I shared my work on DeviantArt- take a peek), enter competitions, submit to books and magazines, show in group exhibitions.
Find community around your work. Find a peer group that can build you up and you can share your work with. People who know your vision and goals and can encourage you as you as your skills improve.
FINALLY: Set the Intention
Decide that today you are going to be confident about your work. As simple as it sounds. Simply deciding that you are going to feel confident about your work can have a big impact. Think about the kind of person you would be if you were someone who was really proud of and confident about what they create. Does it mean dressing the part of an expert in your industry. Does it mean just getting on with your work without any second-guessing. Does it mean chasing those dreams, that you having been putting off, until your work is ‘good enough’?