After a recent string of stressful situations, I’ve found my creative work shifting. There are lots of reasons for this – supply chain issues, markets that have collapsed and aren’t fully rebounding, and recent health challenges, to name a few. I can’t change the larger forces, but I can – and need – to shift how and where I spend my time and earn my living.
At first, even acknowledging this was disconcerting. Okay, I won’t lie – it was outright scary. Change often is. But the more I tried to resist that change, the more apparent the need became.
Change can be harder when what we’re changing is our creative passion. You can’t exactly give up on your dream, right? But you can can change it.
I’m going to say this another way:
You’re allowed to change direction.
To whoever needs to hear that, repeat it to yourself as often as needed. I know I have been. But to that end, what can be more difficult is figuring out what that new direction looks like. Beginnings and endings are never crisp and clean, especially in creative work.
As I was sorting through this for myself, I realized I didn’t even know what that process looked like. If I worked in a “real” job, I’d put in my two weeks’ notice and apply for another position. The connection would be severed.
But in a creative business, it’s not that simple.
Nor do we usually want it to be. Sometimes what we really want is to return to the vision we had when we started. Sometimes what we want is a new spark. Sometimes what we want is to simply let ourselves rest once in a freakin’ while.
Deciding what we want is hard. It was for me, at least. But I’ll tell you what I did that was powerful, cathartic, and immensely helpful:
I wrote myself a resignation letter.
At first, it was just a joke. A cheeky response to a stressful situation. But as I sat there writing, it quickly became something deeper. It became a way to clarify what I want, and don’t want, my creative work to look like.
If you’d like to write your own, here’s my template. Edit as needed:
To Whom It May Concern:
I hereby resign from work that no longer serves me. This includes (but is not limited to) taking on projects with unreasonable deadlines, working through weekends, and saying yes to work that wears out my body but doesn’t fill my soul.
I am forever grateful for the creative journey that ___________ has given me. I have learned so many things at met many amazing people. It holds a special place in my heart. But after ____ years, the time has come to move on.
From this point forward, I will be focus on _____________. In addition, I will no longer be filling my time in order to make a concerted effort to leave space for spontaneous opportunities.
In order to ensure a smooth transition, I am committed to doing _____________. I may also choose to do ________ when it does not interfere with my new priorities.
I recognize that transitions are messy and difficult and that I may not always make perfect decisions in the moment, but I remain committed to the process.
With much appreciation and excitement for what lies ahead,