Setbacks are a creative’s greatest challenge. If you’ve ever been in a creative field, you know what I mean: where your client disliked a deliverable, your company ended and you lost all confidence, you uploaded a video you were excited to share and viewers kept hitting the “thumbs down” button one too many times.
The problem is that setbacks are often synonymous with failure, which is not always true. You have the power to use the feedback to grow, and to take your work to a whole new level. But first, we need to process what happened.
Take time to sit in it
After the company I had started with my business partner failed, a friend said one sentence that changed how I view failure. He told me to “sit in it,” which was the one thing I didn’t want to do. So often we’re tempted to shove our emotions aside and move onto the next job, relationship, or experience.
That method will always prevent a successful rebound, though. It may not reappear right away, but it will bubble over at an inopportune moment and set you back. Instead, take the time to feel every emotion passing through your mind and soul. If it’s rage, let it out. (Safely, of course.) If it’s sadness, cry with a friend. If it’s relief, enjoy the peace it brings.
The more we suppress our emotions the less we’ll process this creative setback. And while people may joke about the “tortured artist” stereotype, it’s possible to remain creative while also processing the highs and lows of life in a healthy way.
Discover a passion project
The self-care you need most after a creative setback is discovering a passion project. Find what excites you and just start. You don’t need everything figured out; you just need the permission from yourself to start. Hint: Your passion all the permission you need.
The type of project isn’t as important as the act of starting. Choose a project that makes you want to start your day and get lost for hours while learning a new skill. Once you emerge, you’ll begin to see your creative confidence grow back. Your creative confidence is one of your most valuable assets, and rediscovering it will help you realign your goals after a creative setback.
Make a decision only when you’re ready
Financial, societal, and peer pressures can often lead us to make decisions before we’re ready. We hurry along to get to our next stop while ignoring our gut reaction. I’m going to challenge you with a deceptively difficult challenge. Make a decision only when you’re ready.
Financial pressure is steep, and it should be taken seriously, but take time to consider your true feelings on it. This pause could be a day or a month; don’t rush your healing process.
Once you’ve started healing, it’s time to make the best decision for your situation. This is an empowering experience. You’ve put the time into healing, and now it’s time to experience the fulfillment and excitement that comes from making a decision based on passion, not a gut reaction.
Experiencing a creative setback doesn’t make you a bad creative. It’s simply a part of the life we choose if we’re to live out our passion and share our art. Begin your recovery by sitting in your emotions, and use what you learn to discover a passion project.
Once you’re ready, move forward into your new life knowing that you don’t need external approval to be successful. You’re successful because you keep trying, even if that means experiencing creative setbacks.