Keeping Your Creative Livelihood Together When Your Personal World is Transforming

You know what happens when you make plans? LIFE with a capital “WHAT?” Being a creative and free-flowing individual can help you deal with all the forms of change and transition life throws at you, but what about when your livelihood depends on, you know, YOU and no one else?

I’m coming out on the other side of one of these times. My life 2 months ago looked completely different than it does now. Am I blissful and more optimistic? Hell yeah, but the journey to get here didn’t come easily. I’ve spent an enormous amount of time processing through a breakup, deciding where I was going to live (in the country or the world), and what direction or shape my business was going to take. All of this work has a tremendous impact on my livelihood in ways I could have never foreseen.

I’m a brand and web designer for self-possessed, creative entrepreneurs. The people that have a need to do their creative work for a living are who I’m here to serve. I knew that I couldn’t just crumble under the pressure of the situation, and that settling for a less than cosmic lifestyle was not an option. I had to compartmentalize my emotional roller coaster and come up with a plan of action for staying afloat. The alternative was living a lack-luster life that did not mirror my inner world. This was not an option.

The nature of creating your own livelihood is this: YOU are your livelihood. You are in charge of your daily routine, what projects you work on, what you create for the world, and the kind of people you surround yourself with to help each other along this path. When a monkey wrench gets thrown in there, pivoting and re-calibrating your approach is essential, but definitely not easy.

So how did I do it?

After a week or so of getting clothes and essentials together from my comfortable living arrangement and finding a place to lay my head at night after my breakup, I launched into full-on survival mode while simultaneously staring at the dark waters of my shadow side. Basically I would hustle as much as possible in the morning to get out of my head and take care of my clients, then inevitably break for a walk or other outdoor activity where I could have the space to work through my next steps in life. Choice is a powerful and sometimes terrifying privilege. We have to constantly remind ourselves who we are in our core to make the decisions that are best for us. That’s survivalism in it’s most basic form.

Developing the resilience needed for this also isn’t easy. It takes genuine practice to not break down at 2pm EVERY DAY and want to give up. Maybe that’s just me. The tools we need to get through life are always available to us, but we have to earn them, not just expect it to all work out. I’ve also never relied on my closest friends the way I have during this time. Hold your people close, always. Get rid of the ones that don’t have your back, and be sure to bring the ones that do into your fold.

I plugged along hustling as much as I could in my business doing WordPress development work, when my calling is really as a guide that helps my people get their distinctive vision and livelihood online. This is one part of my business that had to change out of necessity now that I didn’t have any financial fall-back from a partner. I’m not one to glorify the hustle at all, but it has it’s place, and we do what we have to to keep our head above water. Because just getting a regular job would be death to people like us.

The decision was made to move across the country from Austin back to my former home of Seattle to be with my tribe of stellar friends. All the change that was happening to me was a falling away of what was not working in my life so that I could get closer to what would. With that, I started making plans to move my things across the country, and my best friend jumped on the bandwagon (Budget truck) to join me for a road trip that was nothing short of a hero’s journey. I knew as we pulled out of Austin that this was only the beginning and that these kinds of decisions take grit to see through to the end.

Nothing that’s worth anything is ever easy.

We encountered vast beauty and near-crippling uncertainty. Long stretches of nothing were filled with happy hour dance-party/karaoke sessions, shared stories, and photographing natural wonders. We did a great job and had little snags until the last day. We woke up in our cheap motel that we realized was a quasi-home for the local tweakers of Ogden, Utah with little to no sleep, planning to do the final 12 hours of our drive that day. After getting to the Washington border and still having the entire state to get through, we hit windstorms and thunderstorms simultaneously. The adrenaline from this was too much and I collapsed with exhaustion after battling the crazy wind that threatened to throw us off the road. My friend took the wheel and we repeated the mantra that had kept us going the whole trip: “We got this!”

The last passage was over Snoqualmie pass during a snow-storm. “Traction tires advised” said the pass report, and we were only 30 minutes away from our destination with a truck full of stuff and my car towed on the back. After a quick call to our friends at home for some encouragement and the sun quickly setting, we decided to go for it, and made it through.

Seeing the Seattle skyline after coming through all these challenges from the last couple months was nothing short of welcoming and epic. I, with the help of my closest people, actually manifested this and made it happen, and here I was back home in a place where my creativity could flourish without boundaries. I was home again and could breathe in my new surroundings of respite. I’m in a place now where I’m supported, understood, and feel the freedom to explore whatever life endeavors come my way.

I knew what I was working towards was important not only to my self-development, but also what I could offer my people as a guide in the online world of doing business. Being a leader is never anything to take lightly, and going through the trials and tribulations to come out on the other end in beauty and splendor is something I’ve never shied away from. Neither should you. If you lead a life that is less than ideal according to your inner voice, what’s the point of it all?

Throughout this entire experience, developing emotional, physical, and mental resilience have been the key factors in keeping myself and my business together. Living your life shouldn’t be thought of as a detriment to your business because things are changing and they may not be the same on the other side. Growing and shaping your livelihood around what you are becoming is one of the things that makes living in this era of ours so beautiful. If you are open and honest with your clients about what is going on and make sure you have uninterrupted time to do your work, you WILL persevere. Besides, what does happen on the other side is going to be bigger and better than what it could have been before.

P.S. I was just on the Make It Happen podcast with Jen Carrington discussing this topic in even more detail. You can listen here.

Trista is a transformational brand and web designer for deep-thinking creative entrepreneurs. She guides her people through self-discovery and helps them get their vision online. Find out more about working with her one-on-one to gain a deeper understanding of the purpose behind your creative work, uncover what makes you distinctive in your industry, and create ways to bring this to your online presence.