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23/03| Doing What Makes You Happy

I wanted to write a quick post about being happy in your work. It’s a place I’ve been aiming for.

I found that place at the start of this year. It took a while to get here but the journey itself has taught me some great lessons.

I spent the first few years of my creative career taking on absolutely any job in order to put food on my plate. Looking back, I realised just how stressful this can be. As a creative startup, you get stretched in lots of different directions. You (or I certainly did) want to please the client, naturally. But this can mean unpaid hours, under quoting and often working in a niche you’re not totally familiar with – ie winging it. Whilst excellent for overall experience and variety – I found I ended up getting ‘ok’ or ‘quite good’ at a lot of things. You lose the focus. You become a jack of all trades.

That wasn’t good enough for me.  It’s tiring, soul-less. I don’t want to be ‘ok’ at what I do, I want to be ‘amazing-with-bells-and-whistles-on’ at what I do. I want to know that the service I provide is fantastic, not substandard or run-of-the-mill.

We had our daughter 10 months ago. She’s been the catalyst in sorting my work-happiness balance. With dramatically reduced work hours and ridiculous work windows, I have learned to pack maximum enjoyment into what I do. I’ve narrowed the focus. I’m making more logos, diving right into branding, designing cleaner websites, making simpler designs, illustrating more. I’m leaving to techy stuff to my colleagues who really know what they’re doing. I don’t need to get involved. And it feels great!

And I really think it’s showing. My work has more life, more vibrancy, I feel more intuitive when creating new ideas, I’m much faster the the quality is consistently high. (I’m not blowing my trumpet – I just want to highlight what I’ve found since I narrowed the focus).

So in a nutshell – I’m getting more creative, back to my roots as it were. Doing the things I have the most experience in and sticking to it. And it just feel so much better. It’s incredible what work I can fit into a 3hr window these days. When you have a noisy alarm in the shape of a small person, you are forced to get smart with your time pretty darn fast.

I’ve still got a way to go to get to the top of my game – it may take years or it may never even happen. That doesn’t matter so much to me. I still want to be very, very, very good at what I do.

I think work happiness can be achieved in most circumstances. I doesn’t happen immediately – it took a while for me – but once achieved you’re flying! I am really very grateful for working in a profession that delivers such consistent happiness to me.