Being a creative entrepreneur is no joke. To grow and thrive- or even to survive- you have to hustle hard on the daily. It’s really easy to fall into trap of always focusing on the next obstacle to overcome or the next task on the to-do list. I sometimes envision building my business as like climbing a mountain- my attention is always trained on finding the next sure foothold. Unfortunately, I often forget to look behind me to see just how far up the mountain I’ve already climbed.
Recently I was helping my 10 year old daughter with a project that she was working on for school. It was a relatively complicated project, one that required planning and a number of steps. As we were addressing the various bits and pieces, she was narrating what we needed to do. At one point she stopped and said, “And now we take a step back and admire our work.” I was totally taken off guard- surprised, and also enchanted- and asked her about how that came to be a step in the process. It turns out that she had had an art teacher who had built that step into the process of the art projects that they had worked on in class, and she had generalized it to the other projects that she was working on. Brilliant.
It felt like an AHA moment. Of course! That step should be built into the routines of all creative entrepreneurs! It’s just as important (if not more so) to appreciate where you have been as it is to focus on where you are going. In fact, noticing how far you have come can give you the boost of confidence to reach for even greater heights.
It’s not that the importance of reflection is new to me. I know that reflection allows you to learn from mistakes, can give you perspective, and can even make you happier. In fact, as part of our biannual retreats in the Creative Business League, we make it a practice to return to the goals that we set at the previous retreat and gauge and appreciate how far we’ve come. However, it occurred to me that what was most striking about my daughter’s teacher’s process was its immediacy- the call to appreciate what you’ve done just now. So I’ve decided to take a page out of Gretchen Rubin’s book (or at least extrapolate from it) and start keeping a “one-sentence journal.” I often don’t make enough appreciable progress in my work from hour to hour to really benefit from an immediate reflection, so I thought a weekly reflection might fit the bill. My challenge to myself is to write a pithy sentence each night (more if I’m feeling spirited) and at the end of the week, “take a step back and admire my work.” I’m curious to see how it goes (and if it makes scaling this mountain any easier). How about you- do you have a practice of reflection? Would you try a one-sentence journal?