I recently recorded a Side Hustle School episode about Michelle D’Avella, a designer who spent several years building a blog before turning it into a full-time income. The episode comes out next week, and ever since I made the recording I’ve been thinking about something she said.
The first year she started her blog, she made $0. Last year, after experimenting with a series of virtual workshops and mentoring sessions, she made $50,000. The success isn’t just about making money, it’s also (maybe even more importantly) about finding work she believes in.
Her advice to others is to create from a place of joy.
“Don’t put so much pressure on figuring it all out, but make sure what you’re doing is something you can feel good about. When we create from joy, people feel it. When we create from lack, people feel it too. Human beings are attracted to abundance. We run away from desperation. So make sure the thing you are doing is something you believe in.”
I’ve been pondering this because as I look back over the past decade, I can clearly identify the seasons in which I was “creating with joy.” I felt energized and motivated. I worked hard, often early in the morning until late at night, but with a sense of purpose. Alternatively, I can also identify seasons in which I was creating with an intention that was less-than-joyful. In my case, I’m not sure I was doing so out of desperation, but I certainly wasn’t doing so from my true self.
That’s a great way to frame your intentions: choose joy, not desperation.
Looking back, I also realize that creating from a sense of joy often begins with more of a feeling than a well-developed concept. You don’t always know where you’re going or what the end result will be.
When I started writing, that’s how it was for me: I felt as though I was guided by an internal compass. Sometimes I got off track, but when I stayed with that sense of joy and delight, everything I did was easier.
What I did during those seasons of creative joy was also more successful in terms of response. These two values—creating something you believe in and creating work that elicits a positive response—are not always so closely interlinked, but it’s nice when you find the overlap.
What project are you working on—and how can you create from a sense of joy?
Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness of Pursuit, The $100 Startup, and other books. During a lifetime of self-employment, he visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Every summer in Portland, Oregon he hosts the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, remarkable people. His new book, Born for This, will help you find the work you were meant to do. Connect with Chris on Twitter, on his blog, or at your choice of worldwide airline lounge.
Image courtesy of Felix Russell-Saw.