Kali Hawlk

Helping Creatives Make More

What Are Your Creative Blocks?

What Are Your Creative Blocks You Struggle to Overcome

Earlier today, I had a conversation about the biggest block that holds me back from doing more with my work as a creative. It’s one that’s likely familiar to you if you’ve ever tried to make.. well, anything.

It’s impostor syndrome, or, according to Wikipedia, the “psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.” Although I want to make a living as a creative professional, thoughts like this stop me:

I’m not good enough at writing to make a living of it. I’m not creative enough. I’m not intelligent enough to reach the level of success I want.

Sound familiar? Imposter syndrome can paralyze the most confident, talented, and innovative people out there — no matter what they’ve achieved.

And even if you can accept some level of success, there may be another little voice that pipes up to derail you in your efforts to grow in your creative career. That little voice says if you shouldn’t publicly accept a success or talent.

If I accepted a compliment, the other person will think I’m arrogant. If I attempt to monetize my expertise and teach what I know, people will think I’m a fraud. If I position myself as an expert, people will think I’m full of myself.

Imposter syndrome serves as a serious block for me, but acknowledging it was the first step I took to resolving it and removing it as an obstacle to success. It’s a process to unblock, stop feeling like my skills (and myself!) are invalid, and get back to the important work of creating real value for others who need it.

Now it’s your turn. My goal is to help creatives like you make more — with your money, your work, and your life. I’d love to know what your creative blocks are, so I can help you overcome them.

What are your creative blocks? Let me know with a comment, email me at kalihawlk [at] gmail.com, or send me a tweet @KaliHawlk.

Stop Waiting Until Monday

Waiting Until Monday to Start Something New

At the beginning of this month, I set a few goals for myself. I wanted to take action to develop new, healthy habits — and I wanted them to actually stick over time.

I committed to:

  • running at least 1 mile per day — inspired by Joe from Stacking Benjamins
  • doing at least 1 workout — my minimum acceptable workout is the 7 minute workout
  • writing at least 1 page in my notebook — and turning some of that writing into a weekly blog post here each Thursday

And for many glorious days I made it happen. After I got over the 3-day hump, I started getting excited. I proved to myself I could string together several days where there was plenty of time (and energy!) to do these 3 simple tasks.

I felt better when I showed up to do the work. I enjoyed it.

Then I went on a trip last week. I left on Friday, July 17th and got back yesterday, on the 22nd.. and my travels completely derailed me.

I didn’t run. I didn’t workout. And I didn’t write.

I failed to complete my tasks every single day I was gone.

It felt horrible. I mentally berated myself for failing. Realizing that I would have to start all over again, on Day 1, was so disappointing. Frustrating.

I gave myself little excuses, too. It’s okay, I told myself. I didn’t have control of my schedule like I normally do. (I was traveling for a work retreat with the rest of our team.) My routine was pulled out from under me. It wasn’t my fault.

Of course, neither feeling badly about it and trying to crawl out from under the fact that I’m responsible for what happens to me does nothing to change the situation. I can’t get back in the saddle so I can keep creating if I’m too busy moping around about how I didn’t stick to my 3 daily goals.

Here’s what I knew I could do instead to get back on track: Continue reading

3 Ideas to Accept Change in Life and in Yourself

Use these 3 ideas to help you accept change in yourself and in life.

If you want to make more of your life, you need to get into the habit of creating your own path. Question the narratives you’re offered, don’t accept society’s expectations without first examining if they make sense for you, and spend time getting to understand who you are.

Locate that inner voice of reason; that feeling that nags you when something isn’t right and makes you feel like you could float instead of walk when things are the way they should be. It’s a good first step in understanding what’s right for you.

Once you know where to find that inner source that helps you know whether or not you’re on your path, the next step is to accept the fact that the path will change. What you know to be true about yourself and your life now won’t stay the same. Change is the only constant, and the sooner we learn to embrace that and know it’s okay to experience and go through change, the sooner we’ll be able to get out of our own way and get back to creating and making more.

Are You Done Becoming Who You Are?

I starting thinking about what it means to change after listening to a recent TED Radio Hour podcast. The episode focused on our perception and understanding of time. The segment that really captured my attention featured Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert. You can listen to his segment here (along with his TED Talk).

“We all know we will change,” says Gilbert. “But we think fundamentally, the people we’ve become… will remain relatively stable in the future. And in that, we are wrong.”

This was a fascinating conversation for me, because it brought me face-to-face with a limiting belief I’ve held on to for years — the idea that change is bad. Changing your mind is not okay. Changing who you are is unacceptable.

Once you declare yourself as being a certain way, that’s it. There’s no going back, because you made your decision.

This is crazy! And it’s certainly not a realistic way to live, if we know that both ourselves and the things around us change with time. We all change and we’re not fixed in the past or the future. Continue reading

To Live with Intention, Don’t Take Dictation

Live with Intention and Create Your Path

There’s more than one narrative out there, more than one story we buy into because we chase an ideal that someone else constructed for a mass audience. They’re designed for a conglomerate of people, not each of us as individuals with unique values, desires, and abilities.

The problem with all the narratives we know by heart is that they assume we’re all the same.

At best, we can segment ourselves, or group together with others who seem to share things in common. Each of these groups receives — or creates — its own version of the story, and that will generally fit most members.

This isn’t a bad thing. Groups can be helpful. They can help us discover communities, a sense of place, a feeling of belonging.

Even once we manage to find our place in a specific community alongside people who are similar, we’re still individuals with our own sense of what works and what doesn’t. The stories we tell in our groups may get closer to mapping out a step-by-step instruction guide for living a life that will finally make us happy.  But they share the same problem with more general narratives that say “go to school, continue on to college at any cost, land your dream job, get married, have babies and it will all be okay and you will be happy and nothing will hurt.”

Any narrative accepted by a group still assumes there can be a set formula for happiness (or at least, it-will-all-be-okay-ness).

The group of artists and creatives are encouraged to believe if they aren’t suffering for their art they’re not legitimate. If they’re working a traditional day job because they enjoy the work, while keeping their creative endeavors on the side, they’re not real. The innovator or the freelancer who does not strike out on their own is a fraud. Those in 9-to-5 jobs are the sheeple, destined for work lives of misery and dissatisfaction.

Says who? Them again? Funny how “they” show up in every story, no matter what kind of people are telling it, selling it, and buying it.

One or all of those things in the story the general artistic, creative herd tells may be true. One or some of those things may ring false to you. It’s all a matter of perspective, a matter of context, and most importantly, a matter of who you are.

There is no one right answer or correct path for us as a general group. There is only a right and correct way for us as individuals.

Your life should fit no set narrative. It is your own story and only you can tell it just right.

Don’t take dictation. Dictation is “the act or manner of transcribing words uttered by another.” And it’s no way to live the only life you’ve got. Continue reading

Stop Living in Someone Else’s Narrative and Start Creating Your Own

Stop Living in Someone Else's Narrative and Start Creating Your Own

There’s a common narrative in our society, for those of us born at a certain time and place. If someone ever made you feel like a special snowflake, chances are this means you.

Have you heard the narrative? It says that we’ll all be okay — everything will be okay — if we just follow the steps that “they” determined created a path to guaranteed success. It started with going to school. And in grade school, showing up was enough.

Don’t worry about doing anything more. Show up, sit down, make no noise, ask no (real, authority-challenging) questions. Revere the rules that were made to efficiently process massive groups through an education system. No exceptions, only adherence to the system that could only deal with the individuals within it as a massive unit, pushed through a factory of standardized tests.

All the while, a promise encourages us to continue moving forward: as soon as we get through the system, as soon as we “grow up” and get to go play in the real world, we’ll get to enjoy complete and utter autonomy in our lives. We’ll get to become whatever we want, just because we wanted it.

What could define freedom and choice more than the idea that you can be whatever you want?

Growing up, we were convinced that we could be whatever we wanted to be. If we could dream it, we could do it.

But somewhere along the way, the people in charge forgot to give us the tools to actually accomplish this. They were big on fluff and distractions, and short on providing actionable skills, experience, and knowledge.

Somehow we decided to skip right over things like how to budget and set up the right insurance policies for our needs, how to invest wisely over a period of decades to create a secure financial future one day, how to find our grit and commit to a big goal, how to work hard and innovate to create work and careers that allowed us to serve others in a way we also found fulfilling..

Who has time for that?

Instead we cruised right on by in our spaceship of unreasonable optimism because we’d get to be whatever we want one day! We were special! Unique! Snowflakes, even!

And the moment things in life start skittering off the rails, we found how easily we could be destroyed. When the trouble started, when the first real problem cropped up for us, we realized we were inadequately prepared to tackle it.

Those practical matters, the street smarts, the fundamentals of “how to scrape by as an independent adult making your own way” — well, they didn’t matter much. Somehow they were considered unimportant in our education. The grandiose idea of following a dream and having our lives magically work out in our favor was much easier to sell than the practical application of the theory. Than the work it would take to make that happen.

(Or perhaps between years of tests in school they simply ran out of time to cover something that might actually matter one day.)

But wait — what if more standardized solutions for all provided an answer to these woes? The narrative, it seems, continues.

Once your primary education concluded and you found yourself on the doorstep of the real world, you were saved from figuring it all out on your own for another four years. Saved again by the narrative that said we’ll all be okay — everything will be okay — if we just go to college. A proper university, one with four-year degrees (preferably in another state or at an overpriced institution so you can pay more for the same end result).

Thank goodness that decision was made for you. Just trot your newly-minted “adult” self into the halls of higher education and within a year or so declare a major that would neatly lop off a majority of your career options. Or eliminate them altogether if you went completely rogue and majored in something like English. Or philosophy. Please God say you didn’t major in anthropology.

Oh, that’s right! It didn’t matter — you could always continue to rack up mind-numbing amounts of debt when you went off to graduate school for lack of anything better to do.

Eventually, however, there came a day when the narrative started running out of options for you. Maybe it happened when you finally graduated with your fancy degree, ready to step out into the long-awaited real world as a free adult about to become whatever they wanted to be. It was out there that your dream job waited to embrace you with open arms, where you’d never work a day in your life because you loved what you did.

Or maybe you followed the narrative down the rabbit hole a bit further; maybe it took longer to realize you’d been in the driver’s seat of your life but suddenly looked around and had no idea how you’d gotten miles from where you started.

Perhaps it hit you that the accepted narrative hadn’t delivered on its promises when you first noticed that you hadn’t made a conscious, intentional, and deliberate decision based off what you wanted your life to look like in years.

It’s at this point you’ll wake up and wonder what just happened. You’ll ask why you’re not happy and fulfilled. You believed in the narrative. You trusted it. It was your story, too.

So what went wrong? Why did the narrative lie about the steps you needed to take to move along the path of financial, professional, and personal success? And more importantly, what happens when you wake up and realize the dream is over? When you realize the story didn’t come true?

What’s next is an opportunity to strip away someone else’s instruction book for life. Now that you’re awake, you can start asking questions. Stop following the general guidelines that keep the sheep safely with the flock.

If you want to actually experience something meaningful, if you want to show your gratitude for miraculously existing as a living, breathing, thinking, conscious being made up of starstuff, then you must start living mindfully.

You must burn the rule book and create your own correct way of experiencing your life. You must make intentional decisions about how to live a life that you are responsible for creating. And as soon as you’re awake, you need to start.

Wait for nothing and no one. Start digging into your own self and discover what you truly want. Then get after it relentlessly, tenaciously.

There are no generally right answers out there for us all to accept as the one way of creating ourselves and what we experience. There’s only the realization that there’s a right answer for you as an individual and you have the ability to find it better than anyone else — because it’s always located somewhere between your gut and your soul.

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