The Calculated Creative

4 Steps To Avoid Creative Burnout (Craft the Career of Your Dreams)

2 short years ago I was underpaid, overworked, and mentally exhausted.

Trying to chase down freelance clients while working a day job that put me at the edge of a breakdown.

Until I went all-in on myself and expanding my skillsets.

Which helped me to double my income, stop working till 2am every night, and regain my creative inspiration.

Here’s a 4 step process that will help you to avoid burnout and begin crafting the creative career of your dreams:

1. Find work you enjoy

This can arguably be the most difficult step in this entire process. But it’s also the most necessary.

Being in a role you dislike puts you in a head space that allows for poor decision making. Leading to a negative snowball that keeps you doing work you’re not stoked on.

Instead, find something you can at least tolerate as a first step. Because the longer you can operate from a place of positivity and excitement the more likely you’ll be to get future work of the same quality.

This might not even be truly creative work to begin with.

And that’s okay.

2. Focus on your mental health

Don’t have the energy to put in an extra 2 hours today on a new project? Don’t beat yourself up about it.

Feeling sick and don’t have the focus to go the extra mile on that project? Stop smashing your head against the wall.

Definitely don’t give up (I’m all about getting one small win each day) but also know that sometimes you won’t be able to go the extra mile.

And that’s okay.

3. Spend time on passion projects

Now that you’re feeling like you saved a bit of energy and aren’t completely hating where you’re at…start to apply yourself elsewhere.

What gets you super excited?

What gets you up out of bed each day?

What makes you feel fulfilled?

What would you do even if you weren’t paid to do it?

Begin putting more time into these pursuits.

It will feel difficult at the beginning and sometimes you’ll question why you’re even doing it in the first place.

And that’s okay.

4. Turn them into full time work over time

After you’ve been consistent with putting time into a new pursuit the real work will begin.

Asking yourself more detailed questions about your passion can help to find what has the opportunity to reach the next level.

Will people pay for this product or service?

Is anybody else doing a similar thing that I can study?

Are there other mentors in the space I can connect with?

Test assumptions and continue taking steps to carve out your own unique approach.

Because the more you can prioritize giving it the time and space it needs to work the better off you’ll be in the future.

Creative work is always a marathon.

And that’s okay.

How this is relevant for a:

Freelancer — It can be hard work building enough of a client base to sustain yourself or even leave a 9–5 gig. But taking crummy work and feeling like your back is against the wall means leaving one bad situation for another. Starting with what you enjoy will help to stay the course.

Full-timer — When you’re reliant on one source of income to stay afloat biting the hand that feeds you can prove to be an emotionally draining endeavor. By having other work and creative outlets you enjoy you’ll be infinitely less likely to dread going to work every day. And who knows…maybe some day the side gig could become the main gig.

Dabbler — It’s easy to focus too much on money and compensation when you’re dying to get paid to do work you enjoy. But if you sacrifice the enjoyment for the money that’s all you’ll ever get out of it. And enjoyment is what got you into the work in the first place.

Never take a creative job that destroys your mental health. Even with massive pay, it’s not a sustainable path.

Instead, start from a feeling of fulfillment and begin to divert your extra energy toward your next endeavor.

Being burnt out stops this process from working.

Focus on the long game.

Make Your Work
Suck Less

Pulling back the curtain on the creative process to help make your work a little less terrible. A 3-minute read delivered each week on Monday morning.

The Calculated Creative

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