Go get 'em. By Big Cartel.

Recharging for Your Next Project

I have an undying love for relaxation and rest.

As a four-alarm earthbound Taurus, astrologically speaking, I consider myself to be the queen of chill. Being a very chill person that needs to also procure an income absolutely comes with its downsides. But, this trait of mine has also led me to appreciate just how important rest is to the creative mind. So, I’m here to convince you that recharging your magnificent, unique brain is essential to your success as an artist, maker, or doer.

Here’s why: we all know that sleep matters. Not getting enough of it leads to health issues, which can ultimately cause setbacks in our professional lives. But stress management and decompression is just as important. Extreme stress causes your brain to falter when making decisions, focusing, and retaining information. If you’ve just come out of a stressful time or the end of a project, it’s a good idea to recharge your mind and spirit before diving into your next big idea.

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Reflect

This is your first order of business: take a moment or two (a couple of hours would probably be best) to sit and think about your last big accomplishment or misstep without judgement. That last piece is the most important part. It’s imperative to move forward towards your next task with complete acceptance of what was or was not, else you risk kicking off your next venture in a sour state of mind.

With pen and paper, start by writing out a summary of your last project. Try to keep it down to one or two sentences.

Then, write out three things that you wish had gone differently and how. After that, write down three (or more!) aspects of the project you are proud of and how you accomplished them.

If you wanted to take this exercise a step further, you could rank each item in each list based on its importance to you. This will help you focus on the more important aspects of your next project.

Now, just sit with your lists, read them, and reflect. “Reflect” is sort of a vague term, I admit, but just let whatever comes into your head be there. Acknowledge it, without judgement, jot it down and let it go. It can be easy to fall down the wormhole of self criticism here, but speak to yourself as if you were speaking to a new friend.

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Spend some actual time relaxing

After you’ve (kindly) processed your most recent project, write your thoughts down and put them away. It’s time to let go for a little while. What is the most relaxing day you can think of? What activities - or non-activities - help reset your headspace? It could mean sitting on the couch all day surrounded by tea, or it could mean going to an obscure concert. If you have the capital, you could even take a trip. All you really need to worry about is not thinking about your work, at all.

For the self-described workaholic, I know the prospect of taking a day or more to do nothing but focus on recharging might sound like the toughest task of them all. But I promise, it really is worth it. Just Google “health benefits of taking a break” and the results are overwhelming. Your brain is not cut out to be stressed and looking towards the future 24/7, and honestly, neither is your heart. If you’re self employed, it can feel near to impossible to separate your identity from the identity of your business, but if you can rediscover the value of yourself as an autonomous being through a relaxing break, you’ll return to your passion with a renewed spirit.

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Lay out a clear cut plan for your next project

Once you feel that you’ve given yourself the attention and rest you deserve, you can look towards your next project. Take this opportunity to use your refreshed mind to make a detailed plan for your next venture.

This is the best time to set up a roadmap to follow when things get hectic and you need some guidance. Knowing that you’ve set yourself up for success will help you step into that next gig with some positive energy, instead of worry or stress.

So, take those lists out from the first exercise and refer to them as you write out a very, very clear cut plan for your next project. Seriously, get as detailed as you can.

Write out every single email you need to send, every color of paint you need to buy, or everything you need to put away to declutter your studio. If you want, you can add a deadline for every item in this plan, so that you don’t need to stress about when everything is going to get done. This really works - I’ve been known to schedule everything from meetings to showers for myself and it is life changing.

Whether or not you’re feeling good about the state of your business, I can’t stress how important taking time to recharge and reset is, for both you and your customers. If you’re unable to process your past successes and failures, your business won’t be able to evolve and grow in the direction you want it to. So take a minute and let it all sink in. It’ll be worth it.

Jillian Conner is a freelance writer living in Vermont. She’s an avid backyard birder, snack enthusiast, and aspiring shepherdess. You can follow her on Instagram.