When You Let Yourself Dream
The past couple of weeks have been transformative. Since the Communo Summit earlier this month, so many ideas have been swirling in my head. Little snippets of what people I have met said, messages and quotes that I have read, even from videos I watch online have accumulated. It feels like a backlog of notions and thoughts that have finally started to form a picture - a vision.
I want to be a brand developer for entrepreneurs and innovators. For a long time, I have been trying to brand myself according to my skills: graphic design and production design. This were the areas that I successfully acquired work. So I thought that I could just follow this path. But I started to notice a trend. When new clients asked for a logo, what they really needed was someone to understand their business and visualize their vision.
I grew to love this aspect of brand development: talking, listening and understanding a person or their business. Why? Because it helps me design better. An example is how I go shopping for my sister. Since I know her likes and dislikes, I can make decisions that fit to her style and tastes. Beyond that, whatever she asks for me, I can deliver with my knowledge as an avid shopper. She wants a bag on a budget or a dress for a special evening? No problem. Shopping with her style in mind and function combined with my understanding of who she is personalizes better choices and decisions that she will approve of.
Delving deeper into a brand is what excites me as a designer. It took awhile for me to admit it, because I did not let myself envision it for myself. I kept thinking of the challenges and fears. The work, knowledge, expertise and sacrifice involved felt too overwhelming. I was too scared to think that it could be true for someone like me.
That is why I think joining the Communo community was a turning point for me. I knew that I needed guidance and insights. But it turned out to be more than I expected. I joined meetings and webinars. I heard a lot of great insights and even met amazing professionals, too. I was feeling quite vulnerable. I knew that I was not on the same level and standard. But I want to learn, change and grow. As I entertained the idea of moving towards branding design more and more, learning more about other creative disciplines in the industry, what kind of clients that I would like to work with and developing a detailed and authentic branding process, I began to notice an underlying theme.
As a designer, I want to help people develop authentic brands. In order to that, I need to be authentic myself. I want clients to trust me when they are vulnerable with their personal and professional goals and dreams. That means, I need to be even more vulnerable. A poor logo design or inconsistent copy on a website screams to me that perhaps high standards are not being kept or managed. Just as I am critical with my design aesthetics with others, was I scrutinizing my brand the same way?
I realized that I was not. I was doing the minimum. I thought that what I had was good enough. But I was not being honest with myself. I knew there was a direction that was calling me. Why was I hindering myself to even explore the idea? Why was I hindering myself? Instantly, I thought of financial reasons. Another reason is my lack of knowledge and expertise in fields of the creative process such as online marketing. As I started learning from other professional branding designers and agencies, I could see that they are working with high standards of design and business practices.
I need to improve. I need to change. The excuses turned into challenges. And these challenges began to have solutions. Whatever I lacked in expertise, I now had access with the Communo community. I have met some genuine and professional people who are willing to help. As for the finances, that is just a part of the entrepreneurial route. Don’t expect to make money right away. It will take years before you see any money being made.
When you let yourself dream, you lose nothing but gain everything. Do not count yourself out until you weigh all your options. This is why your dream has to be big - big enough that it makes you move and big enough that it scares you. I think I have finally touched on a dream that speaks to me personally and professionally. It is a dream that I am obsessed with realizing.
Ask Yourself the Questions
The idea came to me in a funny way. I was reviewing some notes of a branding questionnaire from a client. I thought, maybe I should try to answer these questions myself. The questions reminded me of notes I took during business webinars. Suddenly I realized that these were the questions that I wanted to ask my clients but I personally have not asked them myself.
I was too caught up in what I could do for others that I was not doing the same for myself. I was not asking the real questions about my brand. I was not expanding on my business like who my target audience is. I was not letting myself simply dream and develop goals to aim for. The questionnaire invited me to refocus, dig deeper and refashion a future that excited and motivated me.
I was taking in so much information, learning from others, books, and videos that I was not looking at the big picture. It was a silly misstep on my part, I almost could not believe it. Whether is my pride or my fear of being vulnerable, I knew that I want to be true to who I am and who I want to be. This meant, being honest asking questions about my work, my career, my passion and my dreams.
A Vital Vision
A lot of us are scared to not only answer the deeper questions in life but to allow ourselves to hope in their reality. I always thought that my goals were worthwhile to me. In a way they were, but only to the goals I limited myself to. But when you dream freely, question your rationale and align your personal and professional values, the work feels like nothing. Why? Because you are - at this moment - realizing that goal, getting closer to the reality you envision.
As a solopreneur, you have to be convicted with everything: your work ethic, your problem solving, your vulnerability and your vision. Everything is riding on what moves you. It is been a path of self-discovery, reflection, development, adaptation and refocusing or ideas, concepts and goals for myself. And that is the beauty. We can change. It takes time, trial and error and exploration to find what inspires and motivates you. Taking the time to learn about yourself is worthwhile. Our feelings and thoughts drive us.
Our priorities change as time goes own. What we thought was important may not always be important now. I always had a negative connotation with change. I always expected that it meant for the worst. Looking back, I realized I was too comfortable for too long. Success does not come to you. Your dreams will only stay up in the air until you start climbing towards them.
Develop your vision. Make your vision attractive to your skills, your passions, your hopes, your thoughts, and your senses that you cannot go a day without working towards it. It will require you knowing yourself, asking the deep questions, being vulnerable and honest. But if you are willing to dream, make the necessary changes, define realistic and manageable timelines, work your hardest to get there and your dream will only get closer and closer. ■