Slow Summer

A Time to Rejuvenate

This summer was very different from last summer. I was busy working though the warm and sunny months at a newspaper office. Every day there was something to do. I had a daily schedule to follow. But this summer, I found myself at home with nothing much to do. Nothing to look forward to and nothing to work around. My dry spell with contracts had lasted over a couple of months now and I did not know what to do.

I spent some time building relationships with contacts in my network. I was invited and joined a hiking group with my friends. There were festivals in the city that I attended. I even took a salsa class and danced several Sunday nights away at Latin social gatherings. My summer was shaping up to be one of relaxation and fun. Even though I felt that these changes had nothing to do with my work, it slowly became evident that it had a profound effect.

The slow pace made woke me up to what was important. Yes, the work is always there, but what is it for? To gain experience, to simply money? Yes, our work is very important. It drives us. But without realizing why, we lose on what making a living for ourselves really means.


Personal Growth

As a freelancer and solopreneur, developing our brand and making enough is a constant thought on our minds. With many roles to fill, we can hardly make back what we put into our businesses in out first couple of years. It takes time. This summer was different in that my professional and personal growth grew harmoniously.

There have been times in my careers where I was solely focused on the task at hand. I was working full-time with set schedules, expectations that had to fulfilled. There was nothing wrong with that, because it taught me how to be efficient and o stay focused. But I found that my health and personal relationships suffered. I was not balancing my time with family and friends very well. I was not exercising or getting much sleep either.

The flip side would be that I would struggle to find new clients and present my experience and services in a professional way. It was not until I got back some fire from my Communo Summit trip in Calgary this year, that I gained some much needed direction. What I did not expect was that by working on both the professional and personal aspects of my life, that my overall outlook as a solopreneur and creative would become empowered.


Knowing Yourself

It started one night when I could not sleep. There were so many thoughts in my head. I was anxious and I had to do something. So I got out of bed and started working on some tasks set for the next day. A task included work for a branding project. I was reviewing some branding questionnaire copy to rewrite into some branding statements, when I had the fun idea of taking the branding questionnaire myself.

For a long time, I based a lot of my design services on my experience. But when I put myself in the shoes of the client, I had control. I could dictate what my business was about - so I did. For this questionnaire, I answered the questions with my true vision - what I envision for myself and my business, where I want it to go, define what I am an expert at and what my services are and who my clients will be. What I came up with was an entirely new brand and direction.

I suddenly felt free and settled at the same time. The questions ranged from visions to missions, to look and feel and practical inquiries. But there was an underlying message - I wanted to celebrate my journey and the journey of others. I want to celebrate life through my skills as a branding and graphic designers to help others achieve their goals and dreams. It all came down to how honest and vulnerable I can become in order to attract like-minded people.

We may not know it, but we all face the same fears and insecurities. There will always be someone prettier, richer or more successful than you. But that should not be an excuse to give up. I believe every single person on this earth has a special gift to offer. It will not do us or anyone any good to hide those gifts and talents to offer to the world. Wherever you are in your journey, whether you know your gift or not, whether you are still honing your gift or are an expert, everyone has something to give.

I never imagined myself to be where I am now. Things have unfolded in the most interesting and unexpected ways. But I am glad to be where I am now and to have finally become aware of what is really important to me. This discovery will transform overtime. But I have finally have a grip on something that is really me - and I am not letting go. It only took a slow summer, some down time, a sleepless night, a quiet hour to listen to my inner desires and take action. ■

Patricia Atienza