I AM NOT SPECIAL

i-am-not-special I am not special. Yes of course, my mom, my family and my husband (I hope) think so. But really, I'm not. I'm just like you. I have fears, dream, goals, aspirations, victories, failures, good days and bad days.

When I read other people's stories - on how they got started and what got them to where they are today - I get inspired and feel like it's truly possible to achieve that same greatness. So today, I thought I share with you my story on how I got to where I am today. And that you too can achieve the same success.

Growing up, art was always what I favored - well, that and music. I remember getting a pair of large headphones and locking myself in my room to bliss out to music and draw or paint. This was my happy place.

When it came time to decide what I wanted to do before graduating high school I considered arts. Maybe graphic design or communication arts (whatever that means) - but really those jobs sounded terrible back then. The idea of sitting in front of a computer all day was not glamorous or dreamy at all. I also considered becoming an art teacher. But the idea of so many years of school killed me - I hated school (for reals guys, the only class I liked in school was art).

Because I couldn't decide what I wanted to do and the idea of going into debt to study something I didn't even know I liked, was not an option.

So I chose Cosmetology school. A left field decision, yes. But I great decision for sure. I grew up with two aunts that were both self-employed hairstylists. The idea of being able to make people feel beautiful and working for myself sounded very desirable. That's when I really knew I wanted to work for myself.

For thirteen years I worked as a hairstylist and for ten of those years I was extremely happy doing it. Then I started pursuing art in my free time, moved to a more cultural, art-supportive town and found myself exhibiting art at local restaurants, shops and galleries. I was always drawing, sketching or painting in my free time and finally did something about it. I was creating because I knew I wanted a change, I knew I didn't want to do hair forever. 

After a few exhibits and opening my first Etsy shop, I began to experience what it felt like to make money doing what I loved. It was pennies but a huge boost and confirmation that I could do this.

A few months later I got engaged and decided to design my own wedding invitations. I picked up a set of nibs and calligraphy tools I had from years ago and created our wedding announcements and stamps. I posted them on my Etsy shop just for fun and immediately I was being emailed by many for custom work.

I went with it. I started creating more calligraphy designs, receiving custom orders and posting more products. After my first month I was making more than just pennies.

After our wedding in August of 2011, I opened my second Etsy shop Hazel Wonderland. By April 2012 I was interviewed for the Etsy Featured Seller (for those of you who don't know, being asked to be an Etsy Featured Seller is a huge deal. The interview is opted on the Etsy homepage and viewed by millions).

A few months later, I quit my day job. 

Things were great. Better than great, I was on cloud nine. I was scheming ideas, daydreaming of what the future could look like, I was unstoppable.

Then a few months into designing wedding invitations and working with a couple that challenged me, I realized I was not doing what I was called to do. Yes, I was creating art and yes I was extremely grateful to have clients, to be making money and to be self-employed. But I was not passionate about working with wedding clients. Working with couples was fun and always beautiful to see how each project unfolded, but I was not happy, I was stressed. I still felt like there was more and this was not it.

I spent some time soul-searching and digging deep. Listening to the heart and imaging those moments when I felt the most alive, the most true to myself. I discovered I felt the most alive and heartfelt during conversations with other creatives, artists or friends. Conversations about how unhappy they were at their current job or position, how they dreamed of being more, accomplishing more but had no idea how to get there. They had a passion, a calling, a God-given talent, but no clue how to monetize it.

And that's when I knew what I really wanted to do, what I was called to do. I wanted to help others discover and grow their talents, personality and skills so they could make money and bring value to the world doing what they love, helping us find ultimate fulfillment. 

That meant working with people like me. Artists, musicians, woodworkers, designers, illustrators, photographers, printers, instructors, teachers... that wanted to leave their day job to make money doing what they really love.

When I realized I had to make the switch to start working with creatives and stop working with weddings, I came up with a plan. A plan to slowly phase out of weddings and into business coaching, branding and designing. This process took about eight months.

On October 15, 2013, I launched this blog (yep, the one your reading right now) and started talking more about what I was doing, why I was doing it and who I wanted to work with.

Fast forward to present day and here I am living my dream. I'm working with my dream clients, creating work I love and influencing others like I hoped I could. I create brands that tell others stories, I plan out strategies to help people get to where they want to go, I coach to help others find clarity and brainstorm new ideas, and most recently I teach to help inspire others to imagine, start and grow their business, expertise and craft.

I was put on this earth to help creatives like you. To help you imagine, create, find happiness and find ultimate fulfillment. What do you feel you were put on this earth to do?

("I am not special" was inspired by the talented illustrator Molly Jaques and her Instagram post here

CAREER VS CALLING

career-vs-calling Do you have a career or do you have a calling? When you're asked what do you do - do you respond with shameless or defeated I-wish-I-was-doing-what-I-love tone or do you respond with a proud I'm-so-glad-you-asked tone?

I can't count how many times the response I get is the former rather than the latter. Whether you're the leading marketing consultant at a bigwig firm and believe it's too late to follow your dreams or you're an overworked waitress that feels helpless on making a living as a musician - the feeling is the same. Fear of failure, feeling unequipped, negativity and the unknown control you.     

Today you can change that. Just a shift in thinking and focus can help you start living a life bigger than yourself.

Here are 3 tips to make that shift today:

1. Positive Thinking - "Believe you can move mountains and you will" was a quote a read years ago and thought - yeah right, move mountains? I was missing the point - if you believe you can do something and that anything is possible then you have half of the game figured out. If you don't believe you can ever make money as an illustrator, designer, consultant, business owner or singer, than you never will. But once you start believing, something begins to happen. The universe hears you, it hears you're ready. Things begin to shift, mountains move, the path becomes clear and everything begins to fall in place.

2. Goal-Setting - Dreams are goals with a deadline. Do you dream of starting a business that allows you to work from home so you can be closer to your children? Do you wish you could make money creating watercolor paintings all day long? The only way dreams will over become a reality is if you get it out of the head and onto paper. Just writing your ideas down is a huge start, but following through is another. Easy-to-do tips on how to successfully goal-set here and here.

3. Grow - If you're not growing you're dying. Are you dragging your feet, wishing for more but don't know how to make it happen? The most successful people I know are constantly growing, learning and moving forward. Take a class, read a book, attend a conference - anything to keep you growing, expanding, learning and inspired.

So would you rather live a life full of impressive titles, promotions, long hours and salaries. Or live a life doing what you love, that professionally fulfills you, that's intrinsically rewarding so you feel like you're contributing to a higher purpose?

WHAT IS A CREATIVE COACH?

what-is-creative-coaching When people ask me what I do and I respond with I'm an artist, designer and creative coach. Without fail, the followup question is what is a creative coach? I'm happy to answer a creative coach is an expert/teacher/mentor that helps guide creatives, artists and musicians to achieve their goals. 

Think back to all of the teachers that have taught you something. In my experience, there are two types of teachers; one that guides you through each step, and the one that does the work for you.

Back when I was a teenager attending cosmetology school, there were two classrooms (each with their own teacher) that us students were divided into. One teacher that was rumored to be sweet, nice and easy and the other teacher was rumored to be a hard ass. I had the latter and I wouldn't change it for the world.

Because although at the time it seemed harder to be with this particular teacher and way scary to mess up a haircut, my teacher never leaned in and finished my work just to make things easier. She would stand next to me, guide me through the task, remind me of my knowledge, give me confidence to complete it. Eventually her style of teaching allowed me to feel confident enough to teach a few cosmetology classes while I was still a student. As for the students in the other classroom, lets just say most of them never went on to cut hair professionally.

So when I say I am a creative coach, I mean I am your rock standing next to you, supporting your ideas, reminding you of your courage, helping you over hurdles, empowering you with confidence and equipping you with the tools to successfully accomplish your goals.

Whether you need a single session to get over a creative hurdle, or a 6 week session to prepare you for your big business launch or brand overhaul, I am here for you. Email me today  meredithcbullock@gmail.com to find out how we can work together to accomplish your goals and start 2014 on the right foot!

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4 WAYS TO ACCOMPLISH YOUR NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION

4-ways-to-accomplish-your-new-years-resolution Writing a resolution is like a contract to myself that I will live my dream and accomplish everything I set my heart to. So when the end of the year approaches I get all giddy about writing my next year of goals.

Sometimes the hardest part of writing a resolution is actually identifying your goals and writing them out. But to me the hardest part is following through with them.

So to prep for the New Year here are 4 tips on how to write a killer resolution for 2014 so you can reach your goals, grow, make more money, find balance and live your dream.

1. WRITE IT DOWN

Probably the most important step of all is to write your goals down. If you don't write it down, it'll never get done. It will swim around in your head with all of the other ideas you have until you inevitably forget about it. For the past 5 or so years, I have a dedicated journal where I write out my resolutions, That way every year I can look back and see what I've accomplished. Get some more tips and download a goal-setting worksheet here. 

2. SET S.M.A.R.T. GOALS

Set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound goals.

Specific: Be as detailed and precise as possible. If you're looking to grow your expertise, how do you plan to do that? Sign up for a ecourse or read for 30" a day? Whatever the goal, be specific.

Measurable: If you can't measure it, you'll never know if you've reached it. For example, when you set a goal to write a book, include the amount of pages you want to write, how long you want to write per day and so on.

Attainable: Our goals come from our daydreams, brainstorms and ideas and sometimes they can be lofty. In order to reach your goals, they must be attainable. For example, if you want to blog 4 times per week, but really only have time for 3 days a week, set a goal that's more realistic for you.  You can always over achieve your goal.

Relevant: Always make sure your goals are aligned with your vision. If you're accepting new wedding clients, but your goals is to work with creative entrepreneurs then you find yourself off course, bitter and burnt out because you're doing work irrelevant to your vision.

Time-bound: I religiously use google calendar, iCal, my iPhone and my notebook to track all of my goals with their specific dates. Over and over again, if I add a goal to my list without a deadline, it never gets done. So when you write a goal down, give it a date of completion and try to stick with it.

3. PLAN IT OUT

Starting with your last goal of 2014, work your way backward. Imagine you have accomplished all of your goals for 2014, ask yourself how did I get here? Begin by writing down your last goal of 2014, then asking what did I do just before this, and what did I do just before that and so on. Continue to work your way backward all the way to the present. Here's an example:

5. Become a best-selling author (last goal for 2014)

4. Tour the US promoting my book

3. Publish my book

2. Write my book

1. Create outline and gather ideas for my book

Once you have those steps in place, you can fill in even more steps in between each one, like:

3. Publish my book

  • submit draft to editor
  • identify my readers
  • research how to publish a book

2. Write my book

4. SHARE IT WITH OTHERS

Being held accountable by others is powerful. Several studies like this one proves that when you share your goals with others, you're more likely to follow through with them. So talk about what you want to do in 2014, share it with you friends and family, on your blog, email, newsletter or social media. Maybe once a month or every other month you want to share your goals and how you've accomplished them. Whatever makes sense to you, share wherever you can. That way when you're feeling doubtful, fearful, unsure or uninspired you have your tribe to hold you accountable.

I have just a few slots left for the 4 week Creative Coaching Package for $275, normal price is $550. Treat yourself to this 4 week plan that helps you get organized and plan out your resolutions, create a strategy for success and hold you accountable so you can make more money and start reaching your goals. Learn more about the package here  and email me for more information and to reserve your spot. Price is good till January 1, 2014.

What do you want to accomplish in 2014? Writing a book (if you couldn't tell) is one of my goals.

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THE WINNER OF THE CREATIVE COACHING PACKAGE

It's always hard choosing just one winner for a giveaway. Especially after reading each one of your comments and learning about your business, your ambitions, your goals and your dreams. I just can't imagine learning about what you do and where you want to go and not helping you get there.

So like the last giveaway, everybody has won something.

If you entered this giveaway and didn't win the grand prize, I am offering each of you the 4 Week Creative Coaching Package for only $275 (normally priced at $550). We meet for 1 hour each week, for 4 weeks (via Skype). Each session, I provide my undivided attention, guiding you through exercises and equipping you with tools that allow you to daydream, achieve your goals and clarify where you want to go. Helping you grow and achieve success with your business.

This offer is valid for those who entered the drawing and lasts till January 1st, 2014. To learn more and reserve your spot, email me meredithcbullock@gmail.com.

If you're interested in learning more about what it would look and feel like to work with me and how we can work together to grow your business, let me know and we can schedule a free consultation via Skype.

Thank you to all of you who entered and shared your goals for 2014, you inspire me!

MY DAILY ROUTINE

my-daily-routine Do you find your days full of emails, meetings and the requests of others leaving you no time for yourself and what matters most?

This was me less than a year ago. I would check and send emails at any hour of the day, I'd work until my husband dragged me out of office (metaphorically, not physically). I would fill my day with work projects and let my personal projects and goals slip yet again. There were even moments that I found myself so busy and stressed out that days would pass before I went outside. I was too stressed to go for a run, hike or do yoga - all I could think was "if I just spend one more hour on this or that, then I can get it done and I not think it about any more - or If I take on one more project than I can make that extra money - or If I just check my email one more time, I could do...". I was a victim of my own terrible self-discipline and I felt drained and a slave to my work.

Something had to give, I couldn't let work rule my life. So, I made a conscious effort to plan each and everyday with my work goals AND personal goals. I wrote down what I wanted to do for myself, then what projects I had to work on, then how long each goal would take, and it's rank in priority. This more simple and precise, the easier and more accomplished my day was. I use a very simple and approachable technique that I talk about HERE and have a free download for HERE.

I started to make time for meditation and reading each morning, I scheduled in time for exercise, I made an effort to get outside at least every other day, I scheduled in my personal projects and I stopped working on the weekends - no exceptions.

I feel pretty lucky to have the ability to make my own schedule, especially now that I have a handle on it. I feel more accomplished, clearer and healthier.

I started to read this book Manage Your Day to Day and have found some great tips and inspiration - like creative triggers. As Mark McGuinness suggests in the book "Stick with the same tools, the same surroundings, and even the same background music, so that they become associative triggers for you to enter your creative zone." That's all I needed to create a Morning Routine mix on Spotify, you can listen to it here.

Here is an example of what my daily routine looks like:

  • 8:00am - wake and make tea
  • 8:15am - mediate
  • 8:30am - read and drink my tea
  • 9:00am - confirm my day
  • 9:15am - go for a run or do yoga
  • 10:15am - shower
  • 10:30am - eat breakfast (which usually is a nutrient rich shake)
  • 11:00am - I start my work day with the most pressing projects (this is a recent change in my schedule that I am testing out, typically I blog before I start my projects)
  • 1:00pm - write & blog
  • 2:15pm - return emails
  • 2:45pm - lunch with the hubby
  • 3:15pm - meetings
  • 4:30pm - social media
  • 5:00pm - personal projects
  • 6:00pm - return and send any last emails
  • 7:00pm - finish work, start cooking dinner
  • 7:30/8pm - dinner
  • 9:00pm - my hubby hangout and typically t watch some TV or movies
  • 11:15pm - I start to wind down and head to bed

I am so inspired by reading other people's daily routines, especially this one here. So what does your daily routine look like? What can you do today to make your routine better? What tip or victories have you discover that make your day-to-day awesome?

ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

acknowledging-your-accomplishments I was catching up with a friend the other night and she asked me how business was, more specifically, what I was currently working on. So, I answered.

I started off with the one project that I thought was most exciting and notable. Then I continued with another project that was also very exciting, then I started to share the next project and again, equally a very exciting project. At that very moment, I realized something. I realized that all of the projects I was currently working on were all equally notable, exciting and exactly what I wanted to be doing. I was working with my dream clients (other creatives and entrepreneurs) on projects that fill my mission, heart and soul.

After we said our goodbyes I felt like I was on top of the world - my world. I was doing what I love and loving every moment of it. Later that night when I shared this realization with my husband, I reflected on the conversation my friend and I shared and found and an abundant amount of gratitude, contentment, accomplishment and most importantly I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Yep, I was proud of myself and ok with admitting it.

I enjoyed that moment so much, that I had to share what I learned with you. So, my challenge to you is to write your accomplishments down in your notebook, journal, blog or even here in the comments below…anywhere. Just make sure you write them down and give yourself some credit for all of the amazing victories you've tackled.

Tell me, what accomplishments you've had lately? What projects are you working on that excite you? What goals have you reached?

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Ever since I was a teenager, I wanted to travel the West Coast. I recall several films that captured breathtaking views of the land feeding my desire to go see it for myself. It wasn't until this summer that I finally saw it in person. My husband and I took 2 weeks to explore and drive up the entire West Coast to fulfill this dream of mine. We started in San Diego and drove all the way to Seattle, WA. One of those days we camped just off the beach near Big Sur, California where this picture was taken. Moments after I snapped this image, we saw a whale pass by. 

ALONE TIME

alone-time-self-love-1 I like my alone time. And lately I found myself depleted, forgetting how important it is to make time for myself.

It energizes me, gives me strength and inspires creative thought. My husband heard that introverts find contentment and inspiration when alone and extroverts find the same but when they're socializing. I don't like to label myself as an introvert, but I do love to be home and find relevancy in that statement.

I remember when I was younger my family used to call me the "cellar dweller" because my bedroom was in the basement of our house and I spent most of time there.

The past few weeks have been full of long work days preparing for this blog to go live (yay, it's finally live!) and working on completing several projects with other creatives. Seriously, I had 3 or 4 projects all finishing up at the same time as my blog launch. It was crazy and a bit insane, but wow what awesome work we created!

With both my husband and I being self-employed and working from home - I find it hard to easily find time alone. Staying home (when he goes out) is sometimes the only "alone time" I get. Often I choose to stay home but in reality, by the time he leaves the house, it's 8 or 9pm at night and I am too tired to be creative or read.

So today I'm taking the day off from work and making it an official "alone time day". I automatically feel 10lbs lighter and full of wonder - daydreaming about what my perfect alone time day would look like. It would definitely include drinking lots of tea, reading, spending time outside, writing, drawing, brainstorming and sending letters of gratitude. Maybe even donating blood, roasting veggies, making herbal tinctures, reading the local paper, going to the library...the list goes on.

What are you doing for yourself today? What does your perfect alone time day look like?

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