Friday, April 24, 2015

Pausing to Praise and Celebrate Your Work

Being your own boss! And everyone rejoices! (At least every American.) No one to boss you around, to tell you what you'll be doing, to tell you what you need to get excited about. No one to cap your earnings or grieve over being x amount of minutes late. No one to condemn you or control you. YUM. Right?

But being your own boss means that you yourself are in the place of control... and judgement. (You + your numerous clients, but that's a seperate post.) What I want to ponder is this: how do you gauge how good of an employee you are? By how much you make?

I have no one telling me that I'm doing a great job. I have plenty of folks telling me that they like what I'm doing, but it never feels like enough because I'm sure there are just as many naysayers. I produce, produce, produce, but again, when I show what I've done, it's consumed in an instant and I receive the question, “what else you got?” Whenever I send over a batch of new work to my agency—which runs between six to twenty pieces—the sweetest response that I can expect is “great! Keep it coming!”

I have few pauses to celebrate. When opportunity knocks, we say a quick “yay” at dinner and then move on, hoping that it will pay off well. When I finish a new piece, I post it on social media to commemorate it. I'll typically get a bunch of likes and a handful of comments.

Some people would kill for that kind of response.

But then again, some people would feel incredibly discouraged if they only received a few hundred likes and a tenth as much buzz.

How confusing.

What is good? How much is enough? When can I take a vacation? When can I shut off the “work” brain? When can I celebrate?

I decide.

And I decide based on a heavenly conviction of approval, not on my own scale whose arbitrary measurments are based on a concoction of comparison to my past work, others' work, pay scale, and what conventional teaching has said. (At least that's the idea.)

Are you exhausted yet? Welcome to my brain.

So this week, I celebrated. I went through my work and celebrated all that I have done. I'm wrapping them in cellophane sleeves, matting a few, and forcing myself to find contentment in what's DONE.

The last half of April thru the first week of May is a busy time for me. A huge illustration art show approaches. It is where I make half of my commercial illustration income. Honestly, it's not a ton of money, but it's opportunity and visibility. Taking time out now to do anything but create feels like a ridiculous idea.

{In fact, I'm still feeling doubts about any waking moment away from a brush or a mouse.}

But I feel convicted. It's time to pause and praise. God has enabled me to create what I have done. I need to thank him for it and I need to give myself a pat on the back—his breath of approval.  

Keep painting, then pause.