How 2016 eliminated my shoulds, so only musts remained for 2017.

How 2016 eliminated my shoulds, so only musts remained. A new year's roundup.

Being a creative, you probably know about Elle Luna's book.

Briefly, it's about coming up to a crossroads in your life where you have to choose between Should and Must, meaning the way you should live your life and the way you are called to live your life. And if you're a rebel, must will always prevail.

My 2016 was all about eliminating Should and freeing up space for Must.

After reading some fellow creative business owner's end of year reports, I know I wasn't alone. Just when you think you're alone in something, others speak up, and then your heart fills with joy because there are people out there who understand you.

Now back to my year...

What happened and how did I get rid of the pesky shoulds?

As you know from my recent blog post - Last Xmas I failed to launch; this time I'm doing things differently. - I had to learn early on in the year that some things would just not work out, however hard you try to make them. (Like ecourses and pre-selling.)

Some things will just always be a bad fit for us. However hard we try to make them work.

That's ok, though! You don't want to be great at everything and wonder what on Earth you should do with your limitless superpowers. You want to be really good at something and use it to get ahead of your competition, and to create your dream life.

While it was a huge hit to my ego - the fact that I couldn't "hack" it - it was a huge life lesson and a much needed reminder that I don't need to do what others do to elevate my business. You know? We're bombarded with income reports and how-to articles from million-dollar coaches who want to teach us to be profitable and build a sustainable business and buy our own house on the beach...

But what if that's not our dream? Remember, your dream life probably looks very different from the next creative business owner. So ask yourself this question:

How does my dream day look like, feel like, smell like...?

Natalie Sisson - the backpack entrepreneur - gave a talk on TED about how each one of us has their unique freedom plan and asked the audience to close their eyes and ask that question. I had to do it earlier this year because the Internet was just depressing me!

Wherever we turn, it's another "award-winning expert" giving us their advice.

Or worse, income reports that make us feel inadequate and stupid.

Which is why I completely shut off the things I didn't need - advice from billion-dollar ecourse sellers and people who spam on twitter and post their income reports. I am not saying these people are all bad, but really, I don't need them in my life.

What I need is more creative rebels - people who know exactly who they are and how they want to run their business and what their dream lives look like.

Unique and authentic voices on the Internet. 

After admitting I was a "failure" and refunding my students, I was in limbo...

You know how frustrating it is, right? Like the entire world moves and you stand still. 

I went on vacation at this point, but I couldn't enjoy it because I felt like something was missing in my life. Some grand purpose. Which pushed me to fall into depression and even stop working on my business for the entire summer. And while I don't recommend that to anyone, I am grateful for the time I took to step back and gather some perspective. (Which I could do because I have saved up some money in case of a mental breakdown or a bancruptcy situation.)

During that depressed period, I watched all the movies and tv shows I could find. I also became extremely passionate about feeding stray kittens. I even created a fund where you can donate and help us keep them off the streets (otherwise they die). But I also felt very powerless because I couldn't help in some cases, and that taught me that sometimes you need to let go of the responsibility you put on yourself. We are all equally responsible.

Looking back, that period sucked, and it felt a lot like the following song from Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, arguably the best thing that happened this year.

Even though depression sucks, the down period was necessary for what came next.

Once you have eliminated all of your shoulds and failed and let go, you realize you have nothing to lose and that trying to be other people and do business like them is total bullshit, and that the only place to go from here is YOU.

Yes, there is a place called YOU. You go there by getting real quiet and honest with yourself. It is filled with questions you don't normally ask and it's kind of uncomfortable to try and answer them, but once you do, you truly connect with yourself. And once you have connected with yourself in this place, you can get out and BE it.

You can be yourself. I'm talking your weird, messy, and awkward self. All of it.

That was when things really started working. 

I was free from the shoulds, I could see myself clearly, and I was ready to show the world who I really was and what I really wanted to say, but mostly, I wanted to work on what I wanted my life and my business to look like and feel like for me and my fellow rebels.

Before that time I had kind of had my message and I had kind of had success with my business, but nothing was EXACTLY the right fit. My coaching pages kept changing, my copy kept changing, and I really found it hard to describe what I did when people asked me. It wasn't lack of confidence, however, it was lack of clarity in my creative capabilities.

Because even though I was a "creative rebel" and I was inspired by all the unique and authentic voices of the Internet, I was mostly just talking the talk.

In September I finally felt like I was starting to walk my path, too.

As soon as I got the idea for the Creative Rebel Academy, I KNEW, with all of my being, that this was what I was meant to be doing. Even if it didn't end up to be a grand success, I would be happy and fulfilled just by getting it out into the world.

I also knew that I had spent too much time running my business and talking to people, but not actually fostering community and collaboration, which I loved so much. You know how sometimes you are so deep in your business and figuring things out that you forget that you don't have to do it alone? Well, I forgot it temporarily.

(This goes beyond your biz buddies and mastermind groups. I'm talking community!)

When the idea came, I knew it was time to get out of my comfort zone, and that this new project would show the world who I was, beyond any words I could publish.

I spent those months hustling on the Academy, and this is the result.

2017 is going to be very different, in a good way.

First thing that's going to change is this blog, so instead of publishing an article every Monday, it's probably going to be every other Monday + unexpected articles when I'm inspired and I want to tell you about something, like I did in this post.

I'm also going to work on "marrying" this blog and the blog over on the Creative Rebel Academy site, which will be up on my birthday - January 13th.

(Which also happens to be Friday 13, YAY!)

Another thing that's going to change is the way I do email. Currently I send a weekly newsletter on Monday and a curation of rebel resources on Thursday to my peeps. And while I LOVE this arrangement, I'm going to change it in January because of the new project.

So all of my subscribers will get a Rebel Digest once every week.

The Rebel Digest is a combination of my weekly letter, my articles, and the links I have enjoyed throughout the week. It's going to be somewhat huge, but seeing as I have this humongous project to run, I will need to put everything together.

What I am looking forward to the MOST in 2017 is to see how the Academy experience goes - the first season - and how it will evolve in the second part of the year.

Also, I am looking forward to doing video - vlogging and live-streaming!

When I'm not creating, rebelling, or marketing, I'll be traveling.

I mentioned to my subscribers how I wanted to travel more and how I could give them my services in exchange for room and board (like this rebel did and these rebels are doing) and everyone answered so enthusiastically, I am definitely going to take you guys up on your invitations and do a trip around Europe in the summer.

Finally, I have some cool ideas I want to make happen in 2017 - one is a video series called 21 days of Hidden Art, and the other one, a coffee table book for rebels. 

Right now I am focusing on my current project, though, so they'll have to wait!

Which reminds me - honor your ideas. Write them down and let them incubate a little. Sometimes all it takes is writing them down while you work on your current projects. Never let them fly away because they'll stop coming if you pay them no attention. I have learned that The Muses are capricious, but they can also be generous or stingy depending on how often you show up for them and how fast you open the door when they knock. 

Thank you,

To each creative business owner who shared their journey.

To Caroline Winegeart who emailed us with the theme of her year:

The major theme of 2016 for me was about claiming my own power to run my life & business on MY terms... my year was most defined by those pivotal moments when I noticed the Should Voices drowning out my intuition, pulling me farther away from my values, and then when I chose to step up and realign myself with my core instead of listening to those Should Voices… I learned to trust my gut and make decisions based on MY TRUTH, not anyone else’s.

To Sian Richardson who gave us a complete and honest look at her year, the big lessons she took away (like "you have the right to change" and "take the first step before you see the whole path" and "you have to do it your way"), and what comes next.

To Kayla Hollatz whose year was such an immense inspiration for me and for us all, and who has only been at it for one year - as much as I have been. 

To Emma Blackery who is always so real on her vlog and who admitted in her latest video that she hasn't been herself and she needed to find her passion again. I appreciate her honesty, we all lose ourselves so often, it's ridiculous. 

And thank you to you. For showing up every day for me, for us.

And most of all, for your self. Keep rebelling!



Violeta Nedkova

Violeta Nedkova is a multipassionate marketer who loves helping people. She talks and writes about marketing with purpose and personality because it's so much better than traditional marketing.