Using your values to guide how you want to live and create.

Hi everyone, how’s it going? Hanging in there? Ready for half term?

On Friday I had my vaccination, which was a big relief, although I was shivering that night, but feel ok now. Having spent months shielding and managing to avoid Covid all this time, despite being in and out of hospital, I just can’t wait until everyone is done and restrictions start easing. It was all very well organised and I do feel more protected now, I just hope that people do go when called.

Wearing my vaccination sticker!
All done at the John Smiths Stadium

Over the last few weeks, all kinds of opportunities have come up including being asked to start a writing group to replace the workshops I did, back when we could see each other face to face (those ancient times), and so I’ve been re-evaluating the directions I want to go in, again, whilst trying to keep hold of my guiding words for this year, ‘Balance and Breathe’.

Re-visiting my values

The work I’ve been doing as part of my Root and Rise membership with Nicola Rae Wickham has helped with this, as we’ve been working on alignment and how using your value’s power can help clarify your direction.

As someone how has worked with values many times in my Marketing career on different projects, I enjoy this piece of the overall picture, in fact when I set up The Curious Creative Club, it was one of the first things I did, but Nicola reminded me that values are not set-in stone and can change and move as we grow in our work.

And as well as your guiding words, your core values can really help clarify the direction you want to take. When you are starting out as a creative business or going up a level from hobbyist to a seller, especially if you’ve been doing it a long time, you may not consider this too deeply and be keen to crack on with the other more attractive creative tasks, such as branding, creating graphics or designing your website.

However, I can’t stress enough, how important defining this part is, because it genuinely drives everything else and makes it all so much easier.

Defining your values can help in so many ways, here are just a few:

  • How you want to work
  • What you want to create
  • What excites / drives you?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • Who you choose to surround yourself and what causes you support?
  • And very importantly what you will say NO to

Essentially creating values is about getting to know yourself, really, really well. Which sounds crazy right? Of course, you know yourself well, but when have you taken the time to sit down and ask yourself the important questions? It’s not something we regularly do.

So, taking the above questions to explain it further, have a go at asking yourself these questions and make notes of your answers.

How do you want to work?

Whether this will be your primary work, a side business, or simply a hobby, this relates to so many variables and leads to further questions – Do you want to work from home, in a studio, or fresh air? How much time realistically do you have to dedicate to this? What time of day suits your creative energy best? This all comes under how you want to work, and can bring you a value related to it, for example – Committed could be a value, or Collaboration could be a value if working with others is important to you.

What do you want to create?

This is possibly the most personal, and could look like a million different sentences, but if you were and artist for example it could look like this: I want to create bright bold statement pieces that people talk about – so ‘daring’ could be a value or it could be I want to create intricate pieces that take time and evoke a feeling in people’s homes – so ‘thoughtful’ could work for you.

Or maybe you don’t want to be so specific and would rather be open to creating all kinds of art, and so being playful or experimental may be a central value to be aware of, to remember that feeling.

What excites / drives you?

This is a big one, about your passion and purpose to create in the first place, knowing this one is essential to action, especially in those moments when you are not feeling it. You can also think of many of these questions in the reverse to understand what your values are not, so for example – what demotivates you or upsets you?

I’ll give a personal example to answer what drives and excites me;

What drives me is making a difference to someone’s life, for the better, so that’s why I write this blog and why I run creative groups in the hope that it will inspire people to make changes that will then improve their quality of life.

What excites me is learning new things, problem-solving, discovering a new passion for something, having new experiences, travel, music, creating, challenging myself and not being afraid to experiment. All this gets my creative energy flowing and is the fuel to kick-starting action in my work.

In reverse, what demotivates me or I find annoying or energy-consuming is anything technical, over fussiness, things that don’t work, complicated messaging or content. I like things to be simple, to work and be straight to the point!

All of this plays a big part in my work and how I like to live my life.

Who is your ideal customer?

I’m no expert on this one and this is the one area that I’m keen to learn more on for my own business, but as a start, ask yourself what problem you are addressing for your customer.

This may be a broad ask, so it may be worth digging deep and asking yourself the 5 Why’s, which really gets to the crux of the issue, so for an example type of customer;

Problem – Women have reached a point in their life where their passion and purpose are lacking due to several issues such as children being a priority or leaving home, and they are at a crossroads, unsure of their identity and wanting to do something for themselves, that they really enjoy.

Solution – Encouraging women to take up something creative to provide a focus for change and ultimately a richer life.

But why is that important?

Because it’s important to live a contended life, because we only get one shot.

But why is creating important?

Because it will improve feelings of self-worth

But why is that important?

Because it’s important to feel proud of yourself outside of the societal roles of being a ‘mother’ etc and it will also help boost confidence

But why is that important?

Because it will lead to increased courage to try new things

But why is that important?

To live a full life that is enriched, purposeful and enables you to reach your full potential – which hits the mark on the self-actualisation point on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, see below.

Image result for maslow's hierarchy of needs

These aren’t perfect answers to the five questions above, but it can give you an idea of what is important to you in terms of your ideal customer and the problem you are trying to solve, as a refining method.

Who do you surround yourself with and what causes / communities do you support?

This comes round to who you want on your team, both personally and professionally, because these people become a big part of your World and therefore have an impact, whether you like it or not!

Again, this follows a deeper understanding of who you are as a person. For example, if you know you are an introvert, surrounding yourself with only extroverts and in situations that don’t suit your energy, will be totally draining. On the opposite side of the coin, extroverts need that social interaction to boost their energy and feel more content.

Are you a glass half-full or glass half-empty person? That doesn’t mean you can’t have the opposite kind of people in your life, as that would be practically impossible to do, but understand your own needs too, so if you are having a bad day, surround yourself with positive people.

If you are feeling great, be as supportive as feels right, but limit time with negative or critical people, it’s just about being aware of the effect other personalities and characteristics can have on you. Humans are largely empathetic creatures and pick up on the vibes of others, so we need to be a bit more conscious of it and protect ourselves if need be, especially in current times.

There are also the inherent belief systems we all have or have grown up with, how we feel about societal issues, so again examine these, what forms part of your belief system?

Are you religious, vegan, part of the LBTQ+ or BAME community, do you believe in justice, equality, climate change, keen on making a difference in other cultures or communities that you may not be part of but care deeply about?

The list is endless, but how passionate and active you are within these areas, will form part of your inner belief system and how you want that to show up, both personally and in your work and may have an impact on who you choose to include in your circle too.

Belief systems are powerful but also challenging, it can be hard work fighting for something you believe in, but can be immensely satisfying if ‘making a difference’ is one of your core values.

A great example of this, is the recent BBC 4 programme hosted by Jenny Éclair that a friend told me about. It’s called ‘Craftivism’ and follows some inspiring artists, trying to use their voice in a different, less aggressive way than say a protest march, whilst getting their message across extremely well using their crafty talents.

Craftivism with Jenny Eclair on BBC 4

A crafter on the programme, Helen Baker created little pants signs with messages on to encourage more women to attend their cervical screening appointments. She then places these little pieces of art in Doctors surgeries, charity shops, and behind toilet doors to get the awareness out there. See the clip from the show here…

This really appealed to me, and I’m now thinking about ways of doing this in my own work because it just goes to show that there are many ways to approach a problem or issue and it seems this notion of ‘craftivism’ is growing.

And finally – What do you want to say No to?

Once you know most of the answers above, it will become a lot clearer on what you will say ‘No’ to, because it doesn’t feel right and doesn’t align to your values. The key thing is to pick out what words keep coming up for you, and the meaning behind those words – why do they matter so much to you – do they give you fire in your belly and sit well with the work you do?

When I originally set up The CCC, I chose the words above, almost like a roadmap for my ‘customer’ journey, I realise now but because it has grown so much since then and I am fully immersed in what it has become, there are new things I want to add in which I’m currently working on.

Don’t forget to think about your strengths.

Nicola recommends also looking at your strengths as another way to help guide you, to make sure your values are aligned with you in an honest way. If you are unsure what your strengths are, as sometimes we can struggle with this, then ask five of the closest people to you, who know you inside and out.

Collect these words and highlight the ones in common. Hopefully, the words that will come up will feel good and you’ll find yourself nodding!

Since I started, I’ve joined many social media groups or followed people on Instagram who all have similar passions and purpose to me and that helps solidify what I’m all about too and the direction I want to go in. You feel part of a community that you choose to support, because you believe in their work, and they support you too.

However, equally with all the ‘noise’ in social media land, it will also help you to define what doesn’t represent you out there and helps to create boundaries.

So in summary, what I’m trying to get across to you is this:

  1. Your values are your guiding principles, the things that help define decisions and direction on a daily basis in your life and creative work, often on an unconscious level.
  2. They make up a big part of who you are as a person, you can find them in a gut feeling, an increased heartbeat or sweaty palm and just as much in a heartfelt hug, raucous laughter, or empathetic tears, listen to these signals and you won’t go far wrong.
  3. Thinking about values as part of the bigger picture is a really useful tool to help guide your work and brand – get this right early on and it will make things like writing your ‘About You’ section, for example, so much easier.
  4. You can use your values in your voice and how you show up, whether that be standing up for something you believe in on a social media post, protest march or craftivism opportunity, our values can make a difference, if we choose to use them in an active way.
  5. Consider putting words from the answers to the above questions and your strengths into a word-cloud – that way you can see them in an easy visual way, and it may make things clearer for you, see below as an example.
  6. Knowing and understanding your values and beliefs means that that you come from a place of whole-self and authenticity– putting your heart, soul, and stamp into everything you do.
  7. People and your customers then easily come to recognise and trust what you are all about and what you are known for, another win-win.
Creating a word-cloud based on feedback from our Accountability Group members, helped us to then create our branding

I hope that’s been helpful, and personally I’m excited to do some more work on this because it feels like the time is right. I want to go back and reassess, two years down this journey, and clarify my values once again.

I’d love to know if this resonates or helps, or what key values are important to you, so please share in the comments below.

Until next time take care and stay safe…

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

2 Comments on “Using your values to guide how you want to live and create.

  1. Great post Juliet 🙂
    I’m clear on my business values but this has prompted me to think about my personal values too (although there will be some in common I think!).


  2. Pingback: 100 lessons from the land of a Creative Blogger… on my 100th Blog post!

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