I really want to talk about #Marchmeetthemaker*. I’ve been wanting to write a blog about it (MMTM - abbreviated throughout for ease…!) for a while because I think the impact it has had on artists and makers all over the globe is enormous. Just looking at how many posts have been shared on Instagram alone (273,834 at time of writing) let alone the posts shared throughout Facebook and Twitter, as well as the hugely active community group that Joanne Hawker (creator of MMTM) has set up on FB – this campaign has actually made a really positive difference to people.
I took part in the challenge this year as well as actively engaging with a large number of others who were part of it. I’m not even kidding when I say that so many of the post made me laugh, made me cry, made me wistful, envious, proud – so many emotions evoked from a few square images on my phone.
But what happens when the month of March is over and we are left to own resources once more? The sense of community does still live on brilliantly in the Facebook group with ongoing support from Joanne, as well as the connections, friendships and relationships that have been forged as a result of the campaign – but I’m seeing a lot of you struggling to get back to your own organic Instagram posting without those daily prompts to think about, and many of you are struggling with lost mojo and ideas since the end of the challenge because you haven't got that strong focus that MMTM gave you.
So the way I’m seeing it is there are a couple of options. We could ask Joanne to do a year round one – obviously I’m kidding and the girl actually does have a career she’s focusing on – or we can create our own personal prompts to live by until MMTM comes around again, which I’ll go into more detail in a mo. (By the way there's a MMTM week in November to look forward to, guys!!)
I wanted to write this blog post for a number of reasons, and I apologise now if I start to go off on many tangents (I’ve always got a lot to say and it doesn’t always come out in the right order…) I want to deal with why the lost mojo is there, I want to try and help you see that it's normal, and I want to get you going again. But we need to understand what it is that made it successful and why we wanted to get involved.
Let’s first think about the words that come to mind when we think about MMTM (okay, this maybe just me but I think you’ll agree with a lot of them)
Community, empowerment, empathy, purpose, reason, truth, storytelling, support, honesty…
All self explanatory I would guess, but ultimately, MMTM gave us all an opportunity to tell our truth, our story. It gave us a reason and purpose to post (and a lot of us really struggle with that – me included as you’ll notice from my sporadic posting). It was also really empowering because we could tell our truth and people would respond to it, in a positive way. Having the permission to be brave, and to get out there to admit your failures or your successes or your struggles made it easier to do so, and as a result of that we received support and empathy and became part of something bigger – a brilliant like minded community.
So of course we’re going to feel lost once it’s over – we’ve got a slump going on, like the way we feel down after a holiday for example, which is exasperated by the shitty year we’ve had so far weather wise as well as other stuff going on in the wider world. We’re struggling with getting going and feeling positive about ourselves, let alone our businesses.
Add to that, the upsurge in ‘perfect’ in our social media feeds. As much as we love to see beautiful images of faraway places and stories of families and travel and art and inspiration and 'success' (however you personally define that), it does also have the damaging effect of making us feel like we aren’t good enough to put ourselves alongside it. Holly Tucker spoke of this in her recent IG post and I’ve read others also talking about the same thing.
Comparison is always an issue when you are a creative – but what we’re doing is comparing ourselves to the impossible. Or comparing ourselves to someone who is on a totally different path. We don’t even know what is going on behind the image and yet we are comparing ourselves to something we know nothing of. I know it – I do it. All the bloody time. It makes me feel low, inadequate and takes me to a place I don’t want to be. So I get it – but it’s not real.
So we need to go back to the ethos of MMTM and celebrate our truth, and our reality. Let’s stop trying to be perfect and start to talk about what we know. Sara from Me & Orla has created a ‘talk to camera’ challenge for your instagram stories and this week it is all about talking about our mistakes, and I couldn’t feel more passionate about this – it’s NOT and NEVER IS perfect, despite what you may think of others.
Your business is a living, organic, evolving entity, just like you are. Just like everyone else’s is. It isn’t always going to feel good, it’s going to have dark days and it’s going to be up as well as down – that’s just a fact. So don’t worry if things aren’t going as well as they were this time last year – it’s a different year, people are different, they want different things, they need different stories. We need to learn to adapt our businesses to what is going on around us, and what we know our customers are going to want. Not adapt them to what other businesses are doing, but adapt them in our own way, on our own terms. Just because something is right for someone else, doesn't mean it is right for us.
What we’ve got to stop doing, is doing what everyone else is doing. Yes, the prompts for MMTM gave us all the same word, but we all came up with a different idea, we all had a different story to tell and we all told it in our own unique, individual way. Let’s do that again.
We’re so caught up in trying to do what is expected of us, or what we think is the ‘right’ thing to do, that we stop looking inside and seeing what we really need to do for ourselves and our business.
I would recommend that in this time of ‘stuck’, go back to the beginning.
Think about your passion. What makes you excited? It might not be what you’re doing right now, that’s okay. Think about why you started – write down prompts for yourself to spark off ideas. What stories can you tell? What will help people see and understand a little bit more about you?
Think about that lost mojo – what aspect of your business is it focused on? Where do you feel the apathy? How about doing something just for fun? Something that you don’t have to think about too hard and that will help you reinject that lost passion. It’s important to understand that if there is an aspect of what you are doing that doesn’t bring you happiness or joy or excitement, it’s likely to look that way to the outside world too.
It’s so tempting to step away from social media when you are feeling a little lost, and at times I do recommend that. The only problem is that the longer you are away, the harder it is to come back and we keep making excuses. So regardless of how much time you have had away, make today the day you get back to it.
Delve into some of those unfinished stories that you started during MMTM or expand on some of the stuff that you didn't detail enough. What else can you say? Just because the month is over, doesn't mean the story is.
The sun is shining – so take a photo. Here are a few prompts you can use to try to get going again. Whether it’s an Instagram grid image, a story, a blog post, a FB post, or just to start your mind thinking again.
What is it you love about what you do?
What do you enjoy making the most?
What do your customers say when they see your work?
What is the oddest question you’ve ever been asked?
Where do you want your business to go?
What do you particularly love about your business?
What do you particularly not love about your business?
What do you struggle with?
What are you afraid of?
What are you looking forward to?
Play around with your thoughts and be honest in your posts – I want to see the real, as I know so many others do. Turn it on it's head - do you like hearing other stories? Other people’s ‘why’? I’m guessing that you’re interested in what they can teach you, so if that’s the case then you know that your story is needed too.
We’re all needing each other right now, so be part of the conversation. We miss you if you’re not there.
I’m not going to use this as a sales pitch post, I want it to be purely for support for you – just to let you know that I’ve been there and I know what it’s like. But if you do want to talk about anything in particular, please do get in touch. My online workshops aren’t just aimed at startups, they can be of use to established businesses too. I’m aware that sometimes we need to go back to the beginning to look at each element of our business with clarity so we can understand what we need to do to feel proud and excited in our work.
I love this post from Jen Carrington – I read it after I’d made notes for this and it was like she was talking to me. I recommend you read it now http://www.jencarrington.com/blog/2018/4/19/what-would-it-look-like-for-you-to-think-just-a-little-bigger-with-your-business
As always, Jenny Hyde speaks so much truth and sense. Another must read:http://www.thejennyhyde.com/breaking-the-downward-spiral-and-creating-an-upward-cycle-instead/
*If you haven't heard of #Marchmeetthemaker, well where have you been??! If that's the case, then I’ll just point you over here to catch up on what it is: https://www.marchmeetthemaker.com/about and once you’ve read that, come on back!
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