I’ve spent the last few weeks battling with my body. Not really sure what’s going on, but the chronic fatigue is getting OLD real fast. Well, you folks who follow the LAB regularly know that my brain is almost always going at 500 mph, so you might get me to lay flat, Mr. Mystery Illness, but the brain ain’t shuttin’ down.

All this downtime had me thinking about my personal voice. I’m like a lot of you, I read a ton of blogs and love exploring the creative universe that exists on the internet. So many talented artists in so many diverse places, it can be a quite overwhelming and a little intimidating. OK, it can be a lot intimidating.

handmade embroidery hoop

via Stitch Culture

I mean, here I am, trying to carve my own niche in the blogosphere, a very dense and heavily populated place, full of great minds and, truth be told, tons of sludge. Sometimes I find myself on other design/craft/shelter blogs and I start to feel that old familiar voice of self-doubt creeping in. “What am I doing in here?” or “Do I really think I can stand out in this crowded field?” are two questions that pop up in my wee brain from time to time. I have to be honest, I sometimes start to feel that maybe I’ll never reach my goal of being one of the first places people turn to of when they think ‘handmade’ and ‘advocate’.

No doubt, if you are a maker, you’ve felt that way too. Maybe you feel that standing out in the crowd, especially if you are in that crowded neighborhood called Etsy, is almost impossible. “There are so many other artists out there, can I really expect to make a living doing this?” is one question that many artists & handmakers hear in their heads as they view the online landscape.

handmade embroidery hoop

 via Stitch Culture

Here’s the problem with self-doubt: it silences creativity, it hinders growth and stifles the spirit. It’s like knee-driving to an unknown destination with your hands tied behind your back. Yeah, it’s crazy and you’re probably not going to get anywhere fast. But that’s not the real issue. The real issue is: Why in the world would you start any journey with your hands tied behind you back? That’s nuts, right? Yet, when we give in to self-doubt, that’s exactly what we are doing. Arrival simply won’t happen, we’ll knee-drive ourselves right into that big ditch called Fear, swerve into the forest of Procrastination and hit that massive tree called Paralysis.

handmade embroidery hoop

via Stitch Culture

What’s the cure for all this internal drama? It’s simple: turn down the volume of self-doubt and turn up that sweet inner music of self-worth. It may be hard for some of us. Perhaps we were raised in an environment where maintaining self-worth was a challenge. Or, we’re just hot-wired to be the Debbie Downers of our own universe. Hey, we’re imperfect; it happens.

With that said, how can we change the voice in our head? One simple way is to have a mission statement. A clearly defined mission statement can serve as a constant reminder that we do have worth, that our goals are worthwhile and that we have the talent to make them happen. I like to do things in 3’s, so I’ll share with you my Mission Statement for the LAB:

  1. I will be a showcase of the best handmade goods from around the world.
  2. I will be a resource to help handmakers use their blogs and social media to improve their reach.
  3. I will be a motivator and will inspire others to create with their hands and support those who do.

Now, my natural tendency is to say ‘I want to be…’ or ‘I should be a…’. But to stifle self-doubt, I went with ‘I will be…’. I know I have the talent and the vision to do all three. If I don’t believe that I can do it, how can I expect anyone else to believe that I can? It’s been proven time and time again by many talent folks: When the voice in your head says yes, your life will say yes too. Obstacles will come, but you will, YOU WILL, keep moving until you reach your destination. And don’t just state your mission. WRITE IT DOWN! Put it somewhere where you can see it daily. Some of ya’ll are really good at graphic design, so why not make that mission statement really pop my making it pretty?

OK, how about you? Your LAB Assignment for today is this: What’s your mission statement? Share it with us below. Let’s see some ‘I will’ down there. And please feel free to leave encouraging comments when you see a mission statement that inspires you.

  1. I will position myself as the authority on learning to ditch the Trend Monster and find personal style.

    I will get out of my head and transform this beehive of ideas into real tangible objects & projects.

    I will say Yes to that inner fire that drives me in ten directions at once.

    Thanks for a great article & challenge. I hate falling into creative paralysis. Hope you feel better soon!

  2. This was by far my favorite article from you. Maybe it is because I can personally identify with every single word in it. I am constantly trying to refine my mission but today I resolve to work on refining my niche. That is a key factor for me and to try and stay encouraged. Thank you for sharing this!

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