Tanis asked... "My question is for my 16 year old daughter....do you have any advice for a creative soul who wants to head into a future of designing and creating in some way, shape or form? What were your first steps into creating the life you love?"
LA: At 16, your daughter can prepare so much and there are no obstacles that can't be overcome! Reflecting on my own experience, I didn't know that I wanted a creative career till I was 26 and I had a fair amount of obstacles (no post-secondary education, lack of confidence, creative instinct but no specific skills or training and no start-up savings. Plus, I didn't have a clear career choice, I just knew I wanted to do "something useful I can be good at and enjoy"). At 26, ten years later than your daughter, I still made it work for me and so have a lot of others-- so she's got a great head start and she has lots of time to learn and explore before settling into the career she aims for (or eventually discovers).
Based on my personal experience, I'd like to suggest four main ways she can continuously grow towards the future she desires, in both career and lifestyle.:) Note: These tips apply to anyone wanting to expand their creative side, at any age.
A) Build your Toolbelt - I often use the analogy of a "toolbelt" with our Freckled Nest team and the creative people I've mentored... your creative toolbelt carries a collection of your skills & experiences along with the character & qualities you have in you-- it's your personal idea machine and solution center. Ideally, your toolbelt is ready and equipped to take on and remedy any task that comes along!
The best way to build your own toolbelt is to 1) be a student and 2) reflect. You can invest in yourself and your toolbelt the most by living as a student or apprentice in the encounters and experiences presented through your life. Try lots of new things and become your best at each. By observing beyond the surface and reflecting on the process of each encounter and experience, you will gain skills and strategies that will be useful in your toolbelt, for life. For example, if you plant and harvest a garden, studying, observing and reflecting along the way, you will learn applicable strategies for how to lead a nourished and fruitful team of people that is strong and successful.
B) Develop your Personal Style - A creative career calls upon a person's instincts and ideas like crazy! If you are an individual who knows them-self, with developed preferences, approach, perspective and passion, you will have a mega-tool in your toolbelt-- personal style! It's a quality that adds your character & personality to each task, presentation, project, team, and/or company and your personal style is invaluable!
To develop your Personal Style, I recommend a) diving into everything you love or feel drawn to and b) studying or spending time with creative people you admire! Follow your passions, ignore the rules, and be lead by things that make your soul happy, giving you a quality feeling that's personal! Get obsessed! Make new recipes in everything you do-- mixing, matching, inventing, following, dreaming, seeking, collaborating, exploring, questioning, practicing, loving, quiting, starting, evolving. As you start to see pieces of your personal style surface, use them repeatedly in every area of your life! As you do, you'll see new aspects that compliment that style piece and you can play with it! After a long while, you won't even notice your personal style, it will "just be the way you do things" and it will feel really natural :) Your personal style is not aesthetic or technique alone, it's an instinct and awareness of what you stand behind, gravitate to, value, represent, and crave.
C) Practice your 3 PS's - Practice using your Personal Style, Problem Solving and People Skills! As you develop your personal style, practice using it! If you're not comfortable looking different or outside of the norm, start by applying your Personal Style to your notebooks, accessories, home decor and techniques in the things you do. Once you feel more comfortable, push it further.
Problem Solving is closely linked with creativity, and it's needed regularly! Creative careers bring some of the most unpredictable situations and problems to solve, because each project is usually unique. However, it's rarely a negative-type "problem" to solve; it's a positive discovery stage along the journey to your end goal. Gaining everyday problem solving skills now will translate into effective ways to overcome obstacles in creative projects and careers. Don't give up when you find yourself at a fork in the road or in a pickle, make a solution using what you have around you and in your toolbelt and move forward. With practice and confidence (and with others help when needed), you can find or create a solution to anything!
People Skills are g-o-o-d. They will get you far. Cultivate and value them. Don't be mean or unfair, communicate and think of others needs just as much as your own. At FN, we always want our client's experience to be just as good as the finished project, and that depends on our teams people skills and the way they lead and roll with the process. If an amazing designer applies but they don't have kindness, communication and respect at their core, we pass. People skills are more important than ever in creative business, so practice and pride yourself on the way you can make others feel comfortable and confident in you, with just one conversation!
D) Document your Life - The journey towards your creative career is a lot of work and you will encounter a lot of fantastic, eye-opening, stretching and exciting experiences, thoughts, new skills, challenges and victories each year. Make it a habit to regularly journal your journey, for reference and celebration! You can do it any way you want-- photo journal, sketching, notebook, blog, diary or journal, video or a combination of methods! Just try to record your journey somehow, you'll be amazed at how useful and exciting it is down the road :)
All in all Tanis, I'd recommend that your daughter just enjoy this time in her life, exploring her interests and developing her creative side with the four ideas above. When she's ready for post-secondary education or a creative job down the road, she'll bring a strong creative instinct and passion to the table and feel really confident going into that field :)
I hope your daughter follows her heart! You're such a good Mom for supporting her like you do Tanis, that will mean a lot along the way :)
** Check out the post below for another Q&A and Winner!