gradient_bar

Quality over Quantity: A Mantra

quality over quantity

Have you ever gone car shopping, picked out a car you really like, and then, as if out of nowhere, suddenly started noticing that car everywhere you go? Or maybe you just put a book on your to-read list, and suddenly it’s showing up in your social media feeds and at the checkout line at the grocery store.

Maybe it’s something else entirely — but it’s as if once that something is on your radar, you can’t seem to escape it.

This happened to me recently. When the calendar turned to January and I dove back into business after a few weeks of family, friends, and fun, a phrase came to my attention.

Quality over quantity.

Soon, I became hyperaware of the phrase, as if the universe was sending me a message — on repeat. After just a few days, it solidified itself in my mind as a mantra that’s helping me get 2016 off on the right foot, and I couldn’t help but share it with you.

Where quality wins over quantity

This probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard this phrase. Perhaps you’ve even used it to guide some of your decision making before. Age-old adages are persistent for a reason: They make a difference. Here’s how I’m letting “quality over quantity” lead me in the new year:

Choosing quality over quantity in clients and projects: The core of my business is serving other people. There is nothing I love more than articulating a business’ brand through the perfect blend of color, typography, and texture so that it speaks to their ideal audience. Yet if there’s anything I’ve learned in running my graphic design business for over a decade, it’s this: I simply cannot do it all. With that in mind, I’ve taken the road of choosing quality over quantity in the projects and clients I take on. What that means: Having to say some hard “no’s,” but surrounding myself with work and people that truly light me up and make being a woman-owned business all the more gratifying.

Choosing quality over quantity in design: One of the most powerful ways to convey a message through design is with the use of white space. This never fails to amaze me: How much we can convey by using less. I apply the same principle for all of my design elements. Fonts, colors, shapes, and textures that carry a greater quality when it comes to evoking emotion will be more powerful than a page filled with a greater amount of elements, even if they’re each beautiful.

Choosing quality over quantity in relationships: Much like my approach to clients and projects, I choose quality over quantity in relationships outside of my work, as well. I am incredibly fortunate to have a wonderful husband and two grown children, my best friends, who inspire me every day. The same goes for friends: While I absolutely love meeting new people and learning from others, I choose quality over quantity in how many people I let into my life, knowing how much I value my quiet time for reflection and rejuvenation.

Choosing quality over quantity in hobbies: I am a designer. But I am also a painter — perhaps first and foremost. While there are many things in this world that I would love to try, I most certainly approach my extracurricular activities from the viewpoint of quality: What will add the most to my life, offering the creativity, balance, and adventure I desire? While painting has always been at the forefront, this past summer, this manifested in the form of serene days floating around the lake in the Adirondack guide boat that I can call my own.

Choosing quality over quantity in followers: I love having a blog. An Instagram feed. A Facebook page. An email list. These are all essential to my business and in opening a door to my community. But what happens when you start building social communities is that there’s an overwhelming emphasis on numbers. Yet for me, a small group of engaged readers and followers who won’t hesitate to hit “reply” or tell me what’s on their mind is more important than cracking a certain milestone in digits.

Forget the numbers game

More. Enough. Two words that often get us into trouble. We always want more, and we rarely ever have enough. Yet the funny thing is this: Once we begin placing the emphasis on quality over quantity, while it often means physically having or mentally choosing less, we often feel more full. Full of love. Full of happiness. Full of gratitude.

Where, in your life, will you allow quality to overtake quantity — and ultimately fill your bucket up more?

Creativity at Work & Play: Living an Amplified Existence

Creativity and Big Magic

“A creative life is an amplified life.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

I recently finished a book — one of those books where right after you’ve finished it, you feel you could read it again, and again, and be inspired in a different way each time. It was Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I have no doubt that it spoke to me on such a deep level because of its subject matter: creativity — something I’ve built both a business and life around.

Gilbert contends that we are all creative. We all have access to creativity, because we are human. And as humans, it is both our duty and our privilege to act on that creativity.

Which made me take a moment to think about how I’ve acted on my creativity, and how I’ve incorporated it into my life. And how vastly different the creativity I fill my work days with is from the creativity that feeds my spirit outside of my work, but how much I need them both.

Creativity embodied in work & play

While I realize how fortunate I am to have a creative job during the day and a creative passion that fuels me in all the hours around it, I have learned to set parameters around how I use my two creative pursuits so that one feeds the other.

Why do I need to draw this line? Because, as Gilbert presents so beautifully in her book, when you rely on your true creative curiosities to sustain you both financially and soulfully, one tends to “murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills.”

I never want that to happen.

For me, it’s about using two very different pursuits to fuel each other, so that my creativity is always being exercised, but never too burdened.

Creativity at work

Graphic design and branding is my creativity at work; my logical sustenance. It feeds me on a professional level by letting me use my creative soul to serve others, while making a reliable income that I can support my family with.

I say this with much love: this aspect of my creativity is the responsible side of my being. Although I am exercising creativity on a daily basis with color, texture, layout, and more, I am restricted by technological constraints — computers, software, renderings, resolutions — as well as by demand constraints — I can earn only as much as the client wants to pay, and I am bound within the calling of their brand.

While these constraints do mean that my creativity isn’t exercised as freely as it is in other pursuits, it does mean that I get to use my creative skills to serve clients, so that they can change the world with what they do. I am giving my art on a much broader scale, and can’t help but feel a certain sense of pride when I see it on billboards, grocery store shelves, tourism bureau walls, and websites around the world.

It’s not so bad for logical sustenance, right? But the real fun comes when I get to use my creativity for play.

Creativity at play

Painting is my creativity at play; my soul’s sustenance. It feeds me at my core, and lets me use my creativity to serve myself. Painting is my unbridled, unadulterated creativity. There are no limitations; there are no pressures.

There is absolute creative freedom when I am painting. I follow no rules; I don’t rely on electricity or software; I am bound only by my own, self-imposed limitations.

I am allowed to have this freedom because I’ve built a creative day job that provides that logical sustenance. Thanks to my visual branding work, I don’t have to put pressure on my paintings; I’m not worried about creating the next masterpiece that will sell for millions.

Would I love to spend all of my time painting every day in the south of France, the Tuscan plains of Italy, or the mountains of the Adirondacks? Of course. But if I demanded that my painting pay for my existence, I would not have the sacred experience I get when I paint now — when I gather up my supplies, head out en plein air, squeeze the colors from the tubes, choose my favorite brushes and pallet knife, set my easel up, and observe what’s surrounding me.

Energy comes through me from a higher source when I am totally immersed in this process. It is my commitment; it is my loyalty. I am able to experiment without any restraints or boundaries. It is my Big Magic.

How they come together

I love both sides of my creative life. I am grateful for the balance that they each give me, and how one allows for the other. Without my logical sustenance, my soul would not be fulfilled, and without my soul fulfilled, I could not enjoy my other work nearly as much.

Whether it’s the cover of a brochure designed in Photoshop or the free-flowing brushstrokes on a canvas, creativity has always, and will always, be both my work and my play.

Living an amplified life

To put her words another way, Creativity is a life, amplified. If that’s the truth (and I happen to think it is), then I am living an amplified existence — and I want you to, as well.

Find your passions and pursue them without constraint. Write those poems. Sketch that portrait. Sing that song. Bake that pie. Whatever creative experience you are dreaming of, find the time and make it happen — but don’t put the pressure on it to be your sustenance on every level.

Will you join me in living an amplified life?

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone in Life and Design

life is amplified at the end of your comfort zone

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

Lately, this quote has been the theme to my life. In both personal and professional ways, stepping outside of my comfort zone has drastically changed my outlook on life as well as the impact I’m able to make with my business. And I’m confident it can for you, too. Here are my stories:

On a stage in front of more than 300 women…

Is not where I’d ever thought I’d be if you asked me even a few months ago. Let’s rewind: a few weeks ago, I was flying out on a Sunday to attend a business mastermind retreat with my mentor, Christine Kane. Just two days before I was scheduled to leave, I was contacted to see if I’d be interested in introducing Christine for the opening segment of the retreat, all about packages. The “rules”: use 5-6 minutes, speak from your heart, and introduce Christine.

I didn’t hesitate. I said yes. I was incredibly honored to be asked.

With very little time to process, I went about my day, prepared to leave, and flew out on Sunday. On Monday morning, I took the stage with a few bullet-pointed notecards. But it only took a few seconds to realize I wasn’t going to lay an eye on them. I let go. I saw the women in that audience, knew my story of overcoming obstacles and building packages for Harris Studios could help them, and I told my story.

Could I tell you what I said on that stage today? Hardly. But it resonated. Because I stepped outside of my comfort zone, embraced my originality, and owned my voice.

‘Captaining’ a guide boat in the Adirondacks

Realizing the power of breaking down that barrier lit a fire inside of me, one that extended beyond my business and into my personal life. While many step outside of their comfort zone to find excitement, there’s also sanctity in stepping outside to find solitude. For me, that happened in one of my favorite places in this world: Brantingham Lake in the Adirondacks. And it happened in the form of a vintage Adirondack guide boat.

I was browsing Facebook one day when I saw the boat for sale. I took a chance and made an offer. It was a big decision. But it was easy. Within days, I was rowing a historic guide boat — my boat. I’m rowing backwards in my wicker seat, knowing I can stop and float at anytime while I write, paint, or read. I slow down. And in that way — alone in the middle of a lake, not on stage in front of 300 people — I find and own my voice.

How your work can be inspired by stepping outside your comfort zone

The true beauty in stepping outside of your comfort zone is this: when you let go of doubts, ignore judgments, and open your mind, you become your most authentic self.

Doing this for your business means connecting on a deeper level with the audience you’re most qualified to serve: those who share your beliefs, feel resolve in your message, and can benefit from what you have to offer.

Ordinary doesn’t sell anymore. Safe isn’t compelling. It’s only by putting yourself and your business out there in a genuine way, whether it’s through speaking in front of an audience, sharing your vulnerabilities on Instagram, or trying something new with your services, that you can realize your full potential.

Your work will be better for it. You’ll connect with the audience you’re seeking in a more authentic way. And, best of all, you’ll discover opportunities you didn’t previously think were in the realm of possibility.

And when this extends into your personal life? This means deeper relationships; more self-confidence, and a happier life.

Light your own fire

Let go of pretenses. Ignore self-doubt. Step outside of what would normally be expected of you (expectations set by both others and yourself). Then, and only then, can you realize the potential of who you are and what you have to offer.

It took stepping outside my comfort zone to prove to myself that I have a voice. A powerful voice. I can heal. I can help. I can share. And through that, I can become a stronger business woman. I can become a stronger mentor. I can become a stronger friend.

Try something new. Explore uniqueness. Use your voice to express who you are and where you’re going.

I have one edit to this popular quote: Life is amplified at the end of your comfort zone. I had — and have — a wonderful life within my comfort zone. But it’s only when I step outside that I see the potential for what it can be; what I can do. It’s amplified all that I have, and all that I hope to be.

What’s one thing you can do today to step outside your comfort zone? How will that impact your brand, and your voice?