At 6am, 4 mornings a week, I go for a run. In Ballarat at the moment 6am is still the dead of night, and this morning it was below zero degrees. It makes my lungs hurt when it's that cold and my legs felt like they had warmed up just as I got home. The track I run is a combination of foot path, bike path and road. There are quite a few pot holes around and I really don’t want to trip so I invested in a head torch a few weeks ago.
The head torch is not made for running, it's quite heavy but I wear my “Design Dept” cap so it sits quite comfortably on the peak. When I run with it on I have to angled down the light so I can see the path in front of me. While the focused light does a great job of illuminating what is directly in front of me it also means I can’t see anything else.
When it's that dark the light cancels out all of the surrounding details. I can’t see the stars, I don’t notice that subtle change in the colour of the sky as the sun starts to get closer to the horizon and the birds see me coming so stop singing earlier than they normally would. While it feels safer to focus on the lit path in front of me, I don’t want to miss the bigger picture that is happening around me as the day starts.
It is what makes running at 6am in the morning such a special (and crazy) thing to do. I have seen some of the most amazing coloured sunrises and there is a calm that comes from being up before everyone else. I’ve even seen a kangaroo hanging out by the creek and a wallaby jumping along the bike path. Being from NZ these real life marsupial encounters still blow my mind!
Stepping back and gaining a more full and balanced perspective is something I constantly have to remind myself to do. I’m really bad at letting one idea/problem/issue become the sole focus in my spotlight. It can overwhelm me and I start to forget about the bigger picture if I don’t stop and turn the spotlight off.
This week it has been about money. I foolishly paid a massive tax bill thinking I had two more jobs coming in this week, but both didn’t happen which has left me with one weeks pay in the bank! It’s a rookie move, spending the money before the contract has been signed but I was so sure I had the job. Obviously being ‘sure’ isn’t quite enough.
It's situations like these that I can't help but question my value as a designer. Did I charge too much or did I not charge enough? Did they find someone else? Was there something else I could've shown them to prove I’m worthy of the work? Why am I 38 years old with 16 year experience and still only have $500 in my bank account!!! What the fuck!
This is what happens when the spotlight gets focused. I’m quickly overwhelmed and enter a spiral of descent into doom and gloom! Unfortunately this is pointless and is such a waste of the limited energy we get each day. While I’m all for wallowing for a bit, I’ve had to set the timer for 20 minutes and that's it.
By stepping back I can accept a more enlightened encounter of the week that has just been. I always knew that transitioning from a service provider to an expert was going to be difficult and I had been warned to expect a lot of ‘no’s’ between the ‘yes’s’.
It took every bit of my self control not to call back the people I was expecting work from this week and drop my price to match their budget. When money is super tight I have to fight the prang of desperation and continue to play the long game. By not ringing and instead replying that I was genuinely grateful to have met them and wish them all the best, I created two new future clients. The only reason they couldn’t work with me was because I was out of their budget, not because I was a shit designer. By being useful and professional will ultimately pay off in the long run. I have to trust in myself.
When running this morning I turned the head torch off. While it is more dangerous (I'll regret writing this whole blog if I sprain my ankle one morning!) and risky it was also beautiful. It was a crystal clear morning and the stars were out. As the sun came up I could see that the ground was covered in frost.
It was freezing but invigorating.