Autonomous Creative

How to use your core values to build an ethical creative business that can help make the world a better place (with an activity & audio!)

Published about 1 year ago • 4 min read

Heads up: This one's a deep-dive! I've included an activity (and an audio recording of the article and activity instructions) in the blog post to help you learn how to use your core values as a powerful tool to build your confidence as a professional creative.

Obviously, in this big crazy world, there is a lot that’s out of your control. We all make compromises, a lot of them. We all have to grapple with adverse circumstances (and often actual adversaries).

In order avoid feeling like you’re continually failing, it’s crucial to acknowledge that there are things you can’t fix on your own. (And in parallel, of course, to contribute in any way you can to collective action for change.) However...

There are also so many ways you do have control over your life, your actions, and the impact you have on others.

In order to feel the strength that comes from action rooted in your values:

You have to get intentional about identifying when and how you can take your core values and put them into action so you can live in congruence with what you believe and create it in the world.

Your commitment to your values must be substantive rather than performative. Authenticity and confidence stems from congruency between what you believe and what you do.

When you align your creative business and creative practice with your core values, you’ll be able to feel great about earning a solid living with what you do. And along the way, help build the world you want to live in.

Here’s the problem, in a nutshell:

When creatives get tangled up with the B-word (bizzznizzz), we typically have a LOT of feelings.

The truth is…

We want to help people. We want people to see our work.

Putting price tags on any of that feels...problematic, somehow.

People worry about becoming—or, almost as distressingly, being seen as—money-grubbing evil capitalists.

There’s a ton of pressure from the world around us, projecting fantasies of the creative life that hold us to the romantic ideal that creatives (and especially women) should be doing what we do purely for the love of it.

It’s destabilizing and undermining

The answer to all that isn’t to run away, or to undercharge for what you do, or to hide your business from the world.

Quite the contrary: Building a successful business offers you a chance to do significant good in the world, and to counteract all those myths and assumptions. You need to see the power you hold, and then use it intentionally.

The way you run your business defines the rules of engagement. If you set those rules to support your ethics and values, that is the culture you’re creating in your corner of the universe.

So, how can your core values actually become useful as a guide to how you work, how you help your clients, and how you grow as a creative business?

Gain self-confidence in your decisions and solidify your sense of authenticity by identifying and acting in congruency with your values.

I’d love to hear how this activity works for you, so after you've taken some time to work on it, please respond to this email!



P.S. Just in case this all feels a little overwhelming (totally normal!), here's an overview of the article:

First, I make an argument for why you should use your core values as a powerful tool to build your confidence as a professional creative.

Then, I give you a step-by-step activity to sort out your core values and apply them to your creative business.

Finally, I share an example: How I am using my core values to improve Autonomous Creative. Namely, by getting clearer on how what we do is unique, and why it’s valuable, as well as how I can take steps to live my values more fully through the work I put out into the world.

Autonomous Creative

With Jessica Abel

For creative iconoclasts who want to pay their bills AND do the work they love, get insights, ideas, and next steps from a graphic novelist, author, & business coach. Find out how to build a balanced and productive creative life, and to thrive financially with simple, sustainable business foundations—without creative compromise.

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