In my early days of working with clients, every single business was a potential client I was dying to land. Every inquiry sent me daydreaming of the best possible circumstances, blinding me to all the red flags ahead. I wanted to help everyone, and that was the problem.
Starry Eyed & Blind
Each time I'd think to myself, “It could be SO good if...”
Maybe the client seemed distrustful and didn't have a clear direction. But it could be so good if... Or they didn't have the budget. But it could be so good if... Or they didn't really care who their designer was. But it could be so good if... Maybe they were constantly in crisis and walking all over me ... but it could still be so good, couldn't it?
My compulsive need to help everyone and make the world beautiful got me burned more times than I can count. And it took me a long time to see the light.
You Can't Help Everyone
The truth is you can't help everyone, and you shouldn't try.
Here's a quick set of knowledge bombs that are true for my business.
- Trust and clear direction are ESSENTIAL for a successful working relationship.
- If a client isn't willing to invest fully in professional branding, they don't appreciate the value of it. Clients that I've made exceptions and discounts for are always my most difficult clients—stuck in a scarcity mindset and constantly paranoid they're not getting their money's worth.
- My best clients want to work with me specifically, not just anyone.
- I need for my clients to respect my time and the balance of work and life I've worked so hard to create.
Don't betray your standards for the allure of a great portfolio piece. It's not worth it and most often, they're just illusions. Be true to yourself, protect your time and your sanity, and work your magic for those who respect you and actually appreciate it.
Yes, it was disappointing at first to learn that I couldn't help everyone. But after this journey in recognizing my own self worth, I realized I could work absolute wonders for the right people and brands.
Not everything deserves your attention. Not everyone has earned your precious time. You decide who's welcome in and when.
Now when someone frantically emails me about needing a new brand yesterday... or how they don't have the budget, but... or they hate what another designer made and have already invested so much... or they “just need a logo”...
I simply take a deep breath. And remind myself of the Polish saying, “Not my monkeys. Not my circus.”
Just because someone else is panicked or stressed or paranoid or swimming in scarcity, doesn't mean I need to take all that on too. It's actually very important to my health and well being that I don't. And it's better for my business too.
Your Energy Bubble
There's a meditation strategy where you imagine yourself surrounded by a glowing ball of light—think of this as your own personal energy bubble. The goal is to keep that light glowing bright, and to be conscious of what you allow into this sacred space.
Your energy and time are two of your most precious gifts. Spend them wisely. Guard them fiercely. Not everything deserves your attention. Not everyone has earned your precious time. You decide who's welcome in and when.
The next time you're tempted to abandon your standards in service of another, take a deep breath and a step back. Imagine that glowing forcefield of bright positivity and light around you. And remind yourself, “It's not my circus.”