An Audience of One...

Who are you trying to please? Or maybe I should ask... For what audience are you performing? These are questions I’ve been asking myself lately - and I challenge you to ask these questions of yourself: Are you trying to please or perform for your friends? your family? your co-workers? your boss? your clients? your “friends” on Facebook or Instagram? your ideal social circle? the culture in general? What audience determines your choices? your decisions? your purchases? your involvement? your posts on social media? your overall direction in life? In other words, for what or for whom are you living?

We all fall victim to outside influences... it’s part of living this life on earth. Some influences are good and some are bad, some influences are helpful and some are hurtful, some influences are life-giving and some suck the life right out of us. What influences are impacting you?

I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflecting and self-editing lately. I’ve been reading books, searching God’s Word, seeking professional guidance, and listening to people around me. I’ve realized that for a long time (as long as I can remember), I’ve been trying to please someone or perform for some audience - whether it be my family, my friends, my teachers or school, my church members or church, my clients, my professional connections, my social media audience, or just the culture in general. And to be honest, I’m tired... I’m tired of pushing myself to meet unattainable expectations of people or audiences that will never allow me to feel fully satisfied. Everyone has an opinion about what you should be doing, what status you should be achieving, or who you should be trying to become. But what really matters?

As a designer and business owner, I’ve always tried to find the best way to serve my clients - and I truly desire for them to be pleased with the products or services I offer. But lately I’ve gotten off-track, and I’ve had to eat a lot of humble pie. I’ve had to apologize more than I’ve been able to please my clients. Why? Because I started listening to the wrong voices - the voices that told me that success is achieved by working a lot, pushing really far, and taking on as many projects as possible. I saw images on social media that made me crave taking on “more” so I could produce pretty pictures like the ones I saw and admired. I didn’t feel like I measured up to other interior designers, and I wasn’t offering all the full-service bells & whistles that I thought the design industry required of me if I wanted to be considered a “real” designer. So I dove in head-first without thinking, and I started offering too many services - more than I could handle by myself (with an occasional handy-man for installations). I did some projects really well, but I’ve failed at some too - not neccessarily from the design standpoint but more in the communication and time-line departments. All of my striving for “more” has left me feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, empty and extremely frustrated with myself. 

So what am I doing about it? I’m (slowly) getting back to the basics, I’m learning to accept my limited capacity at this stage in my life, I’m making some significant edits - both personally and professionally, and I’m trying to listen to the only voice that really matters - an Audience of One - our heavenly Father. I recently read Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, which I highly recommend if you struggle with busy-ness or trying to achieve “more.” The book left me yearning for a simpler and more intentional way of life. While I won’t go into all the personal edits I’m trying to make, I do want to catch you up to speed on the changes I’m making in my business:

I’ve already edited and updated my website with the home design services I’m currently offering. At this time, I’m only providing consultation services and room design plans - both locally and virtually. I will no longer offer shopping and installation services, and I cannot take on any long-term projects like large-scale renovations and new construction. I recently met with a client who was in need of some decorating and design direction - she was willing and able to shop for and install the items herself, but she needed specific recommendations and measurements. I was able to assist her efficiently and in a very timely manner which left her feeling very satisfied and left me feeling energized and helpful. That consultation was a gift from above - it was the wake-up call I needed to realize what I’m capable of doing well and that I need to focus only on that - especially during this sweet stage of my life with an almost 3-year-old daughter and a baby boy due in November!

This shift in my business will leave me with less pretty pictures to post on social media and add to my portfolio, but I’m okay with that - knowing that in the end, I’ll have time for more of what really matters - time with my Father, time with my family, and time to do what I am capable of doing well - both in my business and personal life. And that’s why I’m choosing to perform for my most important Audience of One.

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Blog Confessions - Finding Contentment in Simplicity

We've had the most amazing weather the past few days here in Nashville, and I'm loving the cooler temperatures with lots of sunshine! I'm seeing a small glimpse of the upcoming Fall weather, and I can't wait for those pumpkin spice lattes, hot apple ciders, colorful leaves, and of course football games!

I had coffee this morning with my wonderful friend and talented business pal, Molly of SimplyMPhotography. Molly has been one of my longest, dearest friends, and I've been blessed to share a lot of life with her by my side. We schedule regular coffee dates to discuss business, life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. I cherish these talks so much, and this morning led to yet another good chat!

We shared that we both desire to live more intentional lives... making time for the most important things and cutting out all the "unnecessary." As I was driving home from our coffee date, I reflected on how I've been living each day and how I want to change some things so that I can live more intentionally. As a designer and entrepreneur, I'm always thinking of ways to build things, improve things, and beautify/make-over things - it's in my nature, I just can't help it. And while this is a good trait in many ways, it sometimes leads me to feeling discontent with the way things currently are. I want a bigger house with big closets and big bathrooms and a big studio for my business, I want a new wardrobe, I want to lose weight so I have more self-confidence, I want more friends, I want more work functions & events to attend, I use to want more retail stores to carry my stationery line, the list goes on. This world constantly tells us that more is better. But what I'm finding to be true is that I actually want less.

Don't get me wrong, some of these things are not all bad - especially when they are held at a healthy level of importance and when they are used to glorify our Father. But these desires become toxic when they totally consume our thoughts and make us ungrateful for all that we already have. I've been praying a lot to find peace and contentment in the here and now. I want to soak up these moments and appreciate these times and give thanks for my blessings without asking for more. I really want to simplify my life and my business in order to make time for the most important things and the most important people. I don't want to be complacent, just content. 

So I've started making a list of the ways I want to simplify my life. A few action items include going through drawers, closets, the attic, my office, and other areas in our house to de-clutter and get rid of the unnecessary "stuff." Do some overdue yard work and touch ups around the house to better love the home that we are currently blessed to own. For my business, this sparkly new website is one of the ways I've attempted to streamline and simplify, but there are other steps I need to take that will allow me to better serve my clients and spend more time with my family and friends. I guess better get to work!

I've been developing my professional and personal growth by attending conferences for creative entrepreneurs, and while I don't wish to spill my guts or over-share on my blog, I do think it's important that I give you a taste of the real Beth Hart from time to time. I'm far from perfect, and my business is far from perfect... and hopefully I can connect with you and inspire you by being transparent and confessing my struggles. Thank you for reading, and I look forward to sharing more "real life" with you!

I'll leave you with a few lyrics from a song that I consider to be a really good reminder of how to find contentment...

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