“For what it’s worth … it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
– Eric Roth (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

When I graduated college back in 2009, I had no idea what I would be or what my ideal job would look like. I was coasting through life, hoping that one day I’d have a light bulb moment and my life’s purpose would be revealed to me. In that same year, I was laid off from my job of almost four years. Everyone remembers how bad the economy was back then. Soon after, I started getting anxious. My sense of panic began once I realized the unemployment checks were about to end. It wasn’t until 2013, after years of going back and forth in my mind, did I finally take a leap into the unknown.

For the last three years, I’ve tried everything under the sun when it comes to work. I interned at a public relations company, worked on a migration project at Coca-Cola, and dabbled in social media management. There were months when I didn’t have a single project to work on. I doubted myself and my skills, placing all of my identity on what I did or did not accomplish. As with the ebb and flow of life, things change. One moment you’re high and then you’re low. But in between all of those times, I’ve learned three critical things that contribute to designing a creative life that you can be proud of.

1. Effort

It was Thomas Jefferson who said, “If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.” Our human nature causes us to desire more than what we’ve worked for but that’s not realistic. You get exactly what you work for. When you work hard, the fruits of your labor are bound to arrive. Determine what the creative life you want will look like and start making deliberate strides towards it.

2. Commitment

Many people assume think that freelancers and entrepreneurs have it easy. They think it’s all about making your own hours and getting to relax all day. When given the opportunity to go down the same path, many realize that the freelance life is not what they’d imagined. Not many people make it as a freelancer or entrepreneur because it’s really hard work. No, at times, it’s downright nerve-wracking. It’s being uncertain of what the future holds. Even with all of the complex emotions you may go through on the entrepreneurial journey, one thing is for sure: if you do not commit to what you’re doing, you will not succeed. Dedicating your time and sticking it out for the long haul shows how much the life you create for yourself means to you.

3. Determination

There will be times when you wake up thinking “what have I done.” There will be moments when you want to quit and go back to an unchallenged life. A creative life is all about diving deep into the land of possibility. It’s about being courageous when facing doubtful situations. Choosing to persevere even while you’re unsure is a skill you will continue to practice while on the journey to design your creative life.

Over the last three years, I didn’t realize that I was developing these life skills. I didn’t realize that every opportunity that began and ended didn’t break me, but shaped me into a stronger, more capable worker. I realized that designing the creative life that I always wanted was possible as long as I put in the effort, stayed committed to the decision and determined to see everything through.

What are you willing to do to design the creative life you want to live?

As the great quote says, “Start where you are, with what you have.” It’s never too late to design the creative life you’ve always dreamed of and will ultimately be proud of.


Lucy is a Creative Circle candidate in Atlanta. She is a freelance writer and visual storyteller. When she’s not writing, she’s most likely exploring new restaurants around town, traveling, taking pictures or reading blogs dedicated to SELF – awareness, development/discovery and expression. If you are interested in working with Lucy, contact Creative Circle Atlanta.