Mindset Shifts

How to Define Your Own Version of Success

March 30, 2021


I'm a full-time artist and online educator. You can find my watercolor designs on products all around the globe. This blog is where I share all of my latest art business tips for you!


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I’m writing this post for myself, for when I was working at my graphic designer day job and dreaming of being on my own. I’m writing this for myself when I was a couple years into running my business full-time, and feeling overworked and drained. I’m writing this for me, today, who still needs these reminders. 

And, of course, I am writing this for YOU — if you’ve ever felt like everyone else is accomplishing more than you, or that your goals constantly seem just out of reach. Today’s post is meant to help you reframe your mindset, and hopefully give you some inner peace. 

Social media has made so much possible with creative and online businesses today. I’m truly grateful for what it’s done to help me realize my goals, or have an online business at all. 

But social media also opens up doors in our minds that are not beneficial for us. We get caught in comparison traps. We hear about other’s 6-figure and 7-figure businesses (i.e. grossing $100k+ and $1m+ respectively) and feel like we’re falling short. We see other’s Instagram accounts seemingly blow up with new followers overnight. People are getting collaborations, awards, and press that feel so big compared to our own. 

Even if you consider yourself someone who is confident and able to enjoy the successes of others – like truly feel happy for them and know your own success is valid or coming soon – we ALL still have moments when we falter. 

Typically, we define our creative business’ success by a few main themes: 1) financially, 2) through our reputation or publicity like with press and how well known we are, and 3) through the numbers like follower count, or number of clients or collaborations.

There are others but these three are my main focus in this post. I’m going to take a look at each and give you some ideas for how you can reframe that measure of success for yourself.

The reason you may want to do this is not only to give yourself some peace of mind, but to help you come up with goals that feel more achievable. If we can balance that level of demand for success we inflict on ourselves, by having fair expectations, then I believe we can actually get more done AND feel better about ourselves at the end of the day.  

1. Instead of “I have to make 6 or 7 figures of income this year.” try “I will set clear goals to make enough to pay for my business expenses and my own salary.”

Look, I love talking money, and I love to see artists and fellow business owners grossing big numbers. But the reality is, for most new businesses, especially individual artists, it takes time to get there and it may not happen at all. Does that mean you are a failure? Of course not! 

So my point here is that, instead of setting arbitrary goals just so you can say you’ve reached a certain number (I am personally guilty of this!), look instead at what you really need to feel comfortable in your business and life. You can figure this out by calculating your typical annual business and personal expenses, how much you want to add to any savings each year, debts you need to pay, etc. I’m not a financial advisor so don’t take any of this as official advice, but in general I think sitting down and figuring out your actual numbers will help you have a better idea of the goals to set in your business. YOUR personal goals, not numbers generated by others or your internal (and unfounded) idea of financial success.

That way, when you reach that goal, you will feel amazing! And anything beyond that becomes bonus. 

2. Instead of “I have to be featured in that blog/magazine/podcast to have really made it.” try “Being featured in that would be great, but features and shout-outs don’t define how well my business is doing.”

I’m not saying press features aren’t welcome, but for the most part they are often not as amazing as people expect them to be when it comes to exposure or growing your business. So in that way, don’t feel like you need tons of features to grow your audience or sales. 

That’s something to keep in mind if you’ve had your eye on a particular publication you want to be featured in. If you get that feature one day, amazing! But enjoy that success for yourself, without too much expectation on how it will help propel your business forward. And if you don’t get that feature you’re dreaming of, let yourself enjoy other opportunities which are just as valid.  

3. Instead of “I need 10k+ Instagram followers to get clients/grow my business/make sales.” try “I only need X number of engaged people who are fans of my work to sustain my business.”

10k Instagram followers – another arbitrary number! Okay, besides the swipe up feature – but is that truly the only reason you want those additional followers (if so, this won’t apply to you ;)? 

More Instagram or social media followers is NOT going to automatically equal more sales or collaborations.

Look instead at your actual sales goals. If you want to make 100 sales in your online shop this year, that means you need 100 customers (or likely even less than that for repeat buyers). There are so many other ways besides social media to get those customers, too. So develop a strategy beyond just growing that follower count – something well-rounded and that considers tactics beyond attracting just anyone in order to grow that number. 

I hope this has given you ideas to help you narrow in on what your goals truly are, which can then help you have some inner peace so that you have the energy to achieve them!

Your turn! What is one recurring thought in your mind that you can reframe, and turn into an actionable, achievable goal? 

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  1. Priya says:

    I love this, Juliet! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this as I can totally relate. I’m definitely guilty of setting arbitrary number goals in my head. I also love how you reframed the thought about needing thousands of followers to increase sales & collaborations. A smaller number of engaged fans is so much more valuable and gratifying than thousands of unengaged followers. Thanks again for sharing this article!

  2. LaTisha says:

    Hi Juliet! This post has been so eye-opening & a source of confirmation for where I am on my journey, so thank you. I’ve had to work on my mindset a lot lately to let go of thinking that once I get to this magical number in my bank account that I will have “arrived” in a sense. I want longevity, real connection with my audience, and to provide valuable services and products to them while being able to afford my lifestyle without having to return to a day job. I’m still figuring out what that may look like for me and what I absolutely don’t want that to include but I feel like I’m on the right track.

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