One Week off Work to Chase my DBSL Dreams

Artist Stephanie Fowler of Design by Streetlight
Hi guys!

I’m closing on a week off of work that I took for myself as a birthday gift this year. I just celebrated 35 and it feels like a milestone. I touched on it in my Instagram post on my birthday, but there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes for me. At 35, there are a lot of big checkmarks that I am proud of in this life, but there are still things that I want to work on too.

There’s no full agenda for this post but I want to reflect back on a week off work, treating Design by Streetlight as if it were my fulltime business. Without further ado:

1. I am humbled by the amount of things I did not get done. I worked at this little business an average of 8 hours each day and the to-do list I set for myself at the beginning of the week is only half accomplished. This is not because of slacking, or distraction, it is genuinely because things take time, period.

2. I really could do this full time. Five days of this established a small routine. I went to bed about an hour earlier than normal and got up an hour later than normal, and didn’t require any daytime naps to get through. Mornings were usually spent sketching or painting and afternoons on business development. If I could do this full time, I would schedule in an afternoon once or twice a week in a cafe to change it up, but really my space was quite adequate to get things done.

3. I am surprised at how little time I actually spent painting. I read and hear other full time illustrators say this – but the bulk of the work is not about doing your craft. It’s learning new skills, marketing yourself, prepping Etsy products and learning SEO, things like that.

4. I could probably become a hermit quite easily if I didn’t focus on getting out. I went for daily walks and one day pulled out my bicycle and rode over to a cafe for a few hours. I had the oddest feeling of emerging into the world while doing it. After several days cocooned into my safe space, it felt vulnerable to be out and in the world again.

5. Two days in I bit the bullet and spent several hundred dollars on an Etsy SEO course. There was so much information in it that I’m still feeling a little overwhelmed. But I’m drinking the Koolaid here. There are people on Etsy clearing and I mean CLEARING six figures each year. The most comforting thing I hear them say is “I’m just a girl who wanted more – and if I can do it, so can you.” I have been that person in other areas of my life. I have done things I didn’t think I could do. In capoeira in particular – I NEVER thought I would get to where I am with it. I simply fell in love with the process and the rest of it unfolded over time. I don’t believe there are any real shortcuts to the things you want in life, you can only get started, fall in love with the process and keep at it. Day after day. Remember your why, do it for you and just keep going.

Design by Streetlight Doorway Prints

Doorway art prints available on Etsy

I have mentioned my day job a little before and without saying where I work, I’ll expand on it now. I have an amazing job. Even within the organization I am lucky to work for it is a sought after job. 35 hour weeks, amazing pay, telework every second day, every second Monday off and four weeks of paid holidays each year. I know. You would be hard pressed to find anything better.
But guess what? I. Want. More.
I want to keep working at this Etsy business, at this painting, and teaching it. At getting my prints into more retailers for sale. And I want to be the girl who surprises EVEN HERSELF and quits her amazing day job to paint full time. I hope I get to look back at this post in five years and say – check it out. The roadmap. It started that week.

We get one life. It’s easy to fall into cliche here, or to fall back on inspirational quotes – which I personally LOVE by the way – but the truth is we get one life. What do you want out of yours? I have my list of priorities and dreams. It’s also nice learning over time what I don’t want – my want’s and don’t wants complement each other rather nicely I must say.
But time is short. Even now, the days fly by. The years check themselves off. I sure hope the best days of my life haven’t happened yet – because I am working NOW to create them. Watch me go.

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