What We Can Learn When We're Inconsistent

As I’ve been working on the guide for you (mentioned in my last couple of posts), I’ve been thinking about my own content.

I realized, as I looked back through my Instagram photos, that there have been a few shifts in visual style recently. Now I could feel bad about that—if you listen to any advice about Instagram, it’s to keep your photos visually consistent—but I’m choosing a different path, and I think you should consider doing the same.

See, I do think visual consistency is super important. But I also think that as humans who are constantly growing and changing and trying new things, we can learn a lot if we pay attention to the times when we’re not consistent—or the times we shift into a new kind of consistency.

First, we can learn from the patterns we notice.

For a few months, I was posting pictures that tended to be a bit darker. But lately, I’m feeling more pulled to post photos that are a bit lighter and brighter. And after thinking about that shift for a few minutes, I realized it mimicked a shift in my own life. I went through a few months of having a lot going on and feeling a bit heavier, but as things have gotten worked out one way or another, I feel lighter. Unconsciously, I was reflecting that in my images.

And lately, I’m realizing that I really like change and experimentation—I love the feeling of possibility that comes with trying something new. And I’ve found that in the past, when I've given myself a bit of freedom to try new things, I have eventually arrived at what’s most true and right for me—but there have naturally been changes along the way.

So instead of beating yourself up when shifts and inconsistencies happen in your own work—easy to do because of all that aforementioned advice about strict consistency—look at what they’re trying to tell you. Has something changed? Does something need to change? Is there something going on you should take a closer look at? Is the way you’re doing things now the way you want to continue doing things?

What You Can Learn When You're Inconsistent - Erica Midkiff - Content Coaching.jpg

We can also learn from the resistance we face.

Ah, resistance. Every Tuesday morning, I talk to a friend and fellow creative on the phone—we talk about our goals for the upcoming week, what went well (and what didn’t) the previous week, and anything we’re struggling with or celebrating. Yesterday, we talked about…resistance.

This is a tricky one for me. I’ve talked about writing in layers and going where you're led before, and I really believe in both—but I also think it’s important to be able to tell the difference between doing those things…and giving in to resistance.

It’s tempting to just give in, to make excuses, to go with what’s comfortable. But if you can start to notice resistance instead of just fighting or ignoring it, that’s where the real magic happens—because that’s when you start learning.

As an example, your resistance may be telling you it’s time to stop holding on to something. Let’s say you have been resisting posting on Instagram every day. Examine why. Would you be annoyed if someone else did the same? Does it feel inauthentic? Would you rather post a couple of more in-depth updates than something light every day—and you only have the time or energy to follow one of those strategies? Do you just need a break from posting daily for a month or so while you finish a big project? Those all might be reasons to change the pressure you’re putting on yourself to post daily.

But your resistance might also be telling you it’s time to just do the thing already. Let’s use that same scenario above—you’re resisting posting on Instagram every day. Examine why. Are you afraid to put yourself out there because you might get criticized? Are you feeling your photos aren’t as good as someone else’s? Are you afraid you can’t handle the rush of client work or purchases that might come your way? Those all might be reasons to push yourself a little harder instead of ignoring the problem (maybe try it for two weeks and see how things go, or start putting systems in place to help you work with clients more efficiently, or look into hiring someone to help you send out orders—you get the idea).

What can you learn?

So whether shifts and inconsistencies are a result of a bigger pattern or have to do with resistance, they can potentially teach you something—if you can push past the self-criticism that so often tags along. (Easier said than done, I know!) I’m spending this week paying special attention to the times I face resistance, and would love for you to join me!

P.S. In the guide I'm creating—which will help you gain clarity, map out sustainable steps for consistent sharing, do the actual work of creating content, and then publish with confidence—I focus on doing what's right for you, not right for everyone else. And this naturally takes a bit of experimentation. I want you to feel comfortable trying something out and then be able to incorporate changes when they come your way instead of feeling like you've done something wrong—or like you need to start from scratch. I'm working hard on getting this into your hands soon, and I can't wait to see the incredible things you do with it!

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