Business coach Justine Clay talks about the importance of meaning and purpose, what questions we can ask ourselves to discover them, and how we can define our own businesses to fit ourselves.
Justine’s bio: Justine Clay is a speaker, writer, and business coach for creative entrepreneurs and freelancers. Using her actionable Profitable by Design framework, Justine helps established creative professionals, and business owners identify and articulate their unique value, position themselves to high-quality, well-paying clients, and build a fulfilling, efficient and profitable creative business.
Sign up for Justine’s free guide: How to Find High-Quality Clients and Get Paid What You’re Worth and start making monumental changes in your creative business or career today.
Check out the Creative Business Accelerator, the group coaching program I did with Justine:
Notable quotes from Justine:
“Being independent — whether that's a freelancer or being a CEO of your of your own small business —there are things that drive us to make that decision, to go out on a limb, to take the risk. It's more freedom, more fulfillment, more money.”
“If you have a six-figure business and 80% of it is going into Facebook ads, then it's not a profitable business.”
“Money is the thing that buys you the freedom that you need; that's what gives you the freedom to live the life that you want to live, whatever that looks like for you.”
Hello and welcome to the joyful freelancer, a podcast about mindset and meaning in freelancing, work and life. Today I'm speaking with Justine clay, a speaker, writer and business coach for creative entrepreneurs and freelancers. Before starting her own business, she worked for decades in the creative representation business, learning everything there is to know about positioning, managing and growing the careers of creative professionals. I was a participant in Justine's Creative Business Accelerator Group program, which it really helped me refine my conception and messaging around my freelance business, which has been invaluable. Thank you for joining me.
Thank you for having me. I love the idea of this podcast, and your unique take on freelancing, and all of that. So I'm excited to have this conversation.
Great. As I said, I took your training program, and we did a lot of self-reflection on why we do what we do. And you introduced me to Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle,” and the idea of finding your “why,” which is a very popular business concept. And it was really helpful for me to think about kind of what my larger purpose was. Can you talk a little bit about why and how you coach people in this kind of thinking?
Justine Clay (01:13)
Absolutely. So whenever we're trying to do anything big or different, and you know, confronting, which is, essentially what coaching is all of those things, right? No one ever arrives to a coach saying, ‘I'm in really good shape, like, let's just fine tune things,’ you know. Most people, you know, when they sort of make the investment of working with someone at the investment, if their time, their energy, their resources, you know, it's a big deal. And it's usually because something isn't working, because they're not happy, because most often, you know, they're stuck in a feast or famine cycle, there's just not enough consistency in jobs and money, and all of these things. And it can be very easy to sort of forget why you're doing something. And when it comes to goal setting, in general, or changing habits, or, you know, really challenging ourselves in the way that we have to challenge ourselves during like a coaching process, for example, there's got to be meaning that's got to be behind that. Because if we're just doing it, because intellectually we think we need to do something, or we feel like we're going to have to do a bunch of things that we don't really want to do, but we kind of have to do, and we sort of know we have to do it, when there's positive meaning attached to these changes that we want to make, we're much more likely to stick with it. We're much more likely to kind of do things for longer, which is what things take, you know? We can't just suddenly change our habits and our mindsets and our income levels and all of these things overnight. So in order to kind of like stay in the game, where there's positive meaning attached and you have a very strong purpose and a reason why you're doing it, you're more likely to stick with what you're trying to do.
So that's the kind of primary reason, and then I would say, in a sort of, like, much more zoomed out way, potentially, I feel like human beings are really driven by purpose and meaning, you know? If you've noticed, if you ever feel down or anything else, like one of the least empowered emotions is hopelessness, right? Lack of purpose, what's the point? You know, that's probably the worst emotion we can have. So when we have purpose and meaning, even if everything isn't perfect, that's a huge thing for human beings, you know, it's a huge reason for us to stay in the game and do the things that we do. So that's why I always really try and find out what is that purpose underneath. And also, purpose is one of those things that I think people talk about in this very lofty, big ways of like, find your purpose as if one day you're going to just wake up and be like, ‘I've got it!’ Whereas my feeling is, it's one of these things that is sort of slowly revealed to you. I mean, I'm sure there are some people that just kind of know. That that wasn't the case for me. It was one of those things that like through sort of like trial and error and different experiences and opportunities and accidents, and you know, all of these things, you sort of divine your way there as much by what you don't enjoy, but really, you know, it's one of those things that we kind of have to just stick with in order to define it.
Katherine Gustafson (04:17)
Well, that's so interesting. I'm just wondering, you know, if people are accepting that and saying, ‘I don't get to know my purpose right away,’ how do they know what steps to take in the meantime? You know, how can people start on the path of finding their purpose? What things can drive those, intermediate decisions, is it just whatever kind of sparks your interest or is there some more structured way of thinking about how to kind of build your own path?
Justine Clay (04:44)
Yes, and no. So I feel like I always in my, in my programs, -- and you probably remember this -- I provide structure. A lot of times through questions, especially in this kind of more reflective part of the process. I always say that, you know, the way I work with people is thought inward yoke, sort of a deep reflection, inward looking and reflection and research base. And then a lot of it is tactical and skills building and all of those things. And you really don't need both of those things. And I think that sometimes, with coaching, it can really go one way or another. It can either be all about the internal, inward-facing stuff. And that can kind of be a bit circular, right? We can kind of like stay in that place of just like, you know, worrying about all of these things, and processing all this and that, and thinking about how we came to be here, and there's not enough doing, right?
And then there's other ones where it's just simple, you just need to have goals, or you need to be smart. And, you know, that doesn't address the meaning. So, in answer to the question about like, Are there sort of tangible steps people can take? Absolutely. And I think that that's normally in the form of questions that we ask ourselves that we don't normally ask ourselves. So, for example, it might be: what do you enjoy doing the most? As in like, your, in your work life, right? What are the things that just come so easily to us that you would do them all day for free? That's often a really big indicator of where sort of unique brilliance is, you know, where our gifts are, where we're of huge value to other people. Where our gifts are, our purpose usually is pretty much in that same area, right? And all your what do people come to me for? So for example, you know, when I was sort of, in my sort of 20s, and 30s, people would come to me for advice, right? Like, they would tell me their problems, and they would come to me for advice. And, you know, if I were to think of that in a very simple linear way, I might think, Well, okay, I could be a therapist, or well, you know, we're not supposed to give advice when you’re a therapist. You know, I'm good at listening to people, and I enjoy listening to people I enjoy trying to help help them sort of move forward from where they are. But you know, my path to coaching creative professionals was a long and winding one, but a clue to that pathway, you know, that I was on that right track was, I really enjoyed doing this. It's no hardship for me to listen to people. In fact, I love it. Another thing that I'm I naturally do is I ask a million questions of people. And it could be like, you know, one of the moms or, you know, a kid's birthday party, and I'm just asking questions, and I'm just genuinely very curious about people. And when people are asked a question, they give an answer that may give them an insight that they never even thought about because we're all busy, you know, we're not sitting around, you know, journaling all day long, for the most part. So it's really more a series of questions designed to tap into what you already know and maybe haven't connected the dots on, or haven't given it too much credence in a way. Because the things that are very easy for us can be very hard to other people, but because it's easy to us, we think it must be easy to everybody. Right? So I think that there's that two part process, right? Like I'm sure like in your work, you know, having a way with words, being able to edit things and see how things fit together and what needs to come out and what supports a great narrative. And you're these are things that, yes, you've honed your craft, but you probably have a sort of spidey sense about these things that other people don't have.
Katherine Gustafson (08:16)
Yeah, it's a good way of putting it. Spidey sense. Yeah, I often kind of can't believe it when other people say Writing is hard for them. I'm kind of like that's the doesn't compute. So I know exactly what you're talking about. I like what you're saying about asking, basically, kind of figuring out the right questions to ask oneself. I think I've been early years of my career, I was frustrated, because I would try to answer questions that I wasn't equipped to answer, like, What is my purpose? Or what is my career going to be these big picture things? I would just think, I don't know, I don't know, how am I supposed to answer that? And I would just feel constantly frustrated. And I think one thing your course really helped me do actually was ask different questions that were more useful. Yes. And I think you pointed out some of them just now. Not what comes easy to you necessarily, but what is aligned with your feelings of, of competence and ease and joy, and just kind of starting from the bottom up instead of trying to start at the top and go down, as far as thinking like, what your direction should be.
Justine Clay (09:18)
Exactly, exactly. Yeah, it's kind of divining your way there rather than just trying to land on the end answer. Most people don't know what they want to do. Or be or, you know, unless a parent said, You need to be a doctor or you need to be a lawyer, and then they, they believe it. And creatives aren't those people. And so, you know, it's like this sort of doubly handicapped in a way in that area. Because a lot of times creators from my experience are coming from backgrounds where that path as a career is not supportive, particularly you know, get a proper job. You'll never make money doing that, you know, it was never really at the connection was never even really Hey, but this could be a profitable and thriving way to live and make a living and raise a family, and what are the things that you want to do with your life.
Katherine Gustafson (10:10)
Right? So you kind of have extra work to do to kind of break through all that mulch of doubt and shame or whatever before you can even listen to yourself. Is that partly why in the first answer you mentioned that coaching can be confronting, and that word kind of stuck out to me. And I was wondering if that's what you mean, is that, you know, you're kind of pushing people to think beyond the narratives they've been given?
Justine Clay (10:37)
Absolutely. You know, I work with established creative professionals. And, you know, by the time we get to be an adult, picked up so many limiting beliefs and stories and narratives and had the experiences that sort of backup and support those things, there has to be a willingness to suspend disbelief, right? There has to be a willingness to say ‘Yes, but my business is different. My business is unique because…’ It's really not. It's like no one's businesses is. On one hand, it's completely unique to you. And on the other hand, your problems are just the same as everybody else's. Right? I think it is a confronting process. Because as we all know, or as anyone who's been in any therapy even for a minute knows, those a lot of times are the ways we self-sabotage. Or our limiting beliefs or our stories is that their safety for us, right? They may be messed up, but they're also safe; they’re what we know. So to let go of all of that, and to suddenly claim a different way of being in the world and say, You know what, I'm going to actually go back to all of my, potentially, I'm going to have to go back to all of my family and all of the people and say, you know, actually, ‘I'm doing very well, you know, I'm very successful, and I'm making great money,’ and the fear of sort of, like not being what they expect you to be, even though those people is very paradoxical as people of course want the best for you. But there's a lot riding on you sort of like staying in your lane and not rocking the boat at all. So. And also, it's challenging, because I think that, you know, if you sort of grow up, and you're good in the sciences, or you're, you you're on the medicine, or you know, any of the math or all of these things, you're sort of being groomed for certain roles and positions in society. So when you have to do the hard things that make that so you're sort of expecting it, right. But when you feel sort of like groomed for the opposite outcome, and then someone says, ‘Okay, now we're going to talk about business models.’ And they'll say, ‘I can't do that I'm not equipped for that,’ and I’m like, ‘Yes, you are, if I'm equipped for it as a creative, you are too. And I'll make it nice and visual, and all of these things, but you can do this.’ And there's a lot of things like, can I like no one has ever said that. But I can do this, and you've got to be ready for that,
Katherine Gustafson (12:55)
You've hit on something that I think about a lot, which is that as a freelancer, we are each our own little CEO of our own tiny one-person company. And when freelancers make the shift into thinking that way, it really changes something and how they are able to orchestrate their career and make more money and kind of be be self-directed look for new opportunities, whatever that may mean. So I think it's really interesting the concept of creative but also being a creative, but also a business person. And kind of if you want to make a go of it as an independent, creative, you kind of have to be both. And as you say that can be anathema to creative people. But I know that in the way you talk about it, you sometimes break it down into not such forbidding ideas. In one of your communications, you had mentioned that the three keys to a self-employed creative career are freedom, fulfillment, and money, you can very easily translate that into like business terms. But in a more, you know, those are just kind of terms that everyone can understand. And anyone in any career needs to think about those. Maybe you can talk about how those concepts relate to a creative career.
Justine Clay (14:07)
Sure. And actually I just want to go back a second to what you just said about the being the CEO of your business. It's one of the things I talk about a lot is like, when you work with me, or I'll just speak for myself, we're really making that transition from sort of struggling freelancer to savvy business owner. And like you say, you may be a CEO of a business of one, you may be a CEO of a business of four, or you may just build, you know, kind of an agency model or whatever. But that shift is key, and how you operate and when you operate in that different way people perceive you in a different way, even if like you say, the size of your business didn't actually change at all in terms of manpower. Right? You just show up differently. So I'm glad that you sort of cold tease that out a little bit too. Oh, yeah.
Katherine Gustafson (14:55)
It's like one of my favorite topics. Because I personally started … I am made that shift myself. And it was very revolutionary for me, where I kind of was just thought of myself as a solo person, a freelancer doing discrete work. And then I somehow, I don't remember the process exactly, but I shifted into feeling like I was kind of this business owner and I was making more strategic decisions specifically about how to earn more. It really changed a lot about how not only I thought about and approached the business and freelancing, but also just even thought about myself and my identity, and also opened up ideas of other things. If I have the business chops to be a little business of my own, then I could do other types of business, you know, for instance, I started this podcast, which isn't really a business at this point, but it's a new venture. And I don't know if I would have had the kind of, I don't know, sense of, ‘I can do things that are new,’ as much if I were still in that mode of, I'm just kind of this person struggling along going from thing to thing instead of a more strategic long term vision of like, what do I want my life and career to include?
Justine Clay (16:01)
Yeah, I love that it's music to my ears when I hear anybody say that, because I also went through the same, you know, evolution myself, you know? So it's a game changer. And just to see people, freeing and liberating themselves this way is just incredible. And I believe it's something that's available to anybody really, I really do. So freedom, fulfillment and money. So I start most of my, you know, online workshops with this slide that has ‘freedom, fulfillment, or money’ written on it. And having worked with creatives for in one capacity or another for 20 years, you know, high-level independent creatives, I have noticed that those are the three things that motivate all of us, right? That motivated us primarily, to do this crazy thing like entrepreneurship or freelancing in the first place, right? We know enough to know that being independent, whether that's a freelancer or being a CEO of your of your own small business, or big business, whatever it is, those are the things that drive us right to make that decision, to go out on a limb to take the risk, right? It's more freedom, more fulfillment, more money. And conversely, of course, when things aren't going well, and people aren't approaching it as an entrepreneur or a CEO versus a freelancer kind of dotting around, they have less of all of those things, right? So, it's what pulls us forth. And it's a thing that if we don't have our act together, or just don't understand certain things about business… I retract the get your act together, because it's not about that, it's like you don't know what you don't know until you learn it, right. It's just like anything else, there's no shame in not knowing that yet. But until we do know that stuff, you know, the opposite is usually true: We have less freedom, we have less fulfillment, we have less income, which then feeds into all kinds of feelings of shame and lack of confidence, and you know, all of that terrible stuff that is counterproductive to a flourishing creative career.
So, what these things mean to me: freedom is freedom to choose, I have the freedom to define what my business does, who it does it for, how it does it, and when it does it, right? Like, you have the ultimate freedom to say like, ‘this is what I do now.’ These are my values. This is how I say yes or no to something. These are the terms and conditions of working with me. I would like to try this out. So I'm going to try that now. And you know, you have all of this freedom. And of course, with freedom, you know, comes a lot of overwhelm, sometimes too, right? You can have too much freedom if you don't have that that construct and that structure to support you of the business. So that to me is what freedom is, is the ability to kind of like build, build it whatever way you want to build it and run it whatever way you want to run it. Fulfillment. Yeah, it goes back to the purpose we were talking about, you know, human beings are driven by purpose and meaning. And I have never met a greater person who said, ‘I'm just in it for the money.’ They've all said that when I create a positive impact in the world, I want to support other business owners in the articulation and expression of their message, their story, their products, their whatever it is, right? People, they are co-creators, to their core, they are collaborators. And then of course, when you sort of end up doing a crappy job for someone who doesn't value what you do and pays you accordingly, then, of course, that fulfillment like tanks, right, you don't have that fulfillment. So fulfillment is a real driving factor. And I think it's a measure of one success, right? Like, how fulfilled do you feel during the work that you do? And then money, of course, it's funny. I've always talked about money because I'm always very open about my own money story. And you know, how I went from having the limiting money beliefs to not having those, and it was a gradual, ongoing process for many years. Now I'm very passionate about it to the point where I have, I found my whole business positioning on it. And the tagline for my business is ‘You’re creative by nature. Let me help you be profitable by design.’ Because I believe in it that much. That's nice. Isn't it? I was quite pleased. I was quite pleased with that, I must admit. Yeah, I worked on that with my with my coach. So he also gets co-writing credit on that one. But, you know, I was just like, you know, what, enough of this like talking about money, but kind of in the recesses of it, this has to be front and center. Because if the sole purpose of a business is to make money, as my coach says, to me, your business is not there to entertain you, which was like, what it's not?
Katherine Gustafson (20:47)
Well, as a creative, we get inspired by the activities we do. We think, oh, this, we just love it. That's enough.
Justine Clay (20:55)
And we get all like tinkering with things. And you know, twiddling around with language and services and visuals and, and so its sole job is to be a profitable entity, right? So if your business is not making the money that you want and need it to make -- and that can be different for different people, one person might want to make $50,000; another person might want to make $500,000, no is numbers, right, and I'm very sort of like, wary of all of the coaches that are like, I'll help you build a six and seven figure eight figure business --
Katherine Gustafson (21:30)
That six-figure freelancers seems to be this catchphrase.
Justine Clay (21:35)
It’s the new thing, right? And I'm like, ‘Well, great. But that might not be what everybody wants.’ And also, if you have a six-figure business, and you know, 80% of it is going into Facebook ads, then it's not a profitable business, right. So just because you have a six-figure business does not mean you have a profitable business. Whereas if you build a really intentional business, where you understand what all the parts are yours, and how they work together, you could build a beautiful $100,000 business or $80,000 business and be keeping most of that, right? Because you don't keep your expenses very low. And you have really amazing processes and procedures, and you have, you know, technologies and tools that really support you, or maybe you have a virtual assistant. So you can really just get a lot done with very little and, you know, really have just a very highly profitable small business.
So these things are really important to know and understand. And that's why there's that emphasis on the business structure and the money side of things. I am by no means a financial expert at all. But it's something we talk about a lot in terms of like, what does this need to do for you? And then how are we going to build a business then that does that? I remember when you joined my program, one of your things was, I think we both had little babies at that time, very young children, and you wanted to be the breadwinner. And so ‘you're going okay, well, what does it what does the business need to be then, if you are the breadwinner?’ And you are probably the primary caregiver, because you have a baby right now, you know, so that we build the business that supports the person and the life that they want to build, right? And that can look different for all kinds of people. So the money piece is really important, but not in that, like, ‘I've got to make six figures or seven figures and money, money, money, it's all about the money.’ It's not about that. It's about money being the thing that buys you the freedom that you need, right, like that's what gives you the freedom to live the life that you want to live, whatever that looks like for you.
Katherine Gustafson (23:44)
Yeah, one of the things you said and I'm quoting is I believe that every second spent worrying about money is the second taken away from us using our gifts to create a positive impact on the world. And I'm wondering if you could also kind of extrapolate that to say, using our gifts to live the life we want. So it's like money is in service to constructing our lives how we want it, as opposed to taking away from us living the lives we want.
Justine Clay (24:10)
Absolutely, absolutely. To me, it's like and I think that that has been one of the things I think I'm most proud of in my own so like personal, professional development was making such a monumental shift in my own money mindset and not being ruled by the fear of all the scarcity or of any of these things anymore. I'm just really seeing it: like, it comes in, I direct it to things that I that are meaningful to me, like I was walking in our forest recently that I love to walk in and there was you know, they have the conservancy signs there and the QR code, and then it was just like, ‘Okay, I'm going to add that to my giving.’ I have to I've got several organizations and charities that I give to on a monthly basis. You know, like 25 bucks each, but like that adds up and I don't have to think about it, I can add another one in there. And it's because I value this forest and I value the work people are doing. And I'm not going to be in there volunteering with my own two hands, but I can contribute with my financial resources. And so that's the way I want to be able to support the things is financially so I can invest the time that I do have as a business owner, I'm a mother with young kids, on my business and on my home and in my community, you know, not picking up trash from the forest.
Katherine Gustafson (25:31)
Can you talk a little bit more about that money mindset idea that and maybe personally, the shift you made? Some people might not even know what a money mindset is.
Justine Clay (25:40)
Sure. So if we think about any mindset issue, so if you think about the first stage of mindset is our beliefs like, Ground Zero is our beliefs. Beliefs give rise to thoughts, and our thoughts give rise to actions. So for example, let's apply that to money mindset. Let's say we grew up with the belief that rich people are terrible, money is the root of all evil, rich people are greedy, they use other people, having money is really distasteful, scrimping and saving is somehow noble. So if we grew up, and then layer in, you know, if you're a creative person, well, then you don't understand business, you're not good at business in any way, you can't make money doing that anyway, you know. So these are all beliefs that we have around money and our relationship to it, and what it says about us how, we relate to it, and our ability and right to have it, right? And that can be very layered and deep and wide, right? So, or some people may grow up where they see their family making good money, talking about money like it's no big deal, giving money to other people using it well, you know, not running out and buying a Lamborghini and then like, suddenly the next month, you know, they can't make the rent payment or whatever. There's other people are going to grow up seeing it being used really well. But you know, for the most part money is when those things that everybody has some story around. And in my experience, most people have some kind of negative beliefs around it.
So those beliefs give rise to our thoughts. So we may say, ‘I need to make more money. I want to live in a house and I want to move out to this space and I want to upgrade my car and I want to do these things.’ But if there's always that voice underneath it, ‘yeah, but if you do that your dad's going to disown you. Because remember, so rich people are terrible. Or if you do that, you're going to outshine your sister who you've always kind of outshined anyway.’ So now you're going to do that then as well. Right? So there's that that voice and whatever your story is saying, Yeah, but yeah, what's going to happen when you do that, right? Or you're just going to turn into like, you know, one of those awful people that like your parents warned you about, or whatever it might be, right? So you're kind of screwed, right? If you're not addressing the limiting beliefs.
And then the actions, our actions arise from our thoughts, we say, ‘oh, so if we can shift our money mindset to, I recognize that all money stories are just stories, like anything else. I recognize that the things I was taught and the things I heard as a child was someone else's story, and I just took it as my own because what I'm the kid,’ right, which we do, of course, because our parents are the people that take care of us and love us and all the rest of it. And we trust and all of that stuff, and it's no one's fault, because unless these things are examined, it's just sort of like unconsciously carried on. We have to examine it. And it's like, bias or bias or any kind, right, we have to like, look at it square, and feel terribly uncomfortable about it all and then like make some really different choices around things.
So once we start even can see it for what it is and say, ‘Well, you know, I choose not to believe those stories. What can I replace those stories with?’ Yep, some people may say, you know, money is like electricity, it just flows, it's everywhere it flows to you. And then you direct it somewhere like you know, so, we're not mad at electricity for coming out, you know, out of the wall and plugging our toaster in and like giving us toast, we're just like, ‘that’s awesome, and now I can direct it towards the lights, and now I can do it, it was a vacuum cleaner,’ right? Or whatever it is. We're not mad at the electricity for given us all these options, right? So if we could even just like take away that gunk around it right so that's the first thing is like even just understanding seeing that the gunk is there and saying, I got to clear this out like this does not belong here. And, you know, I went through a process where I was sort of like wasn't supported through it by like a coach who was very sort of like that, it was kind of an area of her specialty. And it was just really helpful because again, as we talked about in the beginning, it's like, it's having people who know, the right questions to ask, right? And then you replace it with what would happen if -- I love the question, what if? -- What if I were to make $100,000? Of course, my family wouldn't all this only they'd be delighted for me, right? I could be more of who I am. I could fly my parents over. I could you send my kids to whatever school I want to send them to. And that's again, where we're talking about the meaning, right? The why. And so say, I want more money, because I feel like it will make me feel more worthy or more successful or whatever, like you need, it's sort of like covering it up. When there's meaning attached to it that's very positive -- if I make this amount of money is going to enable me to do this, and this and this, which is clearly in everybody's benefit, right? The opposite of just being a terrible, you know, rich person, just like screwing over the poor people -- then you can go about sort of assigning different actions, you can say, ‘okay, what are the habits that have supported me in my unconsciousness around this, and staying in this way and perpetuating the story in this narrative and this habits? And what different action habits could I choose?’ Right?
If you look at those three parts, first to tackle the beliefs, then you would you attach your thoughts are associated with this new change differently, you make different deliberate actions, different choices. For one of mine, it was like, ‘I'm going to hire a bookkeeper, I'm going to talk with a financial advisor, I'm going to get like a savings plan and action, I'm going to pay off my debt and prioritize that.’ And then it's just like doing stuff like anything else. Right? Once you have a plan with action steps, you just do those action steps. And like, you know, before you know it, like you're sort of where you want to be. And, you know, because you've done that other work around the beliefs and the, the thoughts, you can sustain it. Right? It wasn't like you had all of that gunk, and then you got like a $10,000 check in, and then you paid off the credit card, and then you just went and just did the whole same thing over again, right. So that's why mindset is so important, because we're sort of tackling the root cause rather than addressing the thoughts and actions, which are notoriously kind of skittish.
Katherine Gustafson (32:26)
I really relate to everything you said, as someone who just upgraded my car, mostly because I was forced to, or definitely because I was forced to my other car died. But I found I've done I think, a good bit of work on this and really shifted a lot, but I still found all sorts of residual gunk, and it was incredibly hard to make, you know, just rational decisions about how much should I spend? what kind of car is you know, quote unquote, okay, or acceptable with my perception of who I am as a person with any money?’ I found like, ‘Wow, it's really hard to work through all this stuff.’ And I guess maybe you never fully do you just continue to chip away at it and get better understanding and maybe each time you have one of those decision points that, you know, you could progress a little.
Justine Clay (33:12)
Exactly. And I think it's an ongoing thing. I mean, as I mentioned to you, it's like, you know, I feel like the sort of like, the active piece of it, where I was really like working hard on it. I think it was the better part of a decade, honestly. Yeah. And then like, once I sort of, like, I felt like it's kind of rounded, you know, a big corner, then it was like, Okay, now it's maintenance. But I, for example, know that when it comes to expanding, if I'm feeling, you know, frustrated, or bored or insecure in some area of my life, you know, my thing is shopping, right? Like shopping for clothes. I'll spend too much on a dress that I don't need or something like that. Now I know that that's my, my sort of Achilles heel, if you like, then I can be aware of it. So when I see myself on Instagram, like, you know, scrolling through, and of course, they're feeding me all of the pretty things. Yeah, I can just be like, ‘you can look, look, put it in a shopping cart, even, it's fine. Like, just don't buy it.’
Katherine Gustafson (34:09)
Just don't click Buy.
Justine Clay (34:11)
Yeah. And you know, once I've paid down all my debt, I no longer had a personal credit card, I have one for my business, because what am I going to do? Go on a tear in Staples? No, my problem is shoes and pretty dresses. So I have not had a personal credit card in years. And so that really helps too, because I'm just like, if I know what my budget is, I know how much money I have to spend. I can live very freely and very well with all of that. But if I spent $300 on something that wasn't in the budget, well then I'm going to feel that somewhere else. Right? This does not that kind of like kick the can down the road. So that again is a different behavior, right? And that's a behavior that stuck.
Katherine Gustafson (34:47)
I think getting to that mindset of being kind of your own CEO or you're managing your business also means you know, being really familiar and understand comfortable with the finances of your business. And for me anyway, that process has really helped with how I've approached and thought about my own personal finances. I mean, they're, they're very connected, I'm the pass-through entity. It's not like I have a separate …. but I do keep my business, you know, money separate and I kind of pay myself a set amount and then I've managed that separately so that like they're very connected and becoming adept at managing yourself in business as a creative can really have benefits that go way beyond you know, just being able to make money with your skills.
Justine Clay (35:29)
Absolutely it’s a game changer. I love that you talk about this of personal and business finances being separate, but being very connected, right? Like and it's the same thing. I go through a process with my clients when like, ‘okay, let's figure out what the personal expenses are, and the debt, all of this stuff, like, let's get it all in so we know what we're dealing with. Okay, now, how much does the business need to make?’ On a monthly basis, you know…your expenses, your debt repayment, your savings plans, all of these things, you know, starting a retirement fund if you have one, all of these things. And like I say, then I'll refer them to a financial advisor, it's going to really help them with that deeper stuff. But it's more like just there's going to be an overview without like freaking out, just shine a light in the dark corners. It’s just numbers. There's no shame in it. And whatever it is, knowing what it is, is going to empower you to make choices that are going to change it. But like ignorance around it never made anything any better.
Katherine Gustafson (36:25)
Ignorance generally never makes anything any better. And with that, I think we are out of time. But thank you so much for coming on and talking to me. I've really enjoyed this.
Justine Clay (36:36)
Me too. Thank you for having me. I love talking about all these things so if you have any other topics that come up that you think you'd like to jam on, you just let me know. Thanks for having me.
Katherine Gustafson (36:46)
Thank you for joining us this week on the Joyful Freelancer. If you're a service-based freelancer or solopreneur looking to grow your business, you should check out Justin's group coaching program the Creative Business Accelerator program. I took it and that really helped me clarify my goals and messaging for my freelance business. Check out the show notes for the link. See you in two weeks when the next episode comes out. In the meantime, subscribe to the show or follow us on social. See you soon.