I recently stumbled across Maggie Smith’s Substack, For Dear Life. Her latest piece, A Pep Talk, delivered the following quote:

‘As I prepare to launch this book in April, I’m thinking a lot about all of the other books that made it possible for this memoir to exist. So today I want to talk about books as permission slips. And not only books, but anything you read that shows you new possibilities and lends you courage to experiment. I tell my MFA students this: The risks you’re taking in your work now aren’t just for you. You’re writing permission slips for the writers who come after you, writers who’ll see in your work new things to try—with form, with content—that they might not have considered before.’

These words resonated on a number of levels. I too could list books that have served as permission slips throughout my life. Writers and artists who have fueled and inspired my creative efforts, planting the seed of possibility and encouraging me to explore my capabilities.

Then there’s the possibility my own creative output, with its many flaws and imperfections, could serve as a permission slip for others. I’ve been writing online for almost 14 years. If even one person has read something I’ve published and thought ‘maybe I could do that too’, then that’s 14 years well spent!

As I considered this, I realised the metaphor could be extended to other areas of life and business. In fact, it’s quite a nice way to think about sharing content and showing up online. Maybe it could even be an antidote to comparison.

What if..?

What if everything you do and share online is a permission slip for someone else? The motivation they’ve been looking for. A gentle nudge to give something a try or explore a new path. What would you create and how would you show up if you viewed your online presence in this way?

What if, when you see someone smashing their goals or simply living the kind of life you aspire to, instead of taking you to a place of comparison and failure, it felt like a permission slip to do the same? I’m not saying it’s an easy reframe, but it could be a useful one.

Permission Slips You’ll Receive From Me

  • Permission to live and work in a way that supports your health and well being, rather than compromising it.
  • Permission to break the ‘rules’ and do things differently.
  • Permission to have strong boundaries.
  • Permission to prioritise rest, guilt-free, whenever you need to.
  • Permission to write a pithy ‘out of office’ auto-reply and take a few days off, just because.
  • Permission to take a proper lunch break, every day.
  • Permission to make time for creative play.
  • Permission to be a beginner, to practice and improve slowly over time.
  • Permission to share the content you enjoy creating and skip {or outsource} everything else.
  • Permission to write and create from the heart, to be a bit vulnerable {if you want to}.
  • Permission to show up as a whole person with passions and interests beyond your business or industry niche.
  • Permission to make mistakes, mess up, fail and try again.
  • Giving Yourself Permission

Brene Brown talks about writing our own permission slips as a way of stating an intention and teaching us to think about what we might need from ourselves and others. She describes them as:

‘A practical and familiar way to think about what might get in the way of us talking about how we feel, asking for what we need, or trying something new.’

Brown claims to carry her own permission slips on post-it notes in the pockets of her jeans. She also says:

‘Permission slips aren’t promissory notes, they are for stating and writing down intentions only, so there are no repercussions if you fail to deliver; however, they are useful for increasing accountability and the potential for support.’

I think I might dig out some post-it notes and give this a try. Consider this your permission slip to do the same!

Love Audrey xxx

P.S. Ethan Hawke on giving yourself permission to be creative.

P.P.S. A version of this post originally appeared in Letters From Love Audrey, my monthly newsletter filled with creative inspiration for you and your business. If you’ve enjoyed reading this and would like more of the same in your inbox, you can sign-up here.

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