Realizing the power of four years

Perhaps we can loosen our expectations around a brand new year and give it permission to be enveloped by something greater – by a life chapter that is building little by little, day by day toward a lasting creative career and way of living.


Dear Creative Adventurers,

It’s that time of year again when it can feel a bit like being in a snow-globe of glittering inspiration. However, beneath the seasonal sparkle there can also lie a sense of pressure to make the next 365 days “really count” – whatever that “really” means… especially now that we’re officially into the new year.

This is why, although I will forever adore detailed goal lists, I now try to think of a brand new year not as a twelve month race against the calendar, but rather as a steady stepping stone in my current four year chapter.

The power of four years

Reflecting on life as four year chapters has helped me gain and maintain valuable perspective as I move further into my creative career and life.

It’s just the right amount of time for substantial change to take place. Think about how much happened during your high-school career (4 years) or how much you grew during post-secondary if you went for a degree (typically, 4 years again). The gulf between 21 and 25 feels vast once you’re through it and the difference in ourselves from 26 to 30 isn’t a gentle gap, it’s a chasm of character development and lived experience.

Whether we try to plan for it or not, in the span of four years we emerge as different versions of ourselves due to the sheer enormity of life that happens to and around us. We try new things, we endure the unexpected, we meet new people, we make mistakes, we learn from those mistakes and as a result we’re catapulted into directions that we never saw coming.

The power of four years is something I talk about a lot with my brand management clients. Generally speaking, in my experience it takes about four years for a new creative business to really click (when there’s not a horrible global pandemic, of course).

Essentially, we need one year to build out a creative venture, a second year to launch it and test the waters, a third year to run it while working out glitches, and then a fourth year to really, really run it.

It takes time for creative projects to take shape, for audiences to gather, for products to resonate and for a brand ecosystem to flourish. Building a creative career (or lifestyle) from scratch and growing it into something that stands successfully on its own tends to take longer than one single year.

A few examples in my own work and life… It took about four years to... (keep reading)