The Next Step Sessions

Calling all young creatives that from time to time go: “OK, what’s the next step?” (and would appreciate not to have to deal with that by themselves)!

“The Next Step Sessions” are accountability sessions in group, built to normalize your creative goals by being part of a community of like-minded people. It’s about companionship, accountability, sharing expertise and getting through the emotional discomfort of giving birth to a creative side-project. Maybe in your social circle no one is into this kind of stuff, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue it!


How you might be currently feeling:

+ You’ve decided you want to pursue a more creative life; the trouble is that you can’t figure out what to do next – how to go from point A to point B. You struggle to make decisions and take action, and you’re commonly defeated by the “censor” – that voice in your head that makes you overthink and suffer from imposter syndrome.

+ You’ve been working on your creative endeavours alone, and you feel like you’re missing in your life that community of like-minded people, who are also going through the same journey. Perhaps you can’t find anyone in your social circle that’s aching for a more creative life, and you’re tired of spending time in internal monologues or having podcasts as your only source of inspiration and realness.

+ You’re dealing with the emotional discomfort of working towards your creative side-project or business, and you end-up planning too much but doing too little, procrastinating out of fear or afraid of being a “cliché”. Every now and again you actually consider giving up on your creative pursuits and never talk about them again. You might be known by your “almost syndrome” – you’re the one that has had a few projects ideas and gave up on them after a few months.


Now imagine…

+ First things first – you have a group of like-minded creatives that support you, encourage you and hold you accountable for your own promises and plans. So even when procrastination and fear kick-in, you have the tools and the community to help you overcome that.

+ If you told someone what your goal is, they wouldn’t be surprised because the work that you’ve been doing is tangible. In other words, you have proof that you’ve done the work and others can see that effort – either by monetizing your creative side-projects, growing your audience, building your website, investing in marketing or creating more content.

+ You’ve had access to a space to think about your goals, clarify your vision and be vulnerable. You will know more about what you like and dislike as a creative and distinguish between busy work and the moving-needle tasks.

+ You won’t feel delusional anymore by wanting more than a 9-5 job – you’ll know that you’re as capable as the next person. Even if the future might seem uncertain, you’ll feel closer to your creative-self (which would probably make your 15-year-old-self and your 90-year-old self quite proud!).


The Next Step Sessions

Weekly accountability sessions to help you figure out what the next step is by talking with other creatives about your life-long projects, moving-needle tasks for the week ahead, and by delving into the blocks that prevent you from doing the work.

“The sessions with Mariana helped me to clarify my goals and dreams, identify the next steps and motivate me to get them done! Mariana is an incredible person, I felt at ease in the sessions but was also challenged to work harder and more effectively to make progress on my creative projects.”

Sara Coggin, private english teacher and freelance illustrator based in France

“I’m not looking for answers on our accountability group because I know that there’s no one that can realize my project better than I do. But I want someone to be in the trenches with me. I like to know about other people’s stories and share my own journey. It’s a space where I can think about what kind of business I want to have – which I spend a lot of time thinking about but don’t necessarily share with my social circle – and the group will let me know when I’m in my own way.”

Ingrid Skåre, freelance illustrator based in Sweden

What’s included…

Weekly accountability sessions for 4 months

In an hour and a half video calls every week, limited to 4 people (so everyone has the chance to talk and get to know each other), we review our actions, talk about our plans, delve into our blocks and set weekly goals. All of this will be done with the support of others because two (or more) heads are better than one.

This is the space where we keep in mind what’s our ultimate vision and the moving-needle tasks that will get us there. You can share your experiences with others, ask for help from fellow creatives and think about what kind of person you want to be in the following week – even if it’s a bit scary and uncomfortable. The rest of the group will keep you accountable for that vision as well – again, you’re not alone on this one.


“Eat the Frog” Sessions

We call the moving-needle task of the week “the frog” – that is, that really hard task that’s scary and you don’t really know how to complete, but it’s necessary to get you there. Inspired by Mark Twain’s saying – “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”, we meet during the week for an hour to just get shit done together in group – no talk, just work (it’s like peer pressure but in a nice way). It’s not really surprising, but sometimes we really just need to get started to gain some momentum – how many times have we created drama around a task that in the end just took us a few hours to get done? So, this is the space to skip that and just eat the frog! Even if you have a busy week, at least you know that, in that hour, you are working towards your goal.


24/7 support on Whatsapp

An accountability group wouldn’t be complete without a group chat! Because pursuing a creative project can spark a lot of doubts and paralyze us, you’re free to ask for support in our chat. Here we also check-in on each other, share our successes, resources and whatever it’s in our heads.


Private Newsletter

Monthly newsletters with a summary of all the topics we discussed, links we’ve shared (and small wins we shouldn’t forget to celebrate!). To make sure that important resources don’t get lost in our chats or calls, these monthly newsletters will gather all of them. Also, we might be working in different things, but certain topics will be common, and the idea behind this newsletter is to depict them and document them, so we can go back in time and remember the struggles we had.


Templates  

You’ll have access to templates to document your journey and review your actions weekly and monthly. Documenting is one of the most important parts of the process – it helps you to “keep your head in the game” (high school music fans will get the reference) and make sure that you’re on the right track. It’s about checking-in on yourself to make sure that you’re taking the moving-needle tasks and not going on autopilot week after week.


Your investment

60 euros per month

The Next Step Sessions are capped at 4 participants at any time. Each group takes a maximum of 4 people, so everyone gets the chance to talk and be heard. You’re welcome to try the first two sessions for free. There’s no time commitment and you can leave the group at the end of every month if for any reason doesn’t suit your needs, as long as you communicate that in advance.

JOIN THE WAITING LIST!

“When I was younger, I used to start all these creative projects, mainly blogs about all sorts of things. And then I started working full-time, and I quit all of that. But I still thought “If I don’t create something in my life, I’m going to regret it”. I was unfulfilled and bored – which I thought was the definition of growing-up. Having accountability buddies made me reach a different level. Firstly, it makes me feel like I’m not delusional by wanting to follow a more creative life. Secondly, we keep in touch with everything that we’re doing and I’d never be where I am now without them. I tend to get bored and distracted with different projects, so they keep me grounded and pick up on my promises. At the beginning of the year, I was just focused on drawing for Instagram and had no clue what to do next. Since then, I’ve set-up an Etsy store, did some commissions, and sold my first zine.”

Sara Muzi, Freelance illustrator (and the person behind the illustrations above)

THE STORY BEHIND THE NEXT STEP SESSIONS…

I’m Mariana, an aspiring writer and journalist, and founder of the interview-project “OK, what’s the next step?”. So you have an idea of my background, in April of 2019, I wrote on my journal a list of things I enjoyed doing because I wanted to find my passion and create something out of that. I was mostly bored and disconnected, and craving for a creative outlet. But nothing came out of that list until a few months after, when I started playing with the idea of creating a website that explored the idea that there’s no need to reinvent the wheel and we can figure out what to do with our lives by looking at how other inspiring people have made it.

It’s been less than a year but since then, my website went live, I had the chance to talk and interview people I admire, put online some musings and discovered how to monetize this side-project by creating The Next Step Sessions. This wasn’t a straightforward process, and before these sessions, a few other things were tried, like having a Patreon account (that was a short endeavor!).

The idea for The Next Step Sessions came out of my own reality and experience, with the help of my own accountability buddies. Imagine, three strangers meeting on Zoom in January 2020 to talk about their creative outlets! But it worked, and every time we met, I’d leave the calls more energized and clearer about my goals and next steps. Meeting them was important because while my interview-project is about reverse-engineering other people’s steps, I still felt a bit lonely in this process of developing a side-project.

And so, I wondered if maybe others had the same problem, which led me to organize accountability sessions in Portuguese and English. These sessions also turned out to be quite useful for others, which got me thinking: “Why not get serious about this?”.

Nowadays, I want to become a journalist, a writer, and travel the world by working remotely – and this is me doing the work whilst juggling university and a part-time job. My selling point isn’t about being an expert, but one or two steps ahead, as enthusiastic and willing to learn as you’re!

My goal is to be the companion that many young creatives don’t have at the start of their journey, just like I didn’t have, and share with you the method that helped me get where I am today. Everyone that I met in the sessions that I organized this year has taught me something that accelerated the growth of this side-project. I cannot tell you enough how peer support makes all the difference – I literally had nothing online a year ago, and now I’m here!

“The Next Step Sessions have been extremely helpful in keeping me accountable for personal and creative projects! Mariana has been such an amazing friend and mentor and helped me define the vision, mission, and content for my blog. I’ve been able to see real, tangible results through these sessions and wouldn’t be where I am without them!”

Sophia Cheng, consultant in NYC and blogger

Is this for me?

The Next Step Sessions are for you if…
  • You enjoy listening to other people’s creative projects and weekly struggles
  • You don’t mind sharing your vulnerabilities and accept suggestions by others
  • You’re finally ready to put the effort into a more creative life.
The Next Step Sessions aren’t for you if…
  • This isn’t for you if you prefer a more individualistic approach and don’t feel like listening to other people’s projects
  • If you’re looking for an expert to guide you with the right solutions – this isn’t a coaching program, and I’ll act as some kind of facilitator. Maybe some of us might be a few steps ahead, but we’re all on the same boat – all of us share how our work is going (me included!)

Why now?

Because life can be more than home-work-home-school-home-Netflix. Because life doesn’t have to be boring once you finish university and it’s okay to talk about other aspirations (and be a bit unrealistic!). Real-life isn’t as dramatic as it was in high school – it’s so light and it can become so boring! So why not make the best out of the sum of our days?

Because this is space to be vulnerable and share your hopes, projects and struggles. It’s a big permission slip to dream more creatively about having something more than a 9-5 job. It’s a space where you can meet supportive and like-minded people, be held accountable and get the motivation to do the work.

Because there’s no need to reinvent the wheel! “OK, what’s the next step?” is a common question, which means that most of us can help you in some way – the answers you’re looking for have probably been addressed by others already! So, why not get together, do a collective brainstorming and learn from each other’s experiences?

JOIN THE WAITING LIST!

Q&A

How many accountability sessions are there in total?

The sessions with each group last for 4 full months. Each session one hour and a half each, plus one hour of deep work every week.

When does it start?

Join the waiting list to get notified about it. But remember, you can sign-up at any time after that as long as there are available spots. It’s an accountability group, not a program, so there’s no fear of missing out!

What if I can’t make it to every session?

It’s not mandatory for you to show up every week – sometimes life happens. There’s always WhatsApp support available where we can communicate about your goals and tasks for the week ahead, as well as talk about your struggles or any other topics that you would have liked to cover during the session.

Can I get a refund if the sessions are not for me?

No, that is not possible. If you are unsure about whether the sessions are for you, you can come and try the first 2 sessions for free! If this is not enough, you can pay on a monthly basis, and stop at any time provided that you communicate that in advance.

Is this for me?

I’m currently writing this Q&A with the help of one participant from the previous sessions. To this question, he suggests: “Yes, it absolutely is for you, if you feel ready to go through that painful yet joyful process of watching your project grow. Mariana and the rest of the group will be there for you – and who knows, you might make some new friends along the way!”