I’ve Lost my Mojo. Now What?

Pour yourself a drink, we’re having a pity party!

I recently read a post on the blog of  Happy Cakes on the topic of losing your cake mojo, and with the owner’s permission I’m re-printing some of it here. I think it’s a fairly common issue among my peers at the moment:

“Do you find you lose your way sometimes in the cake decorating world? Or is it just me?? It’s like I can’t keep up with what’s going on. The new crazes, the new products, the new styles and trends and the next big thing. There’s a new cake decorator popping up every time I turn my head around. It’s an insanely crazy busy world. Maybe it’s just me. A cake doesn’t seem like it can be any good these days unless it’s 6 feet tall, balancing on a 45 degree angle, not to mention internal construction devised by a small engineering team!!

It’s like a macaron can’t just be a macaron anymore, it has to be in a shape with painted detail. A cake pop isn’t just a round ball anymore they’re sculpted little masterpieces. Do you sometimes feel like you just can’t keep up with the Jones’s anymore? I’m struggling at the moment. People want these Ah-mazing cakes for a tiny amount of money and a cake can’t just be a cake anymore, it has to be over the top cray cray. I’m a pretty simple girl and I think I like simple things. Don’t get me wrong I appreciate all these beautiful masterpieces being created, but are they realistic for all of us. I don’t think so. Well not for me anyway.
I’ve lost my direction lately. Not sure why, but I wonder if it’s cause I’m trying to keep up. Am I trying to keep up with the insanely crazy world of cake decorating? Maybe it’s cause I’m comparing myself to all these amazing decorators. I’ve always strived to try new things and push myself, which is why I follow these amazing decorators, but I think maybe my need to become great like them means I have lost who I am as a cake decorator. It’s a little overwhelming.
I love making cakes, the joy that they bring people. The look on their face when they see it is my reward for doing what I do. I miss it to be honest. It’s been a while. I feel like though my next cake isn’t going to be good enough. Which is silly I know, but I feel like the pressure is on!! I mean it’s just a cake after all, and there probably won’t have been an engineering team behind it. I know the pressure comes from me.”
I’m willing to bet that a lot of you out there read her sentiments, nodding all the while. It’s a tough market out there at the moment. When you feel like everyone is getting ahead of you (or the trends are happening faster than you can keep up with), the industry can feel like the fun has gone out of it and it’s all about the competition.
Too often in life it’s easy to look at someone else’s “something” (business, 15 tiered creation, children, lifestyle…) and get bitten by the bugs of envy, jealousy, frustration. It’s human nature to compare and contrast ourselves to one another, but how do we move past it? Firstly, chances are that whatever they’ve got, they’ve slapped a big ol’ pair of rosy glasses on before showing it to the wider world. Have you ever heard of a successful business which then goes out of business overnight? Or the neighbours who are sickeningly in love cuddly wuddly until they suddenly get divorced? Or the cake which looks great from the front, but not so great from the back? Yep. That’s because there is ALWAYS more to the story – so firstly recognise that what you’re envious of is just that: a version of a story.
Secondly, take a closer look at what they’ve got, and ask yourself: but do I REALLY want that?  I used to be envious of another company that was growing at an incredible rate. When I looked a little closer I realised that I might be envious of their growth…but not envious of much else. I DIDN’T WANT to run a business that big, didn’t want to work with my partner, didn’t want to run my business from home, didn’t want to focus all my energy on teaching, didn’t want to have locations in several states – ALL of which were things that they did. Similarly I might find myself envious of those kick ass cake makers who create these gravity defying, hyper realistic cakes – but then realised that when I needed to do one, I didn’t enjoy it very much…and my customers rarely asked for them anyway. It’s not my thing.  So just check and see if what your hankering for is really what you want for yourself.
Once you’ve done that, here’s how to retrieve your mojo: go back to basics. Remind yourself why you are in business (again: it’s not about the cake) and remind yourself of what you’re good at and why your customers have chosen you in the past (and why they will likely choose you again).  Yes, client’s requests have gotten more demanding, and it can feel as though they are all wanting to get a little bit more but wanting to pay a little bit less.  You can’t change anything about that (at least not quickly) but you can work on: defining your niche, redefining your overall goals, getting clear about what values your business stands for, and what things in your life are important to you.  In my own life, I have no real need to make millions of dollars or have a reputation as a cake maker of a certain style – but I do have a need to have a job which allows me to pick my kids up after school, afford their school tuition, AND which allows me to serve my personal goals of creativity, service and being inspirational. I’ve framed my business (and this blog) around those things, and so now when I look at other businesses and start to feel that flame of envy spark within me, I ask myself, “Yeah, but do I really WANT that?” Similarly when I look at creations which are far beyond my skill level (artistic or construction) I admire them and think, “LOVE IT…but it’s not MY thing,” and I just keep on scrolling past. I can do this because I am very clear about what is important to me and what my purpose here is.
Lastly, remember that just because these things are available in the world, this doesn’t mean that every customer wants them. Different strokes for different folks, right? Or as I often say in the Business of Baking on Tour, don’t try to sell Ferraris to people interested in buying Fords.
So – for Leoni my friend, and anyone else out there feeling like they’ve lost their mojo- go pour yourself a drink, think about what is right for YOU, and then go kick ass doing those things and leading that life which are all about your values, not someone else’s. Heck, go and make a cake for yourself just to celebrate the skills you’ve got and to remind yourself of why you started this whole insane thing in the first place (and invite me over for a piece.)
In short:
Love your craft.
Love your clients.
Love yourself.
Be grateful.
Kick ass. 
(and try not to beat yourself up about what the other guy is up to…because that’s really not your thing anyway.)

4 comments on “I’ve Lost my Mojo. Now What?

  1. When people used to send me pictures requesting one of those complicated and amazing cakes it always used to sink my heart. Now I take a deep breath and try and quote what I think it will make to cost. Yes, sometimes the price is stupid and often they will go to someone cheaper. But staying up until midnight making a cake, and then going back into work at 4am has a cost on your health and your mojo. Some of those cakes cost thousands to make. They are not just one overworked caker, but a team of people working on one cake! If I want to make it, but really question if I can, I quote the highest figure I can think of and then add some more. That way if the customer says yes I can pay someone to help me. Most of the time the customer can agree on something less elaborate that is in their price range.

    I often find when I am losing my mojo it’s because I am working too hard. My judgement gets skewed (my work is pants and everyone can see the flaws). I also completely lose my creativity. It’s sometimes hard to turn down work because you need the money, but your mojo and creativity thank you for it. These days I don’t compare myself to others. There will always be people better than you, but there could also be people out there looking at your work thinking I wish I could make a cake like that. I find once I’m rested the mojo and creativity return in abundance. My own mojo is ready for that Christmas break!

  2. I had a little envy in the beginning but stopped quick smart – when just as you mentioned, i knew it wasn't for me. I am competitive but I not a competitor in the usual sense of the word – I keep competing with myself… each cake has to be better than the last – simple as that and each time I learn a new technique I sit back and blow my own mind and shake my own pom-poms haha.

    How much more do I want? Sharper edges yes.. and maybe a little gravity defying numbers but nothing too fancy.. am not a decorator to the stars…. I just want enough money to pay for my sons swimming lessons, ballet for the princess and money in the bank to run off to italy when ever I get homesick 😀

  3. I do that alllll the time. I follow countless decorators out there, admire their creativity and skill, think I could do that! Invariably then, I attempt it, work myself into a frenzy when it doesn't work just right and go fuss to my husband who ALWAYS looks at me and says something reassuring and reminds me that I'm not the Cake Boss, nor do I want to be. I want to keep my business small and local. I have no aspirations of being a millionaire, I just want to generate enough income that I can stare off in the distance while pumping my gas. 🙂

    1. This right here was keeping me from moving forward. Kept comparing myself with other bakers and feeling inadequate. I used to think why bother? People won’t buy from me when they got this awesome decorator to order from. Then I realised I disliked making character cakes and was happier making wedding cakes. I don’t want to be a millionaire either. All I want is to be able to go to the supermarket and buy food without having to sacrifice the healthy veggies and fruits that my kids need and love to eat, pay for my kids school fees, and treat myself to a spa once in a while.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.