Adapt, Quit or Evolve

Adapt, Quit Or Evolve (by A Beautiful Mess)As owners of a small business in a creative industry, Emma and I have felt the need to adapt, quit or evolve over and over again. It's not always easy to make these changes, but it's so important. When you look at any artist, designer or brand that you admire, chances are you will notice quite a bit of evolution throughout their career. On the flip side, refusing to adapt, quit or evolve can seriously hurt a designer or brand—or even ones personal growth. Forward motion is the goal. Let's talk about a few ways to nurture forward motion. 


Times change. Industries change. Blogging is one of the most severe examples I've experienced. When I started my blog I didn't have any professional ambitions for it whatsoever. It was just for fun. A few years in, opportunities arose and things slowly changed over time. This blog used to be a small personal blog, no staff, no planning, just my hobby. This blog could not be what it is today (our full time jobs) if I had not been willing to allow it to adapt to changing interests and grow into something different. Change is hard and sometimes scary. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. We've adapted to so many changes over the years, most noticeably our own changing interests. We have found ways to to make this blog really really fun to write every day. I think our readers would know if we didn't enjoy what we do and right now we are enjoying it more than ever. It's important to always find ways to adapt your creative work so that you can truly love what you do.


Growing up it was often emphasized to finish what you start. Follow through. Quitters never win. And I do agree that this is a super important life lesson. But now that we are older I think it takes a certain amount of wisdom to know when it's the right time to quit. Quitting is never easy, but sometimes it's an important next step. We're all humans with only so much time and so many resources. It's up to you to make sure that you are making the most of what you have. In the past I have realized that I was wasting a lot of time and energy on projects. Even though I really enjoyed some of these projects I try to make most of my decisions based on the big picture of what is healthy for my business, my creative side and my family. Sometimes I have to quit things. It can feel disappointing. Others might even say they are disappointed in your decision. It's hard, but it's worth it. Have you ever had this experience? Is there something in your life that is taking too much time or energy without much return? Make sure that your pursuits are still fulfilling a need or a passion in your life. 


From time to time I come to a point with my creative work where I suddenly feel dissatisfied. For example, I realize that my photos could be way better or that my designs need freshening up. This is a normal, healthy way to feel. We all naturally evolve as we grow up, have new experiences and our values change based on where we are at in life (or who we are with). When you feel like you need these changes try to spend time really thinking about what those changes should be. Don't just throw out everything. Choose what needs an update, a makeover or a small change and what doesn't. Evolving is more than just starting over (and over and over). Evolving is making the small changes needed to improve the big picture. Healthy evolution is all about seeing the good in what you have or where you are and finding ways to improve on it. 

Those are just a few of my personal experiences. None of these changes are easy, but being active and open to evaluating things and moving forward will add so much positive energy to your work. I promise! xo. Elsie

  • I really like what you said about quitting. Sometimes it takes a lot of strength to admit that you’ve reached the end of line with something and you can’t evolve any further on that path – then not feel guilty about pulling the plug. Great post. I’m so glad I found this blog of yours! x

  • In college, I had to quit being a part of a research project with one of my professors. It was a big decision and at the time I was struggling with feelings of letting him down and not following through with what I’d started. I was surprised when he took it well and appreciated me doing some deep reflecting and realizing I was being spread too thin.

    On the evolve front, I’m constantly in motion when it comes to making things better: my bedspread/pillow layout, the pictures on my wall, my hair, my makeup, my blog layout.

    Thanks for this post. I like reading about others’ creative processes!

  • Thanks for this inspiration – it’s so true, after graduating from uni and starting full time work I found it very hard to carry on with my art work or to make time for anything creative. It’s only recently that I’ve realised the importance of making sure my pursuits are fulfilling and allowed myself the confidence to evolve. Great positive tips 🙂

  • You posted this at the perfect time! I’m so feeling the need to shake things up creatively. When I find myself bored in my own studio, I know it’s time to reassess what I’m doing. Glad to know this happens to even the most creative types.

  • Very interesting post, but a difficult question remains, when do you know whether to adapt, quit or evolve?

    Elisa – Wandering Minds fashion

  • What a wonderful post. I have just experienced this and ended up exporting my personal blog over to my photography buisness url blog and carry on blogging there as personal and buisness and see where it takes me. I feel a huge sense of relief from doing it and i know i needed to do it x

  • It is definitely hard to admit that you should quit, but its good because then you can focus more time on what you are great at.

  • Thank you for writing this. I beat myself up a lot for quitting. Perhaps I just need to look at things in a different (read: more positive) light. Keep adapting, quitting, or evolving :o)

  • Really needed to read this, and I love how you approached this universal feeling for all of us-creative-types. We are all so hard on ourselves. Thank you. <3

  • Thank you so much for this inspiring post. I just recently discover your blog, and followed it after I got hooked with almost every post. You may not know this but this post is like God’s whisper to me, and He made you as an instrument. I’m currently in a difficult crisis right now, and this post just came on time. This will be my mantra from now on: Adapt, Quit, Evolve. Life goes on. Thanks a lot.

    xoxo, Chamee
    Check out PIXELS AND TALES!

  • This really spoke to me… I’ve been doubting myself a lot lately, and feeling like I want to give up with everything. Photography, blogging, being healthy.. You just have to keep pushing and find different ways to be inspired and motivated! Thank you (:

    xo, Clare

  • i completely identify with your thoughts on “quit”–i’ve been having conversations of that theme for months now. being in grad school, i question every day if i should really be here, and whether my thoughts of quitting are “normal,” if it is lazy or cowardly to drop out, or if, on the contrary, it would be wise for me to stop now and move on…anyways, all of that to say its certainly true that “quitting” can become more complicated and maybe even the “right” thing. thanks for sharing!

  • OK, so it’s a slow day at work, and I found your old blog, Elsie – and I just saw this para and I kinda swooned! Do you remember writing this?

    “Ok… several people were asking about the song from the trailer I shared yesterday.. it is “When Morning Comes” by: Jeremy Larson. He is from Springfield (see! I knew there was more talent in good ole Springfield than just Brad Pitt! 🙂 Next time he does a show I am soooo there. Cool stuff.”


  • great tips that hit home! i just deleted my old blog because i just didn’t love it anymore and made a completely new one! oh and btw, i just made my own tote bag using your tutorial. i will put it on my blog tomorrow!


  • This has actually been a topic on my mind a lot recently regarding both my career and my artwork. Thanks for the inspiring words 🙂

  • Wow! Just the reminder I needed! I’m feeling the need for change and I have to decide which way to go, adapt, evolve, etc. You gave me some insight I needed! Great post! Thank-you!

  • Great post. I have been thinking about this a lot lately since I’ve noticed certain things I’m doing just not “working” and not even really making me happy, so my big question to myself is, “where next?”
    It’s all so hard sometimes but so important to identify what to adapt, quit or elvolve! Thanks so much for a great post:)

  • Ohh this is good! I needed to hear this. I am constantly reevaluating if my blog is fresh with the ideas, creativity, and authenticity! It is a constant challenge and what I love most about it I think. Can’t believe how much blogging has made me grow creatively and as a person! I never would have guessed. Thanks for sharing this Elsie. I really appreciated it.

  • hi, elsie!!
    i love this… and I feel very inspired and identified by you….

    P.S. Emma’s posts are super nice and very helpful, but really, I think that you have not written so often… I miss so much read what you write! 🙂


  • i’m so glad you included the section on quitting. i wish i had learned earlier that quitting is both a viable and often important choice to make. if something doesn’t feel healthy or positive–whether it be a relationship, a job, or even a small project–quitting can be a necessary step towards happiness + wellness. this is something i’ve personally written about, but i hope your wide range of readers will see this and let it inspire them to make the best decision for themselves.

  • This is exactly what I needed to read tonight! Thank you so much for your wise words! My small creative business is going through some major changes right now… Some friends of mine have even asked why when things are running smoothly but I just don’t feel very passionate ant the designs that have been coming out any more so… Things need to change and evolve! Thank you again for your reaffirming words.

  • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Elsie! This subject hits home for me right now, so this post helped me organize my thoughts and start evaluating the “adapt, quit, evolve” method with some of the things in my life lately. XO!

  • Thank you for sharing this! I actually just gave my blog a huge makeover and it felt like a huge adaptation to the evolution in my personality. Thank you ladies for being a constant source of inspiration!


  • As we say in Spanish “A truth like a temple” 🙂 keep adapting, quitting and evolving, but please don’t stop being you.
    XO. Nuria.

  • this post means so much coming from you, Elsie, when we have followed your journey over years. You moved from focusing on scrapbooking, to painting, to dress designing to photography… Your life is such an inspiration for trying new things!

  • I’ve been through this process just recently. I was really dissatisfied with my blog, so I worked for it. I built a whole new blog design from scratch, changed a lot of stuff about it and now I’m so happy with the result. The best reward is to get more readers and clicks. I feel so good about it right now, I don’t regret adapting and evolving.

  • I love your blog, it´s really so nice and soo lovely photos. Keep up the good work, you make the world little more beautiful every day!!

  • Thank you for you experienced insight. I am a small business owner in the memory keeping world. Polka Dot Creative will celebrate it’s first year in February. Steep learning curve but memory keeping and getting creative is my passion so it’s so enjoyable. It’s nice to have a reminder to keep moving. x

  • Good advice, I never understand when readers of blogs (for example) moan that something or someone has changed since they started reading 2 or 3 years ago. To me, it’s more disappointing if people don’t change or evolve.. life moves forward and those that don’t move forward with it are missing out on so so much! xx

  • these are good things to keep in mind as we have those set backs and insecurities at starting up a new business. keep your eye on the prize and adapt accordingly 🙂

  • This is so true in many outlets of life! I come from the non-profit sector, that’s been my background all my professional life and this model you lay out was what we told ourselves everyday. This was such a refreshing take! Thanks for sharing!

  • These are all really hard changes to make, but when it needs to be done, it’s great to be able to gain some perspective from those who had to deal with it before. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • This is a nice motivating and inspiring post, it’s nice to hear from such a wonderful woman!

  • Great post. I think quitting is one of the hardest thing I have done in business.
    As a creative person I am often brimming with ideas and it is hard to let go of them when I realise that it is not the right time to pursue them or they are not financially viable. That was the main thing that I had to come to terms with when I changed from a hobbyist to a professional.
    I am glad I made the decision I did as it has led me to my career in tv and have a book in the pipeline so in my case it was good to let go and quit some stuff.

    Wishing you a great 2013 xo

  • This post really inspired me today! I have recently returned to blogging and this made me realize that I need to evolve– and the gears are already turning. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Thank you for this. Its exactly what I needed this morning, and applies to so many careers and areas of life. And thank you for keeping this blog going!

  • You have no idea how much I needed to hear this right now! I work in the restaurant industry, and just transferred to a different store as part of a new management team. A lot of changes, both big and small, are in the works, and people have been fighting them tooth and nail.

    Thank you for stressing the positive aspects of change, I’m hoping it can bring some fresh perspective to both myself and my coworkers!

  • Thank you so much, Elsie. For the past few months I’ve felt stuck. Stuck in a boring 9to5 job, stuck in my relationship, stuck in my bad habits and even stuck in this country.
    Your post is very inspiring. Thanks again.

  • yikes… thanks a lot for sharing these advices…
    they came in the right moment for me… these days a felt like i didn’t know what i really need to do in order to grow personally and professionally… and this post really helps to think about it more clearly! thanks Elsie! xoxo

  • Gosh! What an inspirational post. Thanks for the words. Sounds like it hits home to a lot of us. I’m in a creative industry as well and it’s one of those things where you adapt to the inevitable changes ahead or get left behind. It’s difficult to keep moving forward and finding that balance. Quitting! geez, the post just got better and better. I agree, sometimes we get to a point where you don’t want to bow out and look weak but if there’s something else out there or realizing it neglects family or health than it’s a wise choice. I enjoy reading you on a daily basis and thanks for always being an inspiration! xoxoxo christina

  • I could not agree more!

    This post is so valuable in so many ways to me. You’re right, sometimes one must know when to quit even if it feels disappointing. You need to see if what you’re doing is making progress in the direction you are aiming for, if not then perhaps it’s time to abandon ship and try a different approach.


  • “None of these changes are easy, but being active and open to evaluating things and moving forward will add so much positive energy to your work.” This statement alone is key. Great article, couldn’t agree more.

  • I love reading your insightful posts about your career and blogging. Thank you for being so supportive and inspiring. You girls are lovely. I emailed Kinsey and she’s just as precious as you ladies. Thank you for everything you do. So inspiring.

  • Wonderful advice! We at Almost There find ourselves in a very similar boat right now, making big changes, working to evolve and improve our crafts and letting go of some things. I really appreciate you sharing this!

  • I have begun many businesses (and blogs) and gotten all wrapped up in the building and designing, only to get to the actual execution phase and decide “hmmm. I’m not really passionate about this. This isn’t what I want to do!” I’ve been accused of being flaky but I feel it was just realizing that the only thing worse than wasting time is wasting more time on the same thing. 🙂 Even with what I am trying to do now, there is one piece of my business that just does not fit in with the others and I will probably scrap that. I truly believe in the “quitting” wisdom you shared, thank you for putting it so eloquently! ~Crystal

  • I really wish I had discovered this blog before last week. I wish I had discovered it LONG before it made the bigtime! I think the success you have had with it is incredible and inspiring, and I appreciate the advice you dole out, but I wish I had been able to see it grow. I am 24, and want to follow my creative passions and be my own boss, but have absolutely NO idea where to even begin. It is so overwhelming. I feel like this blog would have been a great companion to my learning journey. Despite the fact that you two have already FOUND success, and continue to adapt, quit and evolve, and I don’t know which one to do first, I think I will find A Beautiful Mess to be inspiring, encouraging and useful. 🙂

  • I’ve been debating over how to adapt, evolve, or quit my second blog, and I’ve come to the conclusion it’s definitely time to quit. It’s hard because I feel like I’m letting people down, but at the same time, it’s been such a burden! Thanks for the encouragement and excellent advice Elsie.

  • What a fantastic post. I’m a small business owner myself, and wow, have I ever felt the ‘adapt, quit or evolve’ principles in my own life! You summarized and articulated them so elegantly. Thank you for sharing. It was an enlightening moment for me, on a regular thursday afternoon 🙂

  • Great and inspiring post!!! I’m looking to do all three of these this year!! I’m ready and willing just needed a push and feel like I got it hopefully…… Change is hard for me but I always feel I’m looking for more and that’s my decision. It’s inspiring to see others doing not just talking. Thanks 🙂

  • Great blog post. This post as well as the one about always learning new things really hit home for me because I am at a point right now with my blogging and creating (I am a knitting pattern designer and writer/artist) and for awhile now I have felt like starting a new blog and shutting my old one down but I felt like I was a quitter for not continuing with it. Then I realized that I need to follow my passion wherever it takes me. I just started my new blog last week and will be shutting down my old blog of over 6 years next weekend 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience with us all.

  • I’m a new member. Why did I join in? I enjoy the topics covered and I truly adore the approach taken. And the title, well, it’s perfect! I’ll be back.

  • I think you have received some great feedback here. Your blog was on target for many of us. As a small potter, we constantly face the evaluation of ‘Adapt, Quit, Evolve’. However, I don’t think that we’ve ever put it into words. Small businesses, artists, entrepreneurs need to incorporate this into their mindset. When a style changes, ‘Adapt.’ When a new product doesn’t sell ‘Quit’ that line. When Social Media isn’t the next big thing, ‘Evolve’. Just some examples. Thank you for making it so clear and practical.

  • So shock to read this blog! Shock my heart! Everyone should adapt the environment, and it is the survival of the fittest. It’s not easy to quit, just as it’s hard to insist on. But in many times, you should give up something to gain something. Evolve is a constant theme.You should always update yourselves to adapt the world. Anyway, thanks so much for sharing the blog to give so much positive energy!

  • Your blog post makes a lot of sense to me. I am also in the process of evolving (after going through the wanting to quit stage!) and I am taking my time to decide what direction I really want to go in. I will not be rushed or panic about it, either. If nothing gets done for a little while, it’s not the end of the world.

  • I needed to hear the bit on evolving. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m changing so many things that I’ve forgotten why I’m making the changes in the first place. Wise words. thanks

  • Will you guys be posting any more of your local favorites in the next few weeks? My husband & I are venturing to Springfield for Valentine’s, & would love recommendations of fun places to visit!

  • Sydney,
    I’m not sure if we will or not. We’ve blogged about a lot of our favorite spots- I would add to this list… flea markets/STD East, Urban Market, Relics. Food + Bars/J.O.B., Scotch & Soda, Farmer’s Gastropub. 🙂 If you are looking for a place to stay, try to Walnut Street Inn. We stayed there on our wedding night. 🙂 The “Mansion at Elfindale” is cute too.
    I hope you have a wonderful Valentines weekend!

  • A very timely read. Thanks for sharing with us. These will help put things in perspective for me as I make a tough decision soon.

  • I must say that this post was great. I loved reading it. As a male designer/animator that follows your blog I must say that I was impressed. You guys always have great things that myself and my girlfriend can relate to or do together.

    This post specifically touched me because of some transisitons happening in my life right now. I run a video production company with some friends ( and it is such a relief when evolution happens. Sometimes it is all you need to get you out of that rut.

    Keep up the great work. \


  • Thank you SO much for posting this. I have recently (today) posted a little speed bump in the life of me on my blog, and I try so hard to preach that we should always see the good and take change as a positive thing and not to focus so much on the negative, but sometimes (I am sure you will agree) it’s just so hard to practice what you preach! So thank you for sharing these thoughts, I can relate to everything you have expressed and I will remember it in the future. 🙂


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