This post is a bit of a slap in the face! It's going to be unapologetically firm because I don't want to sweet talk you the way I sweet talked myself for years. Sweet talk held me back and I accomplished nothing.
Chances are if you clicked on this post you are feeling like you are still not the Musician/Actor/Writer/Painter/Sculptor/Fashion designer/Photographer/Travel blogger/fill in blank, that you want to be. So my friend, let's explore the reasons why this might be so:
1. You Stopped Being A Kid
Isn't it funny how when you were a kid with no resources or money or decision-making power, you were still able to dream big? And now that you have all these things you have stopped dreaming?! You used to look at your folks and wonder why they didn't try new things, or go out more, or why they weren't more adventurous? You knew you were going to be different...
..Then something happened...
You "grew up". You stopped taking risks. You became calculated and safe and rational and stayed within your comforts. You've been thinking about changing your job for years but you're too afraid to. You've been talking about travelling for years but you're too afraid to. Me? I talked about being a musician for years and then talked and talked about it some more!
In the process of just talking about things and not doing anything about them, we made our worlds smaller, safer, rational and a bit boring.
Take a risk my friend. Just a small one. Try something new. Sign up for a class and actually go. Make a little practice space in your house or a painting corner. Be a kid again. Allow yourself to dream a little. What is your passion? What do you want your creative life to look like? (not what you think it should or will look like knowing your restrictions and limitations at this moment in time). Think of who your role models are in your creative field. If you don't have any, think of the most successful people in your creative field. Go look up their story and pinpoint where they took a risk. Did they change up their sound or aesthetic? Did they talk about how they managed their money and time in order to pursue their craft before they became successful?
This Week's Assignment:
Take a risk, a small one. Something that will break that routine you are stuck in. Enrol in a class or buy a canvas and some paint after work today. Remember the things you used to dream about as a kid and take one small action towards them. It doesn't need to be your ultimate creative dream, just a small dream. The point here is to reconnect with that part of you that thought more things were possible. Observe what happens. Will you feel happier, more excited, more energetic? Try it, you have nothing to lose. Dreams are free! I know the canvas and the paint is not but that's what $1,$2,$3 stores are for.
2. You Don't Have A Death-Bed Mentality!
You think this is permanent. That the end of your life is so far away and you have years and years to make a change. To start your business, to switch jobs, to go travelling and take photographs of the most amazing places in the world, to follow the things you love. I don't know why we think we have that kind of time. Everything around us tells us that we are not permanent.
Ask yourself this very morbid but very effective question; "On my death bed, what will I regret not doing ?". Don't say "If I die tomorrow what will I regret most"? because chances are you won't die tomorrow. The first question is more effective simply because it's real, while the second question is metaphorical. Find the answer to that first question then do something today to head towards making that a reality. Something as small as calling the bank to start a separate savings account to put money towards that thing you want to do one day. That's sufficient for now. Just take action.
"We always have two choices; to pursue what we want or live a slightly unfulfilled life."
Steve Jobs had this death-bed mentality and he talks about it in his amazing Stanford University commencement speech that I listen to often "How to live before you die".
I'm sorry to be so morbid. I told you this post will be a slap in the face. Feel free to Unsubscribe.
3. You Just Can't Get Yourself To Sit Down And Get Started
The hardest part is sitting down to get started. Like sitting down to start this blog post. It took me days of avoidance to sit down and do this. I like writing, once I am immersed in it. But getting started? Turning off all distractions and doing it? that part I don't like; because it's hard.
Some call it procrastination, others resistance or fear (all things we will talk about in later posts) but whatever you call it, it's ugly, it's hard, and you have to push through it to get to the "flow". The only way to push through it is to sit down and type your first sentence, strum your first chord, apply your first brush stroke. Here are some tips on exactly how you can make yourself do that.
4. You Are Too Busy Being Busy
In today's culture, we get so much self-importance from telling people we are busy. We tell people "life is so hectic", "we don't have time", "we are so busy", then we use that as an excuse for not achieving what we truly want to achieve. The truth is we are just stuck in a cycle of "using up time" but not doing anything productive with it.
You are never going to be any less"busy" if you keep being busy! You need to make time. Here's how:
- List all the things you spend your week doing that you have to do. Work, kids, spouse, friends, traffic, laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, cooking.
- Now, which of them do you do every day? Add up these hours. Do you have any free time after you do these? If you said "no" then you should have no time left to go on your phone or watch TV or go on social media or exercise on those days, but somehow you make the time to do that!
I am not trying to preach here. I am trying to show you that you are capable of achieving the things you want and you are capable of making time. Use these two powers to your advantage.
The day I learnt that JK Rowling still managed to write Harry Potter while being a single parent was that day I had the realisation that if I wanted to do something, I was going to have to make time to do it. If JK Rowling can write a whole novel and look after a little human, I can write one song with no little ones to look after!
"We are stuck in a cycle of 'using up' time but not doing anything productive with it"
5. You Judge Your Work Too Soon
Once you finally produce a creative product, you invest too much time judging it! Not improving it, not objectively editing it, just judging it. I talked about this before, about how I spent so much time comparing my songs to what was on the radio. I was comparing my first drafts to what was a polished product out in the world. I wasn't using this time to look for ways to improve my songwriting or learn where I went wrong. I was just wasting energy and discouraging myself!
Now I remind myself of 3 things:
- Songs on the radio/ Art in galleries etc are there to be enjoyed, appreciated and used for inspiration, not for comparison.
- All those who came before me had to first produce average work before they could produce good work. We all have to start somewhere.
- Spend your time and energy improving your work, not judging it.
6. You Expect Your Loved Ones To Support You
Your loved ones are there to love you. They are not there to understand your creative ventures! They want to protect you so they will tell you to stay in your job and to not take a pay cut in order to free up more time to do your creative work. They will tell you "it's the recession", or "a recession is coming" or "a recession has just happened" so you should do this and shouldn't do that! Don't blame them for it, they are doing their job and they are doing it well! Love them for it. Thank them for it then go ahead and do what you were planning to do!
Your loved ones won't understand why you are spending so much time developing your craft, especially at the start when you have nothing to show for it. To the outside world, it looks like you are just wasting time. I spent a whole year just learning about the music industry and how I can get my music "out there". Whenever someone asked me what I was doing, I just said "music". It's not until now that I have something to show for that year of invisible productivity. I spent a lot of time alone that year just learning. It was a year of solitude. Do not underestimate solitude, it is uncomfortable but essential to the creative process. So remember, your loved ones' job is to protect you and love you, not to understand your creative work!
"Your loved ones' job is to protect you and love you, not to understand your creative work"!
There is no point in sitting around waiting for your loved ones to validate what you want to do. There is no point in sitting around waiting for permission from your loved ones to start doing what you want to do. If you have something in your head, start doing it. People will tell you all sorts of things. Hear them out but don't listen to them. If you believe in your heart that what you are doing will take you closer to the life you want to live and closer to being the person you want to be, then go for it! You owe it to yourself and to your creativity.