Monthly Archives: August 2013

Create for its own sake (even when it won’t bring you fame, fortune or fans), part 2

knit artCreating for yourself and for your pure enjoyment brings you tremendous benefits, even when it won’t bring you fame, fortune or fans.

But when you have paid work and other pressing responsibilities to handle, it’s easy to neglect your creative pursuits.

Discipline and willpower are limited. So to create for its own sake, don’t make it into a big, important choice. Rather, turn it into automatic behavior or incorporate it into your normal routine.

Below are 3 steps to help you do just that:

Make time for it.

Carve out specific time in your daily, weekly or monthly routine to explore your creative interest. Include it on your to-do list or add it to your checklist. Better yet, schedule it on your calendar.

Treat your creative time as sacred, even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day. Indulge in the activity consistently and frequently. Having a structure or framework frees up the creative process, instead of stifles it.

Make space for it. 

Set aside a physical space for your creative effort, which can range from a laptop or sketchbook to a corner in a room to a workshop or studio.

Also create the mental space (ideal mindset) that allows you to  let go of perfectionism, experiment freely, and stretch your comfort zone without fear of failure. Stay relaxed to make way for creative breakthroughs. Improvise more; practice less.

Make a habit loop for it.

In The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg notes that there is a neurological loop at the core of every habit. The loop consists of three parts: a cure or trigger, a routine, and a reward.

The cue or trigger includes the time of day, your emotional state, your location, the people around you, and the immediately preceding action. The routine involves the behavior itself.  The reward is the intrinsic feeling and external treat you get from the behavior, which your brain remembers and likes. You repeat the behavior because you want to receive the reward again.

Duhigg states that 40% to 45% of what we do each day are actually habits, not real decisions. Deliberate choices become habits when we stop thinking about it and keep doing it, often every day.

Develop and follow a plan to make your creative endeavor into a habit. That way, you won’t have to decide to do it, which takes discipline and willpower. You’ll just do it as if it were second nature or part of your regular routine (like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, or checking your email).

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Photo by: Sally

Make a favorites list for inspiration and comfort

Caring for a newborn 24/7, in a sleep-deprived state, is physically demanding and mentally challenging. This I have learned  over the last few weeks, as a first-time mother.

It requires much endurance and energy. It makes you slow down and pay attention.

On most days, my baby’s cherubic, expressive face and tiny fingers and toes are all I need to see to get going.

And I keep a favorites list for when I desire an extra boost of inspiration and source of comfort.

Here is the list (in no specific order):

1. Claymation music video featuring Nina Simone’s My baby just cares for me

2. Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems, Volume 1 (“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – The Summer Day)

3. Classic Vanilla Cheesecake at Cafe Latte in St. Paul, Minnesota

4. Yoga breakdancing to Awolnation’s Sail

5. Danielle LaPorte’s The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms

6. TV sitcom Parks and Recreation, with Amy Poehler, Rob Lowe & Adam Scott

7. Watermelon in the summer (on warm/hot days) 

8.Chocolate covered strawberries in the winter (on cool/cold days) 

9. Nina Simone singing Ain’t got no….I got Life

10. 2001 French movie, Amelie, starring Audrey Tautou & Matthieu Kassovit; Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

11. Quote by Rumi: “You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?”

12. Three Little Birds from the Bob Marley kids album, B is for Bob – original Bob Marley songs re-imagined for fans of “all ages”

13. Trees. For their natural beauty and multiple health benefits.

14. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You. A movie about  a vulnerable, young protagonist with a deep appreciation for the world and no idea how to live in it; based on novel by Peter Cameron.

15. PB&J sandwich. Hits the spot. 

16. Amazon Kindle. A must-have for book lovers with limited shelf space. 

17. Taking a nature walk

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Make your own favorites list for when you desire an extra boost of inspiration and source of comfort. It can help you get going on the things that matter to you.