For my Birthday this year, I am choosing to share insights that I have gained so far as a multi-passionate creative going through the process of self-discovery and learning to live my “must” instead of a long list of “shoulds”. It’s more like a pep-talk that I myself need on a constant basis. If you are a creative going through the process of self-discovery, finding your unique voice and building a sustainable business, you’ll find these helpful.
- The best place to find answers is ‘within’. The more you try to find them outside of yourself the more you get lost, feel overwhelmed and indecisive. Having too many options available leads to decision phobia, at least that’s the case for me. I don’t choose. I want to try everything out before I can fully commit to it. In the process, I figure out that it’s not for me which made me reconsider my approach and this compulsive need to research, read and learn everything that’s possibly out there before I can start something of my own. So when I finally start I will know what I am doing. For me, the insight is, there is no right way and there are no right or wrong answers. Not everything is for everyone. There is far more content available out there than I possibly can ever read or learn in this lifetime. It made me realize how this is stemming from my need to be ‘perfect’, get it right and don’t fail. Don’t try until you are ready. It’s another form of hiding, I figured.
- Nothing comes from hiding. You want to be an artist, a writer, a dancer, a creative and the process of bringing the art, the work that you are capable of into the world is going to start with learning to be honest and authentic to your own self first. Nothing comes out of hiding. You are robbing the world of wonderful experiences by hiding and not doing the work you were born to do, you are capable of doing and sharing with the world.
- Naming your values will lead you to the ‘right’ kind of content and learning. This insight is the continuation of no.1. Filtering out through the junk and focusing on what is truly essential & meaningful is important. Your ‘values’ can work as a parameter to filter that junk.
- Planning and trying to be busy (read: productive) just for the sake of it are of no good if you are using them as a hiding mechanism. ‘Acting busy’ is a real thing. It can stop you from taking real action. Stop hiding behind excuses and daily mundane tasks. You are robbing the world of your special gifts. This reminds me of one of my all-time favorite podcast episodes by Amy Porterfield, why you aren’t taking action.
- Making to-do lists, organizing and cleaning can also be a form of procrastination. If that’s the case for you, call it by its name. Once I started calling it by its name, I am much more aware and vigilant the next time I find myself doing it. I know it’s the time to have a real talk with myself.
- Your ‘Mindset’ plays a big role in how your life turns out to be and it shapes your ‘reality’ for you. I have experienced the more I am feeling abundant, the more I am attracting abundance. I can compare my present self with my past self and clearly see the difference in my life’s quality when I made the shift from the scarcity mindset to the abundance mindset. The more I am focused on what can go right, the more I am likely to experience the ‘rights’, so to speak. The more I was focused on what can go wrong, the more I was experiencing them. I don’t know much about “Law of attraction” yet. But this personal experience is resonating with that concept. Also, it is a choice that you have to take on a daily basis. The shift is intentional and it takes courage to do so on a constant basis. I am not suggesting that I have nailed it a 100%. I am recognizing it and trying my best to choose it on daily basis.
- You have more power than you think. We have the means to change the world one person at a time and we are powerful than ever before. We have access to the internet and people 24/7. We can choose to create whatever you can imagine just by using our smartphones. The only limit is our imagination. It’s the ‘connection’ economy. When I share with people what I am trying to build and work on, I get judgy eyes as a reaction which makes me wonder we still haven’t realized how much power we have now. Everyone who has a smartphone is a walking ‘media company’. We are way past the consumer economy and getting 9-5 jobs is not going to bring you the security you are striving for. Most of the jobs are already being replaced by technology. The only things that can not be replaced whatsoever are ‘creativity’ and ‘human connection’.
- Everything can be figured out. Everything. You have the internet. Ask google.
‘Everything is figureoutable‘ – Marie Forleo
- You and your art are not for everyone. I remember sharing something on my facebook timeline way back in time that said something like this, ‘You are not everyone’s cup of tea’. I just got that myself. Understanding something conceptually is different than experiencing and reaching that conclusion yourself. The goal is not to find as many people as you can to sell your art to. The goal is to create quality work that reaches just a bunch of people who find value in what you do and serving them wholeheartedly and consistently.
- Making real connections is hard. It takes time and energy, courage and consistency (especially being an introvert) but it’s worth it. I have met wonderful human beings who deeply care about people and the causes they work for. It’s fascinating to be able to witness that. You’d have not imagined that a 100 years ago.
- Introversion is not a bad thing. You don’t have to be an extrovert to build a creative business that you’d love. You can build a business around yourself and the things you are comfortable with. A few examples came to my mind who I absolutely admire while I was writing that last sentence. I am going to name them for you to check them out if you don’t know them already; Me & Orla, Jen Carrington, and Beth Kirby.
- You can not beat the ‘fear’. Fear of not being good enough, original enough or creative enough, the list is long and exhausting. You can’t beat them. They are there for a reason. It’s your brain trying to protect you from getting hurt, seen, ridiculed or rejected. While I was trying to dig deep and figure out my own fears that stop me from showing up for myself and doing the things I absolutely love, I learned one thing – you can not beat them. You can only learn to dance with them. Anyone who is telling you something like this, ‘here are 5 tips to silence your inner critic and beat your fears’ is lying to you. Don’t fall for that.
- The cognitive load is real. The more you divide your attention in multiple places you are less likely to reach what you are striving for. Your focus is divided and the more decisions your brain has to make the more energy is consumed. For me, I am choosing to put all that energy is figuring out myself, doing the creative work I feel almost compelled to do instead of choosing to ‘waste’ my time on deciding what to wear or what to shop next. This has started to make much more sense to me after experiencing the societal pressure to have more, show more, and always be in need of more – the consumerism mindset. Taking a step back and choosing to live with less, simply, slowly and mindfully has started to bring me immense joy and inner peace. I have all the energy in the world to invest in the projects I really believe in and I genuinely care about.
- Simplifying leads to amplifying. You can always make things more complex than you need to, add more details, more material, more sugar, and more chocolate. Just kidding there is no such thing as more chocolate. Right?
But maybe there is, at least for some people. People like me. I am not a big fan of it. I don’t have a sweet tooth – at all. Well, except for Danish pastries and cakes. Yum!
Anywho, the more you simplify the process, the more you gain focus, clarity and as a by-product, the results are amplified.
- Without action all ideas are worthless. You might have tons of ah-mazing ideas but they are merely ideas. They are not ‘real’ yet. If you are not taking action on them, they are not worth anything at all. If you are waiting for ‘clarity’ to stop by on your front door someday and the next day you’ll be ready to bring them into the world, you might be waiting forever as clarity comes as a by-product of your efforts to bring your ideas into existence. So starting way (read: wayyy) before you are ready is the best time to start. There is no such thing as a perfect time. The perfect time is now.
- You are what your art is, your art is what you are. You learn as you go. You evolve and so your art will. It is as obvious as the sunrise tomorrow. Accept it and let it grow alongside you. I stumbled upon this insight as I was obsessing over trying to find my ‘authentic’ voice and style (visual or otherwise). I learned that obsessing over the ‘wrong’ kind of worries is depriving me of my precious time to keep practicing my art. Your style and your voice become distinctive as you go and practicing your craft more and more can bring you closer to what that can eventually be.
- You are allowed to choose your “must” instead of shoulds. The list of what you should be doing is a never-ending one but don’t give up what you feel you ‘must’ do. Your calling, that’s the one thing you don’t want to regret at the end of your life and you only have one life. YOLO.
If you are having a hard time grasping this idea, please read this blog post, The Crossroads of should and must by Elle Luna
- What works for someone else might not work for you. Figuring out your own routine is what can lead you to your own definition of success. ‘Success’ and ‘creativity’ need to be redefined for yourself considering what your ‘must’ is and by eliminating the shoulds.
- It is more about un-doing than it is about doing the ‘shoulds’. It is more about erasing what the world has imprinted on you along the way and connecting with your inner artist child. I recently came across a concept defined by Aristotle as ‘Tabula Rasa’. Litteral meaning is, ‘blank slate’ and conceptually it means, the state of consciousness before outside factors and sources has made their impact. Fascinating!
If you want to read more about it, Google is your best friend.
- Love to create but terrified? Good.
That means you are creating something and moving out of your comfort zone. We all know where the magic happens, right? Outside of our comfort zone. This one is huge for me, ‘learning to love the process and doing it for the joy of it’. It is hard but is the only way to keep showing up for yourself.
- We all want to help. Well, most people do. We all have different ways we can offer help and remembering that you can’t give it to someone else if your own cup is not full, is important. Start with helping yourself first. Get in touch with yourself first so you are in a position to help someone else.
- We are already established that starting with yourself is the first step and what’s the next step? Asking the right questions. Questions that can lead you to self-discovery and figuring out your unique ways of seeing the things that might lead to something amazing, out of the box and serve people that you are seeking to serve.
- You can’t change anyone from the outside. It’s not wise to put all your energies on trying to fix something that is not under your control. You can’t teach the ones who are not willing to be taught.
- You want to create art?
Do it. But don’t do it to help people. Don’t make it your primary emotion to create art. Create just for the heck of it. Create because it’s not letting you fall asleep and wants to show itself in the world by you. As Elizabeth Gilbert writes in Big Magic, people will be helped by you doing it more.
- Art and creativity are more about the self-discovery than it is about self-expression. This is exactly what my motivation is for writing this very blog post. I wish to inspire you to embrace this idea and keep showing up for yourself and your work.
- You are not supposed to have all the answers or know all the answers. It’s not expected of you. What’s expected of you is to keep trying to look for them and solving interesting problems. The term ‘interesting’ here is subjective and you can interpret it however it suits the best for you.
- Learn to show up for yourself. We are not taught in school how to show up for ourselves, we are being taught some outdated and irrelevant stuff that we might end up never using. Take the charge and learn to show up for yourself. As soon as I accepted and made peace with this notion, I am finding myself learning way more than I ever had in my school (which was a long time ago) or life before.
- Turn off social media, it’s okay. Create not consume 🙂
I hope this somehow inspires you to create the art you were born to create and share it with the world. There can never be enough courageous artists sharing their art. Do you know someone who’ll benefit from these? Please share it with them.
Do you have any insight you want to share and add to the list?
If so, I’d love to read it.
Pin for later:
Have you already subscribed to ‘Letters’?
Every two weeks on cozy Sunday Mornings I write thoughtful letters packed with tiny nuggets of inspiration, personal insights and behind the scene messy life stories along with occasional updates on what’s coming new and what I have been working on.
Subscribe to get the ‘Letters’ straight to your inbox.