Needless to say, the current economic situation continues to affect many of us. I’ve mentioned how my business has slowed down and I know I’m not the only artist impacted by the economic downturn. An article even appeared in the Boston Globe that discussed the financial impact many artists are experiencing.
Certainly seeing and hearing all this news takes its toll…or makes any blue feelings you have seem even worse. Yet I couldn’t accept that the lack of wholesale orders or consignment sales was the only thing contributing to my blue mood.
And then I listened to Eric Maisel’s podcast on Purpose and Action. Maisel’s weekly podcast is called The Purpose Centered Life: A Plan for Authentic Living. I recently subscribed to the entire series and have been listening to the podcast almost every day.
Purpose and Action, the 7th episode of a 9 part podcast on how purpose heals depression and the relationships between creativity, meaning, and depression, hit a cord. I realized what was missing and what was contributing to my blue state: action (or lack thereof.)
Now this might sound simple enough but the reality is when you’re feeling down, getting going isn’t easy. I’ve been keeping slightly busy in the studio (and maybe too much time on the computer), making a little something here and there, to keep my product inventory filled. Yet it hasn’t felt like enough. As Eric Maisel said, we all keep busy, but the difference between being busy and taking action is how it feels in our heart. This busy-ness wasn’t feeling right in my heart.
For whatever reason, when I picked up the clay last week with a purpose in mind, my mood changed. The clay felt different in my hands. I remember a little voice popping into my head that said “this feels good” and “you’re making things again; this feels right.”
Maybe it was a hormonal shift. Maybe it was an attitudinal shift.
Taking action can come in many forms: making dinner, reading to your kids, talking with your spouse, playing with your cat or dog, making art in the studio, or working on your novel.
Yet at other times these same actions feel like busy-work. We tell ourselves we are avoiding creative work and squandering our time. I’ve frequently told myself that production work is indeed busy-work; a no-brainer task. And when that voice loop plays over and over in my head, I start to feel blue and I fight the production work. I whine to myself that I “have no time to work on my spirit messengers” or how I “can’t get myself to work on my true desire.”
However, that isn’t really true. All I have to do is put it on my schedule; to block off time to work on a spirit messenger or other piece of art.
But instead it is sometimes easier to blame myself. We creative folks tend to berate ourselves and sometimes we’re damn good at it.
What we really need is more action. We must move forward. As Eric Maisel points out, Our actions are our accomplishments.
To take action, I’ve returned to blocking off time each day for particular tasks and commitments. I intend to stick with this approach because it works for me. In other words, lack of structure makes me feel directionless. And when I’m not creating, in whatever form that creativity takes, I become a cranky person (just ask the hubby.)
I recently started working with a creativity coach. Our focus these first few weeks has been on affirmations. I had to work through a bit of dirt that arose to the surface before I could create affirmations that are meaningful to me. Now I have a stack of affirmations that I read through each day; sometimes several times a day. And when the negative voice pokes me and tries to get a word in edgewise, I remember certain affirmations and silently repeat them.
I’ve also been emailing my goals each week to a few people. In turn, they share their goals for the week with me. We check in on our progress at the end of the week or the beginning of the next week. Many of our goals are small steps/accomplishments that lead to larger accomplishments. Karen introduced me to the word Kaizen which is a Japanese term for making little changes on a regular basis. Now three of us practice Kaizen.
The hardest thing about taking action is doing it. It is much easier to give a heavy sigh, cue the tiny violins, get hooked, and feel sorry for yourself. I know sometimes you need a pity-party. The best suggestion I heard was to give yourself 15 minutes to *itch and then to pick yourself up and think about how to remedy the situation. Or dip your toe back in the pool and engage in something creative. (I admit that the pity-party sometimes lasts all day for me and, personally, that is okay too. I get it all out of my system and start fresh the next day.)
But slowly, by taking action, even in small steps, you find meaning and purpose. It may start with 15 minutes of writing or color blending or sketching; soon that 15 minutes becomes 30 minutes and then an hour. Remember, baby steps. Make little changes, take small actions, on a regular basis.
I also suggest registering for Dayle Doroshow’s Master Class with Alison Lee on Craftcast on Monday, October 20. The name of the class is Creative Sparks and I’m sure Dayle will have great tips for getting out of a rut and for taking action.
What techniques do you use to take action?