Being an Independent Creative (3/4): Self Motivation

So I’ve briefly mentioned the comparison between being an independent creative and an independently run cafe. One core comparison that I’d like to delve into is the self motivation needed in order to achieve both. If independently running a cafe is your means to live and support your livelihood then your creative independence should essentially be seen in the same light.

Whatever you’re role, everyone has days when they get up and can’t face the day, you wake up and you simply can’t be bothered. These are the days that are the hardest, and when these days happen continuously one after the other then it becomes even harder. The smallest amount of self motivation you had to begin with quickly starts to slip away from your grasp and nothing you do ever seems to help that grasp get any tighter.

This is that moment in time when as an independent we have to evaluate who we are and what we really want to achieve. I mentioned before, we can’t make an excuse, we have to make a decision; this statement should almost become a mantra to you when waking up in these moods. By saying to yourself ‘I can’t make an excuse I have to make a decision’ when you wake up gives yourself only one choice: Decide what you need to do in order to change your attitude, in order to feel happier, in order to be healthier.

I’ve come to realise that my self motivation depletes when I’m simply not being creative and ignoring this question. Everyday I get up and make excuses without making decisions. I don’t decide not to be creative it just happens. I subconsciously procrastinate and blame it on my mood or the fact that I simply don’t feel like it. Self motivation is key here. Getting up and wasting your time on things you don’t really need to be doing is the excuse.

Make a decision to move forward, make a decision to change your attitude, make a decision to be happier.

Being an Independent Creative (1/4): It’s Tough

I’m not going to lie to you, it’s hard work. Being independent in any shape or form can be hard. it can be lonely. Even if you have people by your side in other aspects of your life being an independent creative can take it’s toll mentally and/or physically. It gets easier when you learn how to manage it and find what works for you, but even when you think you’ve got it nailed something around you or inside of you can change.

When you’re independent it can often mean that it’s just you; by this I mainly mean one person. You’re the one with the ideas, you’re the one with the passion that you want to pursue. Others around you can show support but you’re essentially running every job description listed on a large corporations payrole, this is why things may happen slowly and I guess why we have so much more time to overthink.

Thinking can have positive and negative effects. In one hand how would you be a creative without having the ability to think? In the other hand overthinking and over analysing can lead to a negative perspective about what you are doing. Is what I’m doing good enough? Who really cares? Why should I keep pursuing this?

I’m of that negative mindset right now. At the start of the year I set a goal to blog each week, but last week for some reason it just didn’t happen. I tried. I sat and I started typing, but each word I was typing seemed utterly pointless. Absolute garbage. I have deadlines to meet this year in more ways than one. Deadlines that could push my creativity career forward yet I have no motivation what so ever to get them done. No drive. I wonder why that is?

Sometimes no matter what goals you set, however detailed your plan is or however much passion you have about doing something, sometimes you simply just can’t be bothered. This isn’t procrastination, (I prefer to see procrastination as replacing your creative time with other tasks in order to put off the creative process) you simply just can’t be bothered to do anything. You have the time, you have the resources, you know what you need to do but you simply just can’t be bothered.

I discovered a new word the other day. Anhedonia. It’s a term used to describe the inability to feel pleasure in normally pleasurable activities (according to google); and it’s an interesting term. It’s heavily linked to depression. However I find it’s loose definition intriguing. It can have severe affects of literally not feeling anything emotionally or physically, but as google has defined it can simply mean that you don’t find pleasure in something you normally would. You may still find pleasure in other aspects of life, but perhaps one aspect has changed. Finding pleasure is often what drives the want and need to do it, and when you’re struggling to find pleasure, it’s hard to find the motivation to do it.

Sometimes it’s comforting to find a word that describes what you’re feeling, but it can also be disheartening as a realisation of what’s actually going on. The spiral that can lead on from there can be devastating; yet another pit of self loathing can be formed due to simply one aspect of life that in the grand scheme of things really isn’t your whole life, but at times it can feel that way. It can appear to be the centre of your being, the reason you’re put on this earth. It’s what you were chosen to do. Or is it?

What I’ve come to realise is that independence can often mean that things need to be put on the back-burner, even if they’re the most important to you in your life. Set it aside whilst you deal with everything else that is going on, as everything else accumulating may end up having a negative effect on what’s important, and that’s something we have to avoid at all costs.

Searching for Success: Have Faith and Never Give Up (4/4)

“Real success comes from those who have faith in themselves…”

Faith is a very powerful thing. Having faith in yourself will encourage your own success. Having faith will also allow you to be more understanding of the speed of which you may become successful. By this I mean that success does not happen in a split second overnight. Overnight success comes and goes; like a one hit wonder in the pop charts. Real success comes from those who have faith in themselves, work hard and continue to work hard; although we all need a break now and again.

“It’s easy to only focus on your own singular big goal and forget about all of the other achievements…”

It’s important to recognise your own work and success sometimes in order to restore faith. A good exercise is to simply sit and write down or review your previous work. Look at the planned goals you have achieved but also recognise the unplanned goals you have achieved. By this, I mean those unexpected achievements that you may have forgotten about or were offered to you by someone else. It’s easy to only focus on your own singular big goal and forget about all of the other achievements that may have been made possible by working on that goal. It’s also important to understand that in the process of reaching you goal, that it will often intertwine with others also searching for success in their field.

For myself, this is every single gig I have ever been offered by a promoter from a venue, every interview on radio or for a blog/website, each album sale or words of encouragement from a fan, or questions of advice from other budding creatives who may deem me as being successful. My creative success is the process of making music, this is where my personal goals and achievements and success lie, everything else is an amazing bonus, but also a nudge in the right direction of another future personal goal; to earn part of my living through chosen use of creativity.

Real success is a timeline of small successful achievements throughout life, and to add to this all of the bonus achievements that come with it. Success isn’t one singular moment or achievement, their may be one achievement that overshadows others or out-dates them, but it’s often those who give up after such an achievement who in the not too distant future will be met again by creative depression. Our drive as creatives is to continue to be successful with whatever big ideas or problems we put in front of ourselves, and by having faith that we will be successful will help us to keep moving forward, never give up and be successful.

Searching For Success: Don’t Make Excuses, Make Decisions (3/4)

If you find yourself making excuses for not having achieved a goal, take the following into consideration…

1. The goal you set was unreasonable
2. You don’t care enough about the goal in order to achieve it

If you you take statement 1, and have come to the terms that the goal you set was unreasonable, then all you need to do is simply rethink your goal. Take the goal and stretch the timeline to something that’s more reasonable, or reconsider the steps that you need to take in order to achieve your goal. By doing this you may find that reaching your original goal may come more easily. Perhaps you need to simplify what needs to be achieved first in order to ease yourself in to the larger picture. It’s easy for us to set ourselves too high an expectation, and setting such high expectations is another way that creative depression can creep in.

If you’ve come to the realisation that statement 2 is true, then this isn’t time to worry. Take it as a wake up call. Maybe you would like to be doing something different, or have said yes to a job that you should in fact have said no to in the first place. Maybe it’s too early to be focusing on this job, or maybe it’s too late. Find another goal that you feel passionate about now and focus on that. Perhaps you will come back to your original goal, perhaps not. Whatever you chose will be the best decision for you.

When I’m in the creative zone and writing music, I often find statement 2 to be more true than statement 1. The reason begin that I may have started writing a piece of music, but despite having spent a lot of time on it, I in fact don’t like it; which leads me to not caring about it enough to finish it. This is often a sign that I need to move on. I can spend hours, days, weeks, months or years working on said piece of music, but until I find that creative spark that leads to my fascination in the piece again, I know that my time can be better spent on something else.

Don’t be afraid to set projects aside, don’t make an excuse, make a decision. Ask yourself: Does this piece of work deserve anymore of my time as much as something else? Will I achieve more by doing something else? Will I be happier if I do something else which I will more likely succeed in?

These questions may not just relate to your creative decisions but also your life decisions. Think about everything you do in life. Does each thing deserve your time as much as your creative work? Will you achieve more if you stopped doing something in order to focus on your creative work? Will you be happier and more likely to succeed if you make these decisions?

The answer to the majority of these questions are likely to be yes. Make a decision to change rather than use anything as an excuse.

Searching for Success: Just Do It (2/4)

You’ve probably seen this cliched and probably copy written term used over and over, but it’s core meaning could never be more true. In order to be successful we need to come terms with the fact that we need to mentally and/or physically do something in order to achieve the goals we have planned to be achieved, but often we can allow other things to get in the way of our own success.

Personally I will often blame ‘life’ (See Life vs. Creativity), but I know that if I am going to consider life to be a hurdle that I must jump, then I also need to consider whether my goals are too unreasonable for myself if they do not take life into consideration. However, I still understand that a goal will not be achieved until I do something to aid it’s achievement.

Procrastination is easy to succumb to, and by giving into it we can encourage creative depression to creep in and take control over our own success. It’s often hard to believe that if we simply fight procrastination enough in order to just do something that the creative juices will start to flow and we will be one step closer to achieving our goal. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been sat binge watching box set series instead of working on my creativity; too easily allowing the next episode to play disregarding the time flying by. At the end of the day I ask myself where the time has gone wondering why I hadn’t gotten anything done, thus introducing a self loathing induced by my own self discipline.

Creativity is an exercise that when practised will naturally evolve and encourage us to take the next steps needed in order to achieve our goals, but until we just do it and get into the zone of acting on our goals, we won’t be successful. It’s not until you understand this and have the discipline to practise it that you will become successful.