Searching for Success: Setting Reasonable Goals (1/4)

“If we constantly increase our expectations we’ll never know when we’ve succeeded…”

Success to each person can have different meanings. It’s important that when we first set out to be successful in our chosen field that we set a goal; otherwise we may not accept our own success. If we constantly increase our expectations we’ll never know when we’ve succeeded in achieving our goals, and to begin with we shouldn’t set any goals that are too unreasonable or un-achievable. We need to start with a simple goal, map out what needs to be achieved (See Planning Creativity). and make sure to review our work and acknowledge our own success (see Creative Depression (3/4): Recognise Your Achievements, Overcome and Adapt)

Take this blog for example…

I set myself a goal to write a blog entitled ‘Searching for Success’. By beginning with the aim to write a blog to that subject matter I knew I could write a draft. I could then edit that draft to make sure it wasn’t too specific or too generic. I know that once I’ve finished writing it, I can hit publish. I know that by doing this I have been successful in achieving my initial goal. The goal wasn’t unreasonable or unachievable and I can now look back on it as an achievement.

Devil’s advocate might say however, “You’re only successful when 1000 people have read your blog”. I know that for myself, setting the goal of encouraging 1000 readers to read my blog wouldn’t be unachievable, but I would personally deem it as unreasonable. Setting such a goal would require a more time than I could justify dedicating to this project, yet simply writing a blog and publishing it can be justified.

“Understanding what success means to you personally is important…”

Your own opinion of success is personal. For me success is achieving what I’ve set out to do in the first place; not successful recognition by somebody else’s opinion. Understanding what success means to you personally is important, and having sensible goals in order to allow for success aid in the fight against ‘Creative Depression’.

Lastly, I’d like to just link you to a video that inspired this subject. Disregarding any of the stigma around the speaker, his words are valid to any creative. He talks about defining your expectations in relating to success in the music industry. (starting around 30s in, and lasting for around 5 minutes)

Creative Depression (3/4): Recognise Your Achievements, Overcome and Adapt

“Each time we create we create something beautiful…”

At the end of the day, we are trying to dull a sense of failure. In order to do this, we have to understand what failure truly is. We also have to recognise that we are not failures in the common world. Each time we create we create something beautiful even though we may not see it through our own eyes; we have to learn to understand it in this manner.

A helpful way to dull the sense of failure for myself, is simply to write down my achievements. Perhaps I’ll look at the past week, month or year. Write everything down that you have achieved; and I mean everything. Nine times out of ten I’ll be astonished. I would have forgotten about certain things that perhaps before I hadn’t considered to be achievements, or maybe I forgot I had achieved something within the time frame set.

“…make a decision to ensure you don’t fail…”

It’s best to recognise your achievements to overcome any sense of failure. Think about your own wellbeing, your future and who you are and what you want to be. If we consider failure too much we’ll end up spiralling down again. It helps to understand that if something has gone wrong and you genuinely feel that you have failed then it is so, but make a decision to ensure you don’t fail again in the future; be selfish.

I’m being openly honest by saying that in order to rid a any sense of failure for the future, we have to be selfish. No one should have to suffer through depression, and if you are suffering with depression then there’s only one person who truly can help you to get out of it, and that is yourself. We may often try to fix the past but why not think about how you can fix the future instead?

So this is what I’d like you to do…

1. Get a pen and paper

2. Write down your achievements for the past year

3. Make note of the workflow you used in order to achieve it

4. How was this achievement made similar to others in your life?

5. Adapt it and make it better for the future

If you read my previous post ‘Life vs Creativity (2/4): When in Your Life Were You Most Creative?’, you may find that thinking about when you most creative in your life and how that relates to your achievements will help you to adapt your life in the future in order to overcome any sense of failure.

I have no training in Clinical Depression, and these articles or any other I write are not done via official research into the subject, but simply a personal opinion on how depression can often relate to creative people.

Life vs Creativity (4/4): Make a Decision

This feels to me to be the perfect time to write this. I’ve recently been finishing my Human Imperfections EP, and if you follow my posts you will notice that I’ve had to delay it’s official release due to illness; illness partly caused by stress. This illness lead to me not being able to sit down and do the final mixes comfortably, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t rushing the process for the sake of it… Thus begins the final blog post regarding ‘Life vs Creativity’.

“…consider which is more important.”

At the end of the day, in order to be creative we need to have the time to do so. In order to do this we may need to reconsider what’s more important; creativity or life? It’s a decision that I’ve made over and over again, and this can lead to some awkward situations. Perhaps work is getting in the way? Well then work needs to change. Perhaps social time with friends is getting in the way? True friends will be understanding and supportive. Perhaps you’ve been successful with creativity and it’s lead to being so busy being creative for someone else, that you can’t be creative for yourself perusing the true career you desire. Consider each thing, and consider which is more important.

“…you will benefit, and those around you will also benefit.”

Making the decision to allow time for your creativity will benefit you both creatively and emotionally. If creativity is important, and you’re not getting to be creative, you will likely dive into a pit of depression, possibly un-aware of the cause; and this could be it. If you make the decision of which is more important to you then you will benefit, and those around you will also benefit. I often find myself apologising if I’m in a mood, as often it’s down to not having the time to be creative and do the thing I really love. Without becoming too self-loathing, really think about how what you do affects the people around you, and what you should do to improve that affect.

“…allow yourself the downtime after the fact; otherwise you will burn out…”

To add to this, as I have learned you need to realise if you’re trying to do too much at once. We can all make the time, but are we allowing time for rest and de-stress from life? It is as important to rest as it is to do the things we love. Creativity is work. This obviously depends on your personal opinion of whether creativity is simply a hobby or your career, but despite the outcome it involves huge amounts of brain power to be creative, and you need to allow yourself the downtime after the fact; otherwise you will burn out and find you are unable to achieve the things you wanted to achieve originally. There is only so much the body can take.

“…we need to realise that sometimes we need to do what we want to do.”

Whenever you make these decisions, you will immediately see spikes in your creativity and productivity. Stress and anxiety can often hold us back from doing what we want to do as we don’t believe we need to do it. For our own mental health and well-being we need to realise that sometimes we need to do what we want to do. So it’s time to make a decision that counts, and follow through with it. We only have ourselves to blame for any dry spell in creativity, but don’t allow that blame to last and get you down or get in the way. Take action and move forward.

Life vs Creativity (3/4): Revolutionise Your Workflow; First Impressions Matter

“…any time you manage to find to be creative is precious.”

We all say at some point that we don’t have time to be creative, and I’ll put up my hand and admit that I do the same. Life will often get in the way of your creative time, so any time you manage to find to be creative is precious. For this reason we have to know when and how we are going to be creative; by Planning Creativity. Once this has been achieved we can focus on our workflow.

Workflow really is the key to success when trying to manage life and creativity. If we take forever to get a simple task done in our minute window of opportunity then we will never achieve anything. This is why planning in advance works so well; it means that we can focus quickly, work efficiently, and achieve our goals successfully. A sense of achievement is a driving force to be creative, meaning that creativity can become a centre point in our lives; rather than thinking it’s not important.

“…as creatives it’s what we such for; our own first impression.”

Creativity obviously relies upon your own originality and what makes you different from the rest, but in many creative practices, that difference is in the end result; the piece as a whole. This may be a personal opinion, as many creative pieces are picked apart by onlookers trying to understand the processes that made it happen, but the initial blow is with first impressions, and as creatives it’s what we such for; our own first impression.

This is where frustration lies. We fight battles with ourselves constantly as being unable to see our first impression leads to an overwhelming sense of failure. For this reason I believe that practising our process of being creative and revolutionising our workflow enables us to earn a glimpse of that first impression a lot earlier than expected.

“…if we can see an end result then we are more likely to work harder to achieve it.”

This perception is vital in making sure we perceive our creative time as important, as when we can’t see that first impression, we don’t have as much hope as we should. We need constant motivation to keep going, so if we can see an end result then we are more likely to work harder to achieve.

A few quick internet searches involving your field of creativity will come back with multiple ways in which you can increase your workflow, although here are a few ideas that may help…

  • Create templates – If you find yourself repeatadly doing the same thing in each project to get started then create a template. You can do this within software (if you use it) or even simply by being prepared…
  • Be prepared – Make sure that everything you need is to hand. You should think about this whilst Planning Creativity. This might involve having common tools you use, or a list of things you need to do
  • Set limitations – Don’t always allow yourself to do anything. Think about the end goal and what you really need in order to achieve your goal more efficiently.
  • Practise – The only way you will increase workflow is by taking the above tips and practising. Find a time when you can regularly practise, even if it’s just 30 minutes, try to do as much as you can in those 30 minutes. You might be surprised how much you get done.

Using the above ideas have helped me to increase my own workflow, and I hope they help you. There was one particular time where I spent two years trying to complete a project, and I never liked the end results. I’ve always been happier with work completed quickly, and in the same head-space as when I began. Seeing more positive results lead to knowing that I was able to achieve my creative goals more easily than I had originally expected, and I hope you find the same.

Life vs Creativity (2/4): When in Your Life Were You Most Creative?

Think about this for a while. You probably didn’t suddenly decide one day to be creative. You’ve most likely been creative throughout your entire life; but when were you the most creative?

I asked myself this question not too long ago, and it really started to help me understand how my creativity is affected by what was (and is) going on around me. My most creative and productive point in life was actually between the ages of 16-18. In this time, I studied 3 A-Levels whilst still living with my parents. I was lucky enough for them to feed me and keep the roof over my head. I studied and did what I needed in order to tick the boxes. I never felt overloaded with work, and I had an abundance of free time to use to my own means.

I was free…

I was free to use my time to my own means. I had chosen the A-levels that I wanted to study, and I had a drive to learn new skills. I was inspired by some amazing teachers who were passionate about their subjects, and who were passionate for us all to succeed. I felt comfortable. I felt happy. I saw a creative direction that I wanted to take and pursue.

Thinking about this time in my life made me realise something so simple that I was shocked I had never thought much about it before.

Time + Freedom = Creativity

Learning this for myself was a stepping stone towards creative success. All I needed to do was find the time and freedom from life in order to be creative… Right?

“But wait… Now i’m all ‘grown-up’ –  I have a job, I have to pay the rent, I have to buy my own food, my own clothes, pay the bills, pay to fix anything that breaks or replace it, clean everything, take the rubbish out each week, buy the Christmas and Birthday presents each year, oh and cover that extra shift at work, meet so and so for that meeting…” etc etc etc

Life < Creativity

We all grow up, and life starts to get in the way of our creativity. Life takes away our time and our freedom, meaning that it very quickly becomes greater; and more important than our creativity.Through experience however, I’m a firm believer that you have control over your own life, and that we must dictate how we wish our lives to be run. Life will always get in the way, so we have to learn how to work around life, and introduce creativity into our lives on a daily basis to fill the hole it once left.

In order to do this we need to revolutionise our workflow to be more productive creatives by using our time wisely. In previous blogs I’ve spoken about planning, and this will come into play when revolutionising our creative workflow, but the key to this comes in the actions we take when we are in the moment of that planned time; and we are doing the things that we have planned. In this moment it is about speed, efficiency and discipline;  something that can only be achieved through premeditation and practise. This is a step towards creating a happy medium. A place where we’re not fighting a battle of Life vs Creativity anymore, but an equal standing between the two.

Revolutionising Workflow = Life Creativity