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.

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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)

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

Life vs Creativity (1/4)

“…your standard day to day workings that take up your creative time.”

Many things can get in the way of our creativity. I often refer to this as ‘Life’; by this I mean your standard day to day workings that take up your creative time. If you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to deal with life in such way, then I salute you, you’ve hit the jackpot, but there are so many creatives I know that commonly struggle with this.

Creatives use their talents on a daily basis, but often struggle to create what they really want to themselves. Perhaps they’re a composer working hard writing music for film and television, but would prefer to be writing their own symphony. A cameraman filming daily, yet never directing their own film. A writer/journalist reporting everyday, yet never able to write their own story. I personally spent a year teaching music technology, only wishing the whole time to be making music for myself rather than teaching others.

“…should we really do this to our own detriment?’

Now this may appear selfish. Why have a talent and not use it to help others? This is true, and I agree that we should always help others when we can. We should use what we have learned in life to teach and guide others, but should we really do this to our own detriment? I recently had a conversation with someone about this such subject, people who study in order to go straight into teaching. It is something I can’t quite comprehend, as we all need to experience life in one way or another before passing on our experiences, and when moving straight into teaching after study, when have we had the time to experience the real world? Teaching is certainly a great way to earn a living and find fulfillment, but what does it cost in terms of our own creativity? Does it allow us to truly be creative for ourselves?

I’m not going to concentrate on teaching but thinking about that time in my life led me review my own ‘creative life’. I began to map out when I had been the most creative and what I was doing at that moment. Previously I’ve spoken about Planning Creativity which has been the first step to making sure I allow myself to be creative, but in the past I hadn’t needed to plan. It led me to think; “Why was that?”.

“…is it going to be a never ending battle between the two?’

As we grow older life begins to throw more and more our way. We may find a day job that we enjoy to earn our keep or a partner share our time with as we being to settle down. We begin to consider what the future holds for us, but where in that future is our creativity? Is there enough space to allow life and creativity to live happily side by side or is it going to be a never ending battle between the two?

This is a question that we have to decide for ourselves as it will never naturally sway either way. It involves our own discipline to get things done; to plan ahead and choose our own path in the creative world.

If you’re like me, and have decided for certain that you want creativity to be part of your life in a more established way, then over the next few blogs I’ll be going through a few steps I’m taking in order to achieve this. It involves dedication, discipline, time, organisation, inspiration, willingness, sacrifice, energy, and above all –  Patience.