Striving, and always arriving

Yoga. Visualization. Meditation. Self-help books. Master-mind groups. Energy healing.vision quest
Affirmations. Vision quests. Prayer. Inspirational quotes. Spiritual retreats. Journaling. World travel.

These are rituals, activities, and practices that can move us along on our journey of self-discovery and personal development.

But sometimes we get so caught up in the quest itself that we fail to notice we’ve already arrived.

Below are five principles to live by – and films to watch – as you strive to make positive changes and create your deepest wishes:

1. The answers are out there, and the answers are within you. 

Spiritual teachers, professional mentors, life coaches and subject matter experts have much to offer, especially when you’re stuck in a rut.

But once you put them on a pedestal and assume they always know more than you do, you begin to tune out your inner wisdom and accept whatever they say at face value.

In your search for self-realization and spiritual awakening, remember that the best guru – for you – is you.

Watch Kumaré: The True Story of a False Prophet

2. You have the power to fix yourself, and you don’t need to be fixed

Just when you thought you had it all figured out, you hit a bump in the road. Just when you thought you had settled for a mundane routine, you get hit with a sweet surprise.

Life is full of twists and turns. Some you will welcome and some you will dislike.

In your effort to maneuver through transitions, know that there’s nothing wrong with you as you harness your power to grow and transform.

Watch Touchy Feely

3. You can’t find your voice without solitude, and you need others to hear it.

Discovering your place in society often requires you to step out of it. Whether it involves walking in the woods, sitting by the ocean, or disconnecting from the Internet, solitude can help you tap into your deepest thoughts, find space to create, and reflect on your truest desires.

While it’s important to follow your individual path on your terms, you can rarely get through it without social interaction and human connections.

In your quest to find your own voice, understand that solitude is not the same as isolation. Spend time alone to see more clearly. Spend time with others to test what you see.

Watch Into the Wild

4. Be yourself from the get-go, and it’s never too late to reinvent yourself.

Knowing who you are, defining your values, and living authentically are essential to your personal freedom and fulfillment.  Celebrate your individuality, capitalize on your strengths, and open up to your vulnerabilities.

But give yourself space to grow, transform, evolve and begin again. Let go of restrictive beliefs; shed outdated ideas; embrace different values; and set new priorities. If old notions about who you are keeps you small and dull, reinvent yourself to create a bigger and brighter life.

In learning to be yourself, acknowledge that some parts are worth preserving and some parts are ripe for change. Your past is not your present.  Your present is not your future. Peel off the layers to gain access to your core self.

Watch Beginners

5. The key to a meaningful life is asking big, philosophical questions, and responding to small, ordinary ones. 

Contemplate the meaning of life. Seek your life purpose. Ask, why am I here? 

If you don’t stop to reflect on your personal mission, you’ll tend to just go along with the masses. You’ll buy stuff you don’t want. You’ll clutter up your space with crap you don’t use. You’ll engage in activities that you don’t enjoy. All in the name of fitting in.

At a certain point, though, you must put the questions aside, end the existential discussions, and participate in the world. Finding your life purpose matters — and it doesn’t. You simply choose deliberately, do what brings you true joy, and learn from the results of your day-to-day actions.

Watch Waking Life

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Photo by: Julian Jenson

How to have a blast doing dreaded tasks

Some tasks are not for you. You never feel like doing them. You find them dull and procrastinationtedious. You think they’re a waste of your time.

But for whatever reason, you can’t pawn them off on someone else and you can’t keep putting them off.

If you’re stuck with doing a dreaded task, here’s how you can make the most of your experience and even have a blast:

Just start. The longer you put it off and the more you resist it, the more daunting the task becomes. Don’t overthink it. Stop dilly dallying. Let go of perfection.

Get curious. Challenge yourself to find something intriguing about the task. Meditate on it. Be fully present. Activate all your senses while you’re tackling it. Remember what it’s like to be a child and approach the task as if you were experiencing it for the first time.

Set a time limit. Do the task in small, time-based chunks. Whether you have two minutes or two hours, stop when the time is up. Make it into a game. See how fast you can get it done without sacrificing its quality or your integrity.

Embrace the ugly. If you’re frustrated, open up to it. If you’re bored, revel in it. If you’re tired, take a nap and get back to it. Notice your weaknesses, dislikes, and bad habits. Self-knowledge is power.

Consider the big picture. The things you love often include bit parts that you hate. Making that telephone call could win over that fabulous client. Booking the flight means you get your dream vacation.

Layer it with something you enjoy. Call a friend while you’re running the copies. Listen to a podcast while you’re doing the dishes. Blast some jazz music while you’re decluttering your desk. (This is background tasking, not multitasking.)

Partner up. Gather your friends to help you clean out the garage. Turn cooking a meal into a family affair. Great company can turn normally dull experiences into surprisingly fun events.

Remember, it’s your choice. You could do nothing. You could do something else. But you chose to do this task. Claim full responsibility for it. Own it.

Lose the attitude. The task is what you make of it. Whistle while you work. Do a victory dance when you’re done.

Take it to the next level.  Learn by doing. What makes this task a drag? Is there a way to wipe it off your to-do list (permanently)? Create a new process, design a strategy, or invent a tool to bypass it the next time. Make use of shortcuts.

Reward yourself. Celebrate a task well done. Follow it up with a fun and fascinating to-do. Go out for ice cream. Get a mani-pedi. Watch the movie you’ve been dying to see.

Imagine how good you’ll feel when it’s done. Completing a necessary task is liberating and energizing. It’s a huge weight off your shoulders. Visualize the desired outcome and bring those good vibes into the process.

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Photo by: Jennerally 

10 Excuses That Can Make Your Year Crappy (and how to beat them)

The end of year encourages us to reflect on where we have been, where we are, and where we want to be. It’s prime time for mapping out goals and setting resolutions for the year ahead.

A new year symbolizes a fresh start and a revived opportunity to break bad habits, start healthy routines, and create our desired lifestyle.

But as the days, weeks and months roll on, it’s easy to slip back into default mode and settle for mediocrity.

The most common excuses that lead you to abandon your goals or resolutions and can make your year crappy are:

I don’t have time. Long-term goals often fall to the wayside when you barely have time to fulfill daily obligations, meet deadlines at work, run errands, or do household chores. Having more time, however, doesn’t necessarily make you more productive, effective, or efficient.

Carve out and schedule time blocks for your big goals. Work on them when your energy is at its highest or when distractions and interruptions are at their lowest. Just set aside 15 minutes a day, an hour a week, or a day in the month to make small, consistent progress.

Stop wasting time watching TV, surfing the Internet, and engaging in other activities that have minimal effect on the quality of your life. Wake up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later. Use the extra time to focus on the tasks that really matter.

I don’t have the money. Not all goals and dreams are realistic. But many are within your reach even when it seems you don’t have the resources to pursue them. You just need to get creative with exploring options.

If one gym membership fee is out of your price range, find a competitor that offers similar services at a fraction of the price. And if you want to learn Sun Salutations or other basic asanas, you can invest in a yoga DVD and cultivate a home practice or attend sessions at a “pay as you go” studio. You don’t need to travel to India for a yoga retreat or take a pricey yoga class with a world-renowned yoga master.

I’m too tired/ill. Exhaustion, illness, or injury slows you down. While it’s important to rest and recover, you don’t always have to be in peak physical condition to accomplish what you want. Deliberate, ongoing engagement with meaningful activities can energize you and help restore you mentally and physically.

I’m afraid. Playing it safe or staying within your comfort zone makes it hard to thrive and flourish. Going for your dreams and goals involves taking risks. The sooner you face your fears, the quicker you will gain the experience, knowledge, skills and confidence to maximize your potential and step up to the next level.

Fear is a natural, human emotion that demands respect. You can still take effective action despite your fears.

I’m not inspired or motivated. Sometimes you have to take action first to get unstuck and fired up. Favorable results or good feelings from the thing you do can spur you on to keep doing it.

Sometimes the resolution you set for yourself just isn’t right for you.  It might not tie into your big vision or connect with who you are at the core. If you really don’t care much about what you’re trying to achieve, it will be an uphill battle to dedicate your time and energy to it. If that’s the case, feel free to redefine and reframe your goal.

I’m bored. Repetitive behavior can be tedious. Certain tasks might never gel well with you. So mix it up. To get fit, you don’t have to run or work out in the gym every day. You could dance or play racquetball to get the heart rate up and build your strength and stamina.

To help me improve my piano playing skills, my piano teacher prescribes Hanon exercises. While I know they’re good for me, I don’t particularly enjoy them. So after I’m done with one Hanon exercise, I follow it with an improvised piece or sheet music that I love. This keeps me from getting bored with my practice.

I lack willpower.  Willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations and delay gratification to meet long-term goals. It’s a limited resource that doesn’t run at 100% all the time. But you can refocus and recommit if you get delayed or derailed.

There are ways to stay on the path and hold yourself accountable even when your willpower is depleted. For example, keep a log of your progress, automate or routinize desired habits, and share your goals with trusted friends and family members who will support you when the chips are down.

I don’t want to upset the people around me.  Your friends, relatives or colleagues might not want to see you make changes, especially when the status quo works for them. Your ability to deal with judgment is critical.

You can talk it out to get to the root of the issue (perhaps their concerns are legitimate). You can also choose to ignore their comments. Or you can end the relationship if it’s toxic and non-supportive.

I don’t know where to start. Start small. Start today. Set mini-goals for each day, week or month, instead of one big goal for the year. Get specific. If you want to author a novel, write a page a day. If you want to develop fluency in a foreign language, learn five new words or phrases every week. If you want to become more cultured, visit an art museum, read a classic book, or see a play once a month.

I can’t stand the pressure.  Setting resolutions and goals can create tension and stress, which in turn triggers procrastination, indecision and inaction for some.

In The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul, Danielle LaPorte encourages us to identify our “core desired feelings” and create practical “goals with soul” to generate those feelings. Instead of chasing after goals with numbers, dates and targets, she suggests we create a journey that feels the way we want the destination to feel.

Chris Brogan, author of The Impact Equation, advises us to choose three guiding words to help us focus our goals and efforts. In one new year’s post, he states:

Resolutions are often too vague, or too directed towards one goal. It might be “quit smoking” or “lose 20 pounds” or “get hired.” These are all fine aspirations, but I challenge you to dig deeper, to find three words that could be used as lighthouses to guide you through stormy seas, that can be used as flags on the battlefield of your challenges, words that will bolster you and give you a direction that goes beyond the goals you might attach as a result of these words.

Throughout the year, you can focus on your core desired feelings or your three words (e.g. Patience. Presence. Partnership) to guide you in your choices, actions and behaviors — without the unnecessary pressure.

To avoid obsessing over end goals, attend to the process itself. Set intentions to choose, act and behave in ways that that are aligned with your deepest values and heartfelt desires. Refrain from going purely after external rewards.

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Excuses undermine the changes you wish to make and sabotage the results you seek to achieve. They can make your year crappy. Knowing how to beat them will help you make the year a happy one that truly counts.

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Photo by: SJ Photography

How to Stay Awake at Work Without Caffeine

Staying awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted, or sleep-deprived. But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your senses and keep you alert:

SIGHT – VISUAL STIMULATION

1. Maximize your exposure to light; 2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break); 3. Take note of your environment.

HEARING – AUDITORY STIMULATION

4. Engage in conversation; 5. Listen to upbeat music.

SMELL – OLFACTORY STIMULATION

6. Work your nose.

TASTE – GUSTATORY STIMULATION

7. Have a good breakfast; 8. Drink lots of water; 9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

TOUCH – TACTILE STIMULATION

10. Splash cold water on your face; 11. Use acupressure; 12. Get moving.

Read the full article, How to Stay Awake at Work Without Caffeine, on Lifehack.

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Photo by: bolandrotor

8 Ways You Can Learn to Deal with Jealousy

8-Ways-You-Can-Learn-to-Deal-with-JealousyWhether you envy someone because of his high metabolism, corner office, house on the lake, or latest solo travel to an exotic country, jealousy can throw you off your game, squander your energy, and generate angst for yourself.

Below are 8 surefire ways you can deal with jealousy to minimize its draining effects and harness its power:

1. Develop an abundance mindset
2. Learn from those who have made it
3. Acknowledge that you have something unique to contribute
4. Stop comparing yourself to others
5. Get your act together
6. Determine if what the other person has is what you really want
7. Realize that another person’s success doesn’t make you a failure
8. Understand that jealousy is a normal, universal emotion

To learn more, check out my article, 8 Ways You Can Learn to Deal with Jealousy on Lifehack.

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Photo by: Luke Saagi

Advice for Newlyweds: 5 Main Sources of Conflict and Steps to Resolve Them

Advice-for-Newlyweds-5-Main-Sources-of-Conflict-and-Steps-to-Resolve-Them
For newlyweds and others looking to build a healthy relationship, check out my article, Advice for Newlyweds: 5 Main Sources of Conflict and Steps to Resolve Them, on Lifehack.

Clashing values and priorities; money issues; unmet expectations; divergent interests; and household chores are among the top issues that create rifts between couples and within relationships.

Read the article to learn about potential solutions for each source of conflict.

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Featured photo credit: Two sitting at bench in rainy day. Photo in old image style.via Shutterstock

Create for its own sake (even when it won’t bring you fame, fortune or fans), part 2

knit artCreating for yourself and for your pure enjoyment brings you tremendous benefits, even when it won’t bring you fame, fortune or fans.

But when you have paid work and other pressing responsibilities to handle, it’s easy to neglect your creative pursuits.

Discipline and willpower are limited. So to create for its own sake, don’t make it into a big, important choice. Rather, turn it into automatic behavior or incorporate it into your normal routine.

Below are 3 steps to help you do just that:

Make time for it.

Carve out specific time in your daily, weekly or monthly routine to explore your creative interest. Include it on your to-do list or add it to your checklist. Better yet, schedule it on your calendar.

Treat your creative time as sacred, even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day. Indulge in the activity consistently and frequently. Having a structure or framework frees up the creative process, instead of stifles it.

Make space for it. 

Set aside a physical space for your creative effort, which can range from a laptop or sketchbook to a corner in a room to a workshop or studio.

Also create the mental space (ideal mindset) that allows you to  let go of perfectionism, experiment freely, and stretch your comfort zone without fear of failure. Stay relaxed to make way for creative breakthroughs. Improvise more; practice less.

Make a habit loop for it.

In The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg notes that there is a neurological loop at the core of every habit. The loop consists of three parts: a cure or trigger, a routine, and a reward.

The cue or trigger includes the time of day, your emotional state, your location, the people around you, and the immediately preceding action. The routine involves the behavior itself.  The reward is the intrinsic feeling and external treat you get from the behavior, which your brain remembers and likes. You repeat the behavior because you want to receive the reward again.

Duhigg states that 40% to 45% of what we do each day are actually habits, not real decisions. Deliberate choices become habits when we stop thinking about it and keep doing it, often every day.

Develop and follow a plan to make your creative endeavor into a habit. That way, you won’t have to decide to do it, which takes discipline and willpower. You’ll just do it as if it were second nature or part of your regular routine (like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, or checking your email).

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Photo by: Sally

Make a favorites list for inspiration and comfort

Our little bundle of joy is now two weeks old. On July 30 at 12:34 a.m., my husband Michael and I welcomed our daughter Eleanor into the world. Eleanor - August 2, 2013

Caring for a newborn 24/7, in a sleep-deprived state, is physically demanding and mentally challenging.

It requires much endurance and energy. It makes you slow down and pay attention.

On most days, Eleanor’s cherubic, expressive face and tiny fingers and toes are all I need to see to get going.

And I keep a favorites list for when I desire an extra boost of inspiration and source of comfort.

Here is the list (in no specific order):

1. Claymation music video featuring Nina Simone’s My baby just cares for me

2. Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems, Volume 1 (“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” - The Summer Day)

3. Classic Vanilla Cheesecake at Cafe Latte in St. Paul, Minnesota

4. Yoga breakdancing to Awolnation’s Sail

5. Danielle LaPorte’s The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms

6. TV sitcom Parks and Recreation, with Amy Poehler, Rob Lowe & Adam Scott

7. Watermelon in the summer (on warm/hot days) 

8.Chocolate covered strawberries in the winter (on cool/cold days) 

9. Nina Simone singing Ain’t got no….I got Life at the Harlem Cultural Festival, 1969

10. 2001 French movie, Amelie, starring Audrey Tautou & Matthieu Kassovit; Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

11. Quote by Rumi: “You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?”

12. Three Little Birds from the Bob Marley kids album, B is for Bob – original Bob Marley songs re-imagined for fans of “all ages”

13. Trees. For their natural beauty and multiple health benefits.

14. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You. A movie about  a vulnerable, young protagonist with a deep appreciation for the world and no idea how to live in it; based on novel by Peter Cameron.

15. PB&J sandwich. Hits the spot. 

16. Amazon Kindle. A must-have for book lovers with limited shelf space. 

17. Taking a nature walkSpringbrook Nature

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Make your own favorites list for when you desire an extra boost of inspiration and source of comfort. It can help you get going on the things that matter to you.

 

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Mindfulness: a doable alternative for when you can’t think positive

zen stones

Life is full of paradox. And we are living, breathing paradoxes.

We hold opposing viewpoints, conflicting values, and competing commitments. We have a kind heart and a selfish streak. We soar and we falter.

In the midst of life’s ups and downs, self-help gurus, positive psychologists, motivational speakers, and well-meaning friends remind us to think positive:

Reframe the situation. Debunk your limiting beliefs. Transform your negative self-image. Look on the bright side. Make lemonade out of lemons.

Positivity certainly has its place and its benefits. But it’s not the only path to caring for your well-being, gaining contentment, seeing possibilities, facing your fears, acquiring skills, and achieving success.

What’s more, it is hard to change your negativity into positive thoughts when you feel like crap and you’re not equipped to dig yourself out of the hole. Pep talks and affirmations can only take you so far.

What’s the doable alternative? 

“Every moment is unique, unknown, completely fresh.” – Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You

Instead of trying to change the thoughts that bring you discomfort, embrace them as they are. Welcome them as your teacher, guide, and even your friend.

Develop your capacity to live with paradox. This starts with mindfulness: moment-to-moment awareness of what is before you, with open curiosity and no agenda.

Mindfulness is a skill you can cultivate through yoga, meditation, gardening, walking, or any other experience that allows you to be present in the moment, without judgment. It is also a way of being that is always available to you.

With mindfulness, you’re not working to transform your negative thoughts into positive outlooks. Rather, you’re simply observing the bare facts and raw reality. You drop the labels and loosen your grip on the story line underlying your thoughts.

From a place of centered awareness, you make conscious choices that are grounded in reality. It’s not that you won’t feel pain, make mistakes, or get angry. But you’ll be better able to open up to situations as they unfold, let go more easily, make peace with the past, and apply the lessons you learn to the present and in the future.

By practicing mindfulness and by being mindful, you can begin to change your relationship with undesired thoughts and accompanying feelings. You learn to tap into the infinite, non-evaluative, inner witness that can sit with any experience.  As such, the need to think positive before you take appropriate action becomes less desperate.

Why is mindful thinking more doable than positive thinking? 

“With mindful awareness, challenging situations become more manageable, not because anything changes about them or even because how you think and feel about them has changed. Instead, they become more manageable because you learn a new way of approaching your experiences — your thoughts, your feelings, your bodily sensations — allowing them to be just as they are and greeting them with friendliness, gentleness, and compassion.” – Dr. Catherine Vieten, Mindful Motherhood

As I continue my journey to becoming a first-time mother, I find mindfulness especially valuable. My grand excitement, pure joy, and massive strength co-exist with my sheer terror, intense uncertainty and strong self-doubt. There’s so much paradox to process.

We all want to think positive and feel good about life-transforming events. But when there are multiple variables and limitless unknowns, positive thinking and feeling good can be out of reach.

Feigning positivity when you’re downright anxious or outright ambivalent creates inner tension. Mindful thinking, on the other hand, allows you to stay in integrity and find calmness on your own terms, at your individual pace, in due course.

With mindfulness, you give your fears and conflicting beliefs the attention and respect they deserve. You don’t have to cover them up with a smile or wish them away with idealistic thoughts. You zero in on where you have the most power and influence.

You recognize when you lose your patience, do the unthinkable, and say harsh things. You forgive yourself more quickly so you can make amends more peacefully. You stop complaining and whining. You come to terms with your situation or you do something to change it.

By facing circumstances precisely as they are, without any self-deceit, you develop your adaptability, decide what you want to stand for, and show up as a pillar of strength, despite the paradoxes.

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Photo by: Jack Kennard

Create for its own sake (even when it won’t bring you fame, fortune or fans), part 1

knitWhen time is tight and you need to make a living, it’s normal to have your unpaid pursuits take a backseat to paid work. Creating for yourself and for your pure enjoyment seems like a luxury you can’t afford.

But as Todd Henry, author of The Accidental Creative, points out, “unnecessary creating” often reignites passion and fuels insights for your day job. For this and other reasons, it’s essential to do non-essential creative activities.

Whether you write poetry, draw, paint, sculpt, bake a pie, design jewelry, make home videos, build a shed or play a musical instrument, the act of creating for its own sake – without the need to meet deadlines, answer to others, or live up to external standards  –brings tremendous benefits.

Below are some:

You get to stretch your limits and take risks with few or no consequences.

If your creation sucks, nothing gets harmed and no one gets hurt (besides your ego and you, perhaps). You’re not getting paid for it. There are no set objectives, deadlines, customer demands, or product specifications to meet.

When you create just for yourself, it’s easier to let go of outcomes and forget results. You are less worrisome about failure and more open to the learning process.

I find that playing piano allows me to challenge myself in a risk-free, low-pressure way. Although I might keep a personal agenda for my progress and make certain agreements with my piano teacher, there are no pressing goals or timelines to meet.

Because it’s just for my entertainment, I don’t have to prepare for a recital to prove my chops. Only three persons have heard me play: my piano teacher (because we meet for weekly lessons), my husband (because he lives with me), and my sister (because she’s currently our houseguest).

I spent as much as three to six months learning pieces like Bach’s Prelude in C Major from the Well-Tempered Clavier; Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1 and Trois Gnossienne No. 1; Yann Tiersen’s Comp D’un Autre Ete , and Dustin O’Halloran’s Opus 23. Although relatively simple, they are quite a stretch from when I began taking lessons four years ago.

You experience flow when you engage fully with an activity that you enjoy.

Author and psychologist Mikhail Csikszentmihalyi, who did extensive research on happiness and creativity, notes that you feel most fulfilled when you are in a flow state – complete absorption with or full immersion in what you’re doing.

Play is as valuable to adults as it is to kids. When you pursue a creative or artistic hobby for fun, you lose track of time, find your groove and get into the zone. This can profoundly deepen your presence and transform your experience of life.

You develop innate talent, cultivate skills, and exercise parts of your brain that largely go untapped in your paid work.

Instead of being the expert who is steeped in practicality, you get to be the beginner with the fresh outlook. Honing a curious mindset in side projects ultimately feeds into your paid work as expanded creativity, strengthened focus, and brilliant inventiveness.

You have an outlet to ease boredom and avoid burnout in your day job.

No matter what field you’re in – whether you’re an artist, copywriter, accountant or engineer – the demands of paid work can stifle your creativity.

You might feel constrained, frustrated and limited because you need to consider what clients want, what attracts customers, and what the market demands.  You make a certain product that meets a certain standard in a certain time frame for a certain consumer.

During my years of law practice, I’ve found that lawyers fall into three basic groups in terms of how satisfied they are with their profession. Some really dig it. (They live it. Breathe it. Consume it.) Some are utterly bored by it or overwhelmed by it (or both). And some love parts and hate other parts.

I happen to fall into the last group.  I fully engage with the parts I love and use creative pursuits to help deal with the parts I hate.

Having an outlet to create for yourself takes the edge off, feeds your soul, and re-energizes you for challenges at work. It gives you opportunity to experiment with ideas, explore different possibilities, and invent new stuff on your own terms.

Your creative pursuit could turn into a flexible source of livelihood, a sellable product or service, or a viable business that aligns with your passion.

While earning fame, fortune and fans are not the ultimate goal or the real reason you do it, this could be the net result.

A year ago, I started a blog with the tagline “Empowering Insights for Life, Work and Business” simply to explore these topics and my love of writing. I didn’t know who exactly would read it and how many readers it would attract. Over time, the blog became a way to build my coaching business. So now blogging is not something I do just for fun.

Writing for an audience isn’t a bad thing. It helped hone my blogging skills to the point where I got a post featured on Lifehacker.com and became a contributing writer/expert for Lifehack.com. These are top productivity blogs that attract millions of unique visitors each month.

But writing for an audience (whether I’m paid or not) adds pressure to post more often and to produce more engaging content. So what starts out as unnecessary can become what Todd Henry calls “on-demand creative work.”

To relieve any pressure I might feel about blogging, I play piano and indulge in other purely creative pursuits that have no set timelines or external standards to meet.

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Now that you know the potential benefits, create or continue to create for yourself, on your own terms.  Make something for your own enjoyment (something you love or would love doing even if you could never earn any recognition, money or praise from it).

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Photo by: Sally, Queenie & the Dew