Many of us in the alternative/creative/helping professions find ourselves constantly bumping up against some old myths:
“You can’t make a living doing what you love.”
“If you’re an artist/helper you have to take a vow of poverty.”
I’ve believed these myths myself for a long time. But that’s starting to change.
For many of us, our creativity is something we cherish, that’s precious to us. And “work” or our “job” is something we have to do in order to get to pursue our creative endeavors. This bargain works for a lot of people. However, for those of us who take the risk to birth our creative endeavors into the world as entrepreneurs, the challenge to make what we LOVE into our WORK can be paralyzing.
To bridge the gap between Work and Creativity, we must be willing to let our creativity come out and play more. Invite your creativity to sit down at the computer with you when you’re working on your business – whether it’s working on marketing materials or business taxes! When you sit down to do “work”, ask yourself: “What’s my motivation? What is the goal of this business task?” It’s likely, if you follow your own line of thinking long enough, that you will come to an answer that brings you back to your creativity, your joy, your raison d’etre. “I’m doing this to attract clients, because I love coaching clients!” or “I’m working on this spreadsheet to understand how many pieces of jewelry I need to make in order to earn a living, so that I can MAKE MORE jewelry – cause that’s what I LOVE to do!”
Inviting our creativity into our business can also show us new ways of tackling things we love to hate. For example, I get anxious when I look at my “To Do” list. Sometimes, I can get so paralyzed by how much is on the list that I end up doing nothing. So recently I came up with a new way of making a To Do list that doesn’t paralyze me. I call it my “Menu of Choices”. I actually took a template for a restaurant menu and simply replaced the categories of “Appetizers, Entrees and Desserts” with things like “Reading & Research”, “Creativity Corner” and “Fun Stuff”. In each category I have a few things listed – some of which I am obliged to do, some of which I simply like to do. When I look at the Menu, I see a variety of things to choose from, rather than a long list of tasks looming in front of me.
The key to keeping our creativity and joy present in our business lies in how we are placing our attention to our intentions. We set intentions all of the time – but we must remember that to set an intention is not like making a New Year’s resolution. If we “fall off the wagon” of our intentions, rather than focusing our attention on what we did “wrong” or berating ourselves, we must cultivate the self-discipline to bring our focus back to the original intention. We can even creatively modify or change our intentions, to meet the needs of the moment.
When setting an intention for ourselves, it’s important to keep it in the present. Rather than saying, “I intend to start practicing Yoga every day,” say “I practice Yoga every day.” The former is easy to put off doing…the latter is more present and more powerful.
One attendee at a recent workshop I held was struggling with what happens when she “falls off the wagon” of her intention. “What if I don’t follow my intention?” she asked. I said, “Then you forgive yourself for falling off the wagon, and start up again.” In response to this, she set a new intention:
“I build a wagon.”
Which was a very creative answer. We can each build the wagons of our creative intentions and hitch them up to our business intentions, in order to break the stranglehold of those negative myths of success in creative entrepreneurship.
Our capacity to achieve our goals and manifest our intentions lies not solely in our skill with a paintbrush, a pen or our training in a specific practice. Our capacity to achieve lies within our hearts.