Remember when you were a child at the dinner table?
If you had a mother, grandmother or aunt who was old-school, you likely heard these words when you were trying to avoid eating your vegetables – “Finish what’s on your plate.”
In their eyes, not eating your entire meal meant you weren’t getting all the nutrition you needed. It was their way of ensuring we would continue to be healthy and happy.
Fast forward into our adult lives, and someone who’s busy will often say, “There’s a lot on my plate.”
That’s probably true about you. Ideas, projects, family and work responsibilities, marketing and branding yourself, planning for the future – it feels like there’s no way you can finish it all. Your plate is full and your first impulse to push it away and run from the table.
But some items on your plate must be finished no matter what – the vegetables of the creative life, you might call them. Dedicating time to connect with God daily. Being a good spouse, family member and friend. Doing your best creative work.
Here’s the catch – when we were small, our parents and guardians fixed our plates for us. Now, we determine what’s on the menu.
If you’ve put a lot of junk food on your lifestyle plate – things that aren’t important, necessary, or beneficial to your life – you’re going to have trouble keeping pace when your life demands mental fitness. Those that depend on you to be at your best need you to finish the vegetables.
Here are three food groups, if you will, that must be part of your creative lifestyle diet.
- Spiritual nourishment – There is no way a creative artist can produce great work without first feeding the soul. What you produce isn’t just a function of your head, it’s an outpouring of your heart. You must allow time for a divine connection if you want to produce work that will move hearts and minds. For the faith-focused artist, that means prayer and study of scripture is a top priority. Otherwise, both your daily life and your creative life will run on empty, and you’ll sense that emptiness when you need a creative boost.
- Healthy relationships – Despite what we hear about the loneliness of being an artist, it’s simply better for our mental and creative health when we don’t feel alone. Having authentic connections with our loved ones, our creative circles, and good friends produces a confidence that is evident in our work. It sometimes means, however, that an artist must step out of that single-minded place of creative focus in order to make sure that these connections are being renewed and refreshed consistently.
- Creative inspiration – many times we allow the busyness of the creative life to pull us away from what truly invigorates and inspires us. But no artist can draw inspiration from an empty well. To keep your plate balanced, you must find sources that awaken your passion and drive for creativity outside of your normal work. Attending concerts, visiting museums, spending time in nature, and other renewing activities aren’t a luxury for the artist – they are an essential part of your creative diet.
When you make sure you finish the important things on your plate, you not only find that your life improves, you will also find that your creative drive increases. The fuel of a dynamic artistic life isn’t comparison or competition, it’s contentment and consistency. A life that is full of meaning and purposeful action will also be full of ideas. In contrast, a life that is full of non-essentials will eventually pull you away from your best creative work.
Take a look at your lifestyle diet. This isn’t about what you put in your mouth. It’s about what you put in your mind.
Make sure that you are providing yourself a large portion of spiritual nourishment, a helping of strong and healthy relationships, and a side dish of creative inspiration.
That’s a meal worth finishing.
Question: Do you feel your creative life is being nourished properly? If so, how do you maintain it? Share your thoughts! You can leave a comment by clicking here.