As a creative, you likely dream about doing great things and creating wonderful art.
However, we all know dreams aren’t realized unless we wake up and start working.
Anytime you have a new creative idea, project, or movement, the most important step is to start the process of making it happen. Unfortunately, starting is often the hardest part. Millions of people simply keep their dreams and goals on the shelf of “one day.” Even when we get serious about our biggest goals, we’re faced with opposing forces. This force, one that author Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art calls the “resistance”, rears its ugly head in the form of obstacles, unforeseen circumstances, and other factors that make it difficult to see the way forward.
Here’s a couple of ways that creatives allow the force of resistance to keep them from investing time and finance into their goals.
Submitting to the Tyranny of the Urgent
When you set up a goal, other competing interests always raise their heads, trying to influence your decisions and getting you to think of the immediate, rather than things that will actually improve our futures. Charles Hummel, productivity writer, termed this effect “the tyranny of the urgent.” If you never prioritize tomorrow’s goals, distractions, alarms and issues will set your schedule for you. You’ll find that making excuses gets easier, and making progress towards your creative goal will become harder. It is as if you are attempting to build a road to your destination with bricks, but each time you choose to focus on the immediate rather than the important, you take a brick out of the road and add it to a wall in the middle of the road. By focusing on the matters that don’t impact our futures, we are limiting our own progress.
Aiming for the Perfect Timing
Creatives and artists often look for a special situation, feeling, or inspiring event to motivate them to press forward. We make claims like “When it’s time, I’ll know.” However, that special moment of movitation rarely, if every, happens the way we think it will. Instead of pressing forward with our ideas, we get stuck in a cycle of waiting for the right time, evaluating the time, and then deciding to wait til another time. The end result is that our creative goals are never accomplished because we waited for external conditions to change, rather than making and keeping our internal commitment to make moves and create action.
If we are to overcome the tyranny of the urgent, and if we are to ignore the desire to find the perfect time, we have to make a new determination. We have to decide to invest in our goals and set our intentions whether or not conditions are ideal.
It’s like planting a crop when there’s a threat of a storm in the forecast. Common wisdom might claim that it’s smarter to hang on to your seeds.
But as we saw in the examples above, when we are too concerned about external circumstances rather than our internal commitment, we tend to procrastinate and avoid the decision all together. Waiting for ideal conditions is a sure way to doom your dreams. Instead, you have to decide to plant your seeds in the shadow of potential storms.
If struggles, problems or the seeming urgent things of life take you off your path to moving forward, you must stop, reassess your real dreams, and commit once again to sowing and planting the seeds of success when it’s least convenient. Only then can you be sure you’re on the right track for a major breakthrough. In fact, the storm you’re facing could be what author and speaker Andy Andrews calls a “storm of perfection.” The very thing that is trying to limit you may be the thing that propels you forward to your ultimate goal, but only if you decide to move forward no matter what.
Practical ways to invest when it’s inconvenient
- Invest regularly into your art or project. Don’t wait til you have extra time or a financial bonus.
- When you notice a potential obstacle on the horizon, recommit to your goals. Establish from the get-go that you will not allow circumstances to limit your progress. Write down the goal, the new obstacles, and your revised plan to reach your goal.
- Look at low times as an opportunity to improve your discipline. Just as an athlete increases resistance purposefully in order to improve her strength and stamina, an artist can use tough times as a creative asset. If you are able to continue progressing in your efforts when conditions aren’t favorable, just imagine how effective and energized you’ll be when those obstacles are no longer there.
It may seem like investing in yourself and your art must take a backseat to life at times, but you should never let your present be in charge of your future. You can plant the seeds of success today, whether or not a storm is on the horizon.
Your dreams will thank you.