If you’re like my clients, you’re a bit of a rebel. You don’t like being told what to do and you’re happiest when you’re doing your own thing.
This rebellion might feel good, powerful, even, but if you’ve turned this rebellion upon yourself, you may be sabotaging your creativity.
Are you self-sabotaging?
You say you’ll write for an hour on Saturday morning. Once your writing time rolls around, you ‘don’t feel like it’ so you do something else. You chafe against structure so you never end up finishing your articles, stories and book.
You set up studio time, and choose a specific focus for your work. But once in the studio, you pass hours not getting anything done. You assert your right to ‘flow’.
Often creative people internalize the obstinate stance. We become so accustomed to positioning ourselves against something that we struggle against ourselves.
We like being bad, even if it’s damaging our creative power.
What you really want
When we avoid structure, systems and discipline, we are seeking freedom – freedom to decide what we’re doing and when. Artists want that more than anything. The trouble is, that’s not the true freedom.
Setting up rules and restrictions, then rejecting them, often means we don’t complete our creative projects. This self-struggle turns to self-loathing, and we lose faith that we can ever be the creative superhero we desperately want to be.
True freedom is refusing this self-struggle. True freedom is about developing your own authority.
True freedom may yield these benefits:
- you enjoy your creative process
- you feel powerful from expressing your gifts, even if it’s difficult
- you know what works to get your meaningful projects done – in your way.
How to become your own authority
We’re often plagued by ‘shoulds’: I should write every day, all day. I should be in my studio first thing. I should, I should… Trouble is, we continue to rebel against external authority but fail to replace it with our own authority.
How to develop your own authority? Try these four steps to start:
- Get clear about your focus. Example: I want to be known as a writer and artist.
- Commit to a project. Example: I will finish my novel and publish it myself if need be.
- Make an honest assessment of your availability. Example: I can give 10 hours a week to this project until it’s done.
- Schedule your creative time. Adjust as necessary, going with what works for you, discarding what doesn’t. Don’t give up. Example: I devote Fridays through Mondays to work on my novel. Two hours each day will suffice; more if I can do it.
Train yourself to get things done not from self-dominance, but from clear engagement in your work.
Desire versus satisfaction – which rules you?
Experiment with this process for doing the right thing at the right time on a weekly basis.
Get clear on this week’s creative objectives. Don’t overload your expectations – choose a few meaningful items that you want to make progress on.
Ask yourself, “What progress will make me feel satisfied at the end of the week?”
Then, when you find yourself wondering what to do next, rather than tell yourself what you ‘should’ do, ask yourself what you ‘want’ to do.
In the moment, you may not ‘feel’ like you ‘want’ to work on your painting. But you go to the studio anyway, because you want the ultimate satisfaction that will come from completing your painting.
No need to bully yourself here – just make a clear distinction between ‘want’ and ‘satisfying’. Frankly, I rarely ‘want’ to write. But I love the satisfaction of getting my ideas onto the page, publishing them and seeing a positive, powerful impact on my readers.
I also know that once I am writing, within ten minutes the feeling of ‘not wanting to’ passes away and I’m engaged in the work. Once you’re in your material, your wisdom and your authority has the chance to assert itself.
From there, continue to build your own authority. Recognize your best working conditions and soon you’ll no longer need to bully yourself to get things done.
A sense of engaged peace becomes more compelling than internal drama and self-flagellation. This is what my clients experience, and they’re so much happier as their own authority. And it shows in their work.
But don’t take my word for it – develop your own authority and let me know how it goes.
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