Beginning Your Creative Journey

Spring is a wonderful time for renewal and new beginnings. Why not start the creative journey you’ve been dreaming about? Or refresh things on your current adventure?

Here’s a list of things you’ll need to pack for the trip:

  • A positive attitude
  • Passion
  • Your spirit of adventure
  • A rough idea of the plan to reach your goals

What to leave behind:

  • Self-doubt
  • Other peoples’ negative judgements
  • Your inner critic
  • Immovable Expectations (Sometimes you want to allow things to unfold)

Above all else, enjoy the journey!

Words of Encouragement from A Creative in the Trenches

Nikki Zalewski – Stock.Adobe.Com

TAG LINE: If I can do it, so can you!

They told me girls aren’t good at math:

I became a computer programmer

They said I couldn’t pass my project management certification, because I didn’t have enough experience:

I’ve been a PMP since 2004 and am now a successful program manager

The naysayers pontificated my dream of being an author was impossible. I’d never get through those impassible publishing gates:

My fifth novel comes out this summer (www.crrichards.com to check out my work)

ivector – Stock.Adobe.Com

Am I super brilliant? Blessed by a fairy godmother? Have an “in” with publishers? I wish.

My Secret: I stay focused on my goal, work hard and maintain a super stubborn faith in my dream.

Don’t let the naysayers talk you out of achievement. I’m living proof they’re wrong. What are you waiting for? Go out and conquer!

 

Jumping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Nikki Zalewski – Stock.Adobe.Com

Creating your dream takes a leap of faith. It also takes courage.

DO – Act upon your wishes and dreams

DON’T – Sit on the sidelines

DO – Face your fears. What do you have to do to make the next step less scary?

DON’T – Allow fear to freeze you into inaction

DO – Have faith in yourself and your dream

DON’T – Allow doubt to defeat you

Jusakas – Stock.Adobe.Com

Are You Ready to Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get Busy?

I started this blog post about five times with five different calls to action. “Stay Strong and Do Your Art!”, “Fear Limits Your Ability to Function”, “Are You Being Manipulated? Social Media Communities Are Try to Sell You Something by Using Your Fear or Anger or Empathy.”

Then I dialed into my first meeting on my first day back from vacation. My team, just like anyone else, is facing uncertainty. How will the new Administration impact our jobs? What does it mean for the individual as well as the team?

I can’t answer these questions. What I can do and what I must do as a leader is to keep us focused on the job at hand. I don’t know what waits ahead for us. All I know is what we’ve committed to do now, today. That is what we’re going to focus on. And we’re going to perform at our best.

What about you? Will you swim in your fear and anger? Or are you going to roll up your sleeves and get busy making the world a better place with your art, million-dollar idea or avocation?

Still feeling a bit mired in the muck? I hear ya. Been there. Put your imagination hat on. You are now Mysterio the Great and you’ve just had a vision:

Six months in the future all hell breaks loose. You lose your job, benefits, bank account and your freedom to use the internet. What are the top three things you would do anything to preserve?

Don’t think about it. These should pop into your head immediately. I’ll share mine:

Number 1 – Protect my little family

Number 2 – Pursue my life’s work – my writing

Number 3 – Preserve the Colorado Wilderness, national and state parks that I spend so much time enjoying

Trying to protect or change the entire world can be overwhelming (unless you really are Mysterio the Great). Focus on what’s important to you. Dedicate positive energy and your time to making those things happen. It will help your little corner of the planet and keep you sane.

 

Are You Ready to Get Started?

planning-your-dreams

It’s almost the time of year when we sit back on the couch and reflect on the past year’s doings. Did you tick mark all the goals you wanted to accomplish in 2016? No. Don’t worry about it. You’re in good company.

The past is best left in the past. Let’s take another look at your unfinished goals list. Are they all boring home projects or do you have something special among the list? A childhood dream perhaps? Or a chance at a new career?

Pick the one you’re most passionate about. Can’t decide on just one? Here’s a check list to help:

  • Does your heart beat a little faster when you think about it?
  • Are you anxious to wake up and get started on the goal?
  • Is this something you can see yourself doing for at least a year?

If you answered “Yes” to one or more of these questions, then Bingo! You have a winner. Hold on now. Don’t just dive in. Take a breath. If you want this endeavor to be successful, then you should do a little planning first.

Planning 101 – Step 1: Determine What Success Looks Like

You’ve got a goal in mind. Now put on your visualization hat and let your mind wander. Imagine what the goal looks like when you’re done. What must your goal (object, process or career) look, feel, sound like? Are you happy with what you’ve decided?

Write down the criteria you’ve imagined and pin it up on the wall or get high-tech and put it on your mobile device. Keep the criteria in mind as you make decisions along the path to achieving your goal.

What Can You Learn from Your Last Creative Project?

Learning from our past successes and/or mistakes is critical for growth. Doing more of “what we did right” and less of “what we did wrong” makes a difference in our road to success.

In the project management world, the team holds a “Lessons Learned” session. We talk through the positives and the negatives. Each item is documented for future projects. The negative items are further explored to find ways to mitigate these flaming wrecks before they happen.

Here are a few ways you can do your own “Lessons Learned” for your creative projects:

Be as objective as you can: Pour a glass of wine or grab a handful of chocolate. Your intent in doing the lessons learned is to be better next time

Gather the folks you worked with on the project. Be respectful of their time (especially if you worked with an independent editor. It might not be the best idea to contact a publisher’s editor. You don’t want to ruin your chances for next time.) and don’t push. If they can’t meet with you, then ask them if they’d be willing to express their views via email

Write every thought down (whether you agree with it or not). You can sort them later

Step away from the list and take time to mull things over. Try not to be down on yourself for the negatives. This is a learning tool.

Take action. Hold on tight to the positives and make a plan to correct the negatives.

Remember though – you may not be able to “fix” everything the next go around. It’s a journey.

What’s in it for me?

benefit-benefits-concept-little-d-man-standing-words-real-benefits-royaltyfree

You’ve been working long and hard on your project (Novel/Software Application/Workshop Pitch/Fill In the Blank). It’s colossal! It’s amazing! You’re ready to show it off to the world or at least your potential customers. The presentation goes well and you believe folks are on board. Then it happens. There’s always one “Neddy Negativity” in the crowd who tries to squash it.

What is Neddy’s motivation for dumping cold water on your idea? Is he hell-bent on squashing you to lift up his own kingdom? Sometimes. In my many years of experience, I’ve found that usually isn’t the case. Most folks are afraid of change. They don’t understand how your new idea is going to impact their world. Is it a good thing? Or is it just a waste of time that they really don’t have energy to bother with?

It doesn’t really matter what the Neddy Negativities of the world think (though sometimes Neddy has some really good points and should at least be heard). Don’t let them squash good ideas. Be ready to tell these difficult folks about the benefits you’re offering. In other words: What’s in it for them?

  • DO: Research your potential customer. What are their needs? Who are their customers?
  • DO: Be as specific as you can. How will your writing workshop benefit their conference attendees (and pull in more interested students)? How will your software application make their life easier and reduce costs and/or streamline processes?
  • DON’T: Give an exaggerated used car salesman pitch. Do not exaggerate what your product can do. “Truth Will Out!” If you and your product can’t live up to the promises you make, your credibility will be in question and so will your professional reputation.
  • DON’T: Be vague. There are professional bullshit blockers (like myself) out there whose job it is to protect the fiscal, technical infrastructure and employee well-being of their organizations. If you can’t tell us exactly what, when, why, how and how much…well, we’ll go to the next person who can. Think your presentations through from this point of view.

Final Thoughts – Before people are willing to invest time and resources into something, they want to understand what’s in it for them. It’s human nature. We’re pulled and prodded into so many directions, the last thing we want is yet another responsibility. How is what you’re trying to sell me of any benefit? How is it going to make my life easier? How is it going to benefit my customers? If you can answer those questions, then your chance for success dramatically increases.