I recently invited a portion our Braid newsletter list to “ask me anything.” Over the next few weeks I’m going to share some of those questions and my answers. If you’re not subscribed to our list feel free to sign up here:
Question from Karen:
I know what my dream job is, but still feel like I have to have a salaried job before getting to the dream job; I'm the family's sole breadwinner. So how do I find momentum to promote my current work to get a salaried job when my enthusiasm is not super high?
I eventually want to market my watercolors of public paths (note cards and calendars with mini-path network hikes on the back) and eventually add to that teaching plein air painting along the paths. But right now I have to focus on gathering samples, creating a portfolio and website, and start marketing myself for the next salaried day job. How do I stay focused and keep the prize in sight to stay motivated?
Thanks for sharing all of this. In reading your email, it sounds like you know what you need to do. But I have three insights that might help you find the motivation you’re looking for.
TAKE THE SMALLEST NEXT STEP
When I’m not feeling motivated to write or design, my solution to this is always to "just open the file." Or it might be "just lace up your shoes" when I don't feel like exercising.
In other words, just do the first and smallest next step. That's all you need to do. In fact, the prize doesn’t even need to necessarily be in sight to be working for it. It might be well around the bend, but you can still take the next steps to get where you want to go. Don't worry about thinking about the big picture in your day-to-day – that's enough to paralyze anybody from doing anything at all.
The next smallest step for you, Karen, might be deciding which pieces to put in your portfolio. And for today, that’s all you need to do. Tomorrow you can apply for the jobs. The day after that you can start the framework for your website. Task it out and check off the to-do list. You don’t need inspired-action to take small steps.
CREATE THE FEELING NOW
Anytime I am feeling impatient for my next big dream, I try to create the feeling of achieving the goal now.
For example, my big, scary, and improbable goal right now is to have my own bestselling book published and on the shelves in airports. Even typing that out now gets my inner critic going off on a tangent with things so harsh I won’t even share them here. But instead of giving in before I even get started, I give myself a minute to think about what I’ll feel like when I have my bestselling book in the airport: I’ll feel confident, knowledgeable, and legit. That feeling will make my conversations more generous, my time more valuable, and my posture a little taller. So why not have generous conversations, strong boundaries, and good posture now? When I feel the feelings of success before I ever achieve it, it makes me move through the world with confidence. That confidence then cultivates the motivation and behaviors that deliver the success I’m wanting with that much more ease and speed.
So for you Karen, imagine how you will feel when you’re supporting yourself with your watercolors and workshops. How will you move through the world once you’ve achieved this goal? How could you begin behaving as if success is already yours?
The answers to these questions might circle you back to taking the next smallest step to making the dream job a reality now. Maybe you find yourself having conversations with potential collaborators who will help you host a teaching workshop on the weekend. Perhaps you carve out just 30 minutes a day to begin painting now.
KEEP THE PRIZE IN SIGHT (LITERALLY)
My final recommendation to your question of “how to keep the prize in sight” is to literally create space for the vision. Mood boarding by cutting out inspiring images from magazines and tacking them to a corkboard in your home is an old school way of doing this. Your brain will acknowledge these goals on a daily basis and work toward them for you, even when you’re not feeling motivated or inspired to do the work yourself. And if you haven’t done The Chalkboard Method yet, this might be a great way to create space for your goals as well.
Finally, I want you to trust that you’re doing everything you can, in the right time, to make your creative career a dream come true.