Business | April 13th, 2017
My Crazy Creative Cycles (and 5 lessons that keep me moving)
Hey there. I’m taking you through one version of a crazy creatives cycle (me) from concept to making it real! Though there are many examples and versions to describe this rollercoaster of creativity to production I wrote it so you don’t feel as alone on your ride there and hopefully you’ll find a gem or two that will anchor you along this often dizzying journey.
Cycle #1: Heavy Learning & Development Mode.
We’re talking: webinars, seminars, reading blogs, books, articles, google keyword binge + wine kinda nights, or in bed at 5pm with a stack of books and tea kinda evening. Knowledge acquisition, inquisition, input, input, input. I tend to gain 10lbs and never leave my house.
Mantra at this stage: Input then output!
Potential Pitfall: Isolation. Too much thinking, overanalyzing, and not balancing learning with enough doing.
Cycle #2: Create and Generate Mode.
Let’s have something to show for given all that knowledge acquisition, darling! This is where the contemplation phase starts to create friction with the creation phase. Here I start to implement that rule that says for every input we gotta net some output. Learn then teach. It’s the creative, transform, and make-it-real phase I must move into. Decide and DO – just go for it! Still a very tender experimentation phase where I may re-check social media more often than necessary just to feel that momentary fix of validation. Then I remember imperfect action is better than none. If I don’t move into action then I dwell, fixate and feel a tidal wave of depressive inertia and stagnant energy that keeps me in mental prison.
Mantra at this stage: Do something instead of nothing (literally any production is better than no production and all pondering).
Potential Pitfall: If we suppress our creativity and hold back out of fear long enough we usually end up feeling anxious, insecure, and isolated. It can be hard to push through this stage because you want it all shiny and perfect, so I try to remind myself that only through this phase lies a very glorious road ahead. Move through the muck. Go girl go!
Cycle#3: Head Down and Do Mode.
OK, so now we have some momentum. We can see those seeds sprouting into little buds. It’s becoming a real living thing. Phew!
Here’s where I’m heads down and doing it. I’m finally out of major decision anxiety and we are in action 70% of the time, showing up to what seems to be working. It’s when we’re working the thing that was a mere concept at one point (i.e. whatever that is for you: working with clients, sending out our weekly newsletter, sharing on social every day!). I still get the mind chatter, questions pop up about my life, what I am creating, how is going to look, how it feels – and then I remember to put my head back down and take the next step. Follow the process, the process has been working! It’s about showing up. Again. And again. And again. At one point you may actually feel like you have a sweet little system working for yah.
Mantra at this stage: In the beginning, it’s not about PERFORMANCE, it’s about the HABIT of showing up (shoutout to MR on that life lesson! Give yourself 30-66 days before you judge, monitor and evaluate performance).
Potential Pitfall: Less time for strategic thinking more time for execution. Just make sure every now and again you are sure that this work is feeding the long-term goal (this is HARD to satisfy short-term needs and long-term goals. Get an advisor to give their input here).
Cycle#4: Energy, Efficiency, Evaluation Mode.
We’ve been DO-ing for a while so now we can get more nuanced with the BE-ing way of DO-ing. So fancy, I know. We can start to cultivate a new level of awareness about what’s working, what’s not working and start to choose to work more optimally. Your focus is on “the-how” you are delivering the service. An upgrade on all levels, both personally and professionally. You can get a bit more preferential. This is the place where it feels like a “ok, I got this for the most part” so now I can start to tweak, refine and course correct (i.e. raise my rates, make my schedule more accommodating for yoga class, take that trip/workshop and get away a bit, hire that person for support, write out a plan and have a trusted business advisor help me evaluate).
Mantra at this stage: What’s working well? How do I focus more on that.
Potential Pitfall: You went from concept to creation, and your business/product/program is real! Wahoo! Here’s where the “fall from grace” can happen. The GROWTH and SUCCESS stressors start to emerge. More things begin to work, more things begin to stack up for you and if you don’t have the support in place you can be doing too much and heading towards burn out.
Now we’re back to the first phase of the cycle where learning to get support becomes the thing you need to learn and develop and experiment with until you setup some systems, processes and operations.
This is one version of my personal cycles in business and personal growth. There’s no one perfect way to manage it, but the key is to be able to see the phase you’re in and anticipate how it may play out so you can keep your head on straight and keep going. Many creative cycles have been plagued by judgement, confusion, and chronic scrutiny and could be avoided if I could step outside it a bit.
I have more clarity and experience, but now I also leverage a ton of support and guidance to help me benchmark my progress so I stay on course.
So what have I learned in this messy mix?
5 LESSONS FROM MY CREATIVE CYCLES:
1. We go through creative cycles (everyone’s are different). Know the “season” you are in so you can anticipate and manage it more consciously and set expectations accordingly (I fail at this almost every round!).
2. Start to show up to the habit of putting time/space on your calendar to work towards the thing you want to create most and don’t judge performance until 30-60 days out. Your only work is to show up to it consistently then let it go (this is great advice if you are undergoing a job search – another blog on that coming soon – write a comment if that’s you!).
3. Creating something from nothing is actually hard and if it’s a personal brand, it’s even harder. Seek advice from people who’ve done it or council from people who have actualized the thing you want (if they haven’t created and put something out there from a soul-to-society-buying-it type deal then I would listen respectfully and proceed with caution).
4. Making things great is really a stacking process. Create. Do it again and again and again and if you do it long enough you might end up pretty awesome at it. Learn. Create. Share. Refine. Repeat. If you didn’t like the last version, there’s another one around the bend. Just don’t stop unless you are really ready to let it go.
5. Life is a series of cycles. Don’t rush the process so much because once you reach the summit there will be another mountain to climb.
“We feel alive when we dance in the edge of failure.” – Seth Godin
Fail fast and keep creating! – JG