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#05 Gentle Reminders
We are currently deep in the process of moving to a new city, a new apartment and our son just turned one. In the meantime, jobs are in progress and it got me thinking about how to keep up with passion projects, side darlings like this newsletter and everything personal that gives you the warm feeling of actually learning something new and make progress with a project that you truly love.
Literature on becoming a better creative has one common solution to get things done: routine. But how to get into routine in the first place if your life looks a lot more like doing taxes on Monday, taking care of the kid the whole day on Tuesday and Wednesday, the job on Thursday that got canceled last week and postponed, retouching on Friday and the weekend completely booked too? The answer is, there ain’t any space and time for a routine, and that’s fine.
For me, inspiration comes in bursts. It’s a sine wave of ups and downs, sometimes swallowed by everyday life, but after a few years my experience tells me that it comes back to me on a regular basis.
One thing I learned recently, while trying and failing to get into meditation, was the following: If your mind wanders and circles around random topics, gently push back your thoughts to your breath. Making yourself aware that you are distracted without judging yourself. Meditation wasn’t for me, for various unrelated reasons, yet the key principle of gently pushing back your focus to your breath stuck with me.
I like the idea that, if my mind wanders or is occupied by other daily matters, I gently push my focus back to personal projects and not being judgemental when things turn out differently on some days. And all of this without sacrificing family, social life and routine work that pays the bills.
I’m getting better at finding pockets in the day where I’m able to remind myself of the gentle push. It has no routine other than I want to make it work, be it in the morning or late at night. It doesn’t matter.
For me, it takes small, incremental steps in my days to get back into the upwards movement of my creative practice. Booking a studio on a set date, chat with people that you always wanted to work with, taking notes, sketching ideas and finally executing these ideas relentlessly. Sometimes even if they don’t feel finished, but the process feels right. Taking small steps helps me to get out of a rut and back to the thoughts of why I started a project in the first place (like this newsletter). And it suddenly feels like a whole lot of different journey now, not trying to push myself to limits that i don’t want to cross, but rather taking the right steps forward and listening closely to the ever changing demands of each new day.
I really enjoyed the books of Oliver Burkeman, and I’m always looking forward to receive the next issue of his newsletter The Imperfectionist in my mailbox.
Here’s a quote that resonated with me:
But I think it's more frequently useful to think of decisions as things to go looking for. To operate, in other words, on the assumption that somewhere – in the confusing morass of your work or your life or whatever problems you're currently facing – lurks at least one decision that you could make, right now, to get unstuck and get moving.
Make sure to read his thought-provoking books The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking and Four Thousand Weeks if you want to dive deeper.
Until next time!