Identifying THE Most Important Thing To Do

In the previous post, I asked the question: What is your most important creative work? And I suggested an activity—answering two questions—to help identify the most important thing you can do in your life. The questions were:

  1. If there is only one thing you can work on now, what would it be?
  2. If there is only one direction you can take your work in for the next three years, what would it be?

If you’re like most people, you feel challenged to identify one project to focus on for three years. Lots of things feel important. Lots of things will also go unrealized—never amounting to more than a day dream, because it’s hard to imagine the logistics of accomplishing the goal/project, or imagine how one more THING(s) could be squeezed into a life that’s already full to the brim and can’t hold one even more thing.

After some thought about what I would have to give up to work on just one project, I realized more than decided that the answer to question 1 is:  ME. I’ll work on me. I don’t have to give up anything that’s important to me at this time, not unless I want to.

That brings me to my answer to question 2. I want to feel HAPPINESS more consistently. Happiness is an elusive emotion, coming and going like the tides, and when it’s out, little feels good. So it makes sense to me to focus steadily toward feeling happy. Whole books have been written about happiness and how to find it.

Happiness isn’t Hiding Under a Rock

I know that happiness is a state of mind and the reason it seems elusive is because we have a tendency to look to things and people to bring it. That’s what makes happiness elusive. Nothing and no one can really make me (or you) happy. I have to decide, and that’s where the work and the rewards come in.

If I stay out of my own way, this one decision—to be happy—will help me make decisions about any projects I have going on now or that may come up in the future.

Decide What is Most Important to You

If you’re having trouble deciding on what’s most important to you, I submit for your consideration that your most important work is essential to YOU and how you feel about yourself.

What isn’t Your Important Work

It’s not checking your email or text messages. It’s not worrying about things, writing to-do lists, cleaning and sorting things to keep or throw away. There are lots of things we do that are not essential. When you decide:

  • Write in one sentence what you think is most important for you to do for you.

Spend at least 20 minutes every day doing something that will help you realize your intention. That’s your most important work of the day—every day.

 

 

 

What Is Your Most Important Creative Work?

 

Spring Fling

Finding time to be creative may seem like a stretch when earning a living, maintaining a home and personal relationships, and sleep take up most of your day. Time to express your creative self may seem like a wishful thought: a pipe dream. And being the creator that you are will continue to feel like a pipe dream until you decide you want more.

Often, it’s a belief about what it means to have a creative life and do creative work that holds people apart from those things. No one wants to be a starving writer or artist, or an underpaid actor. So the desire to do creative work is sidelined and may never be given a chance to play out in real life.

Changing Beliefs

EVERYONE is creative and creating all the time, but most people don’t realize that. The word “creative” doesn’t apply only to those who work in the arts. You create your life with the minute-by-minute, day-to-day, year-to-year decisions that you make. It’s only when you feel that someone else has control of you and your time, and many people do feel that way, that finding time to be and do what turns you on seems like only a dream that can’t be realized.

The first thing you need to do if you feel out of control of your own life, is recognize that you are the captain of your life. You are. And as the captain, you get to decide how and where to spend your time and energy. More importantly, you get to decide how you’ll feel while you do the things you do.

A Personal Story

I attended an art exhibit last evening. The art on display was painted during a three-day plein air event and I knew several of the artists who had participated in the event. I congratulated everyone who won some recognition and complimented others on their paintings. During one conversation, I asked the artist (an acquaintance) about the process of being accepted to participate in the event because I’m interested in doing it myself next year. She told me that most of the artists who have participated in the past will get the limited number of available spots next year. I asked her if she was suggesting I shouldn’t apply, to which she replied, “I just don’t want you to feel heartbroken when you don’t get in.” I said, “You don’t need to worry about my heart. I’ll be fine.”

Then, I found the woman  in charge of the event and asked her what I needed to do and when I needed to do it if I wanted to be considered for next year’s event. She gave me her card and told me to contact her in January 2020.

Power Play

I’m in control of what I do and how I feel. And you’re in control of what you do and how you feel. If you want more time to feel and be creative, start by answering the following questions for yourself:

  1. If there is only one thing you can work on now, what would it be?
  2. If there is only one direction you can take your work in for the next three years, what would it be?

Do you notice a pattern emerging that might be your important work? If so, write a sentence that clearly explains what that work is.

The value in this exercise is focus. If you can focus on one thing that is really important to you know, you can let go of (for a while) other things that pull at you and want your attention. This isn’t a goal setting exercise. It’s a process to help you focus and understand what’s important enough for you to make time for it. That’s your important creative work.

My next post will be about how to carve out a small block of time, a little as 20 minutes a day, to do your creative work.

 

Everyone is Creative

Study for a Portrait of Van Gogh IV 1957 by Francis Bacon 1909-1992

Study for portrait of Vincent Van Gogh by Francis Bacon, 1957.

For several years, John has curated the work of landscape artists for a cyber art show that he shares with his audience of landscape painters on Facebook. Every week, he asks his followers a question. A recent question was: “If you had to pick just one thing that being an artist has taught you, what would it be?” The question elicited over a hundred responses, such as:

  • Don’t self promote. It’s embarrassing and self-defeating.
  • Perseverance, persistence, and patience.
  • Not to be an artist. I quit six years ago.
  • Never stop learning and pushing your boundaries.
  • There will always be someone who is better than you. Don’t compete.
  • How hard it is to be an accomplished artist. I sometimes think I’ll never get there.
  • Marry well.
  • Admire, appreciate, and understand other’s work.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy.

Midweek, John posted a comment in which he said that he had observed only about 2 percent of the population are truly artists and another 10 percent consider themselves creative. Everyone else just likes to paint.

I was quite surprised that John thinks so few of his artist followers think of themselves as creative and even fewer see themselves as artists, but I don’t disagree with him even though I have come to other conclusions. That’s what he’s observed and what he believes. John explained his reasoning this way: “TRUE artists suffer. They struggle to fit in. To get enough money to eat and live. To find time enough to create what is burning them up inside and to get recognition in an indifferent society and world.”

That was Van Gogh’s life story. It’s a story and a mindset that many painters, writers, poets, sculptors—artists—have adopted, though. It’s a belief that is worn by many, perhaps the majority, like sackcloth and perpetuated by its repetition. It’s a belief that is passed from generation to generation. But here’s the thing—beliefs are nothing more than thoughts that people continue to think, and as long as people continue to tell each other their stories of lack, they will continue to manifest and share those experiences.

Power Play

Tell a different story. Chronic attention to unwanted things holds you in a place (through the thoughts that you think) of disallowing what you really want.

My conclusions

Everyone is creative. If you doubt that is true, take 15 minutes and recall/make a list of things you’ve created (brought into your life) because you imagined/thought of something that you wanted for yourself.  The Law of Attraction says that “that which is like onto itself, is drawn.”