Want to be a creative powerhouse?  When do you create?  How often?  Do you just wait for the moment to hit you before you’re in “the zone” or do you plan for your creative juices to be flowing and ready for you to do your best work?  What’s your daily/weekly plan for getting it all done?  What’s your plan for downtime and play to refresh?

If you don’t have answers to these questions, then you may be like most creative people who might have a gift, but never master it.  Too often, we believe that any kind of structure and order hampers our creative success, but the truth is the opposite.  Creativity thrives in simplicity and efficiency, and that environment is designed, not happened upon.

Work and Play is Key for Creative Success – For creative professionals, it’s important to establish rituals around work AND play.   Just like everything in nature has a cycle and a season, we need to both run and recharge in order to keep our creative juices flowing.  Too often, we design a plan for one, but not the other.  Or worse case, we don’t have a plan for either until forced by work or coming under deadline and then the entire process becomes stressful and overwhelming.  It’s not the deadline that’s stressful, it’s your lack of upfront planning and discipline that’s making it stressful.

If you don’t regularly create time to connect, meditate, be still and connect to the Source of Infinite Intelligence and Creativity, burn out is inevitable.

This is even more important if we create for a living.  If you’re a photographer and get paid to shoot events like weddings and showers, you would want to make sure to also schedule time every week to shoot your favorite place in nature or people on the street you find interesting.  If you write for a living, make sure to schedule time to journal or write other things you consider fun.  This is the best way to keep your creative passion for the thing you love.

Your creative passion is a relationship.  Like any relationship, it requires loving attention, tenderness, stillness, respect and balance or it will suffer and burn out.

How To Design a Plan for Your Creative Life

1. Clarify Your Results/Outcomes.  What do you want from this project/creative endeavor?  How will you know that you’ve achieved it?  You MUST see your results in advance if you’re going to have a clear target to focus on.  However, don’t make your result something you can’t control (i.e. being displayed in the Met), make it something you can (i.e. completing my sculpture).

2.  Clarify Your Purpose.  Why must you complete what you’re creating?  What’s most important about the work you’re doing?  What lights you up inside when you think of it?  What will it mean when you’ve accomplished it?  What values will you be honoring by making this happen?  Always, always make one of your purposes to enjoy the process, whatever that is for you.  If you’re a fashion designer, but you hate to sketch, sew and shop for fabric, you’re going to run into problems.

3.  Clarify Your Actions.  Name all of the things you’re going to need to do/actions you’re going to need to take to get you to your result.

4.  Create A Weekly & Monthly Schedule/Ritual.  What activities can you group together to do at a certain time?  What efficiencies can you find to make things work smoother/with less effort?  It’s always best if you can create set times to do certain things.  Schedules are filled with things “to do”, so if you don’t plan ahead, it’s rare that life will open up for you magical windows of availability.  Take time once a week to look at the week ahead and decide in advance what windows will be used to help you achieve your outcomes.  Keep your eye on the purpose list while you do to help you stay motivated.  Also build in down time and time for mediation/prayer/journalling or walking.

5. Create Accountability.  Accountability is a powerful tool towards helping you achieve your goals.  Whether it’s friends and family or a coach to keep you on track, it’s sometimes very easy to loose sight of our goals without a regular check in to see how we’re doing.  Besides just keeping score, real accountability also helps you address whatever fears or issues might be taking you off track in the first place, so you don’t fall so far off.

What are your rituals for creative success?  Do you find these helpful?  Let us know in the comments!

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