Imagine being able to tap into your genius on demand, joyfully.
As I'm typing this to you, I'm on a deadline... one that I set for myself.
Is it unpleasant?
Is it constricting?
Is it bad to do something I don't "feel like" doing?
Learning how to be joyfully creative on schedule has transformed my business and life.
Here's the set of feelings experienced by many people during deadlines:
These don't have to be your feelings. In the realm of potential, there's an alternative set of feelings that we can take on instead:
More and more over the past years, I've come to associate my self-imposed deadlines with these second set of feelings.
My content, business, and sense of well-being have grown and thrived as a result!
It has taken a continuous shift of mindset, day after day, moment after moment. Whenever I can catch myself with any of those first set of feelings (natural, negative), I take some deep breaths and aim to immediately shift my thoughts to that second set (unnatural, positive) until I start to feel them.
It is a practice -- and with practice, you can become anything you want, even for a practice that was previously outside your comfort zone.
You can change what you believe to be your "natural flow". Your intentional behavior or feelings can become the new normal for you.
It is possible to create... even to be in your creative genius flow... when on a self-decided deadline. If you prefer, you can change that word to "lifeline" :)
Not only is it possible -- with practice, it can become one of your superpowers.
Imagine being able to joyfully tap into your genius on demand! You can channel your creative muse in an instant, anytime you want.
Practically, it is much easier for your creative muse if she knows when (as in what time of day or week) you will consistently call upon her.
In other words -- and here may be the dreaded prescription for you -- you can reliably create on a schedule.
I used to rebel against this idea.
Remember the negative (first) set of feelings I shared with you above? That was my normal reaction whenever I "had" to produce a piece of writing or other creative content... or anytime I had to get something important done on a schedule... I would rebel.
This is why I became my own boss -- so I never had to follow a schedule again, right?
Think again :)
As a self-employed service provider, I discovered that the more stable my schedule is, the more consistently good things happened in my business:
If you want a more stable income, I recommend that you practice staying with a consistent schedule of creative output.
If you are rebelling against this, as I used to, go ahead and re-read the beginning of this post now, about the shift in feelings. You can practice taking on a better set of feelings in relation to a self-imposed deadline (you might re-frame it as a Lifeline!)
Start by re-framing your thoughts from "have to" to "get to" --
The thoughts you choose, then lead to your feelings. Breathe into it.
Do creative ideas come to you at random times? Fine -- simply write down those genius ideas, so that you can develop them in your scheduled production time.
Decide on a stable schedule of creation so that your creative muse can partner with you by knowing when she will show up consistently. It really is like magic.
Margaret Rode of Websites For Good shared with me this quote from the author Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge) who said:
"I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o'clock sharp."
A huge benefit of having a consistent schedule is that your personal life gets healthier. You don't have to be at the mercy of the random 3am genius-flow-time. I used to think that was necessary for true genius. Now I can channel that flow in set times of my own choosing.
I no longer randomly wake at 3am with genius ideas. They tend to happen during business hours... curious, right? :)
An important caveat to all this -- it really helps to schedule your rest and self-care, and also stick to it. Be consistent in both work and rest.
For my thoughts on self-care, read the post Frequent Creative Rest.
Creativity best happens when two modes of thinking are partnered:
When you are in creative production, rather than trying to be Focused for hours at a time, do shorter sessions (I do about 25 minutes) with breaks in between, so that you can tap into your Diffused thinking mode, which is where some amazing ideas happen.
Then, those ideas from your Diffused time, can be put into further development during your Focused time.
For example I wrote the first draft of this post, then took a nap, and now I'm doing some editing and finishing up the post.
I will also revisit this post in the future (considered a long "break"), and re-edit and re-share it. (In fact, this very post is a more refined version of this earlier post from 3 months ago.)
Before I wrote this post, I kept getting random "genius" ideas, during my waking hours, that I just noted down... then this morning I collected those ideas and wrote this post for you.
Here's the bottom line:
For more stable income, more stable word of mouth, more consistent client inquiries, more consistent creation of your body of work, figure out a stable creation schedule for yourself, based on your energy.
Your creativity can reliably be channeled at your command, and on a schedule, so that you have more stability in life & work, and a continued growth in your creativity. Assuming anything less is self-limiting. It's not who You are.
Don't be afraid to go outside your comfort zone. It only feels "unnatural" and "you don't feel like doing it" because it's not something you've accustomed yourself to doing yet!
You are a creator of your life, and with practice, you can create any new way of being that you can imagine.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for Counselors, Coaches, Speakers, and Authors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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