Confessions of a creative “commitment-phobe”
“It’s going to take how long?” she asked. A couple of years ago, a lovely human reached out to me to discuss her work situation. She found her work to be “dull” and “repetitive”. She wanted to find something more inspiring and more fulfilling, but she wasn’t clear about what that was. During our discovery session, she decided she was keen to enroll in the Vision Program. However, when she learned the program was five months long, her face went white. It was the first week of December and she had just quit her job. She explained that she wanted to start a new career by the first week of January – just three weeks later! I had to bite my lip to keep my face from showing my disheartenment. I hadn’t even revealed to her yet that once you do have clarity about your inspired work, it can then take months, years even, to bring it to its fullest realization. Suffice to say, she didn’t sign on to take the program.
For reasons you likely understand, I have a hard time telling this truth to potential clients at the beginning of their journey. In our nouveau insta-world, we have been conditioned to want insta-solutions. But there is no shortcut to the journey of discovering, creating, and living your inspired work. Nor do you want there to be. It’s kind of like saying you want to know how you die so you don’t have to live your life.
There is no shortcut to the journey of discovering, creating, and living your inspired work.
Personally, I am envious of people who can arrive at clarity about their work in only five months. It took me over a decade of searching to come to the same level of understanding about who I am and what I have to offer. This is the primary reason I created the Vision Program. I want to help people find their way with much more ease and grace than I did. The actuality is, though, it isn’t getting to clarity what takes all the time, it’s what comes after.
Because your inspired work is such a unique expression of who you are, it does not yet exist in the world, it is your role to create it. That doesn’t happen overnight. It requires having the commitment to follow through with action over an indeterminable length of time. If that thought makes your heart sink, I can relate.
You might become addicted to creating
In my own journey, I have had to reckon with my aversion to long-term commitment. I am a bona fide “commitment-phobe”. The thought of doing the same thing repetitively over long periods of time makes my chest tighten. I can’t even cook the same meal twice. Ask my partner, he is the beneficial recipient of my culinary adventures. I get such joy out of creating new experiences. I would even go as far as saying I am slightly addicted to the rush that comes from creating. (If one can be “slightly” addicted to something.) This does mean, however, that I struggle at times to stay with things through the later phases of the creative process.
Ironically, I’ve been offering the Vision Program for 13 years now, which for me is epic. What keeps the work fresh for me is the individuality of every person I get to work with. Every single person is truly unique and they create work that is specific to their own life experiences, dreams, and desires. That is, if they have the willingness to commit to their journey. Just like I’m addicted to creating, I find some people are addicted to the search for clarity. Sometimes, they don’t actually want to find their answers because it means they will have to step into the uncertainty of a creative life. There’s actually no guaranteed outcomes in any form of work, but some situations offer the illusion of stability more so than others.
If you’ve worked with me before, you will likely have heard me say this several times: there is only one reason why a person doesn’t bring their inspired work to life – they don’t commit to putting themselves in the conditions for creating.
The only way to bring your work to life is to commit to putting yourself in the conditions for creating.
Every person has different requirements when it comes to their own creative process. Your conditions include things like carving out periods of dedicated creative time at the right time of day. Maybe you like to rise with the morning sun. Or perhaps you are most receptive when you burn the midnight oil. Your environment is also key. You might prefer being holed away in a corner of the library, or maybe bouncing on a trampoline unlocks your ideas. What about people? You might thrive in collaboration with others, or the inverse, you might work best in solitude. You also need access to the proper resources – pen, paper, hammer, nails – pick your tools of choice. Whatever your conditions for creating are, you must put yourself in them for your work to come to life.
I hear all kinds of (excuses) reasons from people about why they don’t put themselves into their conditions for creating:
- I can’t find the time.
- I don’t have the physical space.
- Other people’s needs come first.
- I don’t have the energy.
- I’m not inspired.
- I have too many other things to do.
- I just “don’t wanna”.
In other words, they’re not actually committed to what it is they want to create. I get it. It can be challenging to take consistent action when you might not see the fully realized outcome until well into the future. It requires a sincere commitment to yourself that you will see it through.
You have to take action even when you “don’t wanna”
Admittedly, there are some phases in our journey when it isn’t the appropriate time to be in creative action. You could be releasing old patterns, letting go of an old identity, or grieving a loss. It is necessary to extricate yourself from the old to allow space for the new because you want to be creating your work from the more realized version of yourself. But there’s a big difference between allowing the space for transformation and resisting the process of creating because it’s uncomfortable. It requires a healthy dose of self-honesty to know which you are experiencing.
When it is the appropriate time for action, but you still find yourself trying to wriggle out of it, here are some ways you can help yourself stay committed for the long-term:
- Make a conscious decision to commit
- Remind yourself of what you’re committed to and why
- Accept the stage you are at in your creative journey (e.g. beginning, middle, or well into it)
- Acknowledge that each phase of the journey has its own challenges (e.g. overwhelm, boredom, attachment, etc.)
- Reclaim your energy by letting go of any obligations that are no longer serving you
- Invest your energy into yourself
- Do whatever it takes to get into motion to overcome the inertia of inaction
- Find consistency by establishing a working rhythm
- Schedule your creative time in your calendar
- Act as if time doesn’t matter
- Create as if your work does matter – to you and to the world
- Show up for yourself whether you feel like it or not
- Join a community of like-hearted creators for support
- Hire a coach to keep yourself accountable (I know one!)
- Take it one step at a time
- Stick with your idea until you bring it to fruition
- Embrace the evolutionary journey
Some of the most influential creations in modern times took years, decades even, to come into being. After 11 years studying and working as an ophthalmologist, Dr. Patricia Bath, first conceived of the device to remove cataracts in 1981, but her idea was more advanced than the technology available at the time. It took her nearly five years to complete the research and testing needed to make it work. Nowadays, her invention is used worldwide in laser eye surgery. One of the best-selling books ever written, “The Lord of the Rings”, took J.R.R. Tolkien 17 years to pen and publish. Steve Jobs co-founded the Apple company in 1976, yet didn’t bring the iPhone to market (with his vast team) until 2007 – over 30 years! Your creations may never be this far-reaching, and they don’t need to be. My point is if you stop yourself before you even get started, you are denying the world your ideas. You are also denying yourself a lifetime of joyful creating. The great news is that in our new paradigm, the energy is streaming so quickly that if you get yourself into flow, your creations will come to fruition that much easier and faster.
In our new paradigm, creative energy is flowing quicker than ever so your creations can come into being that much easier and faster.
Recently, I shared my story about my childhood dream of creating games. What I didn’t tell you is that I have stopped and started several times over the decades. Whenever I would move through the early stages of the journey, I became daunted by the long road ahead, so I shifted focus to something else that would provide a quicker sense of gratification. Some days, I regret those decisions. When I reflect on what was lost due to my lack of commitment, I have to pause to allow my grief. However, this time, I have entered the process with a new resolve to see it through. Well, at least until the games take on some realized form in the world. I am open to them evolving into even newer, more fabulous ideas. Oh, that reminds me, there is one other thing.
You will never be done
There is one other truth I don’t like to tell – you will never be done. The creative process is evolutionary, meaning it never ends. The fulfillment of one idea only leads you to the next and the next and the next. You will never arrive at a point where you can say, “Ah, I am complete. I can stop.” But to be done with creating is to be done with life, and you are far from that.
So, wherever you are on your creative journey, whether you have yet to begin or you have been dancing around your work for years, I invite you now to make a whole-hearted commitment. The time will pass, anyway. You might as well be in the joyous unfolding of your life rather than waiting for it to begin – or end.
Every now and then, I wonder about that young woman who came to see me those years ago. If she had committed to getting started at that time, she would be well into her inspired work journey by now. I can only hope she chose a path that is serving her well.
If you make the commitment to bringing your work to life, I don’t promise you will have instant results, but I do promise you will have a long life that’s truly worth living.
Whew, I’m glad I got that off my chest.