In which the author tackles questions about what to keep and what to let go of to create the life she really wants, and comes to the conclusion that letting go of something that’s difficult to let go of may allow more time for things she wants more of. Which makes it easier to let go of the first thing. I mean, duh.
So. Today I spent way more time than I wanted doing things that I really don’t enjoy doing. Why? Because I managed to set my life up so that, at the moment, this is what needs to happen in order for my bills to get paid.
No different from most people on the planet, you may think, and you’re right. And in fact, the thing that I really didn’t want to be doing, in the scheme of things, was actually not that bad. It’s not like I was breaking rocks or plucking chickens or something. A lot of people would even think the thing I was doing was pretty darn cool.
I sure did, for awhile, years ago. But as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Bliss evolves. Mine has evolved, and I’m bound and determined to follow it, damn it!
Which brings me back to my day. Rather than being in a state of gratitude for the project and the income it’s bringing me (for which I truly am grateful), I found myself grinding my teeth, wishing I didn’t have to do this thing.
So. It occurred to me that if I want to create the life I really want – the one that’s led by my Bliss, rather than the “musts” and “shoulds” and “have tos” in my head – perhaps a good place to start would be to get down on paper what, specifically, I like about my job, and what, specifically, I don’t like about my job. Maybe this will help me figure out what kind of job I’d like to create this time around, so I can consciously choose to create it exactly the way I want it.
Let’s do it.
What I LIKE about my job
– working from home
– working with brides can be fun
– I can make sales in my sleep
– I have control over the end product
– I get to truthfully say that I make a living from my art
– I’ve developed some pretty good systems to minimize unfun stuff I have to do
What I DON’T LIKE about my job
– I’m tied to working from my home (ie, can’t go someplace like a coffee shop, or Brazil, for a change of scene), because producing my art requires lots of equipment and stuff
– working with brides can be a royal pain
– I cannot fulfill orders in my sleep
– I have to do everything
– only a fraction of my time is spent actually creating new art
– the more removed I am from hand making the end product, the less time I spend creating
And some specfic things about my job I would be very happy never to have to do again
– doing fill-ins by hand
– making proofs
The idea of trying to deal with all of these at one time is overwhelming, so let’s stick with the first one for now, doing fill-ins by hand, which is the thing that is driving me the most crazy at the moment. What is it I don’t like about this thing?
What I don’t like about doing fill-ins by hand
– very time-consuming
– hurts my hand
– if I make a mistake I have to spend a lot of time either trying to correct it, or if I’m unable to correct it, I have to start all over from the beginning
– it’s a use of my special creative skill that feels neither special nor creative
I’ve largely solved this particular problem, by converting all of my giclée prints to type so they’re all “filled in” on the computer before I print them, but two of my prints are lithographs, which still need to be filled in by hand. And one of these designs is also (wouldn’t you know it) one of my best sellers.
So. Let’s brainstorm some…
Possible solutions (and possible consequences/fears)
– throw out entire inventory (obviously this would be a very stupid waste of money!)
– offer these designs unpersonalized only (Ack! I might lose a lot of business! People may not buy them if they don’t have the option of ordering them personalized!)
– sell off entire inventory to someone else to deal with (Ack! Loss of control! Don’t like!)
– outsource the filling-in process to another calligrapher (Ack! How could I possibly do this? I’m a calligrapher! It’s my special thing [or one of them, anyway]! Ack!)
All of this is throwing me into a panic and giving me a headache. Time to switch gears for a moment.
During this break, let me now think for a moment about what I’d really like to be spending my time doing, if not filling in calligraphy prints by hand.
Things I love to do that I’d like to spend more of my time doing
– making new art
– directly helping/inspiring/teaching other people
Okay. Good. So before I let my resistance to the possible solutions stop me from making any change, it’s good to remember what other things I could be doing with the time that I’m now using to fill in prints.
Do I want to do those things?
Can I do those things if I’m bogged down doing other things that I “have” to do but don’t really want to?
**End Break Time**
Back to the problem at hand. When I look at it from this perspective (that if I stop filling in my prints by hand myself I will have time to do things I really want to do), suddenly the possible solutions don’t all look that horrible. (Sometimes I astound myself with my brilliance.)
Of all the possible solutions, the one that makes the most sense right now is to outsource the filling-in process to another calligrapher. This would involve:
– letting go (of the idea that my prints are all made and filled in completely by me; of control over the final product)
– finding a person, or team of people, who are capable of and eager to do the work (could be challenging)
– creating a system for ensuring quality control
Not easy, and would require management, but just thinking about shipping off a ketubah to someone else for filling in makes me feel like I can breathe easier! Which I take to be a definite sign from the Universe that it’s time for me to stop filling in prints by hand myself.
So. This weekend I’m teaching a workshop (Tools and Techniques from a Ketubah Artist’s Treasure Chest) for a calligraphy guild in New York City. Perhaps I’ll meet someone there who might be interested in being a hired pen. And if not, there are other ways to find someone. I can tap my network.
But I don’t have to solve everything right now. One thing at a time. It’s enough to have an idea for a small way to make a big impact on my quality of life. Yay me!
Now the next step is to get some sleep. Tomorrow I’ve got to finish packing enchanting my magical treasure chest!
Is there something in your own life that you could let go of to get you closer to the life you really want?