Here’s the pattern I’ve been wrangling with lately — tell me if you relate:
I have an idea for something I’d like to share / try / do.
• Write this newsletter every single week.
• Write to my music mailing list every single week.
• Start up a weekly / daily / [insert regular interval here] creative practice that I just learned about or experienced.
I think about this idea a lot.
It becomes a constant companion for days. Weeks. Months, even.
But the actual thing? It never actually happens.
Life intervenes, as they say.
There’s “never enough time.”
In reality, whatever the thing was simply didn’t rise up high enough in my list of priorities for me to make it happen.
It’s very easy to get down on myself for this pattern.
My gremlins go there immediately.
“Oh, geez, Melissa, you are such a loser! Why can’t you follow through on your ideas?”
My gremlins look at me with crossed arms, “tsk-tsk”ing, and shoot me a lot of eye rolls. They are very disappointed in me.
I’m learning to have a different response.
First, I thank my gremlins for their concern. (Always. After all, they’re trying to protect me.)
Then, of course, I send them off for (yet another) pedicure. 💅
And then I get as compassionate as I can with myself.
What does that look like?
1) Love myself up.
Seriously. Starting with looking in the mirror, and literally telling myself, “Melissa, I love you.”
I’ve actually been practicing saying this to myself, out loud, throughout the day.
It’s kind of amazing what happens when we can treat ourselves with love and kindness, instead of the pretty awful ways so many of us have been trained to treat ourselves!
Try it, and see if anything shifts for you.
2) Notice where my expectations are out of whack.
I don’t know about you, but I have just the tiniest tendency to have unrealistic expectations for myself. (Sarcasm alert!)
Seriously, I have a story in my head that I’m not good at consistency and follow-through, but when I step back and look at my life more objectively, I realize that is not actually true.
But expecting myself to produce a weekly business newsletter, and a weekly creativity newsletter, and a weekly music newsletter (for example) is not realistic.
No wonder I wasn’t writing much of anything! Unrealistic expectations can be paralyzing.
3) Come up with MVE (minimum viable expectations)
My Creative Sandbox Way™ guidepost number 4 is “Think tiny and daily,” though “tiny” is the more important operative term here (given that I was never considering writing daily newsletters!).
I often tell people to set expectations that are “ridiculously achievable.”
If I have a desire to send a missive to my Living A Creative Life newsletter subscribers, the question to ask might be:
“What is the minimum viable message I could send right now?”
This is not an easy question for me to answer, as a recovering perfectionist, but it’s a valuable question to ask.
So, for example, I recently recorded a video of me playing double bass, which I used as a business post on LinkedIn.
(Yes, in case you didn’t know, I started playing double bass in July of 2022! And fyi, I’ve been pretty darn consistent about practicing. ;))
A “minimum viable message” version would be to use this exact video in a missive to my music mailing list (and to YOU, here), rather than making a completely new recording, without the business “lesson” at the end.
The perfectionist in me would prefer to make a new recording, with a message at the end that speaks directly to YOU and YOUR issues.
But that would mean twice as much work, and twice as much time, which I don’t have.
So instead, I can share the existing video, and talk about the challenges of being a creative who needs to make a living AND feed my soul at the same time.
What’s the equivalent in your world?
Just Start + Tiny Actions
In the meantime, I’m working on putting (back) into practice some of the principles from my book, The Creative Sandbox Way™, specifically:
Guidepost number 4 (again):
Think tiny and daily (or at least, think tiny).
Guidepost number 5:
So often things that get in my way are my tendencies to make project ideas SO BIG!
What if I can let them be tiny?
What if I can just start?
These are the questions I’m going to aim to keep at the forefront of my mind going forward.
I know I will forget. Because that’s how it goes.
But hopefully I’ll be able to remember again, and get right back on track to the path of creative joy and fulfillment.
This is the Creative Sandbox Way™, after all.
Let me know if any of this resonates, and how it’s going for you, walking this windy road we’re on.
This is super-duper late-notice, but if you have ever wanted to give space to your art for 5 days in the company of other open-hearted, generous folks who understand the principles in the Creative Sandbox Way™, you may want to check out Creative Sandbox Retreat.
November 1-5, 2023.
VERY intimate (7 people max).
Email me with questions.