A couple weeks ago I was practically blind-sided by a lesson whilst scrolling through Instagram.
Whitney (of @whitneydesignstudios who you should totally follow!) was doing a giveaway and to enter you had to tell her your favorite thing about the holidays.
I was looking at the comments, getting in the holiday spirit, and realized that loads of them said something to the effect of ‘getting time to relax’.
“Lots of R&R”
“Having time for my family, my art, and myself.”
And the answers kept coming. Sure there were lots of other great answers that ranged the gamut of the holiday season. It was super happy and inspiring and festive!
But a tinge of sadness lingered with me because of how many people feel stressed, overwhelmed, and run down leading up to the holidays.
I did some investigating and found that this was definitely common amongst artists.
Tons of artists feel like there’s never enough time to paint, never enough time to daydream, never enough time to sit and relax.
ALL THINGS YOUR CREATIVITY NEEDS TO SURVIVE.
The obvious lesson is, of course, to make time to create and downtime to just chill out. Find moments in your normal, non-holiday life to rest your spirit and fill your creative cup to the brim.
But that obvious lesson does lack some understanding of reality.
So I want to dig deeper today. As you start this new year, I do want you finding time to rest and to create, but I also want you aware of the realistic balance that exists in most people’s lives.
AND THAT IS THAT THERE ISN’T REALLY BALANCE.
You’re not going to ever feel like you’re giving enough time to your family, your friends, your romantic relationship, your art, your spirituality, your career, your health, and yourself all at once.
Letting that idea go is one of the hardest things to do.
So hard that I’ve actually done it multiple times because it keeps coming back. Our society keeps telling me that I can have it all and all at once, so the concept seeps back into my psyche over and over again.
BUT THE TRUTH IS THAT YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL, WITH DIFFERENT THINGS TAKING THE LEAD AT DIFFERENT TIMES.
And the different times may be anything from hourly to yearly or more!
For example – maybe in the morning your highest priority is getting your kids ready for school and out the door, but the second they step on the bus your priority can change to painting. And then you know you have to get a few business things done, so you can prioritize those after lunch. And then before the kids get home from school, you prioritize getting groceries for dinner so that you can focus on the children for the rest of the day.
That’s the kind of prioritizing we are used to, which usually makes us feel like most of our life isn’t getting our attention.
Because that example day is missing a workout, a date night with your spouse, relaxing time to sit and journal or meditate or read a book, etc. Tons of stuff isn’t getting your attention. You can’t have it all.
There are only 24 hours in a day.
You’re probably not going to have it all in one day.
But let’s look at a different example of balancing the different areas of your life – On Saturday, you’re focused on family because the kids don’t have school. You get a little time focused on art, but you’re really just trying to be present for your loved ones. On Sunday, you’re focused on your spirituality because you have Sunday School, church, and Bible Study all in one day. There’s some time that you have to make sure your kids have done their homework, or you might have to do laundry, or you might sneak a moment to answer some emails. But overall, the day is about your faith.
Then on Monday, you get as many business tasks handled as possible. You fix something on your website, you ship out a painting to a customer, you research galleries or submit your work to a few, etc. Same thing here: other stuff happens during the day, but your goal and your focus is your art business. And then on Tuesday maybe you gift yourself a day of creation and spend the majority of your day in the studio.
That’s another example of balance and it’s sort of the “advanced” way of looking at your productivity.
WHEN YOU START RESEARCHING PRODUCTIVITY, HAVING A DAILY FOCUS IS ONE OF THE MAIN PIECES OF ADVICE.
For the record, it totally works!
But what you don’t hear about very often, and most people aren’t very familiar with, is balance on a long-term scale.
What does it look like to have a focus for the month, the quarter, or the year?
What if 2018 were the year of ______?
Sure you’d do other stuff, but you’d really focus on ______. That’s the priority. That’s the thing. And then in 2019 it could be something else.
That might work for you, even though it doesn’t feel daily like it’s a balance, it will feel like a balance over your life because you’ll see major progress on things that matter to you and you’ll reduce stress because you won’t be trying to do it all at once.
Maybe 2018 is for your artistic practice. So you can take the pressure off yourself to lose weight, to make more money, and/or to update your home decor. Major stress reduction because you’re no longer trying to
balance juggle all the things.
There is middle ground too.
You might not have the willpower for a yearly focus. It might work better for you to do a quarterly or monthly focus because you can more easily stick to it in that shorter term, while still reaping the benefits of bigger progress and less stress.
Or perhaps you need to baby-step-it by starting with the daily or weekly focus…
Try what you suspect will work for you.
The goal is that this year leads you to a better perspective on balance so that you don’t end the year feeling like you never have time for yourself or your creativity, but rather that you’ve consciously chosen when to focus on yourself or your creativity and when other things are the higher priority.