How’s your New Year progressing? Mine is going great! I’ve been experimenting.
When I first gave up my job last year I had in mind that I wanted to experiment A LOT in the studio. However, facing life without a regular pay cheque made experimenting seem like folly. I felt a push to create paintings like ones that had sold before. This push came solely from me and it caused me to be thinking about my audience while painting and anyone who paints knows there is nothing more certain to kill a painting that that kind of thinking.
It turns out what I needed was time to adjust to my new life and develop new ways of thinking about what I do. I’m now in a place where I feel confident enough in my situation to let go of the need for outcomes and let myself explore creatively. And loving it!
There is a reason I started this post with a question to you about your New Year, and it has to do with my shifting to a mindset that allows me to experiment. I’d like to share with you a post that I sent out to my Creating for Happiness members early this month. It is on this very topic and what I’m now calling ‘transitioning’. In this email I suggest that we spend a month (more if needed, less also if needed) transitioning to a mindset that has us ready to actively and successfully go after our new year’s resolutions and goals.
Since writing that email I have made the mind shift to being able to experiment about painting more loosely, one of my goals for my creativity this year. If, however, I’d got up on New Year’s Day and told myself that as my goal was to paint loosely this year, I’d better start today, I’m pretty sure I would have set myself up for failure. Using self-bullying to get us moving on our goals is never a good idea, and yet we seem to do it year after year, and find we have let even the idea of chasing that goal slide by the end of January or before.
So I hope sharing this email helps you recover from any heavy-handedness you may have had earlier this month around your goals. Of course when I talk about goals I’m talking about creative goals, but I’m sure it is much the same for all goals. Enjoy your ‘sneak-peek’ into the Creating for Happiness world and if you are interested in finding out more about the program visit the Creating for Happiness page and put your name down to be notified when the doors open again soon.
“Change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It is not those events but rather the inner reorientation or self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life. Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture. Unless transition happens, the change won’t work.” William Bridges
Do you know what I hate? I hate those articles about a ‘clean slate’ to start the new year. And I hate those articles that tell you to make specific changes to make your life better and yourself happier. Does this sound hypocritical? I don’t think I am being hypocritical and here’s why.
On my way to cracking the Creating for Happiness ‘nut’ I avidly read those articles. I did the planning and I made the changes. I read the testimonials about how much people had managed to change and what it had meant to them and couldn’t wait to join them. But I never did. Oh, eventually I did, but it wasn’t via any route I’d read about in that type of article.
Instead of changing my life for the better, those articles ultimately reinforced my self doubt and poor self esteem. I failed. I failed again and again. If others had succeeded, I inferred my failure was my fault.
As I don’t know when you are having a day when you need me to be gentle, I try to be gentle all the time. It’s a great way of thinking about how we work with ourselves too. So how do you make great change for the better while remaining gentle on ourselves? I think this month’s Journey Spark might help us learn to always incorporate a new practice in our change-making plans. Transitioning.
Instead of getting up at the start of the New Year and suddenly expecting yourself to be different, better, more predictable and productive, instead give yourself a month to achieve a mindset of understanding what that might look like, how it might work, and what is required.
The idea of transitioning should give you an instant feeling of relief, of being let off the hook. It should give you that feeling IF you were thinking of using sheer willpower to achieve your dreamed of change. Using willpower to achieve change is another way of reinforcing self loathing. Willpower alone cannot achieve your goals. Using willpower to achieve change will leave you feeling like a failure again.
Sure, I do talk about using willpower at times, but those times are very short, a couple of days at most. We need willpower to get us moving on change, but the change needs to be designed to happen ultimately without willpower. The power of transition comes to the fore when we design our change.
Designing our change is not only about planning either. Planning is great to get us started, but once in motion what we have planned needs to accomodate our need for different things on different days. Sometimes we need to be gentle on ourselves. Sometimes we need an extra kick up the backside. Sometimes we need inspiration to keep going.
So this month, let’s spend time integrating our desired changes into our current life. This will probably mean discarding as much as we add. This integration isn’t the same as achieving our goals. I’m not asking you to have finished adding and subtracting from your life by the end of the month! What I am asking you to do is to mindfully make adjustments to your day that put in place the structure you need to achieve your goals.
I have built Creating for Happiness around avoidance of guilt, shame, humiliation and failure. I am verment about it. Don’t do it! If there’s one change you do make instantly this New Year, make it avoidance of those self defeating thoughts. The rest of the change you want this year, transition towards it.
The above article was first sent to Creating for Happiness members Jan 2, 2019.