Wednesday, 8 April 2015

#1.1 HOW TO: Begin Again

It's funny how things work out.

In January 2014 I wrote a post called How To Begin. Some of you may even have read it. The first instalment of a new project; a monthly creative HOW TO driven by things I've learned about the things I'm trying to get better at, I said. Well monthly it was not, despite my greatest intentions, leading to a wonderfully ironic first step; a beginning with nothing to follow it. I should be a little embarrassed about not meeting this public claim, but I have been guilty of setting myself unachievable goals, infinite to-do lists and exhibiting symptoms of too-many-ideas-at-once syndrome throughout my life; half-finished ambitious personal projects being one of them.

Trying hard always has the potential to lead to falling harder. We are particularly susceptible to suffering damage when we truly put ourselves into something as it's all too easy to take the results personally. Creating and dwelling on problems with our very self rather than the specific task or particular instance can really affect our confidence towards moving forward. It's like an elastic band: the more energy put in, the more that can come back and smack us in the face. The thing is, these efforts are also where the sweetest successes could be waiting for us; the deepest loves, the truest passions, the greatest achievements. The rewards, it would seem, are worth the risk. But how do we convince ourselves of that when we are feeling the effects of a personal failure?

Sometimes it can be really hard to climb out of a big ol' creative bunker, especially if an idea has fallen flat or faded away. A false start could just signal that it wasn't meant to happen here and now rather than not at all. Perhaps we need to develop the idea or ourselves before it will take off, or maybe it's a case of working with others, steering in a different direction, or simply testing an idea more in order to solve existing problems. There is no amount of preparation, dedication or worry that can guarantee success so we have to learn the phoenix's trick; rising from the ashes of negativity to begin all over again, brighter and stronger than ever.

Whilst knockbacks will affect some more than others, I'm very interested in how we can continue to begin again and again and again as creatives; how we can keep getting back onto the proverbial horse in order to push ourselves, and thus evolve our style, skills and ways of working.

With that in mind, I am going to begin again. And you can too. Here are my 5 steps to doggedly, unashamedly, reset the clock and break new records; Usain Bolt style.

- Don't Panic. Whatever the cause to begin again, rationalise the situation and reflect on what you want to achieve. Putting pressure on yourself, beating yourself up for past mistakes, or wildly throwing your limbs around in hysteria won't solve anything, apart from increasing your anxiety towards the very thought of actually trying again. If you're clouded with negativity you won't be able to see a way out, so turn your feelings into something positive or constructive as quickly as you can. I find laughing about it can help, as well as reflecting through writing your thoughts down. You'll be amazed at how soon these reflections can turn into a new action plan.

- Rekindle Your Spark. Take yourself out, go see an exhibition or venture somewhere that inspires you. Let yourself have ideas. Find yourself some physical and mental space. Be good to yourself and reap the rewards.

- When In Doubt, Pow Wow It Out. I love holding a good pow wow in a time of crisis or transition, and by that I just mean getting together with someone or a small group of trusted compadres to talk it out. Things seem a lot tougher when held inside your own head alongside worries and fears, and different viewpoints will allow you to gain broader perspective. You don't even need a sharing stick, or Native American headdresses, but in my experience pow wows are absolutely best accompanied by brunch, burgers and/or good coffee.

- Motivational Tunes. No matter what your style, sticking on some music can have a serious impact on your mood. Don't wallow away listening to heartbreak jams in your PJs, put on some strong tunes and pull out some big creative moves! Whether it's reflective, productive or a full on power number, surround yourself with good vibrations. I have even created a How To Begin Again playlist to start you off.

- Look Backwards, Then Forwards. This principle works in two ways. You've done it before and you can do it again; so for example if you're bricking it about beginning a new drawing / article / event, just think, you survived it last time, and remember how turbo-charged you felt when it was finished. Even if this project is new for you, think about how you've applied your skills and attributes before and how they will aid you in this new venture. Also, take time to give credit where credit is due; looking back on what you've achieved will make you feel proud of your accomplishments, as well as identifying anything you would alter or build upon moving forwards. This will help identify precisely what, when and how you should begin again, increasing chances of success.

Now, I won't promise you another #howtoillo post in a month, but it probably won't be a year and a half away either. Thanks for reading, and get in touch; I'd love to know how you guys create and keep momentum.

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