Are you getting comfortable?
Due to your brain loving efficiency, you are creating and relying on habits all the time. The Habit Loop. They can be good or bad. It’s great when you are building positive habits, and your brain goes on autopilot. This frees mental resources up to tackle deep work…except for when complacency sets in.
What are you doing to feed your soul? When making our Art, we live off of inspiration. It’s what drives our work and keeps us improving.
A red flag when getting older is to let yourself get stuck, complacent and comfortable. Again, we must be mindful.
I loved this excerpt from Debbie Harry on punk, refusing to retire and sex at 69, in the Telegraph,
‘But there is also a mental element to aging, she says. If you stay creative, interested and open to new things, you won’t stagnate. “You have to look around, keep new influences coming in. A lot of people sort of pick a world to live in, and they’re comfortable in that – which can be disastrous.”‘
You have to keep pushing yourself. To make a ruckus. Shake things up. Break the routine every once and awhile.
I have a journal that I keep for my “life experiences”. It’s a bullet list of moments that I want to remember, new experiences that I’ve had, and a great place to express gratitude. However, this documents events in the past.
Not having enough adventures? It’s time to make a second list. Be detailed!
Plan your adventures out.
While great to have, routines can often lead to being stuck in autopilot mode. It’s time to get those creative juices flowing and think of new ways to stretch yourself.
Example of an adventure list:
Let your mind go wild. Lean towards the unexpected, outside of your comfort zone, and ask friends for ideas. It’s time to shine a light on those blind spots and get inspired!
I keep three journals now.
From the Creative Learning Spiral by Austin Kleon ( it’s like a quote, but an image… ),
Thinking more and more about the spiral, I remembered a drawing I drew for someone who asked me a question about how I balanced creating and consuming.
Documenting those quick “aha moments”, writing down notes from a book you’ve read, or even just jotting down ideas for later exploration is the perfect use for this little red notebook.
It gives you a quick, tangible, place to store ideas before they fly away.
By consistently reviewing your captured thoughts, you can turn those concepts into your Art.
There are times where I get so focused on the day-to-day mundane tasks that I think to myself, “man my life is boring.” Other times, when things are slow, we can tend to lean towards the same thought of, “I never do anything”. When it’s super busy, our brains will often tell us, “You used to do a ton of fun activities, now there isn’t time for anything.” Etc.
In 2012 I started keeping a notebook; aptly titled “2012 Experiences”. Each month is labeled in bold type with a brief bulleted list of what new experiences I’ve had each month. A recent example:
- Went to the theater after work and saw the movie, Black Panther. 2/15
- Got a new haircut in a different style. 2/16
- Woke up with news that my cousin had a baby boy last night! 2/20
- UX Happy Hour with co-workers. Met new people as well as old friends. 2/21
- Glad that Rachel mentioned OverDrive today. Was able to send library ebooks to my Kindle. 2/27
For those slow moments when the lizard brain just won’t let up, I look back on the previous months and think to myself, “Wow! my life is one adventure after the other.” This pushes me to reflect on the good that has happened recently and look forward to new experiences.
Life is about choices. The routine parts of life can be a bit boring but consistency always wins over time. Making a list creates a feeling of gratitude, points your mind in the right direction, and keeps your outlook positive. It’s been 6 years now since I first started journaling this way. It really made all the difference in the world.
Enjoy the adventures; one at a time. Savor life.
Anxiety tends to result in a negative feedback loop.
Having anxiety on an issue, which causes more anxiety for having anxiety, and then thoughts spiral from there.
In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert says,
Find something to do— anything, even a different sort of creative work altogether— just to take your mind off your anxiety and pressure.
Going for a walk, taking a new class, or even trying a new hobby can alleviate pressure.
There are a few sub-themes to which I follow in order to maintain happiness. However, my overarching theme is this:
Happiness is sustained fulfillment.
Fulfillment is born out of creating art.
What does that mean? How do I achieve this baseline?
Much of my best reading gets done on airplanes. In my experience, zero reading gets done in the actual airport. Too much background noise, gate changes, and the constant distractions of awaiting the boarding process. However, once I’m in my distraction-free bubble in the air, I can power through books with ease.
To try and recreate this distraction-free environment, as best as possible at home, I put on my noise canceling headphones and set the iPhone to airplane mode.
Booking airline tickets 2-4 months in advance gives me the freedom to fly. With that much planning in advance, most ticket prices are in the $200-300 range for roundtrip; even west coast trips.
Budgeting for this is of upmost importance to me. I try and keep them to weekend trips, even if it is a 3-day weekend, as to not disrupt the day job. However, I find the inspiration that I gather from traveling to new places fuels my creativity and only enhances my work.
The other day, I mentioned that I prefer status meeting every two weeks instead of weekly. Why? It gives you a week of high octane, “meeting uninterrupted”, full throttle working.
The following week, if need be, can be peppered with update meetings galore.
Just need time to focus.