Commit to Focus!
Gosh, February is flying by. I look at my wall of post it goals, yep, I’m one of those people and I can hardly believe that two months have gone by. This is a very serious year for me guys. I looked back at the stress of 2015 and in December said, “never again.”
Today I want to talk about focus in your creative practice and commitment to your creative practice. If you know me at all, though I am pretty goofy when I want you to fall in love with sewing, I am also a very serious and intense person about my business and my craft. And when it comes to growing your craft, there are some serious decisions that need to be made in order for you to get to the next stage of development.
But Andrea- this is my hobby. I do not want any stress from my hobby.
I totally get it. The goal of this post is to help you manage the investment you have made. Just like we move our money around, save it, invest it, spend it, your creative work is a form of investment and energy that should be treating it in a similar way is helpful. Just like we move money around into certain investments, the same needs to be done to make sure you manage your creative energy and don’t run out of it :)
If this is your hobby, I want you to keep reading. And for those of you who are as serious as I get about moving forward in your craft, you are going to find some really helpful tips to set up your creative time on the right foot.
Commitment to Practice
I mentioned that 2015 was a very stressful year. Very stressful. When I look back, I was running Fair Fit, but I was also doing 5 other side hustles, and one full time hustle when I worked on the television show Underground. I was in the mindset that it was necessary because my primary goal was to pay off graduate school and be done with student loan debt forever! I followed Dave Ramsey's advice and got mad at it, but I also ran myself into the ground. It wasn't a lot of fun guys. Now that I’m 2 months into 2016, I can really see how not having Grow Fair Fit as my primary goal affected my commitment and therefore my growth. Let me explain.
A determining factor upon whether your practice is going to grow and thrive, and maybe eventually help you earn some income- is whether or not you are going to commit to focus.
Why do I keep talking about commitment? Isn’t creative practice supposed to be exploratory? I don’t want to treat this like a job and suddenly become a stress case within a hobby that is supposed to bring me joy.
It’s okay to feel that way. If you want to treat your creative practice as a hobby that is completely okay and I will celebrate you for it. Your creative practice gets to be whatever you want to make of it. And you can pursue it however much or as seriously as feels right to you.
However, I talk about commitment because my creative practice is my full time job, and to be successful creatively and financially I treat it like a job where I show up everyday. I also help other creatives who are just getting started and they want to pursue a similar path to professionalize the work that they love. And when it has come to professionalization, I have found that the majority of my setbacks have come from not being committed. In terms of how I shape my professional practice and treat it like a job, no I don’t have the same issues as a job where I am forced into a schedule that I didn’t choose, or working for someone else, or having to make agreements that limit my freedom. I’m the boss, but I’m also the project manager and she has accountabilities.
Last year, when I wasn’t full on committed, I would go on wayward tracks to get to my goals. When I was paying off my student loan debt, I would say yes to everything because I wanted it done NOW. But after looking back at my accounting, I could have made the same amount of money if I had just stayed committed to Fair Fit Studio and kept a lazer focus. And that work would be with me now, growing, as opposed to side hustles that I've now quit.
When students come to class, or invest in private lessons, they are making a commitment. When they are with me, you are really accountable to that commitment because I’m right there and you are in the studio with me. I’m helping you focus, but when you leave class, you go back to your world and what has to happen is a new space must be made for your creative craft. This is why I say its an investment and you need to move your energy around so that you can grow your new practice. And haven’t we all heard it take 21 days to make a new habit? For me its like 60 days- 21 isn't enough.
What I am going to share with you will help you make time for your hobbies and passions, so that you don’t just learn another craft and abandon the pursuit. And, if you are serious about your creative development, and want to become a master in your newfound love of your craft, this is where you start to really take it seriously.
I have worked in many disciplines, from writing to performance, textile design, teaching, patternmaking, and I’m not even going to take up any more space with the list. How I mastered each one was by creating time for them.
Here is my method for finding time and committing to a project:
1. What do I want to do- write or draw out the dream.
What’s the project that you want to make? A recent one for me is that I wanted to learn how digitize my sewing patterns. I wrote it down and how many I wanted to make into pdfs. I wrote this out very clearly, spent time imagining not just the pdf patterns, but how I would use them, how they would help me, and why it is important to me.
2. What tools/information do I need to accomplish this?
If you don’t think about this part, you will get stuck in the dream. I needed to learn how to make pdf patterns- so I bought a class. I do not have time to dink around trying to figure it out. I paid for an expert’s knowledge so I could get to the project right away. I also knew I needed some software, so I got it. And markers and tracing paper. The reason why I am being so detailed is because you really have to make things easy for yourself. Focus now, so when you are going about your busy day, or its that sweet spot where you have 30 minutes to sit and explore your craft, its all right there organized for you.
3. When will I work on this?
I don’t have a lot of time, but if I want to make my project, I know that I’m going to have to find the time. So I looked at my schedule, and figured out what I was going to stop doing in order to start making my new project. Guys, I stop doing a lot of things. One of the most successful people I know had to tell me when one of my projects wasn’t working out “Andrea its okay and healthy to stop doing.” This is why I brought up the analogy of money earlier. If you have ever made and been on a budget, things get really different when you are paying attention. So its really good to look at whats taking up time. Yes, your job will take up a lot of time, and children are very important so they get your time. But maybe keep a time record for a week when you feel particularly pinched for time and look at where it goes. When I do this, I find out where I’m losing time for the things I want to be making. And its really healthy too because when you are paying attention, the stress of the time sucks magically goes away.
4. What time am I going to work on this?
I sat down with a calendar, and decided I was going to wake up at 6 am everyday and take the class I purchased. After the course was complete, I put it on my calendar for one afternoon each week that I was going to work on digitizing my patterns. The way I made sure that I was working on those patterns was by actually scheduling it. If its not on my schedule, its not going to happen. And it was really great, because I realized I just needed an extra 15 to 30 minutes for the class, and now I’m working on it once a week for 2.5 hours with a student who wants to learn it too.
Making it happen!
Yeah! I love this stuff, because sometimes when we have an idea, we wonder how is this ever going to really get done? It’s all about being really serious, focused and committed folks. That’s what artists know to do, because when we pay attention to our time lots of amazing stuff happens. You have to get control of your time, and you have to commit to spending time on your project. If you take it as seriously as you do your job, you will be prolific. No your creative practice is not going to turn into your job, or become as demanding as a job- unless you want it to be your job, and then you and I should talk :) But I want you to be successful with your investment that you have made and share with you how you find time for it.