Part 4 – DIY Obstacle: Perfectionism
In this five-part series, I’ve been talking about how we can overcome low motivation and that feeling of “stuckness” caused by obstacles that come up anywhere between starting and finishing a goal or project.
This week’s Tiny Talk is Part 4 of my five-part series about what I call “DIY obstacles.”
Last week we talked about the DIY obstacle of Fixed Mindset.
This week’s DIY obstacle is Perfectionism, which rides in on the back of the fixed mindset.
When you’re focused on doing something perfectly, you tend to highlight all that is not perfect, and that becomes the background music to which you write or create.
That’s just not very inspiring music, is it?!
Perfectionism is a DIY obstacle because you can’t get past the idea of not looking perfect, or the thought that you might fail, or that you might look stupid. The irony is that you avoid doing the things that will help you grow to the next level for fear of not being perfect in the process.
Perfectionism is a liar because it tells you your work is not good enough and convinces you not to share it until it is absolutely perfect.
But how will you know when it’s perfect? Who has the final word on whether it’s perfect or not?
Perfectionism is finally being called out for the liar that it is in the creative world. There are tons of books and quotes and podcasts on just how nasty it is. No longer are people wearing it as a badge of honor.
People are still paralyzed by it and not sure how to get out of its grip.
When you let go of having to be perfect or to produce something perfect, that is when you get out of your own way and become more productive. You can create the space for more creativity, growth, breakthroughs, and results that lead to mastery – which, by the way, is not perfection.
If you want to master anything in life, you have to be willing to do bad and mediocre work. If you can embrace that and even have fun with that concept, you’re going to be shocked at how much more productive and creative you are.
The good news is that the more you practice, grow, and create, the more your confidence grows, and the less power perfectionism has over you.
Letting go of perfectionism can actually be lots of fun. I want to share two tactics for overcoming the perfectionistic mindset. One is for beginning a project, and the second is for finishing it and sending it out into the world.
The first one is called “The Garbage Method” and it’s for getting started on a project and getting it through to that first draft. It was created by one of my favorite marketing coaches, Simone Grace Seol. She wrote an excellent book on creativity called Don’t Do Your Best: A Guide to the Project of Being Alive It’s brilliant.
Here’s how the garbage method works. Instead of committing to writing 500 words per day, commit to writing 500 garbage words each day. Instead of writing five scenes today, write five awful, on-the-nose, worst dialogue, overly wordy scene descriptions. Do it on purpose.
Get excited about writing your garbage words. Even, look forward to it. Quantity over quality here. And as Simone says, give yourself extra credit for doing it extra bad.
Okay, here’s why it works so well: It tricks your brain into thinking you’re just goofing around and deactivates your resistance.
And when you take the pressure off by opting for garbage instead of perfection, you’ve just given your brain permission to play, to relax, to be flexible. This is the space in which creativity, productivity, and magic thrive. It’s where all the good ideas are born.
But first, you have to be willing to go there.
If the idea of writing garbage does not sit well with you, start by writing on-the-nose instead; this will get you out of your head and the big broad strokes on paper. Just never create from a filter of perfectionism; you will burn out fast.
Create some garbage and create it on purpose. And have fun doing it. Creativity loves a brain that is having fun.
The second tactic is for the perfectionism obstacle that tends to happen when we’re trying to decide if our work is done or if it’s good enough to put out into the world. People can get stuck in this critical loop for decades and never let any of their work see the light of day.
To be clear, you don’t want to ever send out mediocre or sloppy C work…but be okay with B work. B work is still high-quality, and having high standards for your work is good. You don’t have to produce A+ work or reach perfection before putting your work out there. That is impractical and likely impossible.
So, here’s a process you can use to make sure you don’t get stuck in this endless loop of “How will I know it’s good enough to put out into the world?”
You get to decide when it’s good enough. Come up with a checklist or personal criteria for when it’s good enough. This will eliminate you overthinking it. Trust yourself. Have your own back. You can refine the criteria on your next project if necessary.
Here’s an example of my personal checklist for my screenplays:
- Does it cover all the business decisions?
- Does the story deliver the meaning and message powerfully?
- Can I give myself a B on all my main passes (dialogue, scene description, subtext, pacing, etc.)?
- Have I gotten good feedback or coverage from two or three trusted sources?
- Have I had it proofread and the formatting checked?
- Am I sold on this project myself?
- Do I believe there are at least 100 people out there who would want this project?
When this list is checked off, it’s done, and time to get it out into the world where it belongs.
I hope you found this helpful, and I don’t want you to waste another minute of your life on perfectionism. It’s a lie that will keep you stuck exactly where you are.
Next week we’ll talk about the final DIY obstacle Not Enough Time.
Bye for now!
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Part 3 – DIY Obstacle: Fixed Mindset
In this five-part series, I’ve been talking about how we can overcome low motivation and that feeling of “stuckness” caused by obstacles that come up anywhere between starting and finishing a goal or project.
This week’s Tiny Talk is Part 3 of my 5-part series about what I call “DIY obstacles.”
DIY obstacles are obstacles we create on our own. So far, we’ve covered Distraction Action and Indecision. This week, it’s about the DIY obstacle Fixed Mindset.
Whenever we learn something new, it’s easy to take it on intellectually or plan out on paper how we are going to conquer something. When it comes to taking action to put that plan into motion, we start with lots of motivation, but then at a certain point, we lose steam, get stuck, and abandon or self-sabotage our efforts to complete something.
One of the biggest reasons is because of a fixed mindset.
The best way to describe a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset is to share this quote from Carol Dweck’s book called Mindset:
“A growth mindset is when you understand that your abilities can be developed. In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail – or if you’re not the best – it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome.”
When I first heard this idea of a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset, I automatically assumed I had a growth mindset because I liked to learn and consume. Boy, was I wrong! Listen to another quote from the same book:
“Sure, people with the fixed mindset have read the books that say: Success is about being your best self, not about being better than others; failure is an opportunity, not a condemnation; effort is the key to success. But they can’t put this into practice because their basic mindset – their belief in fixed traits – is telling them something entirely different: that success is about being more gifted than others, that failure does measure you, and that effort is for those who can’t make it on talent.”
When we are learning something new or creating something we’ve never made before, our minds go through four stages of growth. We can get stuck in any aspect of this cycle and lose motivation if we have a fixed mindset.
Imagine a line drawn vertically down the middle of a piece of paper, then another one horizontally through the middle of the paper, so you have a four-quadrant matrix. (You can also Google “growth matrix” or “competence matrix,” and there are plenty of visuals.)
The first stage of growth, which would be at the top left quadrant of the matrix, is called “unconscious incompetence.” This sounds a little demeaning, but it’s not. It basically means ignorance is bliss. It’s a great mindset for dreaming and living in possibility, and it’s personally one of my favorite mindsets to marinate in. It’s the stage of growth where we’re not aware of a skill we need, or that we lack proficiency in something to achieve whatever that thing is we want to do.
Think of the moment you decided you wanted to write a screenplay – easy peasy, right? It will be fun; I’ll just write it, sell it and maybe even cast it with my favorite actors, and that will be my legacy. It probably did not even cross your mind that you needed to learn a whole lot of skills aside from how to format a screenplay.
The second quadrant is in the top right-hand corner of the matrix and it’s called “conscious incompetence.” This is the stage where we are now aware of the skills we need but are still not any good at them. You might learn here that screenplays have a structure and pacing and turning points. You learn about subtext, creating meaningful action; you learn there are hundreds of writing skills and techniques. This one can be fun, especially if you enjoy learning. It can also be a place where you get stuck because it can be super uncomfortable to be a beginner at something, especially if you start to think that this is too hard or that you’re not cut out for this.
Then there is the third quadrant at the bottom right of the four stages of growth – “conscious competence.” This is where you know all the things, but they’re really hard to do at the level you need to do them. This is where many of us do a lot of comparing and despairing. It’s the part where you have to create the habits that allow you to practice and master your craft and to keep showing up to practice, practice, practice.
Remember that it’s not what you know that makes you good at something. You become good at what you practice. But many believe they have the know-how, they did the thing…how come they’re not as good as their peer, they were in the same class? Or making statements like, “It’s not perfect, what’s the use of writing another screenplay? It takes too long…maybe I just need to take another class.” That’s not the right solution to the problem.
Lastly, we have the fourth quadrant at the bottom left of the matrix which completes the growth cycle – “unconscious competence.” This is when a skill becomes automatic to you. It’s something you usually notice in retrospect. The skill seems so natural and easy to you that it kind of takes you by surprise when someone compliments you on it or asks how you do it.
Your mindset is going to make a huge difference in your ability to make it past the second and third phases of the growth cycle, which is often where those with a fixed mindset lose motivation and get stuck. They will start inserting thoughts like, “What’s the point? I’ll never be good enough; I just can’t write great dialogue.”
A growth mindset can weather the discomfort of learning a new skill and is willing to go through the additional discomfort of mastering those skills. They entertain thoughts like:
- “I can do hard things. I love being challenged.”
- “I am willing to be uncomfortable.”
- “I can always improve. Mistakes and feedback help me to learn and grow.”
A fixed mindset sounds permanent but it’s not; you can learn to have a growth mindset the same way you go through a growth cycle to learn any skill.
There are many ways you can cultivate a growth mindset. You can start by identifying some new thoughts or beliefs you would like to have around the thing that you feel stuck on or have lost motivation for.
If you can’t think of any new thoughts, or the ones you do think of just don’t resonate with you, ask yourself how you want to feel about your project or goal first, then ask what thoughts will help you feel that way. Sometimes it’s easier to access your feelings first.
Think of yourself as the person who has already overcome this obstacle or barrier you’re facing and journal about what you would be feeling, doing, and thinking; what habits would you probably have; and how would you be showing up differently than you are now.
Finally, choose three new growth mindset thoughts and practice them. To feed these new beliefs so they grow stronger, you need to create habits that will, over time, create the evidence that these new thoughts are true.
Think of a tiny doable habit you can practice that will support that new thought. Here’s a simple example:
Original thought: This is too hard.
New thought: I can do hard things.
Habit to support the new thought: Practice doing the hard thing for just five minutes every day.
Make the new habit so small that you will definitely do it.
I hope you’re enjoying this series on DIY obstacles and if you want to go deeper and get some coaching on any of them, I would love to help you. Book a free consult to find out how.
I’m going to end this podcast with one last quote from Carol Dweck’s book Mindset:
“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”
As a creative life coach, I can help you achieve project breakthroughs and offer ongoing support in getting your work to the finish line. Book a free consultation here and find out how we can work together to get your projects out into the world where they belong.
PART 2: DIY OBSTACLES – INDECISION
Do you have a LOT of ideas for projects and nothing completed to show for it?
Maybe you find yourself sitting down to work on your project but then become paralyzed, wondering what to work on?
Are you putting your energy into so many things that you’re not getting very far with any of them?
Are you constantly coming up with ideas or strategizing the many possibilities in which the idea can manifest?
One thing is for sure: The more you procrastinate about choosing where to focus, the more the stress builds, and the more indecisiveness becomes an obstacle to reaching your goals and realizing your dreams.
This is part two of a five-part series on “DIY obstacles,” which are obstacles we create on our own that get in the way of us completing our projects and moving toward our dreams and desires.
This tiny talk is about the DIY obstacle best known as indecision, typically created by decision fatigue and fear of the unknown.
Decision fatigue is caused by having to navigate an overwhelming number of decisions, and this eventually wears you down and results in poor quality decision-making. It may also cause you to avoid making decisions altogether, leading to low motivation and a feeling of being stuck.
You can do so many things to reduce decision fatigue and you will instantly notice how much more focus you have on the bigger, more important things going on for you.
Too many decisions add a level of stress that we don’t have to have in our lives.
The easiest way to deal with decision fatigue is to create simple rituals and practical constraints around everyday decisions. This way, they don’t drain your brain when you get a chance to work on important projects, and you can better focus on making high-quality decisions that will help you reach your goals and live the life you want to live.
Constraints might sound limiting and controlling but what is really happening is you are taking control of what the world is giving you. You define the constraints; the constraints don’t define you.
Here are some places to consider in your own life that might be conducive to creating constraints and rituals around so you can take back your mental energy, increase your motivation, and help you get unstuck.
Two huge areas of life that many of us flail through on autopilot and waste precious mental energy on are our decisions around what to eat and what to wear. You can put constraints around the decision-making process for both of these areas.
Choose a go-to work uniform or a color-coordinated wardrobe; maybe you only buy three colors? You can also buy all your clothing from one particular store or one brand. That would be extreme for some people but maybe not for others. There is something everyone can do to minimize decision fatigue in the closet. Figure out what that is for you and put it into place.
For meals, have the same one or two things for breakfast and lunch every day, and maybe ten or so nutritious go-to meals for dinner, and then just add in special touches. If you love to cook, you can save your creative cooking experiments for the weekend or days off. I love to cook, but not when I have to make a whole bunch of decisions and only have an hour to do so.
You can plan and prep your meals for the entire week so you’re not having to decide what and when to eat and cook.
If you can afford it, try a meal delivery service. I do this at the beginning of each month because that is when I try to get the heaviest lifting done in my business, and the more time and mental energy I can save, the better. Right now, I’m using a company called Sunbasket.
For social media, put constraints around the amount of time you spend on it. You could decide just to use one platform instead of being on all of them.
You can reduce decisions around finances by automating as many transactions as possible and using only one bank instead of three or four. Commit to only spending money on one day of the week.
Creating morning and evening rituals is a form of constraint that allows you to prioritize self-care and not have to try to figure out when and how you will take care of yourself. Planning what you’re going to work on the night before is also super helpful.
For me, a side benefit in doing this is that it reduces the amount of morning anxiety I have so I can focus that precious morning mental energy on meaningful tasks as that is when I perform at my best. I’m not freaking about what I should focus on, and I’m not worried about forgetting something because I already planned it out – I just need to show up and do it.
For projects, you’re working on deciding on the three main things you want to accomplish for the year, then the quarter, then the month, and weeks. In my opinion, there is no better way to get things done and stay focused.
Create theme days. Mondays could be research days; Tuesdays work on character. Wednesday is for marketing, and Thursday is learning day. Whatever appeals to you.
This same concept applies to an actual project that you’re working on, too. What can you eliminate or simplify to make room for what is most important about that project? What additional constraints can you impose to make the big idea of it even more powerful?
The action step here is to identify which parts of your personal, business, and creative areas of life are tripping you up in the decision fatigue arena. It’s these little everyday things that drain our mental energy and suck up our time.
Make a game out of making things more simple and elegant. To accomplish this, you want to think of what you can subtract from your life, not what you can add. Subtract the stuff that is preventing you from performing at your highest level. Where are you giving yourself way too many options? You can apply your unique constraints to these areas.
The other way indecision becomes an obstacle in our lives is when we avoid making decisions because of fear of the unknown or lack of certainty in the outcome. Usually, we are worried about failing, doing it wrong, or some other unknown consequence that might or might not happen if we try. Instead of deciding to take a new action or try something different, we end up making the same decision over and over again and are no further along than if we had not made any decision at all.
If you find yourself in this spot, ask why you need certainty before making a decision. If you don’t like your answer, get some coaching around the issue that comes up.
Let’s say I want to finish my screenplay in six months. Instead of making some high-quality decisions to make that inevitable, I tell myself I’ll play it by ear – which is another way of saying you’ll let the circumstances control the outcome. That is a decision but not a very high-quality one.
It comes back to what I said earlier about constraints; they sound limiting and controlling, but when you define the constraints, the constraints don’t define you.
Here are some ideas to navigate this obstacle of fear of the unknown when making a decision.
- Make decisions from where you want to be, not from where you currently are. The person you are now does not have a clue, or you would already be there. A good question to ask yourself would be, “If I knew what to do, what would my decision be?”
- Make decisions that are aligned with your goals. “Will this move me closer to where I want to be or further from where I want to be?”
- Look at opportunities through the lens of your core values. Do the options present align with and support those values?
- Trust your intuition. How does your body feel when faced with a big decision? Listen to it. Trust your gut; it will not lead you astray.
- Let your personal values guide your decisions. Let those core values help you decide.
- Give yourself a deadline (for big decisions, give yourself 7-10 days).
- Ask yourself what you would most regret NOT doing.
When you do make a decision, go all-in on it and keep going. Even if that decision ends up being the wrong one, you’ve learned something, you’ve grown more into the person who will reach that goal or dream, and you’ll be way more motivated and unstuck than someone who just decided to stay in indecision.
Here are some action steps you can take right now to minimize low-value decisions by reducing things down to the simplest form:
- Brainstorm any frustrations or annoyances you currently have in your life.
- Choose one of them to work on.
- Brainstorm some ideas or actions you can take and apply the concept of adding constraints.
I could talk about this stuff for days on end and love it! But because this is a tiny talk – I need to put some constraints on the content…. 🙂
Join me next week for Part 3 on the DIY obstacle, a fixed mindset.
A creativity coach helps you focus on the things that will make the biggest difference in moving your projects forward. Book a free consultation here and find out how we can work together to get your project out into the world where it belongs.
PART 1: DIY OBSTACLES – DISTRACTION ACTION
In this five-part series, I’m going to talk about how we can overcome low motivation and that feeling of “stuckness” caused by obstacles that come up anywhere between starting and finishing a goal or project.
We often surrender to obstacles because it’s much easier than managing our minds and our brains around them.
That’s because our brains naturally gravitate toward what is easy and comfortable. I know mine does, anyway!
In this tiny talk series, I’m going to talk about “DIY obstacles.”
Imagine your project is in a little building of its own and you have to get in your car every day to get to it and work on it. Maybe you don’t have to imagine that – maybe you literally do that.
A DIY obstacle would be something your brain concocts to keep you from getting to your project. If someone literally put up a concrete barricade, or you got a call from the school to pick up your sick kid, those would be “OPS obstacles” – other people’s stuff, or if you prefer a more colorful version of the word “stuff,” use that.
This series will cover five DIY obstacles that I think a lot of creative people can relate to:
- Distraction Actions
- Fixed Mindset
- Not Enough Time
My guess is that you may have heard a lot of what I’m going to share in the next five tiny talks. Instead of shutting down at that point, I want you to reframe that reaction into a valuable question.
How can I apply this in my life today?
For today, I’m going to cover the obstacle of “distraction actions” and give you some tips on how to get on the other side of them so you can move your projects forward and reach your goals.
So, what is distraction action?
Distraction action feels useful but it’s not. For the obvious reason, it’s distracting you from reaching your goals and working on the things that are going to really move things forward.
Distraction action is often impulsive. If you made plans to work on your project and then, at the last minute, decide you want to do the dishes, clean out the garage, or do anything but show up for what you said you were going to do, that’s a distraction action.
What’s really happening is that you’re avoiding discomfort, the possibility of failure, or wallowing in the indecision and ambiguity which we’ll talk about next week.
Here are some common distraction actions:
- Doing chores
- Social media
- Watching videos
- Researching rabbit holes
- Overdosing on educational content/websites, courses, books (my favorite distraction action)…and these often lead to indecision and even more distraction actions!
These are all just actions, and a lot of them are empowering, enjoyable, even necessary. But when we’re using them to avoid showing up for what we say is important to us, then they become disempowering, draining your motivation and keeping you stuck. We’ve chosen to do these things over our projects for the simple reason that our brains would rather choose the easy, comfortable thing.
The opposite of distraction action is focused, forward action, which is risky, often doesn’t have a payoff for weeks, months, or even years, and at times can be very uncomfortable. Of course, our brains would rather go research, eat food, or take another class.
It doesn’t mean anything bad about you, or that you’re broken; it just means your brain is making default decisions.
Here are some tips to deal with distraction actions:
Be solid on why this project or goal is so important to you. Make a list – pull it out every time you need a reminder or are just feeling stuck. Every morning, I write out my goals and why they are important to me.
There is so much information, so many requests, so many shiny objects coming at us every day, it’s too easy to forget what’s important to us and why, so I think it’s a valuable practice to connect every day with what is important to you before starting your day. It takes less than five minutes.
Plan when you’re going to work on your project ahead of time. This is just like anything else – you plan to go to work, watch your favorite show, be somewhere at a certain time, pick someone up at the airport. So, plan the time you will work on your project.
What if you plan and still get distracted? You can quiet your brain by scheduling that thing you were about to do – the distraction action – for afterward. Just tell your brain, “No problem, let’s complete this task because I said I would, and I’m learning to become the kind of person who shows up for what I say I’m going to do. When I get it done, then I can do the shopping, eating, playing, researching, whatever it is.” This way, you’re not feeling like you’re depriving yourself or giving up something you enjoy. It sounds silly but it works. I often do this because my default is being defiant and resistant when it comes to schedules.
Create a Plan B if you choose to do the distraction action. Reschedule your project time to replace your favorite show or on the weekend. Whatever it is, make it a painful option so you’re more likely to just get to it. The key to Plan B is there is no Plan C.
Decide ahead of time what your exceptions are so that if a friend calls and asks if you want to go for a drink or to a movie, you don’t cave in. Think about a job…what reasons would you just up and leave your job for the day? It would have to be an emergency in most cases. Treat your scheduled time for your project in the same way.
Always remember that it’s your choice. There’s no magic spell making you obey or a pill you can take to convince yourself to show up for what you say is important to you.
Be honest with yourself. If the reasons you want to show up for your project no longer ring true, and you really don’t want to complete this project, it’s time to let it go.
Life is too short for that kind of self-torment.
And the final one: be willing to be uncomfortable when you’re disrupting patterns that are engrained in your brain.
I hope you find these helpful and that you apply some or all of them the next time you find yourself choosing distraction actions over your projects, dreams, and goals.
I’m now offering a three-month Fast-Track Coaching Package that includes six bi-weekly 50-minute calls with unlimited feedback on your project. It’s perfect for those wanting to finish a project or get one started without a long term long-term commitment. Book a free consultation to see how we can work together and get your project out into the world where it belongs.
Five Ways to Create Strong Connections and Relationships
Relationships are the best form of value you can create, not just in your business but in your personal life.
Strong connections create success.
Every person you meet comes with a chance to exchange value, whether in the form of a friend, business contact, or colleague. An exchange of value can be as simple as a smile or a shared laugh, or it could be the opportunity of a lifetime.
We need to stop thinking of exchanging value with another human being as just a numerical transaction or a mafia-type “You owe me one” mentality.
Why not just add value to someone’s life because you can? You have nothing to lose by doing so, and just the act of adding value to another’s life adds value to your own life. It’s the best thing in the world.
When you’re building personal relationships and business connections, you don’t need a checkbook to exchange value with others. You just need a heart and a willingness to be vulnerable.
Here are five ideas to help you build fantastic relationships and strong connections.
Don’t think of a relationship as a one-and-done deal.
Make it your intention to create connections and relationships without an agenda and trust that the universe will take care of the rest. Relationships and the act of making connections are investments with infinite potential to bring returns, whether in a beautiful friendship, business relationship, or your personal life. That return may be immediate, not till tomorrow, or maybe it will come a year, five years, or a decade from now.
It’s not our business to know the how, when, or why of relationship returns. Think of it as a powerful mindset to stay connected to others without strings or expectations.
There’s a real temptation to start getting in your head when you’re marketing, networking, or dating, to want a transaction to happen right away or know if the relationship will somehow be of value to you.
Instead, be curious about how it would change your life and the life of others if you shared your work, passions, and joy with others, with no agenda except to connect and add value to their lives.
Just be you.
How do you act when you’re around people you feel comfortable with? This is the place you want to get to; let yourself be that way with everyone you meet.
Quit building fake personas. This is what sucks the energy out of us introverts. We often twist ourselves into someone we’re not to try to fit in, or be liked…and it’s exhausting.
Sometimes we think we need to overcompensate to be liked, or that we need to impress, or brag about our accomplishments, or one-up the other person.
You don’t have to prove anything. You just need to be you.
One of my favorite thoughts is, “I have nothing to prove and everything to give.” Use that thought the next time you feel socially awkward.
Be more interested than interesting.
People join networks to get people interested in them – “What can I get out of this?” is the common thought process.
That’s why they feel so yucky and useless to many of us. Everyone is there for themselves and has an agenda.
If you want to stand out, do the opposite. Be interested in what you can give, not what you can get. That’s the kind of energy that draws people to you.
You don’t even have to do anything – it’s great! You never need to be concerned about a social situation, wondering if the other person will ask about you, or worrying about when to bring up your screenplay or a project you want to share.
When you show someone you are genuinely interested in them, they will want to reciprocate and ask about you. And, it will be because you started the exchange by being interested rather than trying so hard to be interesting.
Never be concerned about your turn to speak.
Listen intently. When you’re not listening, you are thinking about how you look, how you can talk about your screenplay, or figuring out how to respond.
Practice the “Camera Technique.”
I learned this technique from one of my life coaches. It’s helped me immensely at social events to get out of my head.
Imagine you have a camera in your brain, and it’s pointed inward at all the crazy insecure thoughts. Then, flip the “camera” outward and instead, focus on what is happening around you – focus on the person you’re talking to, what they’re saying, and on the present moment.
Another technique you could use is to pretend you have a warm radiant light on your head, one that shines outward like a spotlight into the room and onto others. When you engage with an individual, let that warm light focus on just that person as if they were the only person in the room. Not in a weird creepy way, of course!
We opened with adding value to the lives of others. If you can connect like this with someone, you are going to add so much value to their lives. To truly listen to someone and forget about yourself is the greatest gift you can give, I think, which perfectly sets us up for number five.
Trade Judgment for Curiosity
Listen to others without judgment. This one can be challenging, but just try to notice when you might be judging what someone is saying and trade those thoughts for curiosity. Listen to what they’re saying with the intent of understanding.
It doesn’t mean you have to pretend you agree with them when you don’t. It doesn’t mean you have to do what they want you to do. It simply means listening just to understand them.
When it’s your turn, they are much more likely to be receptive to your point of view.
If you notice that your efforts at first seem disingenuous, and you find your mind gets triggered and sneaks off to form a judgment and retaliation, go easy on yourself. This one does take some practice.
If you would like to deep dive into the value of relationships, I highly recommend these two books: Life as a Daymaker by David Wagoner and The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann.
A creativity coach is your very own human sounding board, with no agenda but to see you succeed. Book a free consult here and find out how we can work together and get your projects out into the world where they belong.
Bloom Where You’re Planted
Let’s talk about blooming where you’re planted. Of all the things you can do to start moving your projects and goals forward, this is the biggest key.
But first, how can you tell if you’re not blooming…and possibly even withering and wilting?
You spend a lot of your time wishing you were further along on your projects, in your relationships, in your career.
You have pervasive thoughts that you’re always missing out.
You often rationalize, “If only my spouse supported me more,” “If my kids were not so demanding…” or “My life would be a lot easier if I had a different job.”
If you’re cultivating any of the above thoughts or similar ones, first know that it’s perfectly normal. We all think these thoughts, and they are usually default thoughts.
The problem is that we just tend to state our thoughts as if they were facts and believe them.
Unless you become aware of this pattern and break it, you will be setting yourself up to stop growing. You’ll go through your days feeling like a thirsty, wilted flower, not one that is growing and bursting with blooms.
A couple of weeks ago, I was staying at an Airbnb. It was amazing; the beauty and elegance of the place was very inspiring.
But then some old default thoughts crept in. It started with an innocent idea:
“This home is perfect for me. It’s like it was built for me.”
Then that morphed into “Wow, if I lived here, I’d probably be a better writer,” and “If I had this home, my life would be complete.”
It didn’t take long for me to spiral downward into the hell of envy:
“It must be nice to be so rich you can afford to have two AirBnBs on the water plus your own property.”
I even started attacking where I currently live:
“My home is so retro and dated. This place is so elegant, refined, and has a sophisticated view of the water.”
And then I started attacking the entirety of my life:
“It’s too late; I made the wrong career choices. My life will never be as good as this person’s life.”
After about 10 minutes, I became aware of what I was thinking and immediately snapped out of it.
I know it’s my thoughts that create how I’m feeling, not the circumstance.
And, whenever I remember that fact, it’s always fantastic news because we don’t have to wait to feel how we want to feel. We don’t have to win that Oscar, sell that script, live in our dream home, or get that advance on our first novel to feel exactly the way we think those things will make us feel.
We have access to those feelings right now. We just have to cultivate the thoughts that create the feeling.
So, instead of sulking, I decided to return to the enjoyment of my stay and why I was there. I took lots of pictures and noticed what I really loved about that place, and I thought about how I could incorporate some of those same ideas into my current home and life.
I became inspired by my desire instead of torturing myself with it.
It’s 100% possible to appreciate the beauty, inspiration, and possibility of what you don’t have and still fully appreciate and get excited about exactly where you are now. The only thing that’s required is the mindset of blooming where you’re planted, which is just a matter of exchanging your thoughts for better ones.
Here are seven shifts you can make to start blooming where you’re planted.
#1 Look for what is good in your situation. When you start wishing you were somewhere else or that you ordered something different from what the waiter brought you, realize that there is always something good. Ask yourself “What is good about where I am? What is great about this course I’m taking? What is wonderful about the projects I’m working on? What is good about this job I currently have?”
#2 Make the conscious decision to stop complaining and stop resisting your circumstances and make it your motto to bloom where you’re planted. Period.
#3 Decide you’re going to make the absolute best of whatever resources you have available to you and not worry anymore about what is not available to you at this time.
#4 Show up 100% for the relationships in your current orbit. Don’t waste your time wishing you had better connections or more prestigious friends. That’s placing your power in the hands of others and people can sense that. Relationships are not transactions.
#5 Ask better questions. Instead of waking up and asking, “Why is everything so difficult?” ask “What can I do today to move my project forward? or “What would this task look like if it were easy, and how can I create more ease? How can I make it more fun?” Whatever question you pose, positive or negative, your brain is going to work on proving it true, so might as well ask high-quality questions.
#6 Choose to live in a state of gratitude. You can keep complaining and comparing or choose to appreciate what is in your life right now. Being in a state of gratitude is going to open far more doors and allow you to spot opportunities, whereas hunkering down in self-pity, envy, or resignation is going to do the exact opposite. Using the plant metaphor, you’ll start to wilt and withdraw from your life.
#7 Show up to your life as the best possible version of yourself. Don’t wait to be an A-list writer or a published author. Show up like you already are one. Appreciate who you are now and treat yourself as if who you are now is just as important as who you are becoming. Because it’s true.
So, here’s the moral of this tiny talk.
If you can’t bloom where you’re planted, chances are that you’re not going to be able to survive an immediate transplant…so maybe it’s time to stop wishing for one.
I think we all know this. Sometimes we just need a little reminder to stop playing small and using our energy on things that just don’t matter.
Practice blooming where you’re planted this week and enjoy the massive impact it will have on your life.
A coach believes in you and your projects even on the days when you may be struggling to believe in yourself. Book a free consultation here and find out how we can work together so you can get your projects out into the world where they belong.
Quarterly Planning With A Twist
I love quarterly planning and reviewing; I’m obsessed with it.
I rent an AirBnB for two or three nights every quarter to jolt my perspective and surround myself with notebooks, planners, music, and wine. It’s a powerful time and something I look forward to every three months.
I use a planner that has its own website, private Facebook community, and podcast.
I wasn’t kidding when I said I’m obsessed with this practice.
I think it’s the ritual that I like so much, the excitement. It kind of feels like that lead-up to Christmas when you’re a kid. You start out with the decorations, the smell of cookies, the fancy commercials, and the holiday music. The possibility that awaits you…the anticipation just keeps building.
In this tiny talk, I want to share how I do my quarterly planning, but most importantly, what I’m going to be doing differently this time around.
The concept of marrying the logical and analytical with the creative arts has always fascinated me and made a huge difference in my life.
This past year, though, I had a massive breakthrough around productivity, goals, and creating the results I want in life, and it’s a powerful one that I want to share with all of you because your life will never be the same once you put it into play.
So here is how I do my quarterly planning. Steps One and Two I usually do on the first night of my quarterly retreat.
After I find the best writing and brainstorming spot in the place, I turn on some music and I write down all of my wins for the quarter. It’s essential to start with this because these wins are what provide evidence that we can achieve our long-term goals.
I do a 10-minute brainstorm of everything I want to achieve in the next three months. I categorize them as business, personal, or financial.
I pick my top three in each category, so I end up with nine goals, projects, or results I would like to achieve.
This is where I really changed things up. And this is the part that will change everything for you.
What I have done in the past at this point was write out all the actions or outcomes. I wanted to give myself the best chance of reaching those goals I chose in Step Three.
But this is the part of the process that would do me in. I would pack things on my calendar with what I thought were good intentions.
I don’t have a boss watching over me, so I would either do them, not do them and keep moving them to a different day, or simply delete them, depending upon how I was feeling.
They ended up being a bunch of bothersome tasks that had lost the original vision they belonged to. Eventually, I would just become exhausted from all the pressure of keeping up with my big plans and lack of discipline and emotional management.
I realized – through my own coach – that I was missing the most significant part of creating the results I wanted so badly.
Now, it is without a doubt the most important thing.
It’s not what you do; it’s who you are being when you do it.
Who you are being is created by your thoughts about your goals, and it’s those thoughts that produce the feelings that create how you show up in the world and determine the action or inaction you take toward the results you want.
So, this quarter, I’m changing Step Four to who I need to be and what I need to think to create those results. It’s in that self-discovery that I will find the best actions to take.
I know, without a doubt, that the key to achieving the results you want is to practice being the person who’s already getting those results, because if you practice only the things you know, you can’t make that jump.
So, Step Four: Brainstorm what kind of person you need to become to achieve those goals you wrote down in Step Three. If you don’t know, guess.
Give yourself a 30-day challenge to practice one of those answers you came up with. For instance, I chose three of the answers for my business and decided I will do a 30-day challenge for each one. I’ll share my first one with you so you get an idea of what it might look like.
For my business, I chose to practice becoming the kind of woman who thinks deeply about her clients. What do they need? What value can I bring to their lives, and how can I serve them in the biggest and best possible way?
So, each day for the next 30 days, I will challenge myself to do something to become that person.
Then, next month in August, I will choose the second one, which was “I am a person who offers value every day to those I serve.”
In the final month of the quarter (September), I will practice my third one:
“I am a person who lives in constant breakthroughs.” Because my coaching business is about helping people have breakthroughs, it’s something I have to be really good at in my own life.
This is very different from just writing out a bunch of action plans like growing my email list, posting every day on social, and doing a podcast. You can see that if I focus on becoming the kind of person who already has succeeded, my thoughts, feelings, and actions will be on a whole new level.
I’m guessing that if we practice showing up as the person we need to be instead of thinking about what we need to do, it will impact every other goal we have.
And for that reason, I think it needs to be more important than the goal itself.
Wishing everyone a fantastic second half of 2021.
P.S. As a creative life coach, I help you focus on what will make the biggest difference in moving your projects forward. If that sounds interesting, book a free consultation and find out how we can work together to get your projects out into the world – where they belong.
Part 3: Belief In Other People
This is the final episode of my three-part belief triad for putting your work out into the world so you can make connections, further your creative career, and get your projects made. You will enjoy the process much more than if you were to marinate yourself in doubt, self-criticism, or comparison.
The first episode was about belief in yourself and the second was about belief in your projects, and this episode is about the belief that there are people out there who want what you have to offer.
You don’t have to listen to these in order, but if you haven’t heard the other two, I think you’ll find them helpful if you’re struggling with moving your career along or having trouble marketing your screenplays or any other creative projects.
If you find you’re not making an effort to put your work out into the world – and by that, I mean meeting people, telling them what you do, and marketing your projects – there’s a good chance you don’t believe there is someone on the other side who is interested in what you have to offer.
If you’re more concerned about people criticizing you or thinking you’re not good enough, having thoughts that people are judging you, or that your work is too unique for anyone to appreciate, with all those thoughts, what you’re really doing is spending too much time in victimhood.
The more you believe others are judging you, you judge them. And that’s not a good recipe for relationship-building or moving things forward.
How do you show up when you’re indulging in these kinds of thoughts? You probably don’t show up at all.
Here’s a coachy little exercise you can use if you find you are spending a lot of time with these not-helpful thoughts.
What if, instead, you replaced your current thinking with the belief there are at least 1000 people out there, right now, who are ready to read your screenplay?
Some may want to produce your screenplay, and some may want to hire you for a writing assignment; some may want you as a writing partner, and some of those people may be managers who want to take you on as a client.
How would you show up if you were guaranteed that there were 1000 people in your orbit right now waiting for you? Then, all you have to do is find ways to connect with them.
Would you be pretty excited to start getting your work out there?
Would you be connecting with people every day to find those 1000 people who are in your orbit?
Maybe you would constantly improve your craft because you want to be on the playing field, not in the locker room when they do show up.
Would you get super creative figuring out how to connect with them?
Would you be inspired every day just to show up and move forward?
You wouldn’t waste a minute on BS victimhood thoughts.
They are ready right now.
They are willing and able to pay for your skills.
They want to work with you.
How would you feel if you believed that?
You don’t know who is watching you, or when or how they plan to reach out to you.
You just have to believe they are out there, and your only job is to connect with them through who you are being and the value you present to the relationship.
Who you are right now as a writer is a perfect fit for someone out there. You don’t have to know exactly who before you start putting your work out into the world.
In the episode before this “belief triad,” I talked about my favorite writer, Quentin Tarantino, who inspired me to create this series because he embodies all three of these beliefs. Some people would judge his writing and say he can’t write or is just awful. You could look at his body of work and argue that.
The lesson is that what some people will judge your work on will be what other people will want to pay you for.
You get to decide that there are people out there who want what you have to offer. Just decide that is what you are going to believe about people.
That doesn’t mean you are entitled to their response on every project you put out into the world. What comes back to you is earned through continuing to give value and consistency.
So, choose to believe there are at least 1000 people out there, right now, just waiting for what you have to offer.
And that concludes my belief triad for writers and other creative artists.
The three beliefs to being successful as a creative artist:
- Belief in yourself
- Belief in your projects
- The belief that there are people who want what you have to offer
PART 2: Belief in your projects
It’s really hard to sell something if you’re not sold on it yourself. And, it’s pretty easy to sell something you are super excited about, that you believe in, that you know will make a difference in not just your world, but to the audience it was created for.
Selling yourself on your projects before putting them out into the world also makes rejection so much easier because your belief in something is so strong you become unshakeable. It’s like your favorite show; you can rave about it, and someone might say, “I hate that show.” You’re like, “What? Are you crazy? It’s amazing – the settings, the acting, the directing…it’s just incredible.”
It doesn’t matter how many people say they don’t like it, it will not change your belief in its value.
There are going to also be people who say, “That sounds right up my alley. I’m going to go home and watch right now. Thanks for telling me about it. I can’t wait to watch it.”
So, before marketing your project, make sure you yourself would buy it, watch it, and recommend it to all your friends and family.
When I marketed my first screenplay, I was totally not sold on it. But I did it anyway. I loved the concept, but the script, in my opinion, was crap — it was my first screenplay.
However, I did love the first 10 pages and thought I did an excellent job on them, and I also had validation from my peers that they were pretty good.
I wrote my first script for a particular actor who wasn’t well known at the time, but by the time I finished that screenplay, he had landed a huge role, and my chances of getting my script to him went way down.
I did have an affluent actor in Hollywood I was acquainted with whom I thought might be a good second choice, so asked if he would be willing to read the first 10 pages. To my surprise, he said yes. So I sent him the 10 pages.
He emailed me back a week or so later and asked for 10 more pages.
I froze – I was definitely not sold on the next 10 pages, and I made that mean a lot of things.
What do you think I did?
I did nothing. I didn’t have the awareness or confidence in myself as a writer, or in my project, or, for that matter, in anyone who did show an interest. So not only was my script a hot mess…but as a writer and marketer, I was a mess, too.
If you’re saying things like, “It’s not my best work,” or “It’s okay…for a thriller,” or, like me, “The first 10 pages are good; the rest kind of sucks,” this energy is going to show up in your marketing. If you really feel that way about your project, then it’s time to get curious about why and do something about it. Do as many rewrites as it takes to make it something you are honestly proud of, or…
Put closure on it, thank the project for all the lessons it taught you, all the growth it gave you as a writer, and then move on.
And on your next project, sell yourself first.
Sell yourself every day before you work on it, and sell yourself every day before you market it.
Here’s an exercise you can do as you work every day on your project. It will build and influence that strong belief in the value of your work and help keep you excited about it as you’re in the creation process.
Before you start working on your project for the day…
Take five minutes and write 10 or more reasons why your project is valuable.
This exercise will not only bolster your own belief in your projects, but you will be able to use it to create compelling marketing content or conversation starters when sharing it with others.
Here’s an example of what that might look like.
10 Reasons Why This Project Is Valuable:
- My project was created to be a container for a diverse and unique cast that leaves no one behind.
- The right producer can create this project for under $5 million.
- My project has excellent dialogue.
- My project would be a lot of fun for an up-and-coming Director of Photography.
- A set designer is going to have so much fun with this project.
- If I were a director, this would be a great project.
- There is one scene that will make you cry like a baby, and the next instant will make you laugh.
- There are some take-your-breath-away scenes in this project.
- I love writing this kind of story because I think it’s relatable but confrontational enough to challenge the audience a little. I think those are the best kinds of projects.
- I love this project because it dives into human behavior and how it is possible to change.
- This project has the potential to get me a manager.
If you do this before every writing session, it will influence the way you write, the way you sell, and the way you present yourself as a writer in the industry.
You got nothing to lose by believing in the value of your projects. And again, I don’t mean lying to yourself about the value.
Have the courage to do what it takes to make your project valuable, or put closure to it and recognize that the value you got was from the experience of creating it.
Next week we’ll talk about the third and final belief to marketing your projects successfully: Belief that there are people who want your project.
Part 1: Belief In Yourself As A Writer
The phrase “Believe in yourself” gets a lot of eye rolls, like it’s so coachy or Pollyanna…or something you would see on a crafty sign hanging in someone’s bathroom or bedroom.
I actually have a card my friend gave me for Christmas that says “Believe” on it. I must admit – at times, it does feel like some sort of destination.
I’ve thought about this all week, wondering how I can approach this topic without sounding coachy or like it’s just another pep talk.
What came to mind is to simply tell the truth.
We scoff at the phrase or roll our eyes because we think it’s something Pollyanna, that it’s silly to believe in yourself if you don’t have the evidence.
When most of us hear the words “Believe in yourself,” our thoughts automatically go a certain way. (I’m going to use a writer here for an example, but you can use anything.)
It all sounds like:
I’ll believe in myself as a writer when I figure out other people’s secrets to success.
I’ll believe in myself as a writer when I’ve won first place in a contest.
I’ll believe in myself as a writer when I’m better at dialogue.
I’ll believe in myself as a writer when I sell my first screenplay.
I’ll believe in myself as a writer when I know the right people.
I’ll believe in myself as a writer when I feel more confident in my writing.
I’ll believe in myself as a writer when people laugh at my comedy.
I’ll believe in myself as a writer when I get my first writing assignment.
I’ll believe in myself as a writer when I get enough validation from my peers and the industry.
I’ll believe in myself as a writer when I can quit my day job and write full-time.
I’ll believe in myself as a writer when I see my work on the big screen.
Longing for something you don’t have but think you need will not create your success.
You’re using the things you say you want in life to beat yourself up because you don’t already have them, and then telling yourself that until you do have those things, you’re not going to believe in yourself as a writer.
Thinking those thoughts will block you from accessing your creativity, your resources, and the abundance of all the opportunities that are around you right now – at this very moment – to move toward those things you want.
Waiting to believe in yourself is like giving your power away and hoping someone will eventually give it back to you in some improved, perfected form.
You can’t get there from here.
“When I get the results, I’ll believe in myself.”
Not a strategy I’ve ever heard a successful writer, actor, artist, or entrepreneur use to their advantage!
What are you telling yourself about believing in yourself as a writer?
What do you believe you have to be good at?
What do you believe you need more of?
What do you think is the evidence you need to see to believe in yourself as a writer?
Stop and answer those questions. That’s the first step.
Believing in yourself only requires one thing.
That thing is to have your own back no matter what happens, good, bad, or neutral.
To start shifting into this mindset of having your own back no matter what, develop self-awareness about what you believe and be willing to call yourself out on any BS that comes and starts with “If only I had this,” or “If only I knew the secret to this.”
Replace those thoughts with better ones.
I choose to have my own back at every stage of this journey.
Where I am right now is exactly where I am supposed to be. I can only be here right now.
I am a writer because I write.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. ~ Arthur Ashe
When I think it’s better over there, I miss all the opportunities and resources available to me right here, right now.
So, what are you telling yourself about the resources, the people, the opportunities that are around you right now? Are those thoughts serving you? If not, how can you reframe them into thoughts that will?
You’re still going to have those thoughts about not-enoughness, or “When I am this or that, I’ll believe in myself.” I almost didn’t record this tiny talk because those were my defaults. I don’t know enough. I don’t have the right words.
Now you know you can change your thoughts.
You don’t have to keep them just because they’re the default thoughts that pop into your head – that is really the key. You’re not a victim of your thoughts. You can change them and choose to believe different thoughts when the ones you’re currently thinking are not serving you.
I hope this made sense to you and that it helps you look at the idea of believing in yourself far beyond just a simple coachy catchphrase.
Belief is everything if you want to achieve what’s important in your life and shift into a space where you can start tapping into what is available to you right now – right where you are.
In the next episode, we’ll talk about belief in your project. I hope you’ll join me.
We still have six months left in 2021, so if you’re interested in accessing more of your creativity, getting out of your own way, and getting serious about getting your work out into the world where it belongs, I can help. Book a free consultation here.