How Do You Know Whom You Serve?



How will you better clarify whom you serve and what you do for them in 2016?
~Chris Brogan

Who is your target market? What is your niche? These are the questions that marketing experts typically use to get businesses to think about their customer base. The prompt from Chris Brogan seems on first glance to be asking that question.

And that question has an answer.

My clients are intelligent, emotionally aware polymaths between 30 and 60 (mostly in their 40s and 50s) who have the logistics of adult life covered but have unexpressed parts of themselves they want to make room for. They are creative and independent at heart though they may struggle to express that. They want to balance their dreams and their adult reality in a healthy and mature way. I help them move forward despite their fears.

But the focus of Brogan’s prompt is slightly different. How will I better clarify who I serve? How will I engage with this question of service, this question which is related to marketing but is bigger than that.

My business serves many people.

Firstly, it serves me. It provides me income and a meaningful connection with people in which I can be part of bringing good into the world.

Secondly, it serves my clients. I help people take powerful actions in service of their dreams. These actions serve my clients and in many cases the people their lives touch. This is the part of the work that marketers are getting at. These clients are the target market.

Thirdly, it serves my family. My income becomes a conduit to supporting my kids. With money earned through my business, I give them food and shelter and activities that expand their minds and develop their skills. Doing good work and connecting with clients in ways that transform their lives brings me joy and satisfaction that I bring back to my children in the form of presence, attention, and fun.

How can I better clarify who I serve and what I do for them?

I can tell stories about how my work has served people in the past. I can tell stories of how I envision people being helped by my work.

I can ask my current clients what sort of people they would refer to me and for what sort of challenges.

I can contact my current and past clients and ask them specific questions about the outcomes from working with me.

I can make lists of activities I would like to do with my kids that require me to have income from the business.

I can make lists of things I want that I can afford with income from my business.

The wider I can cast the net of what I do for people and who I do it for, and the deeper I envision the impact I have in the world, the stronger my energy grows for the detailed logistics of marketing.

I must go wide to go deep.

I must explore the full realms of people I serve through my work, not just my clients. I must remember the people who do not become my clients who are inspired by the way I show up in a meeting or two words of wisdom I share in a brief conversation.

I must clarify whom I serve for financial gain and whom I serve for free. I must look, even, at who I am able to serve because of the time I spend working.

How will I do this?

I will brainstorm and mind map and finger paint and journal. I will dance and move with the questions: Whom do I serve and what do I do for them?

I will look at the question from multiple perspectives, through the traditional marketing lens, but also through my body, my heart, and my imagination.

I will be open to what I discover and I will step bravely into providing what I can.

This prompt is Chris Brogan’s contribution to Quest2016. Chris Brogan explores how people use content and community to build marketplaces around areas of belonging. He is CEO of Owner Media Group , providing simple plans and projects for business success.

Make Choices & Shape Your Life’s Story [The Twelve Days of #QUEST2015 Day 8]

shape your life consciously

If you knew that your life’s story would be written based upon your choices and actions in 2015, how would you live?

The eighth prompt for reflection in Quest 2015 comes from Todd Henry*.

It is so easy to live life on autopilot, going through the things you have always done and letting life hustle you along a well-trodden generic path. Living with intention and making unusual choices based on personal goals is much harder.

If I knew my life’s story would be written based on the way I live in 2015, I would live with attention on following my daimon and letting it draw me deep into the work that it has been calling me to for as long as I can remember.

“Each life is formed by its unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny. As the force of fate, this image acts as a personal daimon, an accompanying guide who remembers your calling.

The daimon motivates. It protects. It invents and persists with stubborn fidelity. It resists compromising reasonableness and often forces deviance and oddity upon its keeper, especially when neglected or opposed. It offers comfort and can pull you into its shell, but it cannot abide innocence. It can make the body ill. It is out of step with time, finding all sorts of faults, gaps, and knots in the flow of life – and it prefers them. It has affinities with myth, since it is itself a mythical being and thinks in mythical patterns.

It has much to do with feelings of uniqueness, of grandeur and with the restlessness of the heart, its impatience, its dissatisfaction, its yearning. It needs its share of beauty. It wants to be seen, witnessed, accorded recognition, particularly by the person who is its caretaker. Metaphoric images are its first unlearned language, which provides the poetic basis of mind, making possible communication between all people and all things by means of metaphors”
― James Hillman, The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling

My call to deep work joining beauty, goodness, and truth into individual lives of meaning is both a personal call to how I live my life and the foundation of my work as an artist and a creativity and life coach.

I must remember to dedicate each day of my life to the embrace of the unique, internally experienced world of each human being, systems of social justice, and scientifically verifiable understandings of the world. Any approach to life that denies one or more of these aspects of the world is insufficient for understanding.

I must not fritter away my time. I must create downtime that is truly renewing and allows me to dive deep and work hard. I must create structures for my life that provide space and time for parenting, self-care, writing, and coaching.

I must dig deep. I must not shy away from the work when it gets hard. I must surround myself with people who understand and appreciate who I am and what I am doing.

I must forgive myself my imperfections and not let them get in the way of my continuing to push forward.

I must remember that truth and goodness without beauty are not enough for my soul and that without beauty, the energy I have to contribute to truth and goodness withers.

There will be opportunities every day to make choices, small or large, that have an impact of whether my life is following the drives that are an innate part of my being or whether I am resisting out of fear or cultural programming.

Making choices that shape my life’s story into a story I am proud of will require me to live with awareness and be willing to stand apart from others, to speak the truth as I see it, to claim my time as I need it, and to disappoint and offend those who would prefer me to make other choices.

It is not the easy path, but it is the path I must walk if I wish to live authentically and whole-heartedly.

*TODD HENRY is a foremost voice and authority on how teams and individuals can execute brilliant ideas every day. CEO of Accidental Creative and author of the books The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice and Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day, Todd travels the globe like a creative arms dealer to equip people and companies with the right systems and habits that lead to everyday brilliance. 

Sacred Joy [The Twelve Days of #QUEST2015 Day 7]


joy, #quest2015


How could you make moments of joy a sacred priority in 2015?
What forms will such moments take?

The seventh prompt for reflection in Quest 2015 comes from Sunni Brown. In addition to the prompt, she encouraged us to doodle, draw, photograph, or write into these questions.

The word sacred tripped me up immediately. One of my current journeys is trying to find secular language for natural human experiences that traditionally inspire religions interpretations. In my lifelong quest for understanding of my so-called spiritual experiences, I have spent many years working with interpretations of religious language that are expansive enough to include my experience as someone who is uncomfortable with any interpretation of these experiences that cannot be verified empirically. And, I am tired of it. I want language that doesn’t require me to translate it internally for my comfort.

That said, one definition of sacred is that which is entitled to reverence and respect. Reverence is a deep form of respect, one that reaches towards devotion and honour.

So, in secular language, the prompt is How could you make moments of joy a priority and show them honour and respect?

And this is a question I know how to answer.

I can make moments of joy a priority by actively looking for them, noticing them, and savouring them. I can follow my body wisdom toward activities that tend to trigger joy.

I can show them honour and respect by not rushing them, by allowing them to take space and time in my life for as long as possible. In some cases, I will be able to honour them by documenting them – taking a photograph or writing a poem. In others, sharing them with others, pointing out a joy trigger to someone nearby, will be appropriate.

I did respond to the invitation to doodle, draw, or photograph into these questions as opposed to my more traditional writing. But, with a slight twist. I used playful digital photo manipulation as my entry point into today’s prompt.

Those who have been following my Quest 2015 posts may have noticed a pattern to the images at the top of my posts in this series. They are all variations on the same image. I knew I wanted to link the posts together visually when I started the series, so I found a background image and started working.

Image from GraphicStock

The background image


I cropped to a square I like, and then generated 18 colour variations using the tools at PicMonkey. I added the hashtag #quest2015 and a border, then waited for the prompts to be revealed. Each time a prompt is revealed, I select a ready to use image, add the prompt title, and put it in my post.

I played with some options that I chose didn't fit with the style I was going for.

I played with some options that didn’t fit with the style I was going for.


When I made the pink and yellow variation, I liked it, but wasn’t sure I would use it because it seemed very different from the others I had chosen. However, it struck me as perfect for this prompt, so I used it.

The Blank Canvas

But, it was missing something. So, I played around in PicMonkey, adding stickers and effects, deleting them, trying new effects, and finally settling on adding stars. After some playing around, I had added 5 star effects to the picture and created an image I liked – the one at the top of this page.

And, in playing with the images, I unlocked my resistance to the prompt and was able to dive in and write.

Sunni Brown is leader of The Doodle Revolution – a global campaign for visual literacy and also the name of her new book. Sunni is also the author of Gamestorming, named one of Amazon’s Top 100 Business Books, which lays out visual thinking techniques for business. Sunni’s common sense, wit, and pragmatic applications of neuroscience have led her to consult with Disney, Sharpie, Zappos, and elsewhere. Her TED Talk “Doolders Unite!” has been viewed over 1 million times, and Fast Company named Sunni one of the Top 100 Most Creative People in Business.

Stop [The Twelve Days of #QUEST2015 Day 5]

Stop what doesn't work for you #quest2015

Jeffrey Davis at Tracking Wonder put together a program to help business artists plan for 2015 in an unusual way. Quest 2015 consists of a community of people and prompts that are sent out for people to respond to 12 times during the month of December. Part of the community building is through sharing blog posts, so I will be posting more frequently between now and the end of my reflections. After the 12 reflection posts, I’ll be back to my regular, irregular posting schedule.

Prompt Five

The fifth prompt for reflection in Quest 2015 comes from Charlie Gilkey.

We often think too much about adding new things, when the source of a lot of our growth is eliminating old things.
What do you need to STOP doing in 2015?
And what do you need to do to make that STOPPING more than an intention?

One of the benefits of starting this process late is that I have had a chance to see many other people’s responses to this prompt. I have seen people talk about actively stopping doing things and have seen people commit to stopping pussyfooting around or playing small.

It is time for me to stop getting in my own way.

I need to stop feeling confined to my desk. I need to stop letting the fact that I work from home become a force of distraction. I need to stop doing housework during work hours and work during home hours. I need to set alarms and reminders on my phone to keep me on track. I need to check in with my accountability buddy and practice what I preach.

And, I need to stop discounting my body wisdom which tells me that a 30-minute walk by Lake Ontario most days is an essential part of my creative productivity. The photo project I mentioned last week is part of claiming that truth for myself. I have started the photo selection process.

It is a beginning.

According to his bio, Charlie Gilkey is a champion of and catalyst for Creative Giants – talented Renaissance souls with a compassion-fueled bias towards action. He’s the brain and heart behind Productive Flourishing, best-selling author of The Small Business Life Cycle, Ph.D. candidate in philosophy, and a former Army Logistics Officer. He’s driven to figure out how to help Creative Giants be their best selves in the world. – See more at:



Heart Leaps [The Twelve Days of #QUEST2015 Day 4]

joy, #quest2015

Jeffrey Davis at Tracking Wonder put together a program to help business artists plan for 2015 in an unusual way. Quest 2015 consists of a community of people and prompts that are sent out for people to respond to 12 times during the month of December. Part of the community building is through sharing blog posts, so I will be posting more frequently between now and the end of my reflections. After the 12 reflection posts, I’ll be back to my regular, irregular posting schedule.

Prompt Four

The fourth prompt for reflection in Quest 2015 comes from Pam Houston.

Sit quietly and ask yourself, what in the last day or week or month has made your heart leap up? Not what should, or might or always had, but what did. Make that list. Be honest, even if it surprises you. Keep the list with you this month. Add to it when it happens. Train yourself to notice. Then ask your self today, how can I arrange my life to get more of those heart leaps in it?


This question is the easiest of the prompts so far because it is a specific application of a practice that I have been doing for years, a practice that embraces many of the fundamental principles of InterPlay.

Notice, Notice, Notice: Pay attention to what is, with a particular emphasis on your embodied experience of the good things. 

Inner Authority: Claim that knowing. What you experience in your body IS true for you. You are the only person who can speak to the truth of your experience.

Body Data, Body Knowledge, Body Wisdom: What you notice about your lived experience in a single moment is a unit of body data. When you collect data over time, you can see patterns and build up a catalog of body knowledge. And, with a library of body knowledge at your disposal, you can exercise body wisdom by making choices that serve your greater good.

In InterPlay, we often talk about body wisdom in relationship to making choices that serve our sense of grace, which we define as the physical experience that is the opposite of stress.

When Pam Houston is talking about heart leaps, I think she is suggesting a slightly more ambitious possibility for life design. She is not talking about ease and flow, two concepts closely related to grace. She is talking about that stretch us into awe and wonder. In many cases, these moments call us to grow in love and connection to the world and this growth is not always easy. In many cases, the things that make our hearts leap create a good kind of stress, eustress as opposed to distress.

For me, the things that make my heart leap are creative breakthroughs, deep connections with friends, laughter and smiles with my children, and the beauty of nature. I can cultivate opportunities for all of these. I can choose to take my free time to connect with people I already have deep relationships with. I can return to the page, editing my fiction, over and over again. I can be present with my children when I am in the room with them. And, I can make sure that my week has many walks in natural settings.

And, most importantly, I can keep noticing my experience and shift what I do if things no longer bring me grace or joy.


According to her bio, Pam Houston is the beloved author of four books including novel Contents May Have Shifted and the interconnected short stories Cowboys Are My Weakness. She is Professor of English at UC Davis, directs the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers, and teaches in The Pacific University low residency MFA program.

Disappoint & Offend [The Twelve Days of #QUEST2015 Day 3]

disappoint, offend, resolution, #quest2015

Jeffrey Davis at Tracking Wonder put together a program to help business artists plan for 2015 in an unusual way. Quest 2015 consists of a community of people and prompts that are sent out for people to respond to 12 times during the month of December. Part of the community building is through sharing blog posts, so I will be posting more frequently between now and the end of my reflections. After the 12 reflection posts, I’ll be back to my regular, irregular posting schedule.

Prompt Three

The third prompt for reflection in Quest 2015 comes from Michael Bungay-Stanier.

Who are you willing to disappoint or offend or upset or abandon… for the sake of the Great Work that’s calling you for your best 2015?

The reason psychopaths succeed as politicians and corporate leaders is they have no difficulty answering “everybody who gets in my way” to this question. On the other hand, many people stay stuck before the get started on their Great Work because they answer “nobody.”

For a long time, I wasn’t willing to disappoint, offend, or upset anyone who offered me love that seemed in any way conditional, whether they were friends or family. The cost was that whenever my needs conflicted with theirs, I suffered. These days, I am willing to disappoint or upset anyone if I believe my health and happiness depend on it. In many cases, I am willing to do the work necessary to maintain a healthy relationship that include disappointment and people being upset with each other.

The trickier question is who am I willing to abandon. There is no Great Work calling me that is worth abandoning my children. That is my one clear bottom line. Beyond that, there are some people I know I must abandon, people who are actively hindering my ability to do my most important work. These people, I am willing to abandon without hesitation.

But what about people who are preventing me doing my work without getting actively in my way. I do not want to actively abandon them. But, I must be willing to set boundaries with them to protect the time and energy I need for my work. And, if they will not respect those boundaries, I must be willing to let the relationships go. I will be tested as each case presents itself individually, but I believe I am ready and willing to abandon that which does not support me.

My intention is to serve my work in 2015 and to curate my life in service to my children and my work.

Banned from his high school graduation for “the balloon incident,” Michael Bungay Stanier has since found more productive ways to direct his creative defiance. He is author of numerous books, including Do More Great Work (with 90,000 copies sold) and End Malaria, a collection of articles about Great Work from thought leaders that has raised about $400,000 for Malaria No More. He is founder and Senior Partner of Box of Crayons, a company devoted to helping organizations do less Good Work and more Great Work. Their Fortune 500 clients include TD Bank, Kraft, Gartner, and VMWare.

Serendipity & Awe [The Twelve Days of #QUEST2015 Day 2]

Serendipity, Awe, #Quest2015



Jeffrey Davis at Tracking Wonder put together a program to help business artists plan for 2015 in an unusual way. Quest 2015 consists of a community of people and prompts that are sent out for people to respond to 12 times during the month of December. Part of the community building is through sharing blog posts, so I will be posting more frequently between now and the end of my reflections. After the 12 reflection posts, I’ll be back to my regular, irregular posting schedule.

Prompt Two

The second prompt for reflection in Quest 2015 comes from Jason Silva.

In what ways might you artfully curate your life in 2015 to occasion serendipity, creativity and awe?
Ontological designing says: We design our world and the world designs us back.
What are the linguistic and creative choices you can make in 2015 that will in turn act back upon you and transform you?

When I read this prompt, I immediately thought of the practice I started this fall of walking by the shores of Lake Ontario almost every day. I wrote myself a prescription: 10 deep breaths on the lake shore 3-5 times a week. Even when I cannot make time for more than those 10 deep breaths, that time centres me and opens me up to the wonder in the world. On the days when I walk the shore for longer, stopping when something catches my eye, being there transforms me.

I find my best self by the lake shore.

Many moments of awe surprise me when I walk in nature: a bird call, a butterfly that catches my eye, the sun breaking through grey clouds. Each comes as a surprise, captures my attention, and then passes into the next moment.

Walking in nature feeds my soul, feels meaningful, and refocuses me on wonder.

Part of the power of walking in nature is the walk, part is the awe nature inspires in me. In his video How We Create Serendipity, Jason Silva talks about those chance occurrences that improve our lives and posits that they happen more often in contexts where extremes are juxtaposed, where things that do not fit with each other enter the same space and shake things up. And, it struck me that my walks by the lake shore are moments of juxtaposition.

To get from my house to the lake, I drive through manicured suburban streets that could be anywhere, past houses that could be in England or in Canada. When I get to the shore, there is nowhere else that I could be. No other strip of land looks like this. No other day has ever made the waves just like this with the light just so. My excursion to the shore is palpably unique. And when I return to what could be suburban monotony, for a period after my visit to the lake, I remain awake to the moment that is.

To curate my life to invite creativity, serendipity, and awe is as simple as getting to the lake as often as possible.

But, I could do more. I take at least one picture every time that I go to the lake, to capture over time the variety I encounter. I have empty picture frames, frames I bought that were the wrong size for a project. Hanging a few of my pictures of the lake in my house will serve as a reminder of the transformative power of the lake, both reminding me to get out of the house and go to the shore, and inspiring me on the days when I do not go. And so, I have a creative project that I hope will work on me in the mysterious ways of nature, serendipity and awe.

According to his bio, Jason Silva is an epiphany addict, media artist, futurist, philosopher, keynote speaker, and TV personality. He is the creator of Shots of Awe (13 million views) and the Emmy-nominated host of National Geographic’s Brain Games.

Compassionate Grit [The Twelve Days of #QUEST2015 Day 1]


Jeffrey Davis at Tracking Wonder put together a program to help business artists plan for 2015 in an unusual way. Quest 2015 consists of a community of people and a prompt that is sent out for people to respond to every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday during the month of December.

I signed up in November, but the illness I have been battling in December kept me from diving in earlier. I am starting late, but this is the sort of thing where there really is no late. Yes, I have missed out on some of the community building, but the reflection is always appropriate.

Part of the community building is through sharing blog posts, so I will be posting more frequently between now and the end of my reflections. After the 12 reflection posts, I’ll be back to my regular, irregular posting schedule.

Prompt One
Grit without compassion is just grind.
What would be most fun to create this year?
How can self-compassionate grit support you in that creating?

My life over the past decade has included a lot of grind. Too much getting through things; not enough ease in the perserverence. And when the ease goes, the grit leads to burnout, not success. I burned out in 2014.

When I say ease, I refer to the feeling of flow, the deep connectedness to doing the work that leads to focus and progress. I am not suggesting easy tasks. In fact, the tasks I have in mind are all difficult: raising kids, finishing two novels, and building a business.

Grit got me a long way – 11 years with a twice-exceptional kid and almost 8 after adding triplets, including another twice-exceptional kid, to the family, two novels in process, and a beginning to the business. But, I have been hard on myself, pushing myself to always do more, because there is always more that could be done.

I had forgotten to take care of myself to maintain the motivation for the truly long haul.

In 2014, I have remembered to take care of myself more, seeking out the friends who nurture me, who show me my strengths, who remind me to dance and play, and who tell me to take it easy on myself.

I am slowly building new habits: sitting quietly in the evening not working for a few minutes at the end of the day; reading fewer novels to study my genre and more novels I want to read; asking for help instead of doing everything myself.

The things I want to create aren’t changing over time. I still want to tell stories with depth and heart. I still want to help other people create lives that feel meaningful and worthy through my coaching business. I still want to raise emotionally aware, kind, and productive children who choose lives that are meaningful to them over thoughtless conformity.

When I create these things from a place of playfulness, inventiveness, and fun, I am more successful and more satisfied, and my whole life is enriched. When I create from a place of anxiety and a sense that time is short, I suffer and eventually collapse under the pressure.

It is time to remind myself that small steps forward are progress, that I can only do so much in a day, and that I must nurture myself to sustain myself for the duration.

Because the truth is, I do an astounding amount of work, and all of it is good enough – and much of it is a whole lot better than that.

This first prompt came from Jen Louden. According to her bio, she is a writer, pioneer in the personal growth field, author of several popular books, and guide for navigating your life with authenticity. She is founder of the TeachNow program, which has served thousands of teachers, service providers, and entrepreneurs.

Art-Making for a Meaningful Life

meaning, purpose, art

I am currently taking a class with Eric Maisel, who believes that art-making is a way of making our lives feel meaningful. In fact, for those of us with Creative Compulsive Disorder, I would argue that we need to make things in order to feel a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. And, human beings have a need to feel a sense of meaning, a connection to that which is bigger than us, in either secular or religious terms.

For class this week, we were asked to reflect on how art-making is a calling in our lives. This is what I wrote:

Art-Making as a Meaning-Making Endeavour

I like the idea of holding my art-making as my calling and I have created the following mission statement to remind me of my decision to hold art-making in high esteem:

I tell stories in written and performed form to help people feel less alone through engagement with the inner worlds of characters who reflect aspects of the experience of human existence they can relate to. This is my calling, my contribution to moving the world to compassion, and I call on the powers of beauty and individual truths to reveal goodness and encourage people to see the good in themselves and others.

Art-making is my primary practice for meaning-making in my life, and I definitely want to be part of the meaning-making world of others. Art, whether improvised, performed in repeatable forms, written, or otherwise connects me to my focus toward beauty, truth, and goodness.

Beyond my desire for political activism which is constantly mired in compromise and negotiation and has impact on a structural and institutional level, art touches the heart and the existential questions of living as a conscious human being. Art, and the emotions stirred by art, connect the inner experience of one person to another and make us feel less alone.

Being part of the world connecting people’s inner worlds across the gap between people feels like a worth-while endeavour to me even when the world doesn’t value it.

Beyond this understanding that my creative work is of value to the world, I am compelled to do this work whether I choose to or not. Without this work, my life loses its meaningfulness and I struggle with existential depression.

The only way for me to live a life engaged with the world is to constantly be shaping my experience, my knowledge, and my understanding of the world through aesthetic means into reflections of my current state, to share my deeper truths with others and reduce my own experience of existential aloneness. Through touching other people and generating the experience in them of recognition that they are not alone, I see that I, too, am one of many.

How does creating art function as a way of making your life meaningful?

How Do You Create When Life is Crazy?

creativity when life is busy

Life is always busy. There is no perfect time to create a work of art. There will always be family and work responsibilities, doubts and fears, relationships that need cultivating. Some times are more challenging than others and some people have more support than others, but no human being is immune to the pressures of life.

Creating anything requires one to work in the middle of things, whatever those life challenges may be. And each person must figure out what works for them if they are to be productive.

But How?

The most important elements of creating in the middle of things are psychological. The difference between success and failure often comes down to intention. If you intend to create and believe that your creative process and creations matter, you will find a way to work. If, however, you simply want to create or don’t believe that your creative work matters, you will not resist the pressures that push against making time to create.

Once you have the intention and claim that the work matters, then the task of making the creative time becomes one of facing the reality of your specific situation and making a plan that covers the requirements of the rest of your life and your creative work, while letting go of the need to do all the other things that others might want you to do.

Holding the Intention to Create

How can you strengthen your intention to create?

Here are a few ideas.

  1. Affirm Your Intention

For example, instead of saying “I want to write a novel”, start saying “I intend to write a novel.”

You can also affirm your intention to matter with a practice of saying “I intend to matter” or “I matter”. You could commit to saying it a certain number of times a day, at certain times of the day, or simply as often as possible. In any case, strengthening your intention to matter will help you maintain the motivational energy to do the creative work when life is busy around you.

  1. Use a ‘Big But’

Whatever your excuse for not working is, start adding a ‘But I will work anyway’ to the end of your sentence when you talk about it.

For example: “I am tired, but I will paint anyway”; “I am unfocused, but I will play the guitar for 30 minutes anyway”; “My mother wants me to call, but I will write for 10 minutes before I call her.”

  1. Imagine a Snow Globe

Sometimes, we get to our work space and the things of life are in our thoughts and we can’t see our way to focusing on our work. At such times, this exercise is useful.

Think of a snow globe. When you shake it up, the snow fills the globe with chaotic movement, swirling into the snow effect. Then, it begins to settle, falling with gravity to the bottom again, and eventually settling into quiet.

Creative work triggers anxiety, an inner chaos. When we decide to create, we shake ourselves up like a snow globe. The rest of life’s pressures get mixed in there with the inevitable mix of new ideas and anxieties that are part of creative work. It is all too easy to get caught up in that whirling and forget that we can settle ourselves. When it feels too chaotic around you for you to focus on your current project, think of yourself as a snow globe, and imagine that inner chaos settling to the ground and getting quiet, creating the mental space for creating.


Do you have a process for committing to your creative work even when life is crazy?