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Creativity Series – Just Do It! {9}

Writing today’s topic for the Creativity Series was a bit of a struggle because I am sensitive to how the economy is affecting others and despite how badly I want to radiate hope and positivity I don’t want to come across as happy-go-lucky, annoying, or perhaps naive to the problems that many are facing. But you know what, I’m not going to over cook this because who knows, maybe some of you need this reminder so this week we’re going to talk about developing a sense of humor to not only help you be more creative but to keep you sane in a pretty messed up world.

print by paperfunkpress.

How does developing a sense of humor inspire creativity? How can it help you get though hard times?

It can really push down walls when you decide to lighten up and just be yourself without becoming overly concerned about the opinions of others. It can also protect you from your worst enemy which so often yourself. I can’t stress how important this is. When others are overly judgmental, negative, or when you find yourself being overly critical of yourself, it’s time to tap into your sense of humor.

This beautiful little ring says, “Let laughter save the day” by lucky life.

I believe that laughter stimulates great thinking. When you are under less stress your thoughts flow more freely and your mind can wander a bit outside of the box.

A sense of humor helps us during the journey. Drama seems to up ratings on television but in real life, it only brings our ratings down. Friends may start to dodge us, clients could begin to call us into question, family members will avoid “stepping on eggshells” simply by withholding information that you really should be hearing. It’s a lot easier to communicate with someone who doesn’t fly off the handle over every little thing. This is the sign of someone who may need to tap into their sense of humor. The world does not revolve around any of us, we’re all going to hit problems and deal with annoyances often on a daily basis. There is no problem-free life, no perfect government, no ideal marriage partner. We’re all broken in one way or another with our own fears, dysfunctions, inabilities, dark sides, etc. It’s important to accept that fact and realize early on that nothing we take on is easy, whether that’s a new child, a career, or something that should be fun like starting a new hobby. Developing your creative side takes effort, failure often rides alongside success, so it’s unavoidable that the path you thought would be perfect may not be the same path you find yourself on in a few years. That’s where a sense of humor helps. Trust that the journey is often as rewarding, if not more, than reaching the actual goal. Allow your sense of humor to take the wheel when you feel like giving up or flipping out. During the hard times you may need to step outside of the ‘bubble’ you’re in and laugh at the situation a little. Remind yourself that you’re human.

While sense of humor is important, going through life laughing things off and ignoring potential issues is dangerous. I’m certainly not encouraging laughing at funerals or telling your depressed friend to stop feeling sorry for herself. You have to take things seriously but there does come a point where you’ve taken something seriously so what’s next? You then have to start dealing with it, mending the problem, repairing or rebuilding, etc. It’s at that point when you can decide to put a positive spin on the situation or not. You can find some relief as you deal with your issue if you remember the good during the bad times.

Happy people are more creative, creative people are more productive, and productive people are well, happier. I once read somewhere that developing a more optimistic world view can help you become more resilient and that it’s good for your emotional and even physical health to lighten up and laugh. That’s good stuff there.

I could go on and on but you get the point of what I’m trying to say. Look at the good side. Keep your goals in front of you. Laughter really can be the best medicine. Before I sign off I want to leave you with a few tips on how I keep a positive outlook. First, I don’t take myself too seriously. If I screw up, I admit and move on. I even laugh out loud at myself in public — I once fell down the stairs at a party and laughed so hard I cried – and I was wearing a dress and high heels and clearly made an idiot of myself but I got up and started dancing again and just shook it off. Sometimes when I’m moody and crabby I don’t feel like laughing. At all. That’s when I immediately notice something is wrong so I’ll call a friend who I know will make me laugh, I look for my online friends, I put on some good music, or I watch something really random and stupid on YouTube. :)

Now I want to hear from you… How has your sense of humor helped you during the dark times? What tips can YOU share with others on how to develop a sense of humor? How has your ability to laugh at things, from your failures to your stumbles, helped you as a person?

(images linked above)

Posted in real talk on March 12, 2009

Creativity Series: Just Do It! {8}

Today for the Creativity Series I’m keeping it short and sweet — the goal this week is to DO SOMETHING. Ready?

Buy out time for creative pursuits. Leaving creativity to chance is equivalent to leaving exercise to chance. It won’t happen unless you take charge. Analyze your weekly tasks and decide what can be exchanged in order for you to schedule a regular creative pursuit. This can be an outing such as a gallery visit or something as simple as a visit to the local book shop, or you can use the time to be more hands-on whether it’s through photography, composing music, or scrapbooking. When I’m in need of inspiration I usually open up my journals and start cutting and pasting (example above).

Key is at first: Keep It Simple and as you start seeing the benefits, you can expand from there. In looking over these 500+ comments where decor8 readers outlined what they would do if they had a day off and $20 to spend, I noticed a theme: They’d get outside, exercise, and do something creative. Maybe you can spend time today looking over some of their comments for ideas as to how you can carve out an hour, an afternoon, an entire day for YOU. Easier said than done, but if you leave something that impacts your life in a positive way (and those around you) on the back burner and just keep plugging away at work, work, work you may find yourself at the doors of burnout and absolute loss of ideas and inspiration. Be an example to your family, friends, and those in your field: You have your act together, you are at the steering wheel, you buy out time for yourself which makes your body of work stronger and more interesting.

For encouragement, I’d like to leave you with a creative exercise this week. Write done at least ONE thing that you plan to do this weekend that will put you back in touch with your creative side. It can be anything. Then I’d like to ask that you return here to this post on Monday and report in whether or not you actually did it, how it felt, and how you feel after the activity. I’ll do the same. If you can photograph what you did or saw during that creative time, please link to the photo in Monday’s comment. Sound good?

(photo by holly becker for decor8)


Posted in real talk on March 05, 2009

Creativity Series: Just Do It! {6}

Are you ready for the topic of the week in our Creativity Series? This one hits close to home, in fact this was the most challenging post of the series for me to write — just thinking about the topic gave me deer in the headlights syndrome. Have you ever heard of analysis paralysis? This is what we’ll be discussing today, it’s a good one since lots of us struggle with it. Let’s talk about what analysis paralysis is and why it’s the quickest way to pour cold water all over that creative spark of yours.

First, what is analysis paralysis? Well it’s not some catchy word from Dr. Phil. It’s a condition that many suffer from but thankfully can be treated. Here’s the Wiktionary definition, “Analysis Paralysis– The condition of being unable to make a decision due to the availability of too much information which must be processed in order for the decision to be made.” In other words, omg too much information!!! You can’t make progress because you are brainstorming, researching, talking about, fine tuning, studying, and forum posting the life out of your idea. In the end you don’t do it. Sound familiar? Perhaps it’s a cop out, a cover, a mask because the more you are learning you can justify to yourself (and your friends) why you haven’t actually done it yet. Hmmm. Let’s illustrate.

Example: You want to sell your handmade scary monster dolls online.

Positive and practical next step: Spend a reasonable amount of time researching websites, pricing, competition, etc. Set priorities, carve out a plan, take it one step at a time. You may decide to open a small shop on a site like Etsy, Folksy, Dawanda, 1000 markets, etc. to see how you do and grow from there. Think about what you must do in order to get started, list your priorities first and stick to those action items. I find it best to work on the must do list and save the future maybes list for after you get started. Some find that lots of research, work, etc. is better conducted after the idea is launched.

The Analysis Paralysis way: Spend an unreasonable amount of time researching websites, pricing, competition, etc. Look at competitors thinking their work is somehow better. Explore every single website ever invented on planet earth to see where work should be sold. Then explore Mars. And maybe the Moon too. Next, proceed to get all stressed out over the potential that the idea could be stolen once it’s online. Worry that no one will like you. Worry that some kid may swallow your doll and die, you will get sued, and your life will be ruined. Read tons of books, blogs and websites on how to launch a small business online. Start thinking that maybe you should also sell your t-shirts and gocco prints. Start researching gocco paint and where you can purchase it for the best price. Spend more weeks on that. Then realize you really only want to sell your dolls. End result: months and months spent over analyzing everything and in the end, you still have no idea what website you want to go with to sell your dolls. Or worse, you see dolls much like yours in a brand new web shop that people are literally going bonkers over, they can’t keep ‘em stocked, and you think you are a total loser for sitting on the idea for so long. You’re not a loser, you are just giving something that doesn’t require so much legwork way to much time to cook. Newsflash! You may be over cooking your idea.

I have this crazy expression that I use when I’m deep frying the life out of an idea. Stop drop and roll with it.

Have you stopped the flow of ideas before you were able to get started by over-analyzing everything? While it is a proven fact that creativity comes more naturally for some than others, I whole-heartedly believe that if you pursue your creative side and just GET STARTED then remain consistent, determined, and positive, you can find greater joy, increased self-worth, and success in your ideas.

You don’t need to learn everything before you start something. If you want to start selling your art prints, open a shop on a site like Etsy.com for instance and start putting your work there and build. Take a few business courses or talk to friends who have experience to share. Drop over-thinking every minutiae.

Here’s the exercise for this week. Grab some paper if you’d like or comment below.

1) List a few things that in the past you have over analyzed to the point of either a) Not following through on the idea or b) information overload stressed you out so much that the finished product wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been had you not over analyzed things.

2) List a few things that you want to do going forward that you see yourself already over thinking to the point of becoming uninspired. Maybe it is a bedroom that you need to decorate? An interest in taking up crochet? What is the real reason behind not actually DOING it?

3) Review your list and decide for yourself that you will no longer charbroil your ideas. Believe in the fact that you are worthy of selling those scary monster dolls online, that you will make mistakes along the way and that’s fine (all successful people have and continue to make mistakes), you will deal with copycats and jerks online, you will have some unhappy customers, but know that you are worthy enough to have success, money, honor, even a loyal following of fans… and that the bad is worth the good. And just DO it. Take the first step and then think about the second one.

Think all successful businesses are born from an elaborate business plan? Read my first post on decor8 in January 9, 2006. Does THAT sound like a girl with much of a plan?

(image by holly becker for decor8)

Posted in real talk, small business on February 19, 2009

Creativity: Just Do It {5}

Broaden your horizons and challenge yourself is my chosen theme for this week’s creativity series. Want to talk about this for a moment? I hope so because I’m very eager to talk to you, get your feedback, and read your list of 10 things which I’ll get to in a moment. Okay, let’s get started.

I’m sure you’ll agree that most successful people today who make a positive contribution are creative thinkers who face challenge head on and allow themselves to explore, learn, and grow. Just look at Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, Steven Hawking, Russell Simmons, even Heidi Klum (who has quite an interesting bio), and you will see a theme. They do not give up on their dreams, they are not their own worst enemy, they broaden their horizons and challenges do not stop them.

Another noticeable point is that they were not an overnight success. Baby steps. Often we think we’re not doing something right if we’re not instantly successful. We often lose track of a simple truth: one shot wonders rarely last. Shooting stars tend to burn out the quickest. I’m a huge fan of slow and steady wins the race in many instances. Consistency, challenging yourself, growing strong roots, learning, there’s so much more to a full life and success that takes actual time to build. Broadening your horizons and challenging yourself are two ways to become a more creative thinker and a happier more well rounded person because the more exposure you have to new thoughts and ideas, the more thoughts and ideas you’ll have. The more you open yourself to new experiences. The more in tune you become to your needs, dreams, and expectations of yourself and others become clearer. The more you push yourself you will gain confidence and a clearer voice.

Often people attribute success to being at the right place at the right time. While I believe this does happen, I believe that it does not happen by chance as much as some may think. I believe it happens for one sure reason: the person was there to begin with. They put themselves out there. Basically what I’m saying is that by stepping onto that stage to sing (while simultaneously being discovered by the talent agent in the audience) they were ON the actual stage, they got up there, they made the move. Everything they had already done led up to that moment and by placing themselves there on that stage they were discovered. Onlookers may then call them an “overnight success” but not really. They had been in training for many years whether they realized it or not. Every success, every failure, every challenge, it all brought them to that moment.

One lady I truly respect in the design world is Marcia Zia, one-half of the creative husband and wife duo behind Zia-Priven Design in North Hollywood, California. You may recall when she sat in on our “What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do” series. If not, please read her inspirational and motivating words here. Marcia found her true calling as a sought-after lighting designer by following her own advice, “Taking classes in different fields was one of the greatest things that I ever did to find my direction,” she says. “When you discover your talents and where your creativity lies, inspiration will flow freely and the apprehension you once felt will dissolve into confidence and determination — Remember that your dreams are worth the time and the effort!”

How can you broaden your horizons? What do I mean by challenging yourself?

Here’s a good start. In the comments section below, because you are amongst friends here and I will certainly do the same, list 10 things that you want to learn more about. ANYTHING. There is NO wrong answer. These things do not have to be ones that you plan to do to earn a living, just list what you have a genuine interest in that perhaps you’ve put on the back burner for way too long.

After listing your ten things, ask yourself which one you are willing to commit to learning now. As in tomorrow. Note that in your comment here before everyone reading because it makes it real once on paper and out of your head.

Now it’s time to get started. Do some research and find a book, call a few of your contacts if someone you know has knowledge you want to tap into, enroll in a class, take an online workshop, sit in on a lecture, listen to a podcast (or several), do something that will enable you to learn about the one thing on your list of ten. Keyword being DO. If you like, take on the second and third and so on, but don’t get over zealous because that’s a nice way to fall flat and discourage yourself. Just take on what you can realizing that ONE is enough for now. Just get started, get moving, go forward, challenge yourself, broaden your horizons. Immerse yourself in inspiring new ideas and do not be afraid to challenge old ways of thinking. To borrow from Nike, Just Do It because you can do it.

So who wants to write their list and pick one from it that they will promise to look into further? C’mon, someone has to step up on the stage…

(image from holly becker for decor8)

Posted in real talk on February 12, 2009

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