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A lot can happen in a year.


Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that our big, creative dream projects will take forever to complete. And guess what this kind of thinking does: It stops us before we even get a chance to start.


For the last 11 years of my life, I have taken on at least one big, creative dream project each year so I know, firsthand, they can successfully be brought across the finish line in the course of 12-months (or at the very least, you can have a strong, solid working draft completed in that time.)


If you haven't already watched the 3-Part video series on "How To Complete Your Big, Creative Dream Project In A Year," you can find it here.


As a snapshot of what you'll find in the series, here are the 9 "Doable" Steps to completing your big, creative dream project in 12-months. (Also, here you can grab a free copy of these steps to keep handy for yourself, as you work your way through the year.)



STEP 1: TANTRUM

Tantrum it out. Let the doubt, fear & skepticism all have the opportunity to be heard. Identify the reasons that it may feel impossible to not only take on your creative dream project, but to bring it across the finish line in a year. By “tantruming” over why this won’t work, we are allowing the doubt to be acknowledged (and hopefully a little tuckered out) so that we can move into action.


STEP 2: PINPOINT

Pinpoint your project. A great way to do this is by asking yourself, “What project would feel really incredible to complete by this time next year?” Once you’ve got it, give it a title. Next, take that title along with today’s date & today’s date one year from now and write it down. Put it some place that you can see it every. single. day.

STEP 3: BUBBLE

Let it bubble in your mind. Let your project fill your imagination, now, with a 12-month frame around it. Really start to picture your project with an end point in sight. Taking a few days to let your project simmer in your mind, we will use the material of what comes out of this bubbling process, next.

STEP 4: BREAKDOWN

Break it down. We’re going macro to micro here. This is where we take what’s been bubbling and begin to break it into small, doable tasks. You’ll need a space to write these down. You can do it electronically, but I recommend starting a fresh notebook devoted solely to your project. Continue the breakdown until each to-do task is bite-sized enough to be accomplished in an hour or less.

STEP 5: DIVVY

Divvy it up. Take your breakdown and divide these tasks over the next 12-months. We’ll actually stick them on a calendar in our next step, but for now, just divvy them into twelve parts (representing each month.) Twelve piles, so to speak. Try doing this by giving yourself twelve separate pages in your notebook. For busy months, divvy less to that ‘pile.’

STEP 6: SCHEDULE

Scheduling is vital. Don’t skip this. In fact, all the steps up till now can’t do a thing unless you do this step. Schedule in time to work. Put it on your calendar now. Take a calendar for the next twelve months and identify your open times for working sessions (what I call “Creative Burst Sessions.”) Get them penciled in now, as best you can, even if you need to change them, later.

STEP 7: ANCHOR

Get Anchored. As you are moving from month-to-month, anchor yourself. At the top of every month give yourself time to refresh on your to-do tasks for that month. It may require adjusting some things as tasks get added or subtracted, based on what was completed during the previous month. Take this time to find your footing and feel focused.

STEP 8: CREATE

Just as it says. Create. This is where we actually get to engage intimately with our craft. Let’s be real. The hardest part about doing our creative work is figuring out how to start and where to go next. With the previous 7 steps, congratulations, you’ve already done that leg work! So get creating and put your talents, skill sets, training & passion to good use.

STEP 9: CELEBRATE

Stop to celebrate. Really take the time to bask in your accomplishment. This was a step I skipped for years and it was a drastic mistake because it left me feeling like I was engaged in one, long never ending project. (Nothing can lead to burnout, faster than that!) Take celebration seriously. Think about it. You’ve brought a new, creative project into the world that wasn’t here 12-months ago. Honor your achievement by celebrating. This is definitely the step where you can share it with others, if you would like. Really take the time to enjoy all the work you completed. And once you've thoroughly marked your work by celebrating it, this is when you can begin deciding what your next big, creative dream project can be!



If you are ready to transform your procrastination from inaction into traction, check out The Procrastination System.


"When we change our relationship to procrastination, we change everything."

-THE PROCRASTINATION SYSTEM


Updated: Jan 23

Let’s do a quick assessment together. Keep note of how many of the following seven narratives you can relate to:



1.) TIME, BUT NO ACTION

You have a full block of time to yourself and plan to get a lot of work done. Yet, by the end of the day, not only did very little get done, but you’re not really even sure where the time went.


2.) LAST MINUTE MOVEMENT

You’re aware of your project way in advance, though wait until the very last minute to do it, all the while convincing yourself that you work better under pressure. Truth is, this habit leaves you feeling severely stressed out and disappointed because you know your final result isn’t as good as it could have been.


3.) IDEAS WITHOUT FOLLOW-THROUGH

You have an amazing idea. Though weeks turn to months and maybe even years. Rather than taking action, that idea keeps getting pushed back and back and back on the to-do list.


4.) UNFINISHED PROJECT COLLECTION

You get really motivated to start things with all the best intentions, but the reality is nothing ever comes into completion. At this point, you have a collection of unfinished projects.


5.) EMOTION-BASED STAGNANCY

You know that you have talent and skill, but instead of taking action, you often feel like you’re swimming in guilt about how much unused time is flying by. It leaves you feeling overwhelmed.


6.) THE COMPARISON GAME

You look around to others and seemingly no one else has this problem, or at least not as bad as you do. They’re apparently all accomplishing huge things, but not you. You feel stuck and frustrated.


7.) 'THINGS WILL CHANGE' FANTASY

Simply put, you think to yourself, “one day things will change. It won’t always be this way.”



From the seven narratives listed, how many could you relate to? My guess would be at least one and based on my years of exploring how procrastination ticks, it’s entirely possible that you may relate to all seven.


Please know, if you do, you are in good company. The reason I’m able to cite these narratives with such ease is because they’re very commonly experienced. You are not alone.


If you are ready to transform your procrastination from inaction into traction, check out The Procrastination System.


"When we change our relationship to procrastination, we change everything."

-THE PROCRASTINATION SYSTEM


Updated: Jan 23


These four roles just might be decimating your creativity.


If your creative work is consistently leveling off, these four roles may be your prime suspects. At first glance, they may seem like they are work-friendly, but in actuality can completely stall progress. These seemingly useful roles, at the heart of it, tend to cause more destruction than helpfulness.


I call them, The Intruder Roles:


The Perfectionist, The Busy One, The Muse & The Expert



I’ve deemed them The Intruder Roles because left to their own devices, that’s just what they do: Intrude. They are roles that tend to balloon in our lives so much that they push other roles we play out to the peripheries.


We’ll examine each role, one by one. As we are moving through them, feel free to assess if one or more of these roles is regularly played out in your life. If so, it may be crowding out the opportunity for other roles to come to the forefront---Including the Artist role.



The Perfectionist.


At first glance, the Perfectionist Role in us appears to be a connoisseur of fine work. It aims to perform at the highest level and deliver impeccable standards. Its seeming goal is to offer a pinnacle of excellence and it won’t stop until that is accomplished. It's uncompromising. It’s also unrelenting.


For those of us who have played out the Perfectionist Role with regularity, we know it’s a rigid role, almost to the point of paralysis. And it’s constantly driving us towards an endgame that is actually a myth: Perfection.


A role with self-imposed, unrealistic standards. No matter the Perfectionist’s final product, the role can easily find fault with it, skirting dangerously on the territory of burnout because it rarely feels satisfied. It can lead us to feeling drained and unfulfilled. Even more seriously, a recent meta-analytic review (University of Western Ontario, 2017) showed that Perfectionists had a higher rate of suicidal ideation.


The Perfectionist Role is often an excellent space within us to stow away unfinished explorations towards feelings of self-worth and acceptance.



The Busy One.


At a glance, the Busy One Role in us appears to be the one that can do it all. It presents as the consummate multitasker. As the constant plate spinner, the role appears to be able to take on anything---and a ton of it. At times, it can veer into the Wonder Woman, super hero realm.


The Busy One Role can be an energetic hurricane. Even in just talking about the Busy One, we might feel a pressure mounting in our bodies. It is a role that is constantly in a state of nervous system arousal, which can go hand-in-hand with generating anxiety.


It’s a deceiving role, convincing us that our value comes from how much we can cram in, which may not actually be effective. Our brains just aren’t built for excessive multitasking, particularly with technology. A study (Stanford University, 2009) showed that participants that engaged in regular media multitasking, demonstrated a decreased ability to effectively switch from one task to another and filter out irrelevant stimuli. To the Busy One Role, often, phones turn from a piece of technology into an appendage.


Overall, this role may keep us highly involved, but ironically, it can lead to us feeling isolated, as we can’t slow down enough to truly experience in the present moment.

Overall, this role may keep us highly involved, but ironically, it can lead to us feeling isolated, as we can’t slow down enough to truly experience in the present moment.



The Muse.


The Muse is a role that we wait on for inspiration to strike. When the Muse Role is within us, in our midst, all of a sudden we feel effervescently enthusiastic to do our work. When the Muse is present, creativity is flowing with ease. It is a romantic work state. Well, more accurately, it is a romanticized work state. And a fickle one, at that.


When we are in the habit of waiting to start our work once the Muse comes, we’re actually more in the habit of just waiting.

When we are in the habit of waiting to start our work once the Muse comes, we’re actually more in the habit of just waiting. Waiting for the time to be just right. Waiting for the mood. Waiting for the right environment. Waiting for the spark.


Deceivingly, we convince ourselves that we can’t work until the Muse Role arrives.



The Expert.


The Expert Role presents as the voice of a particular theme or subject matter. It can be an extremely useful role, as it can serve as a teacher, a mentor and/or a guide. Though when it comes to creative progress, the Expert Role can actually lead to a severe standstill in two seemingly opposite ways:


The first way. The Expert Role can stop us in our tracks when we have an inherent drive towards doing something, though feel we aren’t allowed to yet because we aren’t ‘an expert.’ When the role is overpowering us, we put self-imposed limitations over what we think we are allowed to do. Often times, when the Expert Role is looming, we assume that others will judge or shame us, shaking their heads with disapproval, thinking, 'Who gave them the right to do this? They’re not an expert.'


The second way. On the reverse, sometimes the Expert Role can be the near opposite where we want to step into it too quickly, without having done the work beforehand. Rather than actually investing the time it takes to become an expert at something, we want to skip to the front of the class and get the accolades of being considered ‘an expert’ without actually having gained the wisdom and/or knowledge that is inherent to the role.


It’s a role that can sometimes serve to frighten us, as we can feel that we aren’t enough to take the leap or we don’t invest enough in it, leading to glossing over the learning, growth and maturation that can serve to really enrich us and those around us.



The Intruder Roles.


Do you play out one or more of these roles with regularity? If so, which ones? Feel free to share in the comments below. You most certainly are not alone, if so. By naming these roles, loud and clear, when we play them out, we are offering ourselves the chance to dig into our creative work with greater ease by either honing in the parts of the role that are helpful to us or by shifting into another role, entirely.


It’s when we consciously decide whether or not we want to play out one of these four roles, that all of a sudden, they’re no longer so intrusive. At that point, they’re invited.



REFERENCES


Ophir, E., Nass, C., & Wagner, A. D. (2009). Cognitive control in media multitaskers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(37), 15583-15587.


Smith, M. M., Sherry, S. B., Chen, S., Saklofske, D. H., Mushquash, C., Flett, G. L., & Hewitt, P. L. (2018). The perniciousness of perfectionism: A meta‐analytic review of the perfectionism–suicide relationship. Journal of Personality, 86(3), 522-542.



"When we change our relationship to procrastination, we change everything."

-THE PROCRASTINATION SYSTEM




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