I have a theory.

Throughout the monotony of spending most of my time at home due to Covid-19, I am finding joy and stimulation with small, creative practices with low stakes (but very satisfying) goals. I am craving creativity in a way I haven’t in years. In addition to watercoloring and collaging, I borrowed a friend’s sewing machine so I can sew my own clothes. I took a quirky and energizing (Soma)tic poetry workshop with the poet CA Conrad. I wrote a whole workbook on goal setting, and I have already started brainstorming my next workbook on personal resources. I even scheduled my first violin lesson!

I said something to one of my Success & Accountability Coaching clients the other day that I’ve been chewing on as I lean into my fascination with sewing, painting, drawing, writing, and learning violin: 

When we commit ourselves to complete one task by giving 100%, we may find success. However, if we try to commit the same amount of effort to three tasks, we cannot suddenly manifest 300%-worth of personal resources like time, focus, or energy. 

So, how does one cope with the faulty math of striving beyond one’s capacity to check off a to-do list? How do we resist pulling energy, focus, or time from the depth of ourselves to check off ALL of the to-do tasks we want to complete, when doing so may actually bring us exhaustion, negative self-talk, and overwhelm?

My current thinking is: consider any shifts that may need to happen, starting with these reflection questions:

  • Will I split my time multiple ways across multiple tasks, spending less time on each task?
  • Will I have compassion for myself as I make slower progress on certain projects or goals?
  • Will I shift my measure of quality from perfection to “good enough”?
  • Will I measure success by the fun that I have, by the fact that I am trying something new, versus my ability to master the practice?

These reflection questions are not reserved explicitly for creative practices; in fact, I encourage you to apply them to your work practices, too. Let’s be kind to ourselves as we try new things, and let’s keep shifting our perception of success to be one of compassion and celebration.

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