My goal is simple and clear: to show up. It’s not to do more or achieve more, as I so often was taught to believe in my teens and early twenties. My goal is simply to be present and show up fully to life.
Here’s the thing: I’m not a sprinter. I don’t do the whole “hustle” thing well, and I don’t rush the creative process. But I’m a big believer in persistence. In slow, steady progress. Endurance and consistency is the key to getting anything done in life. And it’s also the key to avoid getting burnt out.
How many creative freelancers end up getting burnt out from their businesses and quit?
A lot. Too many.
And while there are many, various reasons for creative burn out, I think a major reason for this is our western world’s idea of hustle culture. And when I watch my peers drop out like flies year after year, because it’s too hard, because they were supposed to “go full-time by now”, because they worked so hard and nothing came to show for it…
I realize it’s because they were sprinting instead of slowly and consistently showing up.
I would rather take the slow path. I would rather find steady, consistent progress day-after-day, year-after-year than race fast and hard and sprint and hustle to the finish line. I’m not seeking achievements or acceptance from other people. I’m seeking personal fulfillment in my creative work – for me and me alone. The art I create, the work I do, the business I’ve built..it’s all because I’ve persistently shown up.
We show up by taking simple, daily steps – no matter how small that step may be – toward loving ourselves and the work we are driven to create.
I show up for my body by taking a few deep stretches first thing every morning. I show up by loving my body and appreciating it for being healthy and vital and just the way it is, even if I have gained weight and feel a lot heavier than I used to. I show up for my physical host, this vessel that contains the essence and energy and soul of me, by flushing it out with tons of water throughout the day, by opting for fresh vegetables…and dark chocolate. 😉
I show up for myself by making sure I’m in full alignment before taking on anyone else’s energy. I commit to myself first before work by doing things that light me up and elevate me to the fullest version of myself. Because I know that when I act from the highest, most aligned version of myself, everyone else gets the best version of me too.
I show up to my keyboard every day to edit photos and write my book of short stories. Some days it’s hard to write. On such languid days, I write a fragment or two and then take a walk, allowing my mind to sift and wander. Some days I can’t edit, so I write a blog post about something rolling around in my mind.
Other days, I drift right to the table, falling into a seamless state of flow and I’ll write for hours without ever looking up (always keep a water bottle near your desk, friends!).
There will be days we feel like giving up. There will be times when we feel like what we have to offer isn’t enough, that it’s already been done before and it’s too late. And so….what’s the point? But such moments are critical periods for rest and reflection.
that we follow the tides and seasons, heck even the lunar phases – yes, I went there – and trust that the progress will eventually return. That the inspiration and passion will come back when it’s good and ready to. It’s imperative that we trust in the law of divine timing.
Here’s the biggest secret to callings: they are what is the most fun to you. So do just that: focus on what is fun. Pull your attention towards what you love to do, what lights you up and replenishes you with energy. What would you do if you didn’t get paid any money for it? Where does your mind wander to during your free time? If you never had to work a day in your life again, and you had all this time, how would you spend your remaining time on Earth?
Because if you truly love what you do, the work won’t be hard. It won’t feel forced or effortful. It’ll flow from passion. It’ll fall gracefully to your feet.
You’ll still need to do the work – no doubt that action is required – but it won’t be hard. You won’t want to keep procrastinating and putting it on the back-burner. You won’t second guess yourself because you’ll keep finding yourself naturally drawn back to the work. This is your calling.
“But we can’t afford not to show up to do the work, you and I. We have to at least make a few strokes on the canvas, type a few paragraphs, or play a few melodies. Even on days we don’t want to. No, as a creative, you are the only one who can do the work just the way you can. Your brush or pen strokes are uniquely yours, nobody else can make them for you. The same goes for the words you write, the songs you sing, the pictures you take, the moves you dance, or the floor plans you draw-up. Your ideas and the way you execute them are strictly your own. They are a great part of the value you provide. To not show up is to deny your work and your ideas existence. So we have to show up, whenever physically able. At least for a moment, for a few key presses or a few flicks of the brush. Even on the days you don’t feel like it, showing up can make all the difference. If you show up and start the work – even though it feels so heavy to do so – what you end up making could be all you need to keep moving, to keep creating.” – Tanner Christensen
February 22, 2020
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