Do you have thoughts about things you want to do that won't go away?
Pushing away little nudges at my heart has been the story of my life for many years because of the nature of my work life and pursuit of art. The more I wanted to succeed in these two areas, the more I had to say No to any other thing that might take away my focus.
If I've learned anything about being an artist with a day job, it is this: If I want to say Yes to certain things in my life, I have to say No to way more, even good, fun, delightful things. Doing well in one area means staying focused and cutting out distractions in other areas. I get it. Sometimes begrudgingly, but I get it.
But about six months ago, I made the choice to start walking away from my day job (and its all-consuming nature) to see if there was a way to say Yes to some of the things I had put on the backburner. While it was difficult and scary to move away from that job, I knew in my heart it was time, so it was weirdly also very easy.
Over the past several months, to process all of the things I had put on the backburner, I wrote them down and brainstormed about each one. I ended up filling up an entire legal pad and started another. Apparently there were a lot of things I had pushed to the side.
Here are some examples of what came welling to the surface:
- Write (Blog) consistently* (doing this now yo)
- Take dance lessons
- Teach art classes*
- Buy glass dishes with lids and prepare meals for each week*
- Go on a real vacation*
- Go on so many vacations
- Find an ocean and sit by it for many days*
- Play soccer*
- Learn how to make jewelry (soldering, metalworking)
- Make a body of artwork & court some galleries outside of Knoxville*
- Get together with (fill in the blank with 30+ different people)*
As you can imagine, a legal pad-sized list is pretty overwhelming, but I keep reminding myself to take it one step at a time. This whole process has taught me two powerful things:
1. I want my day job to allow me to make art and to do as many things on my list as possible. I don't want to take work home with me on nights, weekends, or vacations unless, I am the owner of that business.
2. Finally going after dreamy or lofty goals demystifies them which is necessary to figure out which are worthwhile. The greatest gift of working through my list is realizing the items I thought I wanted to pursue, but in fact, really do not want to do.
I'll give you an example:
As you saw on my list above, I put down Teach Art Classes. I've thought about it for such a long time, BUT... Almost as soon as I sent that message out into the world, I realized I didn't want to do it at all. Surprise!
The thing about dreaming, which is all in your head, is you don't start out thinking about the work. The time. The effort. And if it's a business idea- networking, marketing yourself, coming up with prices, preparation, running errands, keeping the books.
So when a few people expressed interest in the classes, I responded. When I didn't hear anything back, I quietly backpedaled... and then ran in the opposite direction. I was so relieved. A dream I had dreamed for so long: Dead on Arrival.
It was a little embarrassing, I admit, but the silver lining outweighed that feeling. Now I can check that puppy off my list. Actually, I checked off a whole page, and that's a gift. On to the next thing...
Sidenote: This doesn't mean I will never teach art classes, just not right now.
So after this happened, I was talking to Dale Mackey of The Central Collective about this notion of trying and quitting (gasp). Was it ok that I did this? And she tells me that if she has, what she thinks is a great idea, she will just go for it. If it loses steam or doesn't work out or she loses interest, she can allow herself to quit thinking about it and move on. And that's ok!
I think we all agree that this method may not be appropriate for every aspect of life, but as an entrepreneur, as a human who develops many interests, isn't it fun to think of all the things you can pursue with this mentality? It allows someone like Dale to dream uninhibited, which is a beautiful thing because, while some of her ideas don't come through, the ones that do are pretty brilliant, and our community reaps plentifully from her endeavors.
One last story:
There were these beautiful shoes at Style of Civil a few years ago. I had an art show there, and each time I'd go in, I'd stare at them, pick them up, hold them. I couldn't afford them so I wouldn't try them on until the owner said, "Let me get your size. Let's see if they work, and if they don't, you can quit thinking about them."
And so I tried them on. And they were extremely uncomfortable. And it broke the magical spell they had cast on me. I was free!
(Please click here for poignant illustration).
What a delight to receive from a boutique shoe store owner such sage advice that has helped me live my life better. It's the main reason I'm writing again. Writing has been nagging me for so long and I now have the time and energy to turn toward it and say, "Let's do this. (Please don't embarrass me.)"
So I leave you with these words if something good has been tugging at your heart for a while:
Just try it on** (while also being safe, responsible, and caring for others).
*I have done these things or started the process. Three cheers for Lists!
**Name that movie