Monday, June 24, 2013

Challenge #12: Where The Hell Are We Going With This

Obligatory image of dude lost in the jungle just in case
 you don't know what a guy lost in the jungle looks like.
Being a creative person is sort of like being lost in the jungle at night surrounded by piranha-infested waters with a pretty bad case of amnesia to top it off.  It's dark, we're disoriented and have no idea how to get back or where back is, we only know that where we are right now feels wrong. If we start just aimlessly wandering around trying to get out, chances are good we're going to get eaten alive pretty damn fast or just head deeper into the jungle without knowing it, and then get eaten alive.  Besides from the fact that I've obviously been watching way to many survival shows on TV, we have three problems: 

1) We don't know who we are
2) We don't know where we are going 
and 3) We have no clue how to get there because we don't know where there is.

At this point some of you may be saying, "Kadie, I think you are exaggerating a bit, being a creative person is nothing like that." To that I say, nay nay, it is in fact very similar.

As creative people most of us have no idea where we are headed, or how in the hell we are going to get there, we just keep making work and hoping we'll get wherever "there" is someday.  We cross our fingers, pray to the gods of chance and discovery and just keeping wandering around.  That's what we've been told to do most of our creative careers right? Just keep working and eventually your big break will come.

Well I'm calling bullshit.

Not all mountains are the same.
What does your mountain look like?
I can't believe that simply biding my time, aimlessly wandering around my life making work is the best plan for my future happiness.  Even if I am "discovered" would that really make me happy? "Of course it would Kadie! Are you crazy!? That's what every artists dream is!"  But what does that mean exactly?  Because my idea of the dream life and another artist's idea of the dream life are most likely completely different, his dream might make me miserable.   Are you picking up what I'm throwing down yet?

There is an amazing quote I love by Jim Rohn that goes "If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan."  But I think the person who really sums up what I'm talking about best is Neil Gaiman

"Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be – an author, primarily of fiction, making good books, making good comics and supporting myself through my words – was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal. 
And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain. I said no to editorial jobs on magazines, proper jobs that would have paid proper money because I knew that, attractive though they were, for me they would have been walking away from the mountain. And if those job offers had come along earlier I might have taken them, because they still would have been closer to the mountain than I was at the time."

So how do we know what our mountain looks like!?  It can be tempting to just follow our friends to their mountains or travel to the mountains of famous forefathers, but those aren't OUR mountains. 

Jackie Battenfield is an amazing artist and author of the book "The Artist's Guide." Her book is created to guide creative people on their professional journey and teach them how to make a living doing what they love. One of the very first exercises she has you do in her book is to simply dream. Why? Because dreams can only come true if you allow yourself to have them.  Or you can only head toward your mountain once you know what it looks like.  Whichever example floats your boat, this week we are encouraging you and challenging you to find your mountain and pick a destination for your life.

Grab a blank piece of paper, a nice cup of coffee, and find a quiet spot where you can just sit and dream.  Let your mind freely wander imagining the life you would love to live, the perfect life, your dream.  Your mountain will start off fuzzy so begin with general details like:
  • What would make you feel successful as an artist?
  • What would make you feel successful in your relationships with your partner/spouse/children/family/community?
  • What kind of life would make your truly happy?

Challenge Badge To Share!
As your mountain comes into focus begin to add specific details such as where you would live, what country you are in, how do you feel, what are you doing, who are you with.  Fill your dream in with as many vivid details as you can imagine to paint the picture as colorfully and as clearly as possible.  Above all make sure to be honest with yourself, writing down what you truly want, not what you've been told you should want.

Once you have your picture painted, and you mountain has come into focus clearly full of vivid detail, hang on to that image and we'll tell you what to do with it next week!  For now, just dream on my friends, dream on, dream until the dreams comes true.!

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