I recently discovered the meaning of life. The purpose of life it to create. Some of you may disagree or resist this idea at first. You may feel that the purpose of life is to love or to have children. As both of those are creations, my argument holds. Or perhaps you feel the purpose of life is to experience life. Again, creation is involved.
I have thought of dozens of possible scenarios as a substitute for the meaning of life. Without fail, each of them are creations.
Everything we do or don’t do is a creation.
If we are tidying, we are creating space. If we are caring for our children, we are creating support and love. Sometimes we create problems.
Every thought we have, every action we take, and every word we speak is a creation.
We create both consciously and subconsciously. Often, our unconscious creations keep us stuck in old habits and ways of thinking.
Presence (awareness/mindfulness) gives us the ability to consciously create. It is the key to living a happier, more fulfilling life. There is no area of our lives that is not enhanced by our presence, and this includes our ability to create.
Those who have experienced trauma have a more challenging journey to presence, and I recommend professional help if you are embarking on a journey to greater presence. Absence is a coping mechanism, and we disconnect for a reason. For trauma survivors, getting in touch with feelings needs to be done with support.
Barriers to Conscious Creation
I’ve discovered the following 4 barriers to consistent conscious creation:
- Too many ideas
- Lack of focus
- Lack of clarity
I struggle with conscious creation because I have so many ideas and projects that I’m working on. Ideas are constantly flowing into my head. It seems impossible to keep up with them.
I’m overcoming this because I am determined to create days filled with the things I want and need to do. Writing is at the top of that list.
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And yes, it can be challenging to choose what to work on. I lack both focus and clarity. The image on the left side of the cover of Essentialism by Greg McKeown is a representation of the inner workings of my mind.
My goal is to untangle it.
There are literally hundreds of directions I could choose to go in. This stops many people from taking action and working seriously towards a goal.
Combat inaction with action.
Pick something and do it.
While Greg McKeown writes about “making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy,” such thinking holds me back. I’m not disagreeing, but don’t let trying to figure out what is wisest hold you back from creating. One creation will lead to another. Wisdom will grow with experience.
“It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”
~ Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
It is not impossible to get down to work. It is very possible. It starts with presence. There are other things to overcome as well: perfection, certainty, and uncertainty.
As for certainty and uncertainty, we can get stuck in What if…? questions. What if no one reads my writing? What if no one likes it? What if I chose the wrong thing to focus on or write about?
To wanting to be certain that you are making the right choice and wanting to avoid feelings of uncertainty, I say, the only wrong choice is no choice. Inaction is the only failure. Any action, any creation will lead you somewhere. That is the beauty of creation.
Part of the inspiration for this post is the fact that I have not been consistent in creating and adding content to this website. I have the excuse of being caught up doing the work I get paid to do as an assistant professor. However, the semester is finished, grades are completed, and all my paperwork has been submitted.
There are no more excuses. It’s time to start creating pieces of writing that have been living inside me for quite some time.
This post was also inspired in part by a new discovery of mine, the blog of Sarah Thooft. One reason I love Sarah’s website is because so much of what she writes is stuff that is floating around in my head in a swirl of ideas. In the excerpt below, Sarah writes about creating.
“In the self-determination theory that’s defined as the feeling of competence. This is the feeling you have when you can accomplish something on your own. We can create on [sic] so many diverse ways. The opportunities are litteraly [sic] endless.”
~ Sarah Thooft
Now, I could compare and despair and decide not to create because, hey, she’s already done it! Or, I can learn from her creations. And I have. I have learned to get over my desire for perfection. I have learned what is possible when I let go of the need to be perfect.
So, here I am, creating. Sarah inspires me with her words on two levels. First, the content resonates very deeply with me. Second, there are mistakes, but those mistakes make me like her writing more, not less.
You do not need to be perfect in order to create and share your thoughts.
One other obstacle to creativity is procrastination. I’ve already written about that, so if procrastination is an issue, you might enjoy my thoughts on Procrastination, Time, and Productivity.
Accept, Go Forth and Create
Overcoming the barriers is simple if you accept that you must get past them in order to begin creating consciously. The alternative is remaining stuck. The choice is yours.
- Choose one idea at a time
- Set aside an hour or two to focus without distractions
- Don’t wait for clarity to begin – Start!
- Release the need for perfection – It’s okay. It can be fixed later if it needs to be.
The next time you hesitate to create, keep in mind the following quotation from The War of Art:
“Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention…It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”
~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
I’m now willing to accept that what I create isn’t going to be perfect, but at least it is a contribution. It wouldn’t exist if I held on to my perfectionism, which limits my creative output.
I will not achieve much output if I hold on to my usual writing style, as it typically takes many hours across many days for me to be comfortable hitting the Publish button. My revision process can be never-ending. What you are reading now is an exception. This was done over a few hours in one day.
My ongoing practice in the battle against perfectionism and indecisiveness is to consciously create on a regular and consistent basis.
And with that, I’ll close, asking your apologies for releasing this imperfect piece of writing into the world. I’m sure I’ll be back to improve it, but for now, I release it.
What are your thoughts on creativity? Was any of this useful? Did you find any typos?! Did anything resonate? Let me know your thoughts in a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.