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Strategies for Achieving better Balance in your Creative Life

It’s a new year with a clean slate, and that means taking some time to evaluate and re-prioritize your goals, outlook and path moving forward. The one thing we all look for in our lives is balance. Between family obligations, work, social calendars, appointments and creativity, it can feel impossible to breathe, let alone meet the expectations and demands of each facet of your life on a daily basis.

I wanted to share some ways that I am trying to find better balance in 2023 and work towards a life of infrequent burnout sprinkled with delight in its stead.

Integrating instead of Scheduling

Instead of trying to carve out time each and everyday to create, I am working on integrating creativity into my everyday life instead! Yes, I know planners have projects, and creating consistency for pieces is key, but in order to live a creative life I need to know that creativity isn't another time slot I need to fill or a checkbox I need to hit. To me, a creative life is a fluid engagement with creativity as second nature as breathing.

Example: As part of my nightly routine I do my skin care, followed by a stretch session with my husband, before I break out my journal to center on my evening pages focused on creativity and close off the night by reading.

This example is integrating my creative journaling and consumption of creative inspiration into my daily night time routine. Instead of scheduling it at a certain time or for a block of hours or as a thing to do before the routine begins I’ve chosen to integrate it into my life as part of what I normally do. Another example of this would be sitting watching television with your family while knitting, or engaging the kids in an after-school activity like painting or make believe play. Even keeping my notebook near me at all times allows for creative moments to come up organically and become integrated into my process of work and socializing.

Mindset Matters - Changing Have tos to Get tos

This is a big one for me this year, and I am really looking forward to exploring how this changes my outlook. Instead of adding creativity to the list of have tos, you know, where the going to the gym, making dinner and the grocery shop go, I want to move all of those things over to a get to list. Too often we look at the things we need to do in our lives and we begrudge them the time and effort they take away from things we want to do, like watch that movie, rest, or have a long bubble bath. But the only things we really have to do are go to work and pay the bills and make sure the children survive. Everything else, even the things we are used to thinking of chores and have tos are really get tos.

Example: I have to put away the laundry, choreograph for recital, write a blog post and wash my hair.

Re-frame: I get to put my clothes away in dressers in my home to create space to breathe and enjoy instead of cluttering it up with clothes. I get to choreograph a piece for beautiful dancers to showcase their talents and learning while stretching my own creative muscle in a discipline I love. I get to write blog posts at my leisure for work and play because I have the privilege to give myself the space to be expressive. I get to relax and unwind while taking care of my physical body and keep it clean in a privileged country where water access is easy and available.

Stay with me. Having a home means cleaning, cooking and laundry. We get to do those things because we are fortunate enough to have those things, and often with ease! Creativity, the gym sessions, they are get tos as well. We are privileged to get to put our energy into ourselves - to create and take care of our bodies. We can’t always do every get to every day, but now we can see that when we feel overwhelmed or busy or overworked that we may be piling on too many get tos. When we see these activities as a privilege we are better able to manage the expectations we place on ourselves around those activities and suddenly, without changing anything about them we find ourselves enjoying them more because we see them as a thing we are blessed to engage with.

Big Picture goals with Flexible Deadlines

Too often I get caught up in the micro details of a project. The nitty gritty mechanics of what I have to do everyday to make sure this gets done can drown me in their multitudes. To limit my overwhelm I am trying to look at big picture goals and flexible deadlines instead of cramming everything in and running through that list every few minutes.

Example: Creatively I want to publish a novel. My goal is to have one published this year, but the goal is flexible. Second to that, I want to have the final draft completed by October or at worst December. Along the way I want to complete at least three drafts before anyone sees it.

By breaking them into more big picture goals instead of nitty gritty timeline goals I am able to be flexible with the mechanics and appreciate the work that will go into each big picture dream. It might take me three months to write my second draft, but only a few weeks to crank out the third - who knows? Not me, I’ve never done this before. Being big picture about what you want to accomplish without constraining it too much is a huge relief. Think about what creative goals or projects you want to aim for this year. That’s it, that’s all, which makes it easier to balance the workload into the spaces created in my day.

Replacing Consumption with Creation

I don’t know about you, but I am a binger. I binge television, books, audiobooks and entertainment like nobody's business. By the end of the day I realize all of the missed opportunities and semi wasted time I had to create instead, to do the things I really wanted to do instead of just doing the comfortable easy option. To minimize this guilt I am making deals with myself.

Example: I will watch one episode of a show and then dedicate that same amount of time to a creative endeavor. This gives me the control to balance my guilty pleasures and rest with creativity and purpose.

By giving myself the time to indulge in consumption of creativity I can take rest, inspiration and ease. However, over indulging is never a good thing. To combat those tendencies I choose to dedicate myself to action as often as I allow myself to be inactive. Or I can choose the combo option and write or embroider or draw while I watch something or listen to music.

However you find balance in your life, make certain that there is always space for ease and flexibility. Balance isn’t about being rigid with ourselves or scheduling everything in equal parts. Balance is about feeling secure and fulfilled in your everyday life. Let creativity hold you this year, and give you the courage to find balance within your life journey.

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