If, like me, you become a bit panicky as you feel the shorter days, impending darkness, and the loss of your multiple-walks-per-day-happiness regimen, I invite you to join me in my strategy for fall (and forever):
Be the light.
Start the fire.
(Sometimes I am a walking slogan, okay!)
But it is creative flow, and the ways in which it intersects with others—more than praise or recognition—that genuinely and sustainably lights us up from the inside out.
There are 97 days left in the year and what I most want to know is:
What will you create?
Maybe you will…
Establish a morning routine that doesn’t involve checking Instagram before you get out of bed
Shoot the music video that is haunting your dreams
Organize an event for a cause close to your heart
Launch the podcast that the world needs
Write the book proposal you said you would write last year
Edit & polish your pilot treatment so you can finally send it to that person who asked for it
Develop your signature talk and don’t stop until you get it booked
Start the weekly Instagram show you can’t stop thinking about
Create a new offering for your clients that you can’t wait to deliver
Reach out to 100 people who need to know about your extraordinary new project
Show up for the movement practice your body has been calling for
I am captain of the team of people who want to do ALL. OF. THE. THINGS.
(Hands up, all my co-captains out there).
Multi-faceted people are a vital force in our shifting world, but we must be rigorous with structures that allow us to bring work to graceful completion.
The best thing that works for me and my clients is to choose short, focused sprints (I call them leaps) where we can go ALL IN.
Can you select the ONE thing that matters most?
Let’s be clear that choosing only one leap to focus on right now does not mean you have chosen to be only one thing in your life. It does not even mean that you have only goal. It simply means you are clear about what matters most.
Creating excellent work of substance takes tremendous time and energy, and to do so, we have to learn to place some of our passions, ideas, and identities on the back-burner while we focus on the project at hand.
Who you become as you bring each project to completion is exactly the person you need to be to launch into the next one.
Here are five rules (& practices) to support your process:
#1–The Rule: SHOW UP
The truth is that you will do everything you can to avoid doing the work you most desire to do when there is no one asking you for it.
And—most likely, you experience a cacophony of voices and forces demanding you attend to their desires.
If you identify as a woman, POC, LGBTQ+, or as a member of any other marginalized community, you are fighting centuries of systems and conditioning reinforcing the idea that your creative contributions are generally less valuable, and that what you have to say, make, or do with your time is less important than responding to the needs of others.
Showing up for our creative work is no small potatoes, and, for some of us—a revolution.
And it’s beyond time.
- Get out your calendar and SCHEDULE at least 15 minutes for your project sometime in the next 3 days. Tell the necessary people around you (assistants, family, colleagues) that unless there is an emergency, you will not be available during that time. Through years of experience, I know that the 15 minutes strategy WORKS, and you can gradually increase the duration over time.
- Make a list of people who are depending on you to show up for YOUR work (Ex: Your future self, future clients or audience members, mentors & teachers, the younger women and creatives who are watching you…) and find a way to solidify your commitment to them with a note or a call or public post on social media. (Then tag me @lizkimball so I can champion your progress).
#2—The RULE: Turn off the noise
Here are some of the most common “noises” (inner and outer) that inhibit our work:
- Fixating on how it’s going so much better, faster, and more successfully for other people
- A false story that there isn’t room for you and your work
- Feeling like we must respond to email and texts immediately as they come in
- Momentary urges (NOT the same as intuition or creative instinct!) to check social media, watch tv, organize a drawer, shop on Amazon for things you don’t actually need
- The operatic newscycle
- Old beliefs and memories reinforcing not-enoughness
- Fear and panic that it will not be good
- Fear and panic that it WILL be good
The noise is big.
The noise is not your fault.
But you must do absolutely everything in your power to make the sound of your creative voice louder than the noise.
Before you begin a creative work session, put your devices on airplane mode, set a timer for 3 minutes and let yourself write out every single fear, doubt, piece of angst, story of being an imposter, and trashy thought or idea that is standing in your beautiful way.
Then put that paper in the recycling bin.
Take a breath, shake out your body, and release some sound and any remaining sludge keeping you from your brilliance.
Take 3 more breaths to invite in all your inner and outer support.
Do your work.
My friend, author Sarah Selecky, wrote an exquisitely helpful piece on Digital Minimalism. My most important boundary with the digital world = no email or social media before I have written for at least 33 minutes in the morning.
#3—The RULE: Tell the truth
I adore the magic of helping people develop aligned, creative, and ethical strategies to amplify and become more visible with their work.
If the work lacks truth, the strategy will never work.
Great work involves taking the lid off and telling the truth.
We are afraid to tell the truth because we are afraid we will feel unsafe if we do—because this person or that person from our past will not like us or accept us, or because we will feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.
But embarrassment is a prerequisite to dynamic creative work.
And telling the truth is what moves people.
Do a free write, draw, or dance on any/all of these prompts… What am I holding back? What does my inner creator want to say? What stories or questions am I obsessed with? Where do I feel this in my body?
Make a commitment to taking the lid off in your work, and remind yourself that you have the capacity and strength to deal with what happens when you do.
If you feel stuck on the blocks, work with a therapist, coach, or energy worker to help you clear what is in the way. Sometimes one conversation can change everything.
#4—The RULE: Forgive yourself
If you have ever taught, coached, or guided a young person, you know that no substantial growth or learning happens when the child is in a place of shame.
The same is true for us.
When we make a commitment to any new endeavor, one of the most essential and often forgotten steps is to forgive ourselves, so that our creative parts feel welcome and invited to show up for the process.
Perhaps this is about letting go of an old dream, a sticky collaboration that didn’t have closure, or when it didn’t work out the last time.
Ask yourself: What do I need to forgive, in order to forge ahead?
Then, for everything you wrote, put your hand on your heart, and say the Hawaiian Hoʻoponopono prayer to yourself:
Thank you. I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.
Write this (or any other words of forgiveness that appeal to you) on a post-it and put it where you can see it. Then say it and forgive yourself as often as you need to throughout your creative process.
#5—The RULE: Be open to what comes up
Do you ever notice yourself saying:
I am absolutely willing to go all in as long as I can guarantee it will go WELL (and that every single person and their mother and their cat will like me when I do it).
Oh nelly. ME TOO!
But nothing creative or interesting happens when we know the outcome.
The quality of your work (and life) is directly proportional to your willingness to dive headfirst into the unknown.
We become so obsessed with results, that we oppress our greatest creative energy with our need to get it right, and be perfect right away.
But having the bravery to go through the uncertainty, mystery and doubt fertilizes your instincts, and makes way for the inspired flashes of ‘ahas’ and ‘I do knows.’
Today, make the brave decision to be open to all possible outcomes in your work. Summon willingness to open up to the magic of what can evolve when you fling yourself into the life and breath of creative process.
It will help to get clear with yourself about what stage of process you are in–the generative stage, the editing/shaping stage, the packaging/shipping stage, or the marketing/amplification stage—and do your best to honor the stage you are in without trying to simultaneously be in another one.
Maybe you whisper to yourself:
I can’t wait to see how this unfolds…
Most likely you do not need all of these rules right now, but I have a hunch you may need at least one. And DO NOT be fooled by their simplicity!
Truly honoring these rules will…
- significantly grow and deepen your work
- allow you to feel present, proud, and relaxed when you take breaks and time off
- melt blocks and obstacles and years of agony–
As long as you are willing to go all in…
I want us to become so distracted by the light of our creative process this fall, that we simply can’t be bothered by Holiday overwhelm.
I want us to become addicted to folllowing-through and the resevoir of self-trust that begins to form as a result.
I want my inbox and DMs to flood with messages in December, telling me about the fire you are building, and, most importantly, the person you are becoming in building it.
I am going to be doing a free Facebook Live on Monday, September 30th (Here on this page) at 4pm PT / 7pm ET to teach more in depth on these five rules, and answer any questions about your projects and process this fall.
I would love to connect with you and hear about what you are working on!
You can also head over to my Instagram and tell me in the comments of my most recent post what you are committing to this fall, or hit reply to this email. I read everything you write to me and I care about your process.
You are 1000 percent onto something.
And I can’t wait to see the sparks.