In June, I came up with the idea for a brand new newsletter where I’d speak more freely and take readers to a deeper level than I do any other place. Normally, you’d need to subscribe for the newsletter (which is free) to get access to the content. But every once in awhile, I’ll reprint content that readers found particularly transformative, so you can get a flavour of the kind of content to expect on the inside.
This is a reprint of my inaugural edition.
When we’re creating, we’re imagining new things. We’re doing new things. We’re evolving.
But you know what? Evolving isn’t always easy. That’s because our brain hates change. It hates doing things differently.
Our brain would prefer that we always keep doing the same thing. Even if we’re not enjoying that same thing, at least it’s safe.
When we commit to creating something new, we often go through a cycle where we first get inspired. Then we step into the reality of the changes we need to make. And our brains FREAK OUT.
That’s what I’ve seen happen in my own brain. And that’s what I’ve seen happen in so many of my clients’ brains.
Our hearts are wise. They love our new ideas. They love us becoming all we can be. Our hearts cheer us on!
But our brains don’t agree. Our brains like to tell us all the reasons it’s a terrible idea. Our brains believe our new path will lead us straight to the edge of a cliff and we’ll plummet over the side. Our brains desperately try to post stop signs so we’ll turn back.
Our brains can be LOUD and convincing.
Earlier this week, I went into my studio to brainstorm some ideas. I love sitting down with a blank sketchbook surrounded by my paintings and looking out over the lovely view of meadows and trees. Usually, my creativity begins to flow.
Sometimes ideas for paintings emerge. Other times, ideas for my clients pop up.
I started thinking about how my studio is the most ambitious thing I’ve ever created. How much I appreciate it. I think my paintings are beautiful. I think my studio is GORGEOUS.
I also remembered all the times I lost faith.
There were many times this project seemed WAY TOO MUCH – too many decisions to make about the studio’s location, construction and design, too many hurdles to navigate through on my own as a single woman, too much time away from Toronto, too many unexpected expenses, too many uniquely rural issues I’d never considered before, too far from my family and friends, and definitely too grand for someone like me.
My brain often told me I’d made a horrible mistake. It seemed to love launching little negative thought missiles at me. It seemed to enjoy presenting all the evidence to prove I should stop. This. Now.
But, since I’m a coach, I also knew my brain was just doing its job. I knew my brain wasn’t wired to help me evolve. It’s wired to keep me safe. And it’s always going to let me know that any change I want to make will DEFINITELY kill me.
My brain is very dramatic.
Keep reading if your brain is sometimes dramatic too.
Today, I’d like to share three things I did to help me get to the other side and finish building my dream.
I’ve summarized them as 3 little “lessons” you can try out the next time you’re creating something new and your brain isn’t happy about it.
- I expected my brain to be upset
I learned that if my brain was freaking out, it meant I was doing it right. That’s because our brains usually freak out when we’re evolving and creating something new. Our brains are wired to keep us safe and to resist all change.
I like to talk to my brain like it’s a toddler having a tantrum. Which essentially it is. So I’d say to it, “OK, sweetheart. I hear you. I can hear you’re upset right now. But we’re going to keep going. We’re going to be OK. We’re going to be fine. You can be as upset as you want, but we’re still doing this.”
My brain always settled down when it knew I’d heard its objections AND decided to stay the course anyway.
Lesson 1: If you’re creating something new, know that of course your brain will freak out! Anticipate this ahead of time so you’re not caught off guard and think something’s wrong. Be ready to soothe your brain like it’s a tantruming toddler.
- I had a clear vision of what I was creating and why.
I developed a clear vision of what the future would be like when my dream was done. I used this vision to fuel me as I hit the inevitable obstacles and challenges.
I actively practiced my vision every day. I imagined the way my space would benefit the people I wanted to serve. I pictured my studio with people sitting around long tables, learning how to deepen their creative capacities in every field. I saw people together in a community of support where they shared their dreams and challenges, celebrated each other’s unique gifts, and created new things in the world.
I imagined my paintings on the walls of the gallery area, each painting reflecting the internal beauty of the viewers.
I pictured my building and art serving as proof of our human capacity to cause the ideas in our heads take physical form.
Every time things got tough, I’d call up these images and remember my why. And then I’d keep going.
Lesson 2: When you face inevitable hurdles and challenges, it’s critical to hold onto your vision of what you’re creating. Imagine what it will feel like when you’re done. Remember why you’re doing it. Practice imagining you when it’s done, until what you’re creating feels very real to you.
- I expected to make mistakes and people on my team to make mistakes
I realized at the outset that my project was big and complicated. I knew that some things wouldn’t go as planned. I expected mistakes to happen.
Because I anticipated mistakes, I was also able to decide ahead of time how I’d handle them. I came up with two general rules: I decided I’d never blame the contractor. And I decided I wouldn’t punish myself for my own mistakes.
So when the contractor removed the clump of trees that I’d carefully angled the building to view, I didn’t get angry. Becoming angry wouldn’t motivate my contractor, wouldn’t bring the trees back, and a confrontation certainly wouldn’t make me feel better.
Instead, I stopped and breathed. I asked myself to come up with 5 reasons that it was GREAT he’d removed those trees. I noticed some advantages. I felt peaceful.
I was able to have a conversation with my contractor that kept him wanting to keep doing great work. And I noticed how I’d also been responsible by not emphasizing things important to me.
Then there was the ugly shingle incident. I spent HOURS deliberating over siding, shingles and door trim colours. I wanted my studio to look attractive and elegant.
I was so excited when I learned the exterior of the studio was completed. But when I went to inspect it, the shingle colour clashed horribly with the siding. Even my contractor admitted it looked terrible. I had managed to create the world’s ugliest studio.
That wasn’t OK with me. I’d made a mistake, but I didn’t yell at myself. I decided I would make the best decision I could. So I ripped off the brand new shingles and installed even newer ones. SUCH a good decision. I now have a studio I love.
Lesson 3: Mistakes will arise. We’re all human. Plan how you’re going to deal with them ahead of time so you can react in a way that serves you.
Consider subscribing to my Creative Expansion Weekly newsletter. It’s free. It’s transformative. It speaks your language. Subscribe by clicking on the form below.