One of the reasons I listen to NPR’s podcast How I Built This is because it serves as a weekly reminder about how long it takes to get something off the ground. I like Ed Catmull’s book Creativity, Inc. for the same reason. Catmull co-founded Pixar with Steve Jobs and it took him 20 years to make Toy Story possible. When it comes to personal finance, I belong to a Facebook group where people share their ongoing money-related challenges and wins.
When I pick up yet another self-help book, it’s simply to keep me fired up and moving forward. Most of them say the same thing just packaged in new language. I’m currently working my way through the updated version of Your Money Or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. I don’t mind that I’ve read it all before. If it helps me to keep going then it’s worth it; just like eating well on a regular basis is worth it.
Of course, one of the reasons I seek out stories about how people got where they are is because I can be an impatient person. Impatience has been an explosive force in my life and I am constantly looking for ways to channel that energy more productively. On the flip side, I am also persistent when I lock onto something I want to see through to the end. I’ve found that the right combination of impatience and persistence keeps me plugging away most days.
More and more I return to Douglas Coupland’s parting words to my graduating class at art school, Neil Gaiman’s convocation speech, and Ira Glass’ thoughts on persisting as a creative. All of them in their own way say the same thing: keep making the art that matters to you and trust that the rest will take care of itself. This has been my experience and I want to highlight the “making” part of each of their messages.
Social media allows us to easily share our ideas and construct avatars for the people we’re hoping to become. Which can be both helpful to our creative development and detrimental to it. On the one hand, we can seek out inspiration and support to help us push our creative and/or financial visions forward. On the other hand, we can spend more time talking about what we want to be doing than actually doing it.
So as important as it is to stay committed to your creative path when doubt shows up or when financial catastrophes hit, it’s essential you keep working on your art. Keep your hands in the mess and notice when you’re using a self-imposed timeline to justify giving up. Anything worthwhile takes time. Your responsibility, then, is to keep showing up. However long it takes. Keep going. That’s the only way you’ll have a shot at being the creative you’re longing to be.
What kind of inspiration do you need to keep going right now?