Tag: Self-awareness

Preparing for the summer break

The festive break and summer holidays are looming large as we move into mid-December and January.  It is a very social time with lots of parties, end of year celebrations, family gatherings at Christmas or Hanukah or New Year.  It’s great to celebrate the end of the year with your friends and family and it can be as busy as you allow.  And whilst it can be exhilarating it can also impact on your regular creative routine, processes and productivity.

Summer breaks are a great opportunity to have that well-earned rest and put your feet up.  Resting is important as it lets you clear your brain, break with regular routines, do different things and engage with the world to find new inspiration for your creative endeavours.  Often it can be a chance to catch up on sleep or to do something physical.

So why not prepare and give yourself permission to stop and enjoy all you get up to.  Eradicate the guilt before it begins and when the break is over you can get back on track with your work.

Here are some tips to help you make the most your summer break.

  Set some creative goals and tasks for your first couple of weeks back at your desk, or in your studio, and outline what you want to achieve during this time.  It could be things like setting up your calendar and scheduling your creative milestones, or setting your goals for the entire year.  Make it fun so you enter the year looking forward to creating.

  Have your creative journal with you so when ideas arise you can record them.  That way you will have some new ideas to work on and put into play when you get back to you studio or desk.

  Remember to have things to hand that will relax, stimulate and inspire you – such as books, podcasts, DVD’s and TV series, your friends.  Things that will take you totally away from your work and enable you to unwind and return refreshed in the New Year.

  Set aside some time out for reflection.  Review your creative process – what is working well, what isn’t, where are the opportunities for improvement or change, what would you like to do differently in the coming year.  Look back and acknowledge all you have learnt and achieved over the last 12 months.

  Make time to get physical – swim, hike, run, dance, walk, play tennis, rock climb – whatever takes your fancy.  Just move and rejoice in your body.  It has supported you to get this far.

  Celebrate your success and uniqueness.  Pause, congratulate yourself and express gratitude for all you have created.  It takes courage to express your creativity and share it with the world.

  Spend the festive season with people who have supported you over the year – either in person or virtually.  They will enjoy seeing you away from your work, relaxing and having fun.  But do remove yourself from any family or friendship tensions if they arise – and they may at this busy time.  If you need some guidance on how to handle these tensions please see my counsellor colleague Reed Everingham’s blog.

Whatever you do – ENJOY IT ALL.  And don’t forget the sun block.  Best wishes for the festive season and the New Year.

Coaching can assist you to manage your creative life.  Please get in touch if you would like to explore the ideas above in more detail.

Pace yourself

Watching the Olympic games in Brazil I was again reminded of what elite athletes can teach us as artists and creatives, about life in general.

As we go about our life, practice and business there are many important things that we, like athletes, need to consider in order to live and create – building and maintaining our fitness, developing our practical skills and mental toughness, preparing for the big “race”, celebrating our successes, reflecting on and learning from our wins and losses, and importantly refreshing ourselves after our achievements.

Great athletes understand the importance of recharging and recuperating, of learning all they can from their performance whether they win or lose, and of refocusing on the next event, the next gold medal, trophy or premiership.  They understand how to manage their energy.

 

the challenge of great performance is to manage energy more effectively in all dimensions to achieve your goalsengagement is not simply one-dimensional.  The energy that pulses through us is physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.  All four dynamics are critical, none is sufficient by itself and each profoundly influences the others.  To perform at our best, we must skilfully manage each of these interconnected dimensions of energy.” 1.

 

We need to manage our energy to ensure that we have the stamina to go the distance to fulfill our goals of becoming successful people, artists and creators, however we define such success.

How do you manage your energy across all your four energy dynamics – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual?  Do you give yourself time to rest, review and learn, recuperate and recharge on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis?  If the answer is no, or sometimes, then it may be time to rethink what you are doing.  Here are some suggestions to help keep your energy levels firing.

  Take regular breaks – Creating is a marathon and a good way to tackle the distance is with regular “sprints”.  Set interval targets for your creative endeavours, whatever they may be, over a day and then have a break to refresh. Write, compose, paint, draw etc. with no interruptions for an hour and then have a ten minute break.  It works and stops procrastination.

  Recharge – Identify things that bring joy to your life and make a commitment to do at least one of those things a day.  And make them achievable.

  Play – Feed the creative part of your life and make time to play2,  to do things that aren’t about projects and outcomes.  Go out and have some fun, and get caught up in living in the moment.

  Move – Move your body and exercise as it is a natural stimulant with both proven physical and psychological benefits.  Physically it increases your aerobic and anaerobic fitness; muscle tone and strength; energy levels; flexibility; sleep quality; plus more.  Psychologically it improves your confidence and self-esteem; reduces your stress levels; and increases your feeling of well-being.

  Reflect – Allocate time in your day to reflect on your successes, how you feel about your work and its progress, on your life, those people who are important to you.  Do something that allows you to listen to what’s going on ‘inside’ you and to be grateful for all of it.

  Sleep and eat well – Develop and maintain healthy dietary and sleep routines.  Choose nutritious fuel for your body and eat at regular intervals to maintain optimum energy levels.  Too little or too much food at the wrong times can impact on your performance.  Schedule your work to ensure you get between seven and eight hours sleep a night to rejuvenate.

Give yourself the best chance to do your best and have a break.  You don’t just deserve it – you need it!

Coaching can assist you to pace your creative life.  Please get in touch if you would like to explore these ideas in more detail.


1.  Loehr, Jim and Schwartz, Tony (2005) The Power of Full Engagement – The Free Press, New York, page 9

2.  National Institute for Play at http://www.nifplay.org

7 habits of mind to boost your arts career

Earlier this year I contributed to an article on ArtsHub called the Seven habits of mind that will boost your arts career.

Metalsmith and lecturer, Simon Cottrell, feminist organiser Karen Pickering, community cultural development practitioner, Susie Waller, and myself were interviewed and asked what behaviours and attitudes help artists to excel and survive in the demanding world of today’s arts practitioner.  The responses provide plenty of food for thought and focus on some of the important intangible aspects associated with creative practice.  Check out the article and enjoy.

Also check out my article on this site on self compassion.

Coaching can assist you to explore ways to increase your self-awareness.  Please get in touch if you would like to explore any of these ideas in more detail.