You can’t use up your creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
— Maya Angelou
After a lifetime of repressing and thwarting our creative urges, we may want to swing radically back in the other direction. So, we may suddenly find ourselves overwhelmed by the enormous changes we feel will be necessary, once we are the successful, top-of-charts novelist, Broadway star, or whatever else our secret hungry heart desires.
Alas, in rehearsing our pinnacle of success, we can end up feeling burned out from it all. And we haven’t actually gotten started.
Hence, the importance of micromovements. Interestingly, our discussion of micromovements and slow, but sure progress, seems to be echoing everywhere lately. I keep running across different versions and commentaries on similar themes, as I go visiting some my favorite blogs and web spaces. It seems to be a very popular, timely topic lately.
For instance, one of my favorite blogs, Zen Habits, just posted this tidbit yesterday:
“You know that feeling. Where you’re that close to finishing a project, or achieving a goal, or crossing a task off your to-do list … but you just can’t muster the energy. You’ve lost interest. You’re exhausted. Drained. And you don’t know why.
“That’s burnout. It’s something many of us are all too familiar with. I’d like to share with you a few ways that I fight burnout – or prevent it from catching me in the first place.
“1. Achieve in increments. When you only focus on a big goal someday, it’s easy to get burned out by the daily grind. It’s like driving toward a mountain in the distance. You can drive for hours, but the mountain doesn’t seem to get any closer. And spinning your wheels gets real tiring real fast.
“The solution is to give yourself a way to measure and record every little step forward you take…Learn to appreciate the little accomplishments. Let yourself enjoy the feeling of getting things done…” Isn’t that just one more way to describe micromovements? Or filling the form (as Julia calls this practice)? Or to use some of Alcoholic Anonymous’ lingo, Easy Does It; One Step At A Time.
Why all the emphasis on this? Why is it so hard to get this right? After all, the whole idea is that it’s LITTLE steps.
That’s just it. Julia notes, “All too often, when people look to having a more creative life, they hold an unspoken and often unacknowledged expectation, or fear, that they will be abandoning life as they know it.
“‘I can’t be a writer and stay in this marriage.’
“‘I can’t pursue my painting and stay in this dull job.’
“‘I can’t commit to acting and stay in Chicago.. Seattle.. Atlanta..’ ”
Yikes! The reward for moving in the direction of your writing, acting, or painting is going to be divorced, unemployed and uprooted from your home? No wonder we would rather go back to bed and pull the covers over our heads!
Has this happened to you yet? Tomorrow, we’ll examine why this is a common hazard for us, and what we can do about it.