We Are Terrible At Doing What We Say We Want To Do

Remember that Creative Process survey I sent out several weeks back? I posted it on social media, included it in a weekly newsletter and sent it to my friends and colleagues. Some of you took it, most of you didn’t (it’s never too late to take it, hint hint), but for those of you who took the 2 minutes to submit answers, well,  I was pretty surprised at some of the results. But then again, I wasn’t.

The thing with humans is that we think we know what we want, we tell others what we think we know we want, we set goals to get what we told others we think we want, and then we consistently fail at doing it or getting it or building it or making it. For most of us, unless someone is expecting a product on a certain day and time, we find ways and reasons to delay doing it. And here’s the proof:

This is how often you said you created

First, kudos to those of you that create every day . . . if that’s your goal. Kudos to everyone else if your goal is to not create every day. Overall, every few months seems to be just as realistic as every day.  There’s only a 60-90 day difference there but that’s cool. We seem to be more of an all-or-nothing type of crowd: “Hmmm, I don’t think I’ll create today, I’m going to wait until Halloween. I’ll make something then.”

So these results are all fine and dandy but they don’t tell you much unless you compare them to the answers from my next question.

This is how often you said you want to create

 

And so the truth comes out. Daily?! Only 31% of you said you actually created daily but 75% of you want to create daily. This leads me to one of only two conclusions:

  1. You do actually want to create daily, you’re just missing the magic ingredient to make it happen. Be it accountability, resources, time, money, space, community, or inspiration,  something is not right.
  2. You think you want to create daily, and you think you’re missing the magic ingredient, but you don’t actually want to create everyday and you’re not actually missing anything.

If it’s the first, sometimes you just have to make it happen regardless of what you do or don’t have.  The Iteration Project exists to try to cover a few of those bases (community, inspiration, accountability), but we can’t do it all. Furthermore, you could spend a lifetime waiting for all the stars to align and all the resources to be present. Even if it happens once in your lifetime, there’s no way it’s going to happen everyday. So just start doing the thing you want to do. And if you try and fail, that’s okay. Keep evaluating and keep adjusting. I finally figured out that by living in San Francisco I was hurting my ability to create every day. So I moved.  I know not everyone can do that, but start by taking small steps. If it’s the fact that you spend time after work making dinner from scratch instead of hitting the studio . . . eat leftovers once a week so you can go make art. Once a week is a hell of a lot closer to daily than every few months is.

If it’s the second, you have to figure that out on your own. If you consistently say you want to create daily and you consistently fail to do so, I would urge you to search the depths of your soul (a little melodramatic, I know) and ask the hard questions. Is it really lack of X, Y, or Z that’s keeping me from creating? Or, is it just that I don’t really want to make anything today? Lastly, do you feel like you should make something because that’s what you think is expected? If you answered yes to that last question, quit worrying about should and just worry about need. Do you think it would benefit you to create everyday? If the answer is yes, then work towards that. If the answer is no, then embrace it and keep making whenever you need to make.

Maybe I’m asking you all these questions and presenting these results this week because I’ve been struggling with the very same questions. Maybe it’s just the right time to share them. I don’t know. What I do know is that staying motivated by yourself to create on a daily basis without a deadline or without checking in with someone is really difficult. I’m working on ways that TIP can better address this issue, but in the meantime, here’s to creating whenever you want and always comparing what you’re actually doing with what you want to be doing and what you need to be doing.

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