What Motivates You? Achievement or Creative Inspiration
The Stress of Achievement Orientation
I’ve been working on a marketing program for two weeks now to find new clients. In the program we are encouraged to set a goal for 28 days and take 10 actions daily to reach it. In the first week I was totally stressed out as the perfectionist needing to check all the boxes. It was a roller coaster ride of a week with my body just collapsing by the end of it. I took the weekend off, figuring I would start fresh on Monday.
But the second week, was a series of delayed actions, cancelled appointments, classes and procrastination. I realize I don’t like the “to-do” lists and gold stars don’t motivate me. I want to feel inspired not burdened with a sense of responsibility needing to report back that I have been a “good” girl and done my homework.
Vision vs. Goal, Creating vs. Achieving
Vision – Something that has been seen or imagined.
Goal – The object of a person’s ambition or effort, aim or desired result.
Creating is about something other than goal setting. Having a goal implies a fixed destination achieved with effort and ambition. In creating, you are inspired by a vision of what you want. You create it for the love of seeing it realized. There is some sense of aspiration and inspiration. You can see it clearly, but it is also not set in stone. You remember that you have made it up. The steps you take provide feedback to help refine the vision. You are engaged in a dialogue that shapes both you and your creation as you interact with the world. There is a flow to it that is less about effort and ambition than inspiration and joyful discovery.
Yes, there are choices you make, steps taken and assessments that help you to see if you are moving closer or further from your intention. I guess, these lists are part of that for me. Yet, I work best with a non-linear approach. Creating is an organic process. With each action, there are new possibilities that open up to pursue which may or may not fit in to a planned series of activities.
Creating as Meditation in Action
In the Creating as Meditation in Action classes, I introduce what it means to create organically from the open space of Square One. This space is experienced when we synchronize mind and body in the present moment. When our mind is open,curious and spacious, the running litany of subconscious gossip subsides. Then we can experience things as they are and first thought, best thought can arise. A great way to cultivate that state of mind is through a meditation practice. With meditation we make friends with our genuine state of being, here and now, through gentle attention on the breath, noticing what arises and falls away moment to moment. When we are fully present we have a greater capacity to work with what is to achieve the future results we want.
Space, Form and Energy in Creating
There is a three-fold logic in every creative endeavor. It starts with space or the openness from which fresh inspiration or vision can arise. This is grounded with form or the resources, materials, contacts one has in relation to that inspiration/vision. Key to this is seeing clearly what we have without the distortions of habitual thinking. Holding in mind the discrepancy between what we want and what we have, there is a gap. If we hang out with the gap without compromising the truth of what we want and what we have, steps naturally arise to move forward. Energy and momentum build with each step taken.
We can return to a new Square One throughout the process and assess what comes next. In this way, we shape and are being shaped by our world without aggression towards ourselves or others. This is a gentle approach unlike what is often present when we are motivated by ambition or willpower to achieve a goal. In creating from open space, skillful and genuine expression arises naturally to bring inspiration into form.
As one student reported this past week after class was cancelled, “I regret to delay the telling of the direct connection I made between the last session’s calligraphy exercise and the creation of some text for my art photo book project. It fills me with such a feeling of excitement and wonder just to remember the experience!” In this class students experience how open space leads to new insights in their creative work and personal lives, when they drop the ambition and “efforting”, the projections and self-doubt.
It is possible to be an inspired creator with vision, not simply an achiever aiming for a goal to resolve a problem. We all have that capacity whether we call ourselves artists or not. It is not about talent, but our humanity. We can be present with an inquisitive mind, feel our reality and be inspired to create with each choice we make. In making those choices we and our world are transformed.
Upcoming Opportunities to Create
I am offering semi-monthly opportunities for meditation, contemplation and creating in Oakland at Portal 18 Yoga Studio starting June 3, from 1-3 pm. This, by donation, drop-in series will introduce some of the principles of the Creating as Meditation in Action classes with basic meditation instruction, a talk and creative play. Check out the Square One Saturdays for more details.
Also identify your habitual patterns of seeing and open to fresh sight with the 5 week class series, Contemplative Photography: Seeing Fresh, starting June 8 in Berkeley. The camera will quickly show you when you are thinking your world and when you are seeing it clearly.
If you are outside the Bay Area, I am always available for one to one coaching sessions. The first half hour informational session is free.