Challenge to Change

How many times have you heard, “Move out of your comfort zone”? Why? Because nothing great ever happens in your comfort zone. Yet, many of us find ourselves stuck in the middle of complacency singing the same tune day in and day out.

The fact of the matter and the fact of your matter is that things can change but only if you want them too. What we fail to realize is that effort is expended in keeping things status quo, finding the ruts in the road and staying riveted in those preset depressions.

How much more joyful to find ourselves outside of the habitual patterns etched deep in our lives. Imagine the excitement and enthusiasm you could find exploring new paths and venturing out to other terrain.

Yes there is comfort in the expected, even if mundane, unsatisfactory, and sometimes unhealthy. Yet the beauty of life is often overlooked because of our unwillingness to push ourselves out from beneath our stale versions of repetitive and tattered security blankets.

Consider for a moment if you had never grown past infancy and still continually looked for someone to take care of your basic needs. Sadly this does happen in rare cases. For most of us, we grew past this stage and on to many more. So why do we at times, as grown adults, find ourselves unwilling to grow or change? The answer is simple. Change is uncomfortable.

And discomfort is uncomfortable. Elementary, you may say. However, the proof that we are adverse to discomfort is seen in almost every marketing ploy we are spoon fed regularly. As humans, we want security, consistency, and things that enhance our comfort. Who wants a new product or experience that will make your life harder for a time, forcing you to leave that blessed comfort zone?

What does this mean for you?

I present you with a challenge. I want you to buy into it because it is not short term gratification that you will receive. It will change your life. Because it is change.

From here on out, we will refer to it as the Challenge to Change.

Challenge to Change

If you are like me, you may want to change in principle. You may have long practiced habits that no longer serve you well such as over eating, over drinking, or over shopping. You may have poor sleep, work, or exercise habits. You may have repetitive relationship problems, continually seeking out the wrong partners or repeat vicious and harmful cycles in your current relationships. You may have what I refer to as “personality glitches”, which when left on autopilot seem to get you into hot water repeatedly.

Changing any or all of the above starts with a challenge, to believe you can change. Change is possible. How badly do you want it? You can’t buy it. Yes, you can buy books about it, you can hire coaches that help you work toward your goals, and you can buy into it. But what fuels the power to change is your willingness to be uncomfortable and your resolve to stick with it even in extreme discomfort.

Commit to Change

Commitment to anything or anyone usually takes some pre-calculation. There are certain prerequisites that we inherently look for before signing on the dotted line. So I ask you to do just that today. List what this change means to you, for you, and for others. How do you see this change benefitting you or your future? How badly to you want to change? What would you be willing to do to make that change in your life? And are you ready?

However, life doesn’t always afford us the luxury of time before making every commitment.
We may find ourselves forced by circumstances to make a choice. When we have to make decisions from crises situations such as loss of a loved one by death or divorce, unplanned loss of a job, or unexpected health issues, we can find ourselves in a state of devastation. This does not appear to be a great foundation to build a commitment for change on. However, many have done just that by allowing unfortunate circumstances to be a springboard for greater change and eventually greater good.

Commitment for many of us is downright scary. What has worked for me in the past is beginning with small commitments. This builds confidence in our ability to “do as we say.” For it is the action, beyond the words, that matters. And with that, an important characteristic of change is set in motion.

So how do we commit to change when our lives have been running on cruise control? And more importantly, how do we stick with our commitment when the discomfort has us speeding back to where we’ve always been?

The short answer is feed the discomfort with comfort. What does that mean, exactly? Each time you lean into the discomfort and continue on with your commitment to the changed action, the next time becomes less uncomfortable. Eventually the discomfort subsides, and the new habit takes over with a new sense of comfort. And you can take on this cycle again and again building from that point or tackling another change!

Commitment means dedication. You must dedicate your resources to your plan of change. It will take focus, energy, and sometimes time. Instant gratification does not exist in the world of true change. It is not easy. If it was, more of us would volunteer.

So as always, it’s up to you. Do you want to open your world to the possibilities beyond the revered comfort zone? The horizon in the distance can be seen so many different ways and our personal horizons are limitless, if only we are willing to venture forth.

In Art and Heart,

©Erika K Rothwell, Your Creativity Coach

Prioritize

Make the time for what matters.  We are all so overwhelmed by the many directions we could go in at any given time.  Yet, the best decision sometimes is simply to prioritize.

It’s not a matter of time management, it is a matter of sanity.  An ability to recognize that if there is a chance to do all the things it must start with a plan.

The creative brain is a merry go round.  If you forget to look for half a second, the view has changed.  And with that a myriad of new ideas surface.  The solution may be a “dream catcher” a place where all your brilliance is captured and secured for future use.  A capture of your mind’s eye in its momentary brilliant state.

When those ideas spin around, you can position them in a 1, 2, 3 fashion.  Priorities.  What matters most to you at this given moment.  Where do you want to direct your energy?  

Once you break it down, you can formulate your action plan.  Each priority has action steps.  Let’s prioritize those.  You are getting the hang of it.  Yes, baby steps.  Break it down, baby!

I admit, the 1.2.3 method is linear.  Many creatives I know, including myself, fight against that mode.  Our inconspicuous non-linear abilities grant us insights beyond most average day comprehension.  However, a gift that is not shared is not a gift.  And in order to give a gift, you must package it with care, and present it in a timely fashion.

Thus, the advice to prioritize.

Break it down into tiny bite-size morsels.  Don’t over indulge, making your self sick over it.  Move through the motions.  Grow.  Learn. Make a visual list.  Number it 1,2,3.  Get it done.

Your creative self will feel vindicated, even if not within the non-linear constraints of your overactive mind.  A book not written cannot be read.  A painting not painted cannot be appreciated.  A song not composed cannot be heard.

It is true.  The work must be done.  And it must be done by you.  

You are the creator.  Creators only rest when the work is done.  You can choose to stay in your head.  But the sharing and the caring will never be felt by others.  And your light will not be seen if your don’t turn it on.

© Erika K Rothwell

Dare to Daydream

Myth Buster #2 – Daydreaming is a waste of time.

How many of you would admit to daydreaming on the job?  For optimum production, daydreaming is often viewed as a waste of time, something to be avoided completely when seeking accomplishment.

In fact, in traditional work settings, daydreaming is associated with laziness and many feel productivity is valued far above creativity.

However, daydreaming has been studied for years by the neuroscience community.  It has been discovered that the brain actually uses this “downtime” to make sense of past events and solve problems in a connective dream-like phase.  Brain activity recorded during these seemingly non-productive moments actually proves the presence of high-level inward processing. 

“It’s dedicated daydreaming—purposeful mind-wandering that yields productive creativity.”  Matthew E. May http://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/business/trends-and-insights/articles/the-neuroscience-ofcreativity-why-daydreaming-matters/

The brain takes advantage of time made available for daydreaming to explore the inner realms of its data files searching for connections and meaning.  

Quite comically, my coffee mug sits on my desk displaying the words, “I might look like I am doing nothing, but in my head, I am quite busy.”,  aptly defining the phrase “Dedicated  Daydreaming” for me.

Creativity is simmering in the background, in a space some call nothing.  At times, I invite my creative coaching clients to mark time on their calendars with the event called “Nothing”. This is where the behind the scenes “work” happens.

In a world where people are yearning to change, find ways to reach goals, and get ahead many are focused on production strategies.  Disconnecting from planners, to-do lists, and organizational tools seems counterproductive and is forcefully resisted.

However, appearances can be deceiving.  When we consider ideas that are in opposition to the norm or popular way of thinking, we open ourselves up to possibilities.  Possibilities, that may not have existed before we provided the needed processing time, emerge.  We are able to solve long-standing and seemingly unsolvable issues.  We open the way for creativity that expresses connections and relationships discovered deep within us.

Excessive focus can actually drain our mental energy preventing us from “seeing” what really matters.

It is through eyes of understanding creativity flourishes, as doorways to invisible passages are opened before us.

Below the surface of forced productivity, our creative hearts long to be freed.  Your brain only needs time to process the alignment.  

Creative ideas are waiting to be realized even if only a whisper deep within your soul.  Dare to unfocus and intentionally make time for daydreaming.

©Erika K Rothwell

Purposeful Procrastination

Myth Buster #1 Procrastination doesn’t get you anywhere.

Procrastination is a noun meaning “the action of delaying or postponing, or being undecided, or indecisive”. This can and is often naturally perceived as an unhealthy and negative approach to life or work.

Ironically the words used to define this word typically relate to me at times. What the definition neglects to add or show is what I’m capable of after I take the necessary time, to postpone an action, until I feel decisive enough to move forward. Procrastination has been followed by the creation of some of my best work.

Chronic procrastination is another topic and I agree that it can stand in your way of personal success. I also will not argue that chronic procrastination is healthy, only that intermittent procrastination is not necessarily unhealthy or negative.

We live in a world of instant gratification and knee-jerk decision making. Sometimes it even appears necessary for survival in this fast-paced technology driven society.

Where does that leave the super-analytical idea-generating dreamer? In the land of procrastination.

When life’s crises and setbacks catapult us toward unmovable walls of choices that contradict our values and sense of wholeness, isn’t it only fair that we take a minute to procrastinate until we can stand on our own two feet to take a step.

Rather than believing that procrastination is the problem, we need to understand that too much action all of the time needs to be balanced with a bit of procrastination. Taking the time you need to recover from an traumatic event and delaying decision making while you postpone work can actually be a positive coping method.

Honoring ourselves even in our moments of hesitation, vacillation, and perhaps overall indecisiveness is only an indicator that we are not ready to take action.

Sometimes taking time to “kick the can down the road”, allows us the time to think or feel our way to the appropriate action.

Perhaps procrastination can be productive after all. In fact the dictionary refers to it as an action. Could it be that procrastination is an activity that leads to taking the appropriate action?

I have coined the phrase, purposeful procrastination, to give you permission to procrastinate because it has its purpose. Everyone does it sooner or later. We can’t be “on” all the time. It is the lack of focused attention that allows our minds to explore resourceful avenues of thinking. Without the burden or requirement of instant action, we are given the momentary gift of contemplation, not unlike our ancient greek philosophers when they allowed themselves to enjoy a garden in the middle of their libraries.

Procrastination always leads me to books. Books feed and satiate my desire to learn more about everything. At times, “the more” causes temporary paralysis as I allow the inspirations to sink deep within my soul. It is at this time that I find procrastination settles in nicely as imagination and creativity simmer beneath the surface.

Yes, procrastination to a type A, controlling, non-analytical, “need to make a quick decision” and “fly by the seat of your pants” individual could be viewed as a negative trait.

It is here I ask you to closely and honestly examine the reasons behind your procrastination. Is it to avoid failure or delay something you believe to be harmful? Or are you procrastinating because you’ve chosen to allow time to reflect and contemplate before taking your next move? Or maybe it’s simply laziness because you feel like doing nothing? The latter being what I choose when housework becomes necessary.

If you are choosing to procrastinate for reasons that seem right for you, you are in the game-changing space I call simmering creativity.

Again, to push my point across the table into the arena of wolves that would eat me alive for preaching contentment and positivity in procrastination. I’ll share an anecdote.

Say you were asked to make a difficult life-changing decision in a short meeting and you were feeling pressured by a deadline placed before you to make your final choice. All the while; everyone around you is hungry, quick witted, and utterly confident with their responses. You, however, ask to get up from the table and go for a walk, using the language “I’d like to procrastinate.”

Perhaps this procrastination goes on longer than expected and you don’t return to the meeting. You now accept that you may have lost your seat at the table of wolves.

The next day you return to the same room. It’s empty. Everyone has left. But you are clear on your decision. You are extremely enthusiastic and confident. However today there is only a maintenance man in the room. So you tell him,

“I’ve decided it’s time to move on in a completely different direction.”

And he smiles at you approvingly and says “Great choice! You know, everyone was forced to leave yesterday for making the wrong decision to stay.”

What you didn’t know is a decision didn’t actually need to be made. Someone, somewhere decided that everyone MUST make an immediate decision. Yet that decision had already been made, governed by outside circumstances. Life changed for everyone in the room on the outside on that day but it also changed your life on the inside as you used it to your advantage to come to terms with the right decision for you. Forced decisions rarely work out for anyone in the end.

I’ve presented that decision making is a process as is creative development. We cannot rush or force ourselves to jump through hoops that we are not ready for. Procrastination is a necessary pause to catch up with ourselves so that we can fully invest in our decisions moving forward.

And who doesn’t want that?

© Erika K Rothwell

Portfolio Sample – Prose – Blog Post

METAPHORICALLY THINKING

It’s been raining for days.  I’m driving along a rural highway admiring the visual gifts, namely the multiple waterfalls being formed simply by water rushing down slight inclines of land.  My mind wanders and settles on the cleansing effect of rain on the earth.  For me, the metaphorical thoughts inherently follow.  

As the miles pass, I notice the scorched landscape that had been burned…