5 Tips For The Clear Eyed Creative

Hi everyone,

Last week, I had a coaching call with Josh Spector, author of the weekly newsletter, For The Interested. (podcast episode forthcoming) We spoke about a wide-range of topics, including my twitter account, productivity and, this newsletter. The discussion was filled with incredible advice and I am making some minor tweaks to this newsletter as a result. As always, and/all thoughts are welcome.

Now, on to the newsletter.

How To Use Your Stimulus Check To Gain Some Financial Stability

The incoming stimulus checks are going to help so many of us stabilize our finances. As so often happens when we receive a paycheck, we now have to figure out how to spend the money so that it has the greatest impact on our finances. The biggest problem I have in this situation is that, too often, I spend money without considering the long-term implications of my actions.

Tip: The financial decisions you make today have great potential to help the future version of you. Make a plan for how you will spend the money with your long-term goals in mind. Here’s a post I wrote that gives you a step-by-step process for how to spend your stimulus check.

Dial Back The Intensity Of Your Work

My daughter is an aspiring pitcher and I have been working with her on her form a little each day. Occasionally, she’ll try to force a pitch into my glove. I know when a forced throw is coming because she exerts way more energy in the process. One-hundred percent of the time when she throws that way, the ball goes flying over my head. There are also those moments when I know she’s in a flow. During those times, the ball comes out a little less intense but incredibly accurate. I can’t help but feel like my daughter’s pitching is a metaphor for my own workflow.

Tip: When it comes to work, instead of forcing progress, dial back your work expectations by 5%-10% and see how much less intense the path to reaching your goals becomes. I believe there is a healthy balance between intensively climbing a mountain to get to where you’re going in your career and taking a bit of time to enjoy the ride. Check out this post by Derek Sivers about relaxing a little and achieving the same result!

Are You On The Right Career Path?

In 2010, I had the dream. My wife and I owned a house and had recently welcomed our first child into the world. I had a tenure track position teaching bassoon at Bowling Green State University where I worked with a full studio of lovely students, I was performing regularly in two regional orchestras and my work as an instructor within the entrepreneurship program at the institution allowed me to create new career pathways for students from across the campus.

Everything was perfect.

Except it wasn’t.

I was completely burnt out, tired from being stretched too thin, and not bringing my best to my work or my art. I knew I needed a change but was lost because it was difficult for me to imagine leaving a career that so many people in my field were striving to achieve.

The biggest problem? The path I was on was not the right path for me.

Tip: The most important thing you can do to clearly understand how to take next steps in your career path is to get clear on what path you’d like to be on in the first place. I love this post by Chris Wong, who describes a similar path to mine and how he fixed his situation. Here’s a post I wrote that might be helpful as you continue to consider your path.

A Scarcity Mindset Might Be What’s Holding You Back

When it comes to gigs, having a scarcity mindset has gotten me into a lot of trouble. I remember one particular time when I was in WAY over my head because I took every gig that came my way for fear that the phone would stop ringing if I turned something down. I found myself playing gigs that were unsatisfying and, to make matters worse, they severely restricted the amount of time I had to prepare for the gigs that I truly enjoyed.

Tip: A scarcity mindset can lead to all kinds of actions that fly against the strategic path that you have set for yourself. Combat this by making a list of requirements that need to be in place before you say yes to any opportunity. Blogger Khe Hy has a great post on time scarcity and here’s my post on how to beat the habit of taking every gig that comes your way.

Are You Plodding Or Bursting Down Your Path?

When given a choice between the two, I am most definitely a person who works in bursts. I can often feel the intensity of a burst coming, especially when leading up to a big project or when I’m working through a new idea. I find that working in bursts gives me energy and focus, which are two elements that keep me going.

Tip: Regardless of whether you plod or burst down your path, the most important thing to think about is which of the two make you most comfortable to get into the flow of work. I know that I work best in bursts AND that I drive people who prefer plodding absolutely crazy in the process. Writer Steve Pavlina shared this great post to help you think about where you fall.

Things I Loved:

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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

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