Tips For The Unrelenting Creative: How To Grow Small

Hi everyone,

Happy Tuesday!

Before you dive in, I’d love to hear from you. How are you doing? What wins are you celebrating these days? I’d also love to know what you’d like to read about in future newsletters. Any suggestions would be helpful!

Thanks for reading and I hope all of you are having a great week.


  • How To Save For Retirement: Between 2002-2004, I worked as an elementary school music teacher and paid into the State of Virginia’s retirement system. When I left for my Doctorate, I was able to roll all of that money—about $2,000— into an investment account through my bank. I haven’t contributed anything above the $2,000, into that account since 2004 and it now sits at just over $12,000. It has doubled 2.5 times in the last 19 years since I left the job. At this rate, that small investment of $2,000 I made at the age of 27 will be close to $50,000 by the time I retire.

    Tip: The one thing you can’t get back when it comes to investing is time. The more you invest now, the more the money will work for you over time. When you can, invest a minimum of 15% of the money you make after taxes in a retirement account. The folks over at Mr. Money Mustache wrote a great article to get you thinking about how much you’ll need for retirement.

    Related: How To Build An Emergency Fund

  • How To Grow Small: The moment I graduated college in 2000, I felt a constant push to accomplish the next thing in my career. That drive enabled me to be in the fortunate position of having a job I love in a beautiful part of the country. That same drive regularly pulls me away from my family and friends. On several occasions, it simply burned me out.

    Tip: Instead of always pushing towards the next step in your career that will bring maximum growth, make sure you take some time to downshift so you have time to spend with your family and friends. Author Jeremy Walter from Calibrating Capital wrote this great post with some practical thoughts about ways to grow small.

    Related: Ten Questions To Help You Analyze Your Work Routine

  • How To Avoid A Practice Rut: Author Malcom Gladwell took a deep dive into the 10,000 hour rule of deliberate practice in his book Outliers. This rule suggests that gaining any complex skill involves dedicating 10,000 hours of time to the discipline in order to achieve mastery. For so many creatives I know, consistent motivation to practice for mastery can be a challenge.

    Tip: Replace the word “practice” with “play” in your daily routine for a week and see if this simple switch brings some joy to the process. Like author Ozan Varol, I find this to be incredibly helpful when I’m in a practice rut.

    Related: Five Tips To Help You Avoid Burnout

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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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