What happens if you can’t find your passion? You may feel like there is something missing in your life but aren’t sure what. Like you aren’t living up to your true potential. You search relentlessly for that thing you are “meant” to do but never find it. Or, it could be that you are trying to find your creativity again, that you’ve lost the spark to keep going. How do you find your creative style when you feel lost.
I’ve always envied people who seem to know what they like and chase after it. For most of us, inspiration just doesn’t strike that way. Or it may strike, but fail to materialize into anything substantial. When we experiment haphazardly, moving from one idea to the next, nothing is completed. We are unable to truly see what could have been if we had taken our creative endeavors to the next level. In addition, many of us get caught in the trap of following after shiny objects, becoming a jack of all trades, and a master of none.
Why do I feel lost?
I think this feeling of being lost is because we have been led the wrong way. We aren’t meant to find our creative passion, we are meant to cultivate it. Specifically, the issue is the expectation that the perfect thing we are meant for will appear suddenly for us. You may have taken a test to find your creative style or find your passion, but the truth is there is no find your passion test that you can take to tell you what you should be doing with your life. You have to explore and experiment to find the life that is right for you.
Five Steps to Cultivate Creativity
How can we spark our creativity? Here are five practical steps you can take to get started.
Step 1. Narrow it down
Brainstorm a list of creative interests, hobbies, or activities that interest you. Then pick one to develop. I’m not saying this needs to be your life’s purpose. Down the road, you can revisit this step when you want to try something new. For now, just pick one!
My list is huge and includes:
- Watercolor painting
- Graphic design
- Glass etching
Almost everything can be considered a creative pursuit if you look at it from an artist’s perspective. You can see from my diverse list of interests how it is easy to get distracted. Especially if you try to do everything at once! The key to making progress is to focus.
Step 2. Set aside a specific time to work at being creative.
Step 3 is simple but very important. Set a specific time aside in your routine to be creative. Without structure, we will most likely not get much done. Setting aside even half an hour a day can yield big results in a short period of time.
If you have limited time to devote to your creative side, you may want to pick just one day a week. Adding time to create to your routine is an important part of this step.
For example, if you want to improve your painting, you could set aside two hours each Sunday to follow a video tutorial and to practice. It is amazing how small-time commitments over time can move your skills forward.
Or, if you are working full time and want to write, you may want to write for fifteen minutes every morning before work, or a page a day. If you only write a page a day, at the end of one year you will have 365 pages. That equals a book!
If you want to learn pottery set aside what time you can realistically spare. Decide how long you want to devote to a specific project. For example, I want to learn to make vases, I have one hour a week to devote to that over six months.
“We tend to vastly overestimate how much we can get done in a day, and vastly underestimate how much we can achieve in a year.”
Step 3. Identify a Specific Project or Skill to Master
Once you’ve decided the broader area you want to explore, the next step is to choose a skill or project related to that area to focus on.
For example, if you’ve decided to work on your writing, decide on a project or find a competition to enter that will give you a goal. If you’ve decided to paint, choose a technique to explore or a subject that interests you.
We can easily spend hours trolling the internet, reading, or researching for projects to spark our inspiration. There is nothing wrong with spending some time to become inspired. The trick is to put a limitation on yourself. Choose one project or skill you want to work on now.
Once you have decided what area of creativity you want to cultivate, don’t spend more than an hour looking for inspiration or deciding on a project or class. You may think there is a better idea out there but the truth is you will often end up going with the first idea that popped into your head. Don’t let the fear of missing out hold you up or delay you from moving forward. The best time to start something is right away, and even if you choose wrong you will learn so much from the process of doing! Action is better than thought and the time is now.
You may also suffer from having a wealth of ideas. Try to keep the amount of work in progress at a low level. Having a creative journal where you can jot down ideas for the future can be a great way of keeping track of your thoughts so you don’t lose them. This way you can stay focused on your current project or goal. This simple practice will help you to bring more work to the point of completion!
Step 4. Set a realistic deadline or benchmark
When I suggest setting a deadline in the heading above, it has a dual meaning. We must set self-imposed deadlines both for getting started on a project and for when we expect the project to be completed. I’m not a big fan of “hustle” culture, I think everyone should move at their own pace. As long as you are moving forward you will make progress, and sometimes pushing too hard can actually make you burn out, and stunt your creativity.
Once you have decided on a project think about what you would like to achieve.
What does success for this project look like to you? What skill do you want to practice or gain in the process? The next step is to plan out how long it will realistically take you to reach your goal. Of course, remember to account for the amount of time you have available to spend on the project.
If you want to write a book, how much can you realistically expect to have done in a month? Track your word count through a couple of 15-minute writing sprints. Write down how much you can write in that time. The average will let you know how long it will take you to write a book.
What does “being a good painter” look like to you? Does this mean you can paint landscapes like Bob Ross? Or does this mean your mountains look like mountains instead of pointy triangle things? Decide what your goal is and write it down. Estimate how long it will take you to achieve this and review your progress at specific times along your journey.
Step 5. Eliminate excuses
Lack of energy, time, resources, and tools. These are all excuses we use not to create.
We can easily come with reasons why not to do something. There are no classes in my area. I have no energy when my workday is done. I am not talented enough to do this.
The truth is there is always a workaround for every problem. No classes in your area? Get a book from the library on the subject or look around online for video tutorials. No energy? Tell yourself you are just going to work for five minutes, you will be surprised how often that five minutes extends itself. It is getting started that is the difficult part! Think you have no talent? No one does when they start. Effort and consistency are more important than talent.
Summary of the five steps to cultivate creativity
In summary, the five steps to finding your creativity are:
- Narrow it down
- Set aside a specific time to be creative
- Choose a specific project or skill to master
- Set a realistic deadline or benchmark
- Eliminate excuses
Once you complete a project, you can decide whether you enjoyed this pursuit and want to keep going with that creative pursuit. If so, you can use this process again, just skip step one. If you feel you have devoted enough time to this particular craft, go back to step one and choose something new to work on. The important thing to take away from this process is an actual result.
Next Steps to cultivate creativity
Whether or not you decide to continue with a particular pursuit is up to you. Having a creative passion can be a conduit to express our emotions healthily. Don’t downplay that by comparing your progress to anyone else’s. You are at your own stage in your journey. Success shouldn’t be measured against others but only on your own progress. When you complete a project or gain a skill; you have won the most important battle, the one against yourself!
These five steps to cultivate your creativity are meant to help you focus and get started. There are many other methods to develop creativity to deep dive into and explore. If you are interested in exploring the creative process, please bookmark this blog for future posts.