How does she do it all? How is she not exhausted?
I get these questions all the time from various people. Some ask me in the tone of admiration and others, well, they are straight up judging me as if there is some secret I left out or as if I am neglecting some responsibility to get something else done.
As a woman and a Mom, being ambitious and interested in personal development is often looked upon with skepticism. How can I raise my child and do an art show? How can I raise my child and write a book? And honestly, there are some growing pains for me too, I mean fear and shame are massively interested in making me resist my creative projects. There are times that I absolutely feel full-fledged guilt and shame for taking some me time.
And let’s be real. My favorite thing to do in the entire world is hang with my child. I could do just that for literally the rest of my life (which I will). She is special to me and I love everything about her. I love observing how she is developing and absolutely love guiding her.
But there comes a time when I need to call myself out. Sometimes, I am just coloring all day with my kid or blowing bubbles outside to resist what I came here to do. The face of resistance (so eloquently described by Steven Pressfield in his book, War of Art) is pressing me to procrastinate and ignore the project that I am supposed to be doing. Resistance wants me to spend all day frolicking in the park looking around for different leaves and bugs. All the while, creativity is sitting there staring at me like my dog LC stares at me when she waiting for a treat (or to hop up onto my bed).
We feed what we put our intention into and to me, if you are paying attention to your creative projects, you have time to give your attention to the other things.
If I am paying attention to the creative projects that light me up, then I am lit up during all other things.
It’s an act of self care (at least to me) to work on my personal development and my creative projects.
Ambition to me is not defined as being the best. Ambition to me is defined as showing up as my best self. Working on being better than how I was before. The difference between the ambition definition used by people who think I am neglecting some responsibility by writing a book and my definition of ambition is that I have taken the competitiveness out of it. I am not trying to be the best of everyone. I am trying to be the best of myself. And hey, partnering up with Creativity has allowed me to be curious enough to head down the difficult road of making a couple of original things come to life.
So, How do I do it? How do I have the time?
So let me tell you a little thing about SMART goals.
Seriously, Smart people set S.M.A.R.T. goals. Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.
And if you are me, you set SMARTER goals. It’s not corporate nonsense to be smart. So what are they? Let’s get down and dirty…
First of all, writing down a goal should be specific. They say that a dream written down, is just a goal, so let’s crush some dreams by getting specific in what we want. A major reason people fail at their goals is that they define them too vaguely. So, don’t be vague. Don’t write down your goal like you would at a dream workshop. “One day I hope to be a writer”. That’s not a goal. Let me give you an example, “I want to write a novel” is still vague; you have to get as specific as possible. “I want to write a chapter for my novel every month.” is a goal. The end result is maybe the novel or maybe a new direction for a different book. Either way, you have to get specific to gain clarity on exactly what you want and how to achieve it and make it real in your life.
Plus, specific goals are less overwhelming because they take a big, looming task like writing a book or finishing a whole art series and break it into small, more manageable parts.
Now that you have a goal, it has to be measurable. This means defining your goals in numbers. Yes, MATH! By doing this, not only does it make your goal measurable, it automatically makes it specific, too!
You have several options when it comes to making your goal measurable. For example, with writing a book, you can define your measurements in terms of the number of pages, chapters, or word count (“I want to finish a 250 page book by 2020 and I am going to write 10,000 words every season”). This even applies to an art series. “I want to do my own solo show of 35 pieces. If I paint 9 paintings every season, I will have enough paintings to submit a painting next year.”
Quantifying a goal makes the goal far easier to achieve. You can see the line of sight and attain it. If you just say “I want to write a book.”, it removes the how and leaves the overwhelm. You are setting yourself up to fail right from the start and then, you are stopping yourself from making your dream real and more than likely becoming a victim of resistance. (I’ve been there! Trust me!)
Making this a numbers game will also show you how you are falling short at achieving what you need to do. And gives you an accurate sense of what you need to do or if you need to shift to try something else.
Your goal should require effort and you should reach out for the tools and skills that you need. The stakes for failure aren’t very high if you aren’t even working on getting there. Since you made your goals measurable, you know what tools you need. For example, if you told yourself that you need to write a novel within a year and want to do it based on word count; not having something to measure your word count is almost setting yourself up to worry and fail. And you know what worry and failure do? They let resistance, fear, and all the other villains of your ego set in to eat away at your creativity and you just start watching Netflix. Find what you can attain and if you don’t have the tools, get them.
This is my favorite part of a SMART goal. You have got to be real with yourself! To continue with the book example, if you have never ever written a book before and don’t even know how to spell, maybe you need to take a step back and think reasonably. To start, you might want to start with learning how to spell! Your goal should be reasonably attainable given your level of experience and your talents. Sure, we all wish we could be Oprah, Charles Bukowski, or Pablo Picasso, but such a goal is completely unrealistic if we don’t have the tools we need and the support we need. You have got to be real with yourself and take responsibility for where you are. If you want to write a book and have never written before, maybe your first attainable goal would be a writing class. Break you goal down to be smart about getting to the finish line. Dreams come true but they take WORK. And they take A LOT of SUPPORT.
So what is a realistic for your goal, what is realistic for attaining your dream? It depends on who you ask.
When I went ahead and started writing WILD, a collection of Poems, I had a lot going on. I had just moved to Northern Virginia, I was trying to put my feet on the ground, I was going to therapy, I was pregnant, and I was working full time. I didn’t have time to sit down and write a whole book in 3 months like a full-time writer might, but I did it either way. Time is limitless if we set realistic and attainable goals for ourselves. Look now, WILD, has been published for 9 months and I have sold 250 copies. Not bad if you ask me. And I am proud of that book. I learned so much from writing and learned about myself. I healed through some emotional baggage and here I am now, writing, again. I would of never got to this level of personal development without taking a SMART leap into the abyss.
My advice: Just keep being real with yourself. Take responsibility for who you are and where you are in your development and then crush that shit.
And if you haven’t figured it out, already, I will say the last part of a SMART goal is putting a time stamp on your goal. I see so many friends, leaders, and entrepreneurs losing sight of their projects or fizzling out quickly because they forgot to put a time stamp on when they would be done. This holds you accountable. You have to set a reasonable deadline for all these little Easter eggs along the way. Ever played Candy Crush? It’s a never ending road way of challenges. Just like these little sections of your goals that are specific and measurable and attainable. They are little tiny challenges toward the end of the line. Of course, with Candy Crush, you feed the dragon and then there is another dragon or some weird chocolate sheep thing, but hey, you moved ahead. And that feeling that you get from feeding the dragon, yeah, it can be exemplified and enhanced by feeding your creativity. An example, last year, I wanted to finish 30 paintings for my show at Greenspring Gardens. I did 2 paintings a month for 1 year. I ended up with 32 somehow (not honestly sure how other than I got pumped up about painting and just kept painting more than my goal) and when I got to the end, I was ELATED. It was awesome. I tell you, riding the train on creativity is a love that you will never feel anywhere else.
So, let me give you some advice. If you are an ambitious (a person interested in being their best selves so they can heal and innovate and be an inspiration to the world) being, who has a couple of dreams you haven’t accomplished yet, set some SMART goals and CRUSH THEM. Write them down, scatter them across a wall in little Post it Notes. Look at a them everyday and once 1 post it is done, take it down and do a jig.
Trust me on this. It feels god damn amazing. So, what dreams do you want to strive for? Let’s chat about them in the comments.