I am often in a rush. There are lots of things to do (right now!) and I’m always thinking ‘what’s next?’ It feels like I have a tightly wound spring in my chest which keeps me moving in haste. Sometimes I even catch myself not breathing. I am fairly certain that this low-level anxiety is a contributing factor to me finding it hard to stop, even for a moment or two. Looking after myself, stopping to refresh or to reflect, is frequently the lowest priority activity on my list.
I’m a big advocate for regularly taking time to reflect on how things are going, especially in your creative practice. It can be helpful to pause and not jump straight into the next thing. If we take the time to reflect after each big event or body of work, it’s so much easier to navigate a path forward, one that is responsive to our needs and in line with our values.
Of course, I find it easy to allow myself this time for reflection at the start of the year when things are a lot slower naturally. And, everyone else is doing it, so I don’t feel that it’s time taken away from other things. But once the year gets going, and my work and energy levels pick up, I am a train in motion that is hard to stop. And maybe that metaphor is apt here. Rather than letting myself get carried away, and begin to feel like a runaway train, why not schedule some stops into the journey? (I can still be high-speed between them if I feel the need to justify the pauses!)
So that’s something I’m working on over the coming weeks– trying to grab some time to look over what I’ve been up to since January (always much more than I give myself credit for) and ask myself some thorough questions:
· How did that event/project/experiment go?
· What worked and what didn’t?
· How did doing it make me feel?
· Which of my values did the work uphold? Which ones were left out?
· Would I do it again?
· What would I change/adapt/revise?
· What did I learn from it?
For some activities I’d like to closely examine what went on – look at some data like how many people got involved, what effect it had on my social media reach/followers, how much money I earned etc. Questions I don’t often ask, information I have but often don’t use.
And, a positive by-product of stopping and enquiring is that it’s impossible not to acknowledge your efforts. The things you do can often go unremarked, they disappear into the archive of the diary – and in this way it can sometimes feel like they didn’t happen at all. This is a shame and I think it leads to the ease with which we discount our hard work or downplay how much we really do in our lives (work or otherwise).
Can you stop for a moment this week and look back over the beginning of the year?
What did you get up to? How has it been for you? Do you feel ready for what lies ahead, or do you need to adjust your course? Now is always a good time to ask these things.