Morning Routines for the Creatively Resistant and Motivationally Moody
I toss out routines about 3-5 days in. Here’s how it goes:
Day 1: So excited! This is it! I love this. Why haven’t I done this before?
Day 2: I can’t believe how good this feels. Go me. I’m never going to stop.
Day 3: You’ve felt SOO good the past two days. Come on, let’s go 3 for 3!
Day 4: Eh. I guess I’ll… fine, I’ll do it.
Day 5: Fuck this shit.
This goes for exercise, meditation, stretching, writing, to do list making, scheduling, housework, weekend time…you name it, I resist, in often the most creative of ways, routine.
The only routine I can confidently commit to is my cup of coffee very first thing in the morning. The rest of the day is up for grabs.
But I WANT to love routine. I do. Because I know it can be satisfying and motivating and incredibly enriching to your life.
It can also put you right back on track on those days when you just can’t seem to get it together.
When you have a plan but cannot seem to muster to motivation.
When, last week you felt so freaking clear and on fire, and this week you wonder why you even do this work to begin with.
Or when you feel TOTALLY raring to go, but on a completely different project than the one you had planned.
When you’re…let’s say, motivationally moody.
A routine is what resets you when you need a reset. When you are unclear, or unmotivated, or tapped out, or out of touch. It reenergizes and brings you back to you, your goals, your purpose, your focus, your intuition.
A routine gets you back to work, at full tilt, doing the work you are here to do.
And – resistant or not – we all want some of that.
I set out to find a routine that I would NOT evict in a week flat. That would give me all the benefits, without stifling my creative spirit.
To do this, I knew – as a creative - I needed a structure of sorts, but one with enough flexibility to play. One that offered guidance when I was feeling lost, or freedom when I was feeling feisty.
I also knew I needed to dig a little deeper in regards to why I was even doing a routine in the first place. When you resist something you want, you have to get crystal freaking clear about why it is actually important to you. Not just on the surface level, but at your very core, at your deepest values, at your soul-level desires. Otherwise, chances are, it’s not happening. Or it doesn’t last.
So I began experimenting. I researched lots of other people’s routines. I talked to my clients about theirs. I tried different things out.
Here’s what I came up with. And a year in, it still works.
The structure is simple:
1. Set aside time every day.
Designate the time in whatever system you have in place – your online calendar, your bullet list, your post-it note reminder collection – whatever works for you. (This is the only non-negotiable in this process. When, for how long, and what you do is entirely up to you – so long as you do it. It doesn’t work, otherwise.)
2. Determine your needs and focus for the day.
Spend a few minutes taking stock of your mind, body and heart. Ask yourself: “What do I need today? How am I feeling? Given my internal state, what would set me up for the day I want to have?” Listen to your intuition on this one. You know what you need. And if you don’t, this process will absolutely put you on track to getting it touch with it.
3. Do something for at least 20 minutes that fuels you and your creativity.
This is where you get to play. To experiment with different ideas and activities and understand what really gets you going when, and what works best for you.
That last one is a little vague isn’t it? How the hell do I fuel my creativity?
Here’s the guidance you’re looking for:
In my work with clients and in my own personal practice, I see the following four elements as the most essential to boosting creativity. Each day you can choose an activity that addresses one or more of these elements, building a collective of ways – customized to you - to engage these different elements. Here’s the breakdown of the four elements and why they are so essential for your work as a creative.
1. Tap in to YOU.
Why? Because as a creative, YOU are the essence of your work.
You are called to do something that only you can do in the way that you can do it. Start your day, live your day, recharge your day (over and over again) by dropping into YOU. Who you are. This is your guide. Your true north. Your intuition. Your gut. Your source energy. Your highest self. Whatever you want to call it, it’s YOU at your core. Meditation is the most effective way to do this, in my experience. But meditation can look a lot of different ways. This is where you play. With the goal of tapping in to your you. Calling forth your deepest, calmest, most curious voice.
2. Activate your body.
Why? Because creativity is a full body activity.
I don’t care if you are tickling the ivories or tapping away at a QWERTY keyboard all day long, when you’re in it – in flow, in your most creative space – even your TOES are getting in on the action. And if you’ve already limbered up your body, gotten your breath and your blood flowing, your muscles moving, your body has no catching up to do to your creativity. It’s raring to go.
3. Seek out inspiration.
Why? When you are inspired, you align with the energy that calls forth your own unique creativity.
My amazing writing coach, Nancy Rawlinson, reminded me that in order to get musical instruments in tune, we need to reach outside of the instrument and tune it to another entity, a pitch pipe, a tuning fork or another instrument. Find authors that light you up, music that catches your breath, podcasts that invigorate your mind, paintings that pull you to them, people that get you going, ideas and images and innovations that make you want to jump out of your seat and CREATE (just as soon as you soak up as much as you can of it).
4. Connect back in to your vision.
Why? Creativity is not a linear process.
As we stare down the minutiae of the day to day, we lose sight of what we’re even working towards. We get jumbled in the strategies and the to-dos and the new aha’s and constant whatthefucks that we forget there is something bigger at play, something larger than ourselves even. We are circling around that thing – that vision – in almost every area in our lives. And when you take a step back and reconnect to that broader picture - that clarity of vision - your next step moves into place.
Now comes the fun part.
Make what you want to make of this.
Make rules for yourself that you know you have the freedom to break if it’s not getting you what you need.
Try different things out.
Take note of what works, and when, and why.
You are a creator. Create your own routine. Each and every day.
Share in the comments what works for you!