Are you one of those lucky people with so many interests and passions, enough to last a few lifetimes?
What I have learned recently, the hard way, is that sometimes you just need to apply a bit of force, a bit of restrain, a bit of… (please don’t say it!)…yes, self-discipline.
Gosh, I hate that word. I hate the very idea of self-discipline. Or sacrifice. I am a hedonist brought up in a family of epicureans. I was left to do what I wanted when I wanted.
Which was great.
Now I am not one for waking up an hour earlier, every morning, to write or make art, before going to work. Maybe one day I’ll get there, but at the moment it’s not for me. I am more of a night person anyway, and my brain really switches into gear after 4pm. It is a proven fact.
But… Of course there is a but.
I have been struggling with focus, finding a way to concentrate on one project at a time, long enough to get anywhere with it.
It wasn’t always like this. I used to be very focused on my art. For over 20 years I have worked with incredible focus and commitment on my art career. That’s all I did. Of course I pursued some other interests, and I took time to experiment with ideas and materials. But, I would always find my way back to my main project.
Then something changed. I changed.
A few of years ago I started taking breaks from my art. I took what I thought would be a ‘little holiday’ from the Creatures, to explore new ways, new materials, new projects. The holiday kept getting longer and longer, as I tried to decide what else I could be doing, while jumping from one thing to another, looking for this ‘else’.
In the meantime I went back to university (Psychology. Something that I’ve always wanted to study), I went back to writing, trying my hand at short stories and flash-fiction, I went back to photography. I also started thousands (not an exact figure) projects, freelanced, tried different business ideas…you get the point. It got ridiculous. It became pathological, a compulsion.
It also became very frustrating.
Every time I said I would do something, it wouldn’t last long. In a matter of days my attention was gone, I would get distracted and started working on the next thing.
It was time to find a solution, something that would help me setting a goal and see it through to the end. Maybe it was time to employ some of that dreaded self-discipline.
Nick, (who can be the voice of reason. Sometimes), suggested that I should simply pick something, anything, and try to do it, without distractions or jumping to other projects, for a certain amount of time. I opted for two weeks. After the two weeks I can chose to continue with what I am working, or move to another project.
Sounds simple enough.
Of course two weeks are not long enough for bigger projects, but at this point I am just keeping it manageable, as a way to stop jumping.
At this point it’s an exercise in focus.