Ever felt burned out? Sucked dry of ideas for your work?
My career path has taken many twists and turns over the years. And once or twice I’ve stumbled into the desert of depletion.
Perhaps you have too – or will do by the time you reach your Fifties and beyond without seeking to protect your creative mind as well as your body.
Ageing is a beautiful thing. Wisdom, patience and a strategic canniness for the long game are all strengths that come with career experience and maturity.
But get a creative hobby and you’ll develop superpowers that protect you from burnout, like invisible armour.
Why? Because you’ll develop anti-burnout skills and train your mind with regular, powerful exercises that create resilience, familiarise flow and immerse you in mindfulness exercises where you regularly step through fear and experience vulnerability.
Want some of that?
But if you’re holding back because your first thought is ‘I can’t draw… I don’t have an artistic bone in my body, I’m not good enough to…’
You are missing the point.
It’s not about what you create. It’s about the process of creating. Think about that. It’s about the process. it’s not about the result, which you are already judging before you’ve even tried! It’s about the path to the result.
I come from a family where creativity is fully expressed.
My grandfather was a cooper – making wooden barrels from slats so tightly bound you could carry liquids without losing a drop. It was a craft that died in his lifetime and so he completed his working days cutting aluminium but he made furniture for us while I was a child and he built me a magnificent dolls house. He also drew, specialising in roses.
My mother worked in a bank, mostly working on the tills and helping people better invest their savings. But her passion was creating clothes and occasionally her colleagues would pay her to whip up a vogue pattern creation. Even my English teacher had dresses by Barbara and she still creates the occasional, but beautifully tailored jacket for herself, when the occasion calls her as she approaches her 80th year. She also paints and draws.
I draw too. Unlike those two, I am not good at drawing. I did not somehow inherit their ‘talent’ but I know if I keep at it, I will get better. On Thursday nights I go to life drawing, a two hour battle with my attempts to recreate what I see on paper.
It is hard. And I mean like grandmaster chess hard. Drawing the human form makes your brain jump hoops like you can’t imagine. And then sketching to the clock – the drawing equivalent of speed chess!
What it teaches you is to let go; let go of your perfectionism. Let go of fear. Let go of excuses. You jump and you jump fully, expecting to see something less than perfect at the end. And that is all part of the magic.
But there is more! Oh yes, hobbies are the gifts that keep on giving.
It’s been proven that a creative past time, that has NOTHING to do with your job, builds creative muscle and resilience. In these places bright sparks ignite, moments of ‘flow’ are experienced and they build and build and, with any luck, spill over into your working life too.
I love my creative non-work life so much I’ve taken up pottery. A passion from childhood. And I love that too. Mostly my creations have been exercises in the craft, although the odd pot has been a pleasant surprise. And now I’m learning to throw on the wheel, an extraordinary experience in using your hands as sensing, creative tools. The power of your touch. How you draw up the clay. A completely different way of ‘knowing’ and just try not being in the ‘Now’ when you’re drawing up clay.
But do not do what every entrepreneur suddenly gets the urge to do. Monetarise it. That, my dear reader, is the equivalent of cutting off the unicorn’s horn, cutting Aslan’s mane, biting the hand that is feeding you.
The well of creativity, the pool of beautiful, magical ideas lies in the space where you find time making. Not in the object itself.
It’s in the journey, not the destination. A bit like Life.
Photo by Kristopher Roller