How to be Creative on the Hard Days

On my website I have a lot of posts about having the motivation, willpower and commitment to show up on the hard days.

I remember one day in particular, when my daily art commitment was truly tested.

It was the day of my kidney transplant.

We had to be at the hospital at 5am to prep for my surgery at 8am.

After that I would be in bed for the next 3 days.

It’s on days like this that I practice my minimums.

I didn’t try to get 4 hours of art in.

I didn’t start a new painting.

I didn’t setup any complex mental tasks and I definitely wasn’t going to do any crazy workouts.

What I DID do was plan for my surgery and hospitalization.

The morning of my surgery, I woke up at 3am to make sure that I would have enough time to do a 30 minute sketch.

Getting in at least 30 minutes of art time every day is my most profound commitment to myself.

I made sure that I got my biggest most important commitment out of the way first thing.

I call this a micro win.

Teresa Amabile, the Director of Research at Harvard Business School, calls them small wins.

In her book The progress Principle she focuses on the primary principle of progress.

Not goal orientation thinking, but progress orientation thinking.

We’re going to have super hard days.

But if we plan for them by setting a minimum and making progress, then motivation and accomplishment will follow regardless of how bad the days get.

The important thing to remember is that we’re not checking off a to do list of uninspiring work every day.

We gain small wins on things that really matter.

Here is a simple 4 step plan for you to show up on your hardest days.

#1 Know that hard days are inevitable.

#2 Plan for them by setting a minimum on things that really matter to you.

#3 Start rocking your minimum today, and the easy days, to build up the willpower and prepare yourself for the hard days.

#4 When the hard days come by. Stay calm, show up, make progress and know that when you can accomplish something on the hardest days all the other days get much easier.

Chris Beaven

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