Last month I began working on a new project. Ahhhh!!!
Starting from scratch can freak the bejeezus out of me. Ask anyone who writes, the blank page can be terrifying. But I’ve become OK with that. (No seriously, I have).
Because as I know (yet constantly have to remind myself), all great things in the history of the world began as nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
The Sistine Chapel. The Declaration of Independence. The iPhone app that turns your phone into a flashlight. Nothing.
So repeat this with me – Kumbaya-style if you must:
All great things in the history of the world began as nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
Now, let that be your Force.
The other reason I’m comfortable when diving into the creative unknown is that no matter how scary a new project may be, I’m willing to go through uncertainty, confusion, and frustration (you should too) to arrive in a Land of Certainty, Clarity, and Fulfillment. It’s a magical place (like Neverland for adults) and totally worth the journey.
That is to say that I LOVE what I do and the gratification that comes from a full page and completed activity vastly outweighs the fear of a blank one and never having started. That passion is the fuel to my creative gas tank.
Which brings me to the guide…
When you’re thinking about doing that thing that you’re thinking about doing, consistently and repeatedly, like a teenage girl updating her Facebook status, ask yourself the following questions before anything else:
Do I feel contracted?
Do I feel expanded?
This thing, that thing, that other thing, that other, other thing. Contracted? Or expanded?
With who, where, why, how. Contracted? Or expanded?
Today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. Contracted? Or expanded?
The difference goes like this…
A contracted feeling pulls you in, making you feel smaller. It’s a shrinking energy that you never look forward to. You know those painful cramps women have right before giving birth? Ya, they’re called contractions for a reason. Ask how much fun they are.
Although my contracted state may not be physically painful, it’s emotionally, spiritually, and mentally both unsettling and draining. And it’s easy to pinpoint.
When I contract , fun and enthusiasm disappear and the dread kicks in. I become impatient and turn into a realist (my greatest fear) rather than an idealist (the Real Me).
On the flip side, an Expanded feeling makes you feel BIGGER. It’s an all-encompassing influx of inspiration that shoots out from your core as if you could lift right off the ground. It enthralls you with that Knowing where you may not be able to sleep at night until you at least give it a try.
And regardless of the cynics and naysayers, in an Expanded state, nothing affects your commitment to the vision because you’re lit from Within. There isn’t time for the peanut-gallery nonsense because you’re Fired Up, Jacked up, and ready to Giddy the Fuck Up.
In my experience, if expansion is the source and at the forefront of what I’m doing, it’s all I need to know to get movin’ and a groovin.’ And identifying these feelings is the most efficient way to making those big (and small) life/career/anything and everything decisions.
The hard way? Well, there isn’t one. It’s only hard if you make it hard. So choose wisely.
Make a list of your current activities and the ones you’d LOVE to do sometime this week. After, apply the expansion/contraction criteria. It’s that simple, really.
A month into my project, I continue to ask myself these questions. For me, it’s part of the creative process. Sort of like a weekly well-being physical (minus the pant-dropping and endless paperwork you sign but never read).
Are you expanded here T.J.? No.
OK, what about here? Yep!
Great. Let’s begin.