Growing up, I did well with academic goals. First, graduate high school. Then, get into college. Pick a major. Get good grades. Get into grad school. Get good grades. Graduate.
I saw the end goal, and I worked hard to get it. I liked this process; it was simple and straightforward.
Similarly, I found I also did well with setting up training programs for specific events, like triathlons and marathons. Pick a race, do the training, finish. Pick another race, do the training, finish.
This process of set end goal, make plan, execute plan, achieve goal seemed to work for me. As long as there was an end goal.
When it comes to the times where I don’t have a finish line to work toward, or when things don’t have an end goal, I run into a problem.
Be healthy — no end goal.
Be happy — no end goal.
Be creative — no end goal.
Writing doesn’t have an end goal. There is no finish line that I’m working toward here. Sure, I could create one. “Write one blog post every day for the rest of my life.” “Publish one book every year for the next decade.” And someday, I might set those goals. But right now, I don’t want a finish line. I do want to overcome self-doubt and procrastination.
For creative things, like writing, I want to shift my focus to the process and build a habit — healthy, happy, and creative habits for things that I like doing.
So being the goal-focused individual that I am (I can’t just make that go away.), I came up with some guidelines to help me with the things that have no finish lines. These aren’t rules. More like guiding principles. A code for when I do something creative and need to remind myself to focus on the process and not on the result.
My Creativity Code
1. I can do things that I’m not good at and still enjoy them. I might create something awful; it doesn’t mean the activity isn’t for me.
2. External sources don’t decide my worth or the worth of my work.
3. When it comes to making creative decisions, be independent.
4. I will not find the go-ahead signal outside my self.
5. I may not know the best way to proceed. That’s okay.
6. Doing something is progress. Thinking about doing something is procrastinating.
7. Playing is never a waste of time.
8. I do not have to be the best, but I can make the best of what I have.