Do you feel raring to go with all your creative projects right now?
Do you have lots of things you want to work on but feel scattered and overwhelmed by the workload?
Do you always run out of time and get stressed by your deadlines?
When you have lots of ideas, it can be tempting to stack them up but this can lead to overwhelm and burnout.
Luckily, goal setting doesn’t have to be an arduous task. Follow me in this episode as I share my top tips about how to pace yourself, prioritise what brings you joy and ensure you get the best out of the fire season to ensure you get your work done while not burning yourself out.
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For episode transcripts visit: https://camillafellasarnold.com/category/podcast/
Welcome to Creative Power! Last week on the show we had Emily Tuck talking to us about this new season we’ve moved into of fire, of action, of DOING.
We’re going to spend the next few episodes digging into more around that, particularly exploring what she mentioned about those passion projects and creative joy. But before we do, it’s really important to set yourself a good foundation before you start any creative work in order to get the most out of it.
So what does that look like? For me, it looks like clear intentions. If I’m not clear on what I want by the end of a project, chances are some of it will fall by the wayside. That doesn’t mean we have to micromanage every aspect of the creative process by giving ourselves some goalposts and the shape of the field we’re playing in, we create parameters within which we can explore and play.
Now as Emily talked about, from 1st May we’ve now moved into the fire element in the Chinese five elements and this will last roughly about 12 weeks with a midpoint in the middle which happens to be the Summer Solstice in June.
As I’ve personally been following the Chinese five elements and the pagan wheel within my creative work, I’ve noticed that using those shorter six week windows keeps things fresh and moving. It prevents stagnation, boredom or simply burning out too much on a project because you don’t dither or hang on unnecessarily. You keep it moving while you’re excited about it.
Whereas if we think about that 12 week period, that’s where I’m picking a long term, big theme for all my creative projects to fit into. Think of the 12 weeks like your big picture overview, what’s the ultimate thing you want to have achieved in that time.
Let me give you an example. For me in this current fire season, my overall goals are putting myself out there, getting more visible and clearing my mental deck to make way for something new.
So in terms of my short term six week window, I’ve picked out a few projects that I can focus on getting prerecorded and turn them into self-led content so I can make way for some new stuff in my head because honestly… these projects are years old!
One of the main things I was considering when setting these goals and breaking it down into smaller projects was asking myself the question, what will give me the best, biggest result from the fewest of actions.
Why did I think that way? Because honestly it’s easy to overload yourself right now. Way too easy. Summer is coming, the weather and our internal moods are improving. We feel energised and excited by life once again because with covid restrictions relaxing, it means we can get out and do stuff. So it can be super tempting to fill up your plate with all your exciting projects.
But if you put too many things in the pot, you’re going to get overwhelmed. This is not the time for shiny project syndrome. This is the time to take a step back, breathe and bring a bit of logic into the equation.
I know, I know, that can be a hard ask for us as creatives but honestly, it will serve you well in the next few weeks.
Why? Because if you stack up 20 super exciting projects to do and get part way through some of them and finish none of them… you’re going to give yourself a really hard time. We don’t want that. So let’s set ourselves up for success from the off! It can feel unnatural, particularly for the more fluid, go with the flow creators but I’ve found it really does help with focus, momentum and actually being able to tick things off the list.
When I was at uni, we used to start a new project roughly every two weeks for several months. We’d get as far as we could with each, aiming to be done or near as damn it in two weeks and then move on.
Of course, the reality wasn’t like that so towards the end of the year, we’d be hurtling towards the final hand in with lots of loose threads of projects dangling around and it was a lot to manage and hold in your head.
One piece of advice from a tutor really stood out though and helped me no end so I’m going to share it with you. Here it is.
Decide how long you think it will take you to finish that project. Multiply that number by three and you’ve got a more accurate representation of how much time it’s going to take. Now when you’re dividing up your weeks until the deadline, you can allocate time fully and reduce your own stress because if you happen to finish a project quicker than expected, simply move onto the next.
I know it feels counter intuitive to share this information now when we’re talking about goal setting but actually, it’s the perfect time to bear this in mind.
If you work out or even just make your best guess of how long it will take you to do something and then times that number by three. So say for one of my workshops I’m planning to record on writing memoirs I decided it would take me two days to map it out, create the slide deck, sales page, record the actual workshop, edit and package it up.
Times that by three, it might take me six days. That’s a worst case scenario of course! But what it does mean is that I’m going to be much more realistic about my goal setting and what projects I can feasibly get completed in the next few weeks.
By thinking in that way, it means I won’t stack up 20 projects to do in six weeks, I might aim for between 4-6. And if I get them all done and have time left over, great! I could tackle something else OR give myself a pat on the back and well earned rest. Which by the way, I’m betting you having even thought about factoring into your projects and goal setting.
Making sure you give yourself downtime will help this process too. Not only will it mean you are able to keep momentum going because you have energy to do so, but giving yourself time to think also feeds that creative process.
Reflection and making connections between concepts ideas is something we all do as creatives whether we do that consciously and actively or not. But that decompression time is really crucial so making sure you actually factor that in too and your future self will thank you for it.
On the flip side, if it does end up taking me the full amount of time to do each project, at least I will get them done because I was realistic about how much work I intended to do. I don’t have to berate myself, stress or pile the pressure on because on the front end I was realistic and kind to myself.
As you can see, much as it’s tempting to try and cram everything in, pacing ourselves is much kinder and more conducive to the creative process. We are not machines. Creating can be tiring because of how much of ourselves we pour into it so give yourself some grace and don’t overload your plate. There’s no need to be one wafer thin mint away from explosion.
The other thing to think about when it comes to goal setting for this season is where is the joy for you. This came up in last week’s episode with Emily Tuck. Joy and laughter are associated with the fire element so it’s time to make this front and centre.
And just because you’re in a good mood because the sun is shining so you feel like you can get on with your creative projects, isn’t what I mean by making joy front and centre.
Look at your creative projects and ideas. Do they actually bring YOU joy. Never mind about the end user or consumer for a minute. Forget about whether it’s fulfilling a need or gap in the market.
Does it fuel your fire?
Does it feed your soul?
Does it light you up?
Does it make you feel excited and raring to get going?
If it doesn’t, it’s going to feel like a chore no matter how cloudless that blue sky is today. You won’t bring the best of yourself as a creator if it’s not bringing you joy.
So putting the lens of joy on top of your projects, ask yourself – what feels exciting? What are you raring to get started on?
What are you spending all your time thinking about doing?
Prioritise those projects now. They are the projects that feed your soul, energise you and simply make you a better creator.
Follow the breadcrumb of joy, it always tells you where you need to go. And as Emily said, with 70% of the population being made up of Generators or Manifesting Generators as per Human Design, it’s important for the majority of us to follow the joy because it generates more energy within us, makes us more magnetic, makes like easier and more fun… put simply, joy makes the world go round.
Now let me take my example from earlier about the workshop I want to create on writing memoirs.
When the idea came into my head recently, it was the result of me seeing a need. I’d been asked to provide feedback on a book outline and a lot of the points I was making in my feedback were – to me – obvious. This is stuff I’ve known for years because I learnt it.
I could see based on this outline I was critiquing and based on conversations I’d had with other people in recent months about writing memoirs and autobiographies that I had information and an understanding about memoirs that a lot of people didn’t have but definitely needed.
An idea was born.
But to me this information was old hat, how could I make the workshop exciting and interesting to me? I know the information is gold but if I can’t deliver it with joy, it won’t have the same effect on the viewer.
Joy makes your words and teachings land differently, let me tell you.
I didn’t want to discard this idea either because it was a good one so… what could I do with it?
I decided to reframe it in my head.
I thought about how although the content wasn’t new to me, it was new to the viewer. And would really help them improve their storytelling.
Ah! There’s the thing.
I love to help people. Helping people brings me joy. Feeling like I’m useful, being needed and having something to offer someone, I thrive off that shit.
So! When I next thought about this memoir workshop as a service to the people I’m working with, as a way I could genuinely help them but without me having to repeat myself 50 million times… in that way, one jam packed with great info and delivered with enthusiasm prerecorded masterclass would have much more impact on the viewer.
And most importantly, then free me up to work on something else.
Next time someone asks for my advice when they’re writing their life story I can happily say, yeah I totally have some tips and advice, check out my resources and masterclass here and I send them a link.
They’ve got specific help they need, I have helped them but didn’t have to spend hours of my life on the phone telling them what I tell 80% of memoir writers when they start out.
Plus, in the process of packaging up all of my knowledge on writing memoirs, I’ve not only created a masterclass but worksheets, freebies, you name it. All of it gets scooped up in that one thing.
Which loops back to what I said at the beginning of the episode, what one action or project will give me the best, biggest result from the fewest of actions? In short, how can I get the biggest ROI (return on investment) from the fewest moves and most targeted and specific projects from my list of ideas?
I think what I’m really trying to say is, goal setting doesn’t have to be boring or take ages. But it is a really useful thing to be doing right now, to set yourself up for success over the next few weeks.
Save yourself from overwhelm, stress, boredom and burnout by getting clear about what you want to achieve in the next 6 week window. Even if you just write the intention on a post it note and stick it by your bed, you’ve got that one thing in mind that you want to get done.
So let me recap on my top tips for goal setting so that by the time we leave the fire element and move into the earth element where we focus on what we’re harvesting… here’s what you need to do:
- Have a larger overall theme for a longer period of time and then break that down into smaller goals to keep your focus.
- Don’t fill up your plate with too many projects. Overestimate how long it will take you to finish things so you give yourself plenty of time and breathing room.
- Be smart about your projects. Can you band projects together to do less work but for a much bigger return?
- Remember to factor your own joy into the equation. Lead your goal setting with your passion projects. Weave fun into everything you do.
- If it’s not lighting you up with joy, can you reframe it so that it does feel joyful? And if you can’t find a way to do that at all, can you ditch that project altogether or park it until it is reinvigorated?
- My final bonus tip – be kind to yourself! Don’t rush, factor in rest and decompression time and give yourself room to breathe. Your future self really will thank you for it.