I’m often asked, “What’s next?” People want to know how I fill my time now that I’ve simplified my life, gotten rid of most of my stuff, and opted out of the corporate grind. They also want to know how they will spend their time.
If you are wondering what your life might look like on the other side of a hurried, jam-packed schedule or worry that you won’t know what you’ll do with extra time and space, you are not alone.
It looks different for everyone and the good news is that you don’t have to figure it all out in advance. That time and space you create will provide answers. You’ll finally be able to hear yourself think and discover what you like to do and really want to do.
After being on autopilot for decades, the freedom of deciding how I wanted to spend my day was almost paralyzing, but I eased in. I am so grateful to be able to design the majority of my time to engage thoughtfully in my work and do things that make me healthier and happier every day.
Now that I’ve created time and space in my life, I can be more creative. I’ve used that creative time to focus primarily on photography and writing, but recently, I broke out the watercolors and made a small painting for my friend Tammy. Her mom’s dog, Henry appears throughout Tammy’s book, My Morning View: An iPhone Photography Project about Gratitude, Grief & Good Coffee and I wanted to capture his essence with brush and paint.
3 important reasons to be more creative …
- Creativity predicts a longer life. In this Scientific American article, “researchers found that only creativity—not intelligence or overall openness—decreased mortality risk. One possible reason creativity is protective of health is because it draws on a variety of neural networks within the brain.” James Clear cites studies and research that demonstrate creating art decreases negative emotions, reduces stress and anxiety, and improved medical outcomes. Not only can being creative help you live longer, but it can improve your quality of health and life too.
- Solve problems. Being creative helps you become a better problem solver in all areas of your life and work. Instead of coming from a linear, logical approach, your creative side can approach a situation from all angles. Creativity helps you see things differently and better deal with uncertainty. Studies show that creative people are better able to live with uncertainty because they can adapt their thinking to allow for the flow of the unknown.
- Develop confidence. Being creative comes with many ups and downs and a high risk of failure. You have to be vulnerable to share your art, and willing to take the risk that what you create may never see the light of the day. Engaging in the creative process is a great confidence builder, because you discover that failure is part of the process. Once we see failure as something that is survivable, and something that helps us grow and that it makes our work better, we can release the fear and try new things even at the risk of failing.
I brought a small bag of paints and brushes when we moved last year, put them in a drawer, and told myself that if they were still in the drawer in a year, I would throw them out. I’m so glad I used them before my deadline arrived. I didn’t create a masterpiece and that might not look exactly like Henry, but the joy I felt putting brush to paper reminded me why making time for it is so important.
The creative process invites everyone to be creative. Art is not just for “creative-types” and even if you don’t think you are artistically inclined, you’ll be surprised at your capacity to create great work. If you haven’t created anything lately, keep it simple and fun. Write your next poem, or draw your next picture without judgement or fear and see what happens.
I didn’t have the right brushes to paint the picture above, but I used what I had including a q-tips and a tiny screwdriver. Don’t worry about doing it wrong. Don’t wait until you know it all or have it all. Just ease in and and take advantage of everything creativity has to offer.