With the new year, there are several posts about resolutions, to make them or not, to create new habits, or not, and how long it is before people lose their motivation and forget their resolutions, and end up staying in the same place as they were the previous year. Personally, I gave up doing resolutions years ago. I realized I never stuck to them, for all the usual reasons, and so to by-pass the step of beating myself up for being a “failure”, I just refused to do them. Besides, any day is a good day to decide to get healthy, to stop smoking, to continue with your education, or to save for a dream vacation.
During my yoga training, we discussed the difference between goals and intentions. I’ve always had goals. They’re good for pointing one in a direction, which is way better than ambling down some path we may not even know is the right one, and then years later realize we should have headed north, when all along we were going south. Many writers have written books about setting intentions for everything from getting out of the house on time in the morning to completing an advanced degree and landing an ideal job. Having intentions for the day, a creativity project you’re working on, or even an intention to begin, or end, a habit intrinsically removes the ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality. Meaning, intentions invite us to be happy all along the way, and not just when we arrive at our ‘goal’ or destination.
Cat Bennett, author of The Confident Creative: Drawing to Free the Hand and Mind, agrees. Once we clarify our intention, it gives us a direction to move towards. Writing it down helps to keep that intention from getting muddy. Great ideas can come related to the project, or something else, and we don’t lose sight of where we’re going. Keeping our intentions in our thoughts helps us to create that reality. Seeing what we’ve written, reading it over, keeps things clear, simple, and moving forward.
Part of creating art is accepting change. I’ve written in previous blogs that once we find a time or place or materials that feel right to us, that we stick with that to do our creating. I’ve also encouraged readers to switch things up. If you write in the morning, try writing in the afternoon. If you paint with watercolor, try sketching with chalk. Creativity changes us, and when we change, how we express ourselves changes too. If we refuse to adapt, even though our intention is providing a direction, we may miss opportunities along the way.
As we follow our intention (why we create, what we’re creating), it’s important to remember that we are on a journey to discover ourselves. Inspiration is different from intention. We can be inspired by nature, other artists, a piece of art, or an experience. Inspiration fuels our intention. It allows us to continue to travel the distance from where we are, to where we want to be, but being alright with a few dips and turns along the way. After all, that is what helps us to get to know ourselves better and keeps us filled with ideas to create.
Desire to do something, create a piece of art or organize a movement, sparks in us the will to move. This leads to inspiration, which drives our intention. Sometimes if we go looking for inspiration, it eludes us. But if we pay attention, we are gifted with whispers of where to go, what to do, who to speak with, and we find that these flashes between the conscious thoughts become our art. Miraculously, these ideas come to us at our skill level, or just above. Whatever they are, we can accomplish them. And if we look, we see that they are in alignment with our intention. Especially if we sit the critical ego in its time-out chair.
As anyone who partakes in the creative life knows, there are cycles. Sometimes it seems as if our muse is on an extended vacation. We search everywhere with our logical, thinking mind, and inspiration is nowhere to be found. What do we do? The same thing we did when we first heeded that calling. When we took a chance and picked up the pen, the brush, the guitar, the script, the camera. We took a deep breath and in between the thoughts, in the quiet stillness that we so often overlook, are instructions for joy. If we are working away and don’t pause to hear the muse, we can lose sight of our intention, forget what we desired, and find ourselves in a state of parched inspiration.
Feel your desires. Allow them to fuel your intentions. Write them out and keep them where you can see them. Intend to enjoy the sights along the road as you journey from here to there. Be still and allow inspiration to highlight points of interest on the map. If you get lost, come back to your desire, your intention, and new inspiration will be there waiting. Leave a comment if you have a favorite person, place, or object that leads to inspiration. You can view the results of mine at www.myjoyenterprises.com