Uncategorized

Don’t Let A Bad Week Ruin Your Weekend

I’m sure you’ve had a terrible day, or a string of days at work. It wasn’t a single event that caused your stress and grief, not necessarily, but things going wrong just little by little. All the while, you’re getting more and more distressed without even having realized it.

It doesn’t really matter what it was, the report you put on your boss’ desk wasn’t exactly perfect even though you double and triple checked everything… again… maybe you said something stupid to a coworker that you’re sitting there dreading what they think of you, maybe for some reason, instead of having a difficult customer once every day, like you’re used it, it seems to be once per hour. Maybe you’re not sure if the customers are just terrible, but your own stress is more visible to the customers than you like which is putting them at a sense of unease, so they don’t have confidence in you.

Just like how you’ve lost confidence in yourself.

Finally, the moment comes that you’ve been waiting for. You clock out of work to go enjoy your weekend (or whenever your day off happens to be), you’ve finally escaped work. You can just relax an enjoy yourself, maybe even get stuff done that YOU want instead of whoever you’re working for!

Yaaaaay- wait… I hear a “but” coming…

Right?

Guess again, pal.

Your day off comes along, and maybe you’re just so burnt out that all you can do is sit in front of the computer watching Netflix or playing video games. Then, your day is gone before you know it, and you’re back at work again.

You don’t feel rested, your muscles ache with the weight of the events of the previous week. That day off-or even that entire weekend- might as well have been a hour lunch.

Or maybe you’re one of those crazy people that actually continue to wake up early on the weekends, you have a dream you’re working towards, and you’ve made progress. Your way of relaxing is drawing or painting a picture, you might have done some blogging, some research on how to make passive income, maybe did some chores around the house.

Yaaay… Why am I empty inside?

Only, you don’t feel accomplished. You are still carrying that weight from that awful week at work. All those little things you accomplished over the weekend didn’t restore your confidence in yourself as much as you were sure it would.

You might have had nightmares about work.

You found yourself in quiet moments-without realizing it-going through situations that went wrong at work and figure out what you would have done differently to make them better, then you would feel your heart race and get upset.

Then you would get angry. This is my time off! Why has my job treated me so badly that I’m spending my own time worrying about that?

I know it might sound like PTSD, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it that.

I’m not here to tell you that’s not all that bad, you’ve heard that already. I’m not even here to tell you how to make the most of your weekend. If you need to veg out and essentially reboot yourself after an awful week, that’s great! You deserve it!

I’m here to share with you something that helps me when I’m supposed to be enjoying my time, but the stress from work is getting to be too much.

Now, I don’t just do this, I also keep a daily journal, read philosophy, and exercise, which I’m sure helps significantly.

You ready?

When you start to feel panicky and remember your terrible time at work, stop. Stop everything you’re doing and look up. You need to remember that you can’t change the past, you can’t look to the future. You are currently living in the present moment. Look up. Look at the environment around you while taking three, slow deep breaths.

Where are you? You’re not at work. Look at a few objects in the place you’re in. If you’re at the desk, look any pictures on the wall, look at the coffee mug in front of you. Look at your sketchbook. Remember. This is not work. This is your space. You can do just about anything you want in this space. No grouchy customers (unless they’re your own if you’re that aforementioned small side business-owner), no boss breathing down your neck, no reports you have to check. Just your space.

Pictured Above: Not Your Job

If you’re outside, look at the plant life, look at the big sky above you, maybe there’s a dog, or a squirrel near by. Again. This is not work. This is the space you’re in right now. You can’t always control what happens at work. You definitely can’t control and fix all the things that went wrong this week. If you keep worrying about what’s going to happen at work, then you’re just going to be miserable and miss out on the great time you could be having right now.

Pictured Above: Not Your Job Either

If your stress is particularly brutal, I recommend doing some journaling. Write down five to seven things that you’re grateful for. I know it sounds dumb, but it’s much easier to focus and fret over what’s going wrong than on the things that are going right in you life. They don’t even have to be big things. Is it sunny out? Be thankful for that! Is no one dying right now? That’s a plus. You’re not starving? There you go.

Did someone just smile back at you as you were you thinking of your list because they thought you were starting to smile at them? Well, that’s a combination of nice with a bit of sweet humor (this actually happened to me, it was really the highlight of my day!).

It is helpful to think of a different list every day, otherwise these things will lose their magic.

Right now, you need a boost. Any boost.

Also, please, do not be alone during this time. Human beings are social animals, and now would be a good time to reconnect with a friend. If you live with your family, or partner, this would also be a good time to do something nice for them (make them a card, offer to do one of their chores, tell them they look great). Showing an act of kindness to someone instantly makes you feel good.

It’s important to remember that even though your job might make you feel like a worthless husk- a cog in a machine- instead of a human being, you matter to someone else.

It doesn’t feel like that right now.

But you do.

Also, if your job is particularly toxic, to the point where you feel this terrible most of the time, look for other jobs. Oh, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”? don’t be so sure. Have been looking for other jobs, but no luck? Keep looking!

You also may want to consider volunteering once a week, that will make you feel like you’re making a difference, you’ll be picking up new job skills, and your future employer will really like the fact that you’re volunteering. That’s not always fun either, but the benefits of volunteering outweigh the negatives.

Just… don’t be the guy holding the knife.

These things don’t necessarily need to be practiced purely on the weekends either, you can also do these exercises when you get home from work, or even on your lunch break (actually, ESPECIALLY on your lunch break, where there’s a pretty good chance that besides eating, all you can think about is going back to work).

Also, I want it to be clear that I’m not saying you should ignore your problems. If you have difficulties at work that you can need to improve on and overcome, you should do everything you can to do so. At work. On the weekends, or time you’re not being paid to deal with work (unless you’re a teacher or some other profession that requires you to do work related things on your time off), that time and place belongs to you.

In Conclusion:

  1. Stop. Observe Your Surroundings, Remember You’re Not at Work
  2. Take Three Deep Breaths
  3. List 5-7 Small Things You’re Grateful for
  4. Do Something Nice for Someone Else
  5. Change What’s Wrong With Your Situation if You Can (get a different job, learn additional skills, volunteer).
Advertisements
art

7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Become an Artist

I’m writing this more for myself. It seems like the more I pursue my art career, the more opportunities open up, and the more daunting it becomes. As I’ve said in the past, I’m personally struggling with a very odd Fear of Success (versus the fear of failure. Only instead of not trying because you’re afraid of failing, you don’t want to try because you’re afraid you’ll succeed and can’t handle it). but if you guys think this list is helpful to you too, then that makes me happy! Let’s all go through this journey together!

1. The Internet

Today is probably the best time ever in the history of art to become an artist and make money and recognition in your lifetime! Back in the olden days, you had to be lucky and make friends with a rich person who really really REALLY believed in your work enough to pay you a full salary to sponsor your work. Otherwise, in the less recent time, you had to push to get your art exhibited in galleries (I highly recommend you still go this route for reasons I will explain in a future blog post, but for now, let’s be excited about the internet) where you have to pay a fee for them to show your work and if you are lucky enough to sell any, most of that money will just go back to the gallery. Putting your art in galleries may actually LOSE you more money than you gain.

Now, you can post your art for free, and if you keep at fostering your social media presence, you will eventually gain a following which will put you in contact with people who want to buy your art. Yes, you do have to compete with other artists, but you may forget that this is not a zero-sum gain. Just because one artist gets a commission doesn’t mean you don’t get that commission. You can also make passive income by selling digital prints, eBooks, Patreon, and numerous other places. With the internet, it’s difficult to put all your eggs in one basket, and that’s a good thing!

2. Whatever You Love Doing: There’s a Niche for It

Art is one of the most frustrating things to go into as a profession because what’s “In” in the art world changes so drastically. When I brought my sketchbook to a Portland gallery, the gallery owner noted I did a lot of figure drawings, and those just weren’t “in” right now.

Read my previous point. If you build a following on the internet, it doesn’t matter. Someone will like what you’re doing.

Not only that, but there are infinite numbers of communities for what you’re doing. Even if what you’re doing is purely original, which is unlikely because humans are bad at being original, you will find a niche.

If you like painting waterscapes and fish, fishermen will probably want your art, if your faith is important to you, you automatically have an audience of people in your faith who are probably DYING for the kind of things you create, if you love painting cats and dogs, you have a lot of people out there who love their pets and would be delighted to have you paint a portrait of their beloved Sir Colonel Fluffikins III.

So Fluffy

And yes, I know I sound like a broken record when I say “Do What You Love” but I mean it. If you’re working on something because you think that’s what’s “in” right now, you’re not going to care that much about it. When you try to sell it, you’re not going to have that same enthusiasm and conviction that makes people want to buy it (if you don’t care, why should I?), and you’re just going to be frustrated.

So, do what you love. It’s not as hard to find people interested as you might think.

3. You Don’t Even Need to Be Good- At Least, Not Right Away

I believed that before I had any business pursuing a career as an artist, I thought I had to be good. I don’t even know why I thought this, because there are many teenagers out there on the internet who are already making a living making videos of their art and pride themselves on how they’re learning, and simply want to be an amazing artist when they grow up- as they should!

The truth is, a good artist should always be learning. As a general rule of thumb, I found that no artist believes they’re really “good.”

Not only that, but look back at history. The most remembered artists of the 20th century didn’t create the most beautiful, realistic artwork, their expertise lay with creating a strong message behind the artwork, shaking hands with the right people, and marketing.

So, it doesn’t matter if you’re good, as long as you keep at it, love what you’re doing, and do the necessary research along the way, you’ll be fine. You may not get rich, but that’s not the goal, the goal is to be an artist and make enough to get by.

4. There’s Parts of it That Might Suck… Just Like the Job You’re Currently Working Now!

You’re smart enough to know that once someone becomes an artist, there’s a whole lot of challenges to face along the way and after the fact: keeping a business going, deadlines, customer relations, taxes, and there even might be viscous and jealous competing artists. This may be what’s keeping you from pursuing your dream as an artist, that these may be things you don’t want to deal with.

As opposed to be the job you might be working at now, you’re working for someone else, they may be malevolent and send you home every day with this feeling like you’re not worth anything, the work you’re doing is soul-killing and not doing any good for the world, maybe even making it worse, and it may be affecting your attitude, your family may find you unpleasant every time you come home from work, and things will only continue to get worse.

As opposed to working for yourself- you may not make as much money- but you’ll at least have the chance to do something you know is meaningful. You will come to the end of your life not having regretted doing what you really love.

5. Even If You Don’t Make it As an Artist, You Will STILL Pick Up Skills that Job Seekers Like

I do not advocate dropping everything and starving yourself to be an artist. It’s good to have a fallback plan. Take comfort in knowing that not only do you have one, but by following your dream, you will be even more equipped, proficient… and desired, in said fall back plan.

I actually want to write more on this topic, but one of the things that keeps me going, even though I’m still new, is all the skills I’m learning along the way to reaching my dream of being a stay-at-home artist.

I thought of the skills I was learning that jobs seekers wanted: utilizing social media through a business perspective, waking at 5 am to work on my art career before going to my 9-5 job, customer relations, setting and keeping deadlines, sales, photo editing, marketing, website development, etc. Many of these were not skills that I learned how to do in school or at other jobs, but they were skills that I learned while pursuing my own art career.

It’s easy to think that it may not be worth it in the end to become an artist professionally, that you’ll be spending so much time and money on art, no one will want to buy it, and it will all amount to nothing.

Not so.

Even if you make art that nobody buys, you will learn many other skills and develop habits that will be attractive for future job seekers.

6. You Will Fail… A Lot

The reason why I personally don’t have a fear of failure anymore is because I I know I will fail… many many times.

You will fail to make the masterpiece you want, you will fail to make online sales, you will fail to get the number of followers/subscribers you want, you will enter that Call for Artists, and you will fail to get in. You will fail many many MANY times. And that’s okay. I know, it’s still discouraging when something doesn’t work out, but that’s part of the journey of becoming an artist.

With every failure, you will learn something, the next time you try something, you will approach it a wiser person.

It’s also satisfying to know that you are not a quitter. That the world is out to get you, and knocked you down so many times. Just to spite it, you got back up and kept going. Nothing will keep you down!

Pictured: You.

You are a warrior! You’re a lion! You’re a Viking!

You’re not afraid.

That tingling feeling in your nerves… that’s excitement. You’re going to go back out there and fight! Everyone will see how impassioned you are, and they will either cheer loudly with you and follow you to victory… or out of fear, they will get out of your way.

7. It Takes Time, but It’s So Worth It. And Fulfilling

Becoming an artist is not something that happens overnight. It takes a lot of time. You’ll find shortcuts along the way, but for now, what you have is a cute little baby snowball.

You keep packing a little snow here and there, and it’ll get bigger. You roll it down a hill, and it will start to spiral and get so big you don’t know what to do with it (which is why I’m writing this blog post right now).

I know that ever since I decided to dedicate a minimum of 30 minutes every day to my art, I go to my day job feeling happier and more fulfilled. I have a sense of purpose and understanding of who I am because of my ambitions and goals that I dedicate a little time every day too. I am more resilient, less anxious, and stronger because of the habits that I spent the last several months accumulating. Because I actively look for things in other peoples’ art that I like- and used my art to build a philosophy of focusing more on creating the world you love instead of tearing down the one you hate- I am much less introverted and enjoy being around people more.

I like the person I am. Especially since I decided that I was no longer going to be afraid to be the artist I want to be.

Now go out and be the artist you want to be!

Uncategorized

7 Things You Should Say to Yourself Like a Crazy Person

I’m an artist! Of course I’m crazy! (Actually, believe it or not, there might not actually be any correlation between creativity and mental illness according to this Psychology Today article. When I got myself tested, I was only diagnosed with a minor form of anxiety, but who doesn’t have it in this day and age?)

Even so, sometimes we feel like we’re actually two people. There’s the rational side that has big dreams and knows that it requires hard work to reach said dreams, then there’s the instant-gratification monkey that doesn’t want to work hard. These are also things I say to myself when I’m feeling frustrated, scared, or lazy. These are things that help me a lot of personally, and I invite you to try saying these to yourself.

1. I Will be Okay.

I wish I could say I came up with this, but this something that I hear all the time from Charlie on his YouTube Channel Charisma on Command, which I strongly recommend especially if you’re socially anxious and shy.

Every time I think things are not going well, or I’m about to apply to have my art exhibited, or try something new that could potentially help my art career, I just think to myself, “No matter what, I will be okay.” And I will. Even if things turn out so wrong for a while, I know I’ll get through it somehow.

2. This Too Shall Pass.

Oh hi, Mark!

A quote from my old buddy, Mark. Something I say when I’m really not having a good time for whatever reason like I made a mistake at work, am receiving harsh criticism that I can’t find a way it will help my art, or I’m sick and miserable (at least then I can read a book). These are the moments you really can’t stop and appreciate. All you can remember is that they will pass, and you can move on.

3. Don’t Compare yourself to others. Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday.

I really really should have put the book I got this from on my list of books that shaped my philosophy, but I’m happy to give a nod to it now. This is a rule from Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life that helped me a lot as an artist (that and Treat Yourself Like Someone You’re Responsible for Caring For). This is something that keeps me from being overwhelmed, and even happy for, the artists out there with skill that I will never come to close to, but I still get to keep my competitive spirit by competing against myself. Although, sometimes I feel I’m ahead, and sometimes I’m behind. And that’s okay too.

4. I am Not a Quitter

Running on a treadmill? Having a rough time at your job that you’re not sure you can take anymore? Learning something new and you’re hitting a wall? Whenever this happens to me, I simply whisper, “I’m not a quitter.” and it gives me the boost I need to keep going, even if it’s just for a few more minutes. Now, maybe you are a quitter. Maybe you’re the kind of person who quits 100 times out of 99. Not in that moment, you’re not!

5. It Will Only Take 10 Minutes

Every time I wanted to read a book, paint, work out, or something I needed to do, suddenly, I never wanted to do it. I believe you have felt this way repeatedly. I learned, albeit later than I would’ve liked, that’s not the act of doing something that’s all that important, but starting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked myself into spending only ten minutes on a project, ten minutes go by and I think, “Eh, I can keep going” and next thing I know, two hours went by, I have an almost completed painting, and I realize I forgot to eat breakfast.

6. Don’t Let Fear Rule Your Life

When I was about to graduate with my bachelor’s, I was in a kind of slump. I wasn’t sure where my life was going, what I was going to do next, and I was very, VERY scared. That was when I decided to go live in Italy for a year. Every step it took me getting there from the application process, to the acceptance letter, to the getting my passport and visa, it felt like something was fighting me. What if I end up destitute? What if it goes wrong?

My mother said, “Don’t let fear rule your life.”

If I listened to that fear, I would have never had that experience, met those wonderful people on my journeys, and have those wonderful stories.

7. If takes less than 5 minutes. Do it now.

Nothing art related, just a good rule of thumb. Keeps time doing chores down to a minimum.

Bonus thing:

“I will find a goddamn light, man.” Was listening to a Kevin Hart interview excerpt while I was writing this. The fact that this man is just “happy” and can take any moment and find joy in it somewhere is just a rare thing.

Uncategorized

Fear of Success

So, we all know about the fear of failure. I feel like too many of us are too afraid to put the work in to whatever our dream is- not because we’re lazy, exactly, well, maybe that’s part of it, but there’s this crippling fear of failure, rejection, essentially that you won’t succeed in whatever you’re doing. I can’t tell you how many Calls for Artists I didn’t participate in because I thought, “Oh, they won’t accept me anyway.”

But what about the opposite?

The fear of success?

What about the fear of achieving your goal only to find that you can’t handle it?

Personally, I’ve had a couple of instances where my art was accepted for exhibition, but I didn’t tell anybody about it. I’m not even sure why. I just didn’t.

There are so many easy things I feel like I could do with this website to better present my artwork: clean it up, have a separate section where I show art I’ve sold/exhibited/gave as gifts, but I’m afraid of doing that too.

I think whenever you’re trying to start something new, learn a new skill, improve a skill or whatever, it’s just as important to consider why you don’t want to succeed instead of why you don’t want to fail.

When I was trying to improve my attention to detail for work, I found that I had this very subtle feeling of resistance. There was a part of me that didn’t want to improve. So, I more or less had a conservation with that part of my brain, it was like splitting myself in two people: The rational me, and the “inner child” me that didn’t like change or anything that would equate to growing up. So, I wrote a list of ten reasons I didn’t want to improve, then ten rebuttal answers. That made the process so much easier. I don’t know how much this exactly improved my attention to detail, but after that, I didn’t feel any resistance.

Yesterday evening, I found a new trick that would get more Instagram followers- which is essentially following more people who follow the pages you like. I added on to this strategy by liking five art pieces of other peoples’ stuff and commenting on at least one thing. I didn’t know how big of an impact that would make- just thought I’d try it out. I woke up this morning to find I had 15 new followers overnight- that’s about how many I get per week. I know 15 isn’t a big number, but it is compared to my usual weekly followers.

In that moment, I felt like a dog who was chasing a car then finally caught it.

I’ve thought about my art journey over the past year, and I’ve been told my whole life that being an artist, that it’s a hyper competitive field and that it would never go anywhere without a backup career- I don’t remember who in my life said that, but that’s what I believed. This past year though, I found that the opposite is true. The more I put myself out there, the more shows I sign up for, the more active I am on Instagram I get more and more successful- even if it’s just a little bit at a time.

I now have 200 followers on Instagram, I’ve been exhibited in four shows, and I’ve even sold artwork.

I’ve been trying to build my following to help my art business for a while, but this huge jump is making that “what if I succeed and can’t handle it” anxiety set in.

  1. What if I get a lot of followers who want to buy my artwork, see that there’s practically nothing in my Etsy shop, then leave?
  2. What if I get more requests for commissions than I can handle?
  3. What if the quality of my artwork falters due to increase in demand?
  4. I love art so much, what if doing this as a regular job causes burnout and I end up hating it?
  5. What if I’m successful for a while, but then suddenly stop?
  6. What if my tendency to work on something at full blast, then my tendency for complacency and burnout sets in that ruins everything I’ve worked so hard for?
  7. What if this causes me to only paint one specific thing? What if this prevents me from experimenting, or improving since people will want to buy only one type of art from me?

Well. As of now, I can only think of 7. Time for the rebuttal!

  1. Getting a lot of followers going to your Etsy shop will probably encourage you to post more listings and be more active on Etsy. Once you make a couple of a sales, that will build momentum to keep going.
  2. That’s silly. You can have a limited number of commissions. You also probably won’t get “more commissions than you can handle” for a long time.
  3. That’s a real possibility, another real possibility is the quality of your art will increase since you will have no choice but to keep working on art, practicing, and getting better.
  4. Again, another likely possibility. The reality is though that most people don’t like their jobs they didn’t go to school for or get passionate about. At least this would be a job that you know has a lot of meaning.
  5. Like you suddenly stop making money? Or your following stagnates? As long as you keep doing what you’re doing, that won’t happen.
  6. Yes, you have done that in the past: work on something at full blast, freak out, then burn everything, but you have been doing that less and less once you decided you were going to keep doing what you love instead of what’s “popular” and especially since you started competing with the person you were yesterday, AND especially since you adopted the “long game” philosophy where sometimes you’re ahead, and sometimes you’re behind.
  7. That would suck. But it would be very much like how your life is right now. You’re working a 9-5 job doing something that you didn’t go to school for, and you’re spending your mornings and free time building your art business and your following. If art did become your 9-5 job, then the time you would have spent trying to make that dream happen would instead be experimenting and working on other art.

Sometimes, we just need to treat ourselves as someone we’re caring for. We need to realize that the people most responsible for holding us back is ourselves- we then need to listen to ourselves: honestly listen to our fears, then in kind, give ourselves a little bit of encouragement and reassurance that no matter what, everything will be fine.

Uncategorized

7 Day Lazy Challenge: Day 1

Day 1 of the Lazy Challenge was a success! I was able to wake up at 5 am with no problems (my body may have tried to sleep through my alarm though, but thankfully my husband was there to wake me up). When I set my alarm the night before and saw how little sleep I’d be getting, there were two things that I had going for me. 1) My husband wanted to wake up and go to work early today, so that was some extra motivation and 2) I made a deal with myself: if I did my 30 minute obligation and STILL wanted to go back to sleep, I could take a nap right after breakfast.

Having everything prepared well in advance made the ordeal much less daunting.

I was really surprised how well this first day went. Usually when I try to change my sleep schedule, it takes me about four days to adjust. This morning though, that was not the case.

I was really groggy when I first woke up, obviously, so to get myself going, I started by washing my face with cold water, brushing my teeth, and brushing my hair. These were little tasks that I felt minor accomplishment when completing (and yes, the cold water helped), but it gave me the momentum I needed to get to everything else.

The artwork itself was a bit challenging. Instead of drawing something in my sketchbook with a standard pencil, I drew using white colored pencil on colored paper. This is a subversion from my usual sketching habits. I think this helped push my brain, but maybe for the first day next time, I might start something a little less strenuous.

Welp. This was supposed to be a quick thing, but I’ll see you guys tomorrow! Hopefully tomorrow will be as easy as today, but I highly doubt it.

Uncategorized

7 Day Lazy Challenge

Or… “How to be Lazy and Accomplished at the Same Time.”

I thought 7 Day Lazy Challenge sounded catchier than the 7 Day Productive Laziness challenge.

Let’s begin.

Due to excessive burnout at my full-time job, my art habits that I’ve worked so hard to foster kind of fell by the wayside. Before, I was waking up at 5 am every day, painting, and leaving for work without feeling rushed. Unfortunately, it’s been getting harder and harder to wake up and I’ve found myself going days without painting or drawing. In fact, I lost interest in doing so.

I took a week long staycation to help rest up and get myself on track, and while I was starting to feel like my old self and get art done, I still haven’t gotten quite back into my old, good habits. Although, 7 am is still a good time to wake up, even if it’s sleeping in for me.

For the past several months, I’ve been taking notes from College Info Geek and The Art of Manliness  to help find ways I could improve my motivation, stop procrastinating, and hopefully, turn my artistic passion into a part time job that makes enough money to pay bills. The advice I’ve been hearing is this: be lazy!

What does that mean? How can being lazy help you achieve your goals?

Think about it. If everybody didn’t have the proclivity to be lazy, we would all be working to our full potential, we probably would have had the flying car built centuries ago if more people used their free time to work hard, be productive, and achieve their dreams. Unfortunately, only a very few people in this world have the discipline to do so and even fewer succeed.

Look back on yourself, if you spent the time you’ve been playing video games or binge watching to learn new skills, improve yourself, or workout, I don’t have a doubt you would in a better place than where you are now!

But, again, humans are lazy. We would rather do easy and fun things than hard things for the unforeseeable, long term rewards improving our skills would give. We can clearly picture ourselves as more successful people (whatever your definition might be), but again and again we make excuses, procrastinate, and opt to do fun easy things instead.

That’s why it makes to rather than fight the urge to be lazy… we work with it! We make it super easy to get started on the things we want to do, and make the distractions less convenient!

Starting tomorrow, I plan to get up at 5 am paint for 30 minutes, and write a short blog post in order to report on my progress!

Day 0: Preparation!

Day 0 is very important. It requires a little bit of self reflection… and this actually the day where you’re not lazy: you’re getting breakfasts ready, you’re getting your work space ready, you’re finding ways to stay comfortable, and you’re eliminating your distractions.

1. Have your alarm ready!

How are you waking up in the morning? Do you hit the snooze button again and again until you have to leave for work/class five minutes before it actually starts? This would be a good time to think about how you would like to get up. There are several alarm apps out there that make you do things before the alarm goes off such as taking a certain number of steps, taking a picture, doing math problems, etc.

I do a combination of a couple things to get up early. I always put my phone on the other side of my room, and I have the app, Alarmy, on the setting where you have to take a photo before the noise turns off. I used to take a picture of my vitamins in the bathroom medicine cabinet so that I can start the day washing my face and brushing my teeth, but my body adapted so it was easier for me to take a picture, then go back to bed.

I changed my strategy to instead take a picture of the coffee maker so that I can instead be tempted by the smell of coffee (with the added benefit of the kitchen being a slightly longer walk than the bathroom) and start the day with the caffeine boost. So far, that’s been working for getting up at 7 am.

2. Make Breakfast(s)!

It’s important that whatever you want to do to achieve your goals, you start with a good breakfast. Even if you’re not hungry. There’s been a lot of studies done, and people are more effective in the morning, especially after eating a breakfast high in fat and protein.

For the laziness challenge, it’s better if you have breakfast all ready to go. Maybe you might want a nice, hot breakfast with fried eggs and bacon, but if you had the willpower to do that, you probably wouldn’t be reading this right now.

Today, I’m going to hard boil 14 eggs! Two for each day of the Laziness Challenge! Eggs are cheap, quick, and come pre-packaged by Mrs. Chicken. They are high in fat and protein which is what we’ll need to get the day started.

7 cans of Tuna could work too. Also cheap, also quick. Kinda smelly though.

Of course, you could have 7 yogurt cups, or, if you want to get REALLY fancy, make 7 cups of plain yogurt, fruit, and nuts/granola in some kind of container (recycled glass jars, cheap mason jars from IKEA, or plastic cups if you have a bunch leftover from a wedding you had… not because you hate the environment obviously…). Actually, after I do the 7 day challenge with hardboiled eggs, I might just do another 7 day challenge with daily yogurts! That sounds amazing right now!

And not to leave out the vegan artists either… though I don’t know much about the vegan diet. Avacados are probably your best bet with a lot of nuts/beans for protein.

3. Eliminate Excuses.

If there’s a reason the things you want to do are the slightest bit inconvenient, your body will do everything it can to put it off or not do it. For me, the biggest barrier is my studio. It’s pretty well ventilated, which means it’s very cold. Which means I would rather be anywhere but in there.

That is why I have a special jacket that I got from Target for cheap many years ago: it’s warm, but I don’t mind getting paint on it. I also have special sweatpants in there in case I need extra warmth for my legs.

The point is, try to find reasons why you “don’t” want to work and do anything you can to eliminate that excuse. You’re clever! You’ll find a solution!

4. Have your Materials Ready!

One of the reasons I think we don’t like improving our skills is because of how daunting it is. You have to get up, make breakfast, then open some books, or find the websites you need online. If you’re an artist, you have to make your way to the studio, grab your sketchbook, you might not even know what you want to draw. It’s just too much. It would be better to go back to bed…

…unless, you just had everything ready to go that morning already!

For art block…

If you’re up first thing in the morning, in theory all of your creative juices should be flowing in that river of grogginess (apparently, people are more creative when they’re groggy). If that turns out to be as ridiculous as that sounds, don’t worry! There are things to get you going.

An important part of art is practicing! Go online, find art tutorials (Have 7 tutorials bookmarked today! One for each day!)

I enjoy drawing using references from old master paintings, plus I have a couple paintings I want to do in the long term, so I went online, found paintings similar to the painting I want to create, and if I’m not feeling up for painting, I will have my sketchbook, pencils, etc set up and ready to go!

References? Check! Paper? Check! Pencils? Check!
If you’re doing something online…

…like learning a new language, learning to program, or anything else that requires the computer, I would highly recommend having your websites, YouTube tutorials, programs, etc, bookmarked or set as your home page or otherwise ready to go the night before.

What about social media sites, Netflix, or other fun sites that waste your time and prevent you from getting work done?

5. Limit your Distractions (especially if what you’re doing requires the computer)!

One site I’m looking is StayFocusd, which blocks websites you don’t want to be distracted by for a certain period of time.

There’s also a NUCLEAR OPTION, where you have a limited number of sites you do want to stay on, and it blocks all other sites.

I wish there was a version of Stayfocusd for YouTube channels. It would be nice if somebody could figure out a way to temporarily prevent you from watching YouTube channels except for the videos you’re watching to improve your skills. But, for now, we’ll stick to what we have.

Since my activity has nothing to do with the PC, I installed Forest which prevents me from using social media for a certain amount of time (which I will set to 30 minutes).

Forest work by giving you a virtual tree that grows the longer you leave your phone alone. If you want to use social media, you have to kill your tree first.

You don’t want to be a monster who kills trees.

Do you?

Ashley???

One of the nice things about this app is that the more these “trees” you grow, the bigger your forest gets. Seeing all those trees establishes a sense of pride and accomplishment… with more immediate rewards which we established earlier is something that we as humans love.

One downside is that while it blocks many sites including social media and games, it doesn’t block YouTube or in-phone texting. If you really want to be productive, especially for the first week, you may have delete your most distracting apps unless you really need them for work (which is unlikely, let’s be honest).

To Recap:

1. Wake Up Strategy

2. Breakfast Preparation

3. Get Comfortable

4. Get Your Materials Ready

5. Limit Distractions