Let me rephrase that… I LOVE making stuff. Making anything that does not yet exist drives me. I lose sleep thinking about ways to make my ideas and inventions come to life. I know that’s my passion, and talent. It has taken a long time to fully understand and accept that about myself, but it’s one thing I absolutely know about myself. No question, it’s one of my God-given purposes in life. I could build prototypes all day and all night, and I would completely lose track of time.
Which brings me to the topic of self-awareness. Being a business owner and entrepreneur, I have worn many many hats. It is necessary and valuable to serve every role in your company, to a point. You learn what you are really good at, and what you should delegate to someone who is more capable and skilled at other tasks. You have to let go of some responsibilities, and surround yourself with people who are better at those jobs than you. Letting go is really, really hard. Choose people who are better than you at those things, and also passionate about what they do well.
I know what drives me and what energizes me and what makes my soul happy. I will use that to keep moving forward, and never stop the hustle.
Two years ago I stumbled upon the most effective, challenging, exciting way to really push my creativity. I was reading the wonderful book, “The Crossroads of Should and Must,” by Elle Luna. Her book talks about finding your true calling and passion, and designing your life to live that path to your highest potential. I was very inspired by the book and after reading did some research on the author.
In my research I discovered an amazing exercise in creativity called The 100 Day Project. (https://thegreatdiscontent.com/interview/elle-luna-100-day-project). It was a social media version of a grad school project conceived by Michael Bierut, a talented designer, writer, and teacher. For years, he led graduate graphic design students at the Yale School of Art in a workshop that he called “The 100 Day Project.” The premise for Michael Bierut’s class was simple: each student chose one action to repeat every day for 100 days.
It was a project that had just begun, ironically, that entailed committing to 100 days of any creative exercise of your choice. It was a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. You were instructed to follow these steps to participate:
100 days of making:
Sign up for #The100DayProject newsletter for important announcements prior to and throughout the project.
Choose your action – It could be anything, from cooking a new recipe, taking a photo of animals, to creating a painting… anything you enjoy to do, that you can do EVERY DAY for 100 days, and post something visually.
Select a unique hashtag for your project so all your instances of 100 can be viewed in one place. Include the hashtag with each of your posts (i.e. #100Daysof____ ).
Announce your project on Instagram. Download an image and post it on Instagram, along with your project’s unique hashtag, to announce your project.
I was all in, I knew I wanted to participate but wasn’t sure what that subject matter would be for me. I didn’t want to choose something easy, like logo design, or anything graphic design related. So I challenged myself to think about a creative project unrelated to my career, that I REALLY loved. I had gone to graduate school for interior design, but never pursued that career because I was really successful in the graphic design world, and wasn’t brave enough to make a change. While in grad school for interior design I worked on a project to build a miniature version of a chair designed by an accomplished interior designer. I LOVED that project. I was so fun. I loved the entire process; researching designers, choosing the chair, and then building the chair! There is it was… I was going to design AND build a miniature chair every day for 100 days! I knew it was a lofty goal, but I knew i had it in me, and was excited to get going.
I was so inspired every day with a new idea, it was remarkable. I was inspired by all things around me. It might be a pattern I loved on a fabric, it might be a concept, such as graffiti, or a holiday. It was never an issue finding the concept. Once I found the concept, I just had to make the chair happen. Some days were better than others. Some days I had more time, some days I jut needed to get the chair done. That was OK. As long as I was accomplishing the task to which I had committed. I didn’t miss a day. Here is one aspect that was super crucial. I made the commitment to myself, but I also made myself accountable to every person following me on Instagram. After a few chairs, I was really gaining followers, and getting too much positive feedback. I could not let anyone down.I was almost shocked at how easy it was to design & produce a unique chair every day. It’s amazing where your creativity and imagination will take you when you challenge yourself to dig deeper. In college a design professor once said to me “Your first idea is never going to be your best idea.” At the time that was hard to accept. When starting a creative endeavor it’s exciting in the beginning and the ideas flow quickly. I usually can’t wait to get started and get my visions on paper, or on the computer, or built. But, what I have truly learned is that if you keep pushing yourself, you will almost certainly get better with each idea. If you make a commitment to not settle for your first, or second, or third plan, you might be surprised where your mind will take you.
Not only will this exercise drive your creativity, it will also instill greater consistency and discipline. Steady, unfailing commitment to work consistently on your business, or your art, or your fitness routine, is required to make progress and succeed in the long run. Great things don’t happen over night, it takes time, hustle and committal to achieve greatness.
Pick something you love and enjoy
Decide to commit to giving it attention every day for 100 days. It can be any sort of art, but it doesn’t have to be. If you love cooking, try a new recipe every day and take a photo of the completed dish. Or if you enjoy yoga, take a picture every day of you doing a different yoga pose. It really can be anything, just think of a way to document your activity and, ideally, post on your choice of social media.
It’s a little intimidating at first, but make the decision, dive in, and enjoy the process. I guarantee you will be amazed with your own creativity and feel a huge sense of accomplishment after the 100 days. You might even love the exercise so much you continue after those 100 days. I did and was sad when I stopped, I really missed my chairs every day! But I enjoy looking back at them all and being reminded how much I love using my blessing of creativity.
Check out this book that inspired my 100 Day Project:
When I had my first child I felt I had to continue working as an art director for a university. It was a great gig, loved the job, great benefits, salary, security, safety. Then I had my second child 17 months later and knew I wanted to be at home with my kids. It was a very scary thought to leave my job. We were used to a 2-income family, could we get by??? The reality was, I knew it was more important for me to be at home with my kids, no matter what that would mean. My husband & I decided to take the leap and have me leave my job. As an art director/graphic designer, I did know that had the potential to build a business from home.. but knew I had a bunch of steps to take to make it a reality.
I had to just take it one step at a time, getting super organized, prioritizing my time and consistently moving forward every day.
You have to be your own cheerleader. Being a mom first does not offer raises, promotions, airfare miles… any of the stuff rewarded to full time career moms. Our reward is our amazing children, who are happy, healthy, connected to us, balanced, successful, contributors to the world. I am by no means implying that as a work outside the home mom these achievements are not possible. I am just saying that these are OUR rewards.
Time Management… you have to be disciplined. MAKE the time you need to succeed. Know your windows, know when you function best. Some of us work best in the morning, some of us are night owls. Carve out the time you need and make it a priority.
Get Help… it’s ok to get a babysitter to help you make time to work. You also will need to surround yourself with people who are great at the things you are not skilled. Do what you do well, hire people who can help you. You might need someone to design your logo and website, or handle your social media. Think about the areas you can handle well, and get some help with the other stuff.
The Up Side:
You are designing your life. You can be there to put the kids on the bus, and be there when they get home – if that’s our choice. You can be there for the school stuff during the day. You are choosing when to be with your family. You create your own hours for what works best for you and your family.
YOU are in control of your destiny. You are working for your future and building the life you want to lead.
You are (hopefully) building a long-term career in a business or industry that you enjoy and for which you feel passion.
You will never regret choosing to stay at home and make that work for your family. Your kids grow up too quickly… enjoy every second, and plan for the future.
Does anyone really need a formal living room?? That is always the room that gets neglected, gathers dust, and NEVER gets enjoyed. We decided to redesign our formal living room into a pool/entertainment/bar/game room. I could not be happier with the results! Best decision ever.
I know I wanted to base the color palette around a magnificent Jamie Wyeth print that I adore (Draft Age).
Here’s what I decided to do:
• Get a beautiful slate pool table
• Convert wood burning fire place to gas. It would be too close to the pool table to use for wood burning so gas was a great option.
• Painted walls & woodwork
• Had recessed lighting installed and purchased floor lighting
• New comfy furniture including an awesome kidney-shape couch, bistro table and stools
• Added small “bar” to keep wine, glassware, etc.
• Incorporated a vintage arcade game
Those are the main things I did. We now use the room all the time, both for family time and entertaining. Here are some photos of the complete room.
I’m feeling inspired with the start of summer, and maybe a little more time on my hands, to get going on some new projects, complete some old ones and ignite some ideas. I just wanted to share a little invention and innovation quote…