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Forecast: Stress in the coming months and we need it!

How much stress do you need to be productive? In class, on Friday, we talked about how stress is necessary. You need it to be at your best and part of success is figuring out how much stress you need to be productive. Too little and you are likely to become bored and depressed. Too much can lead to total meltdown.


Last week was about figuring out a formula that works for me. At the beginning of the year I had grandiose plans to be super productive. I had a schedule that consisted of 3 days in the studio and 2 days in the gym. Producitivity every day after school. After two weeks, I had done nothing. I would come home, eat and watch Parks and Recreation for three hours. Afterwards, I would feel guilty, grumpy and snap at my poor family while I prepared dinner. It was time to have a real, honest discussion with myself and the discovery was, I can't do both. Some people might, but for me it was causing meltdown. At the same time, I didn't want to give up everything and be on the other end of the spectrum. I had to find a balance. So, I gave up the gym. My new schedule, studio time Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with off days in between, gave me time to work and time to recoup. I was much more productive and way less grumpy. I imagine that we often don't see the reality behind the scenes of successful people. That they are not "doing it all," but in fact are probably sacrificing quite a bit to be good at one thing. But, really I wasn't giving up something, I was gaining a commitment to peace of mind which, in the long run, will benefit my practice and health.

Making choices can be no fun. We want it all. However, once you understand the economics behind making a choice it suddenly becomes empowering. And that was the other takeaway from last week. In the interview with Chirstina Empedocles (artist and personal finance expert) from the Creative Biz class, she touched on this idea. In personal finance, once you understand the power of compound interest (I know I sound like a teacher here, but bear with me), saving money is no longer about denying yourself from something, but about giving yourself a different opportunity. When you choose to not buy a cup of coffee, you are not DEPRIVING yourself but, GIVING yourself the opportunity to fullfill a different need or want, something that is more important than the coffee.

Back to the idea of stress. I realize that I need a little more of it in my art practice. Think of stress like rain. It can be inconvenient. You can have too much or too little, but you need it to grow. I've been telling myself that if I just had more time to paint, I would be a better painter. This is partially true, but I also need to stretch myself in other aspects of practicing art, like making money. I don't need to make money from my art because I have a full-time job, which gives me security, but also makes me lazy. Now, I believe that if I have a financial goal for my art practice, it will also help me become a better painter. It will push me beyond just trying to get better technically. So, time to add a little stress to this formula.

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