When you’re creating something, whether it is a blog post, a video, a project plan, an event, the intent behind your creation matters a lot. If you’re creating something to help people, they can feel it. If you’re creating something for other reasons, they can feel that too. Knowing your intent before you start a project can make or break it.
Quite a few years ago, I was working on a project with a friend. As we had known each other for quite a few years, the project meetings always started with chit chat. That would often turn into jokes. And then after a few minutes, we would be laughing so hard our eyes were watering and we’d be unable to speak.
It was the absolute perfect way to start a business meeting, with genuine connection and elevated energy. Everything after that flowed like butter on hot cornbread. (Is that proof enough that I am living in Texas now?)
The content we created was well received. Metrics grew week-by-week as new audiences consumed content and converted. New ideas flowed. Everything we touched grew more than we anticipated.
Then, some life challenges happened. My friend and client was undergoing some business and life stresses unrelated to his marketing, but it started to spill over into our meetings. He was more serious. He was distracted and the work became more work and much less infused by comedy and fun. He started trying to make things perfect every time and was leaning into control-based decision making rather than flow-based decision making.
The energy of our meetings dissipated, and the flow of good ideas started to wane. It wasn’t my business, wasn’t even my passion project, so I had to let go. It was painful for us both.
And I think it was painful for his audience.
I honestly believe that when our energy was in a state of flow and our decisions were love-based instead of fear and control based, the content was just better. It resonated with the positive desires of his audience and they responded. None of the goofiness of our initial meeting was included in the content, but it seems to infuse the process in a way that the audience unconsciously picked up on it.
When you’re having fun creating, it comes through in your work. When you are showing up for the mission of the project in service of your audience, even if that service is only to provide a laugh, your audience resonates.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the book, Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow. In the 1990’s this book was the rage with my generation who were looking for fulfilling work. I don’t think I ever read it, but the title resonated. Now, many decades later, I have a new take on that title.
Do what you love, and the rest of your experience will feel that love. Your customers will sense it. Your prospects will feel it. Your audiences will know that there is something special about you. You know, that little bit of something extra, that Dr. Pepper kick. (Yep, confirmed. Texas.)
If you’re showing up for a serious mission, but you have fun creating, it comes through. It is not about pushing through to shove your square-peg passion into a round hole of profitability. It just means that when you are having fun, there is an unspoken, unmeasurable, unpredictable and unplannable magic comes through in your work. You cannot bottle it, you cannot write a book with a process for unlocking it. You can only feel it and act accordingly.
When It’s Not Fun Anymore
There are times when it isn’t fun anymore, when you’ve hit that brick wall of doing all that you can do. Things aren’t flowing, and there’s something inside that longs for broader expression. The old project doesn’t resonate quite so much. It could be that perhaps you’ve outgrown your pot and you need a little bit of fresh soil and sunlight to continue growing.
What do you do when it isn’t fun anymore?
- Get Clear. Let’s get honest, really honest, about what’s going on.
- Do you know why is it not fun?
- Are you just done with the project and you’re staying on longer than you should? Why?
- Are you impacted by other events in your life? It’s hard to keep momentum going when you’re under duress. For example, how are you supposed to write, code, or record when your pet is in their last moments?
- Are you not having fun because life is asking you to be present with some tough emotions? It’s likely time to take a break and allow yourself time to process the grief.
- Are you afraid to make a big change? Why?
- Are imagined restrictions getting in the way?
- Are real restrictions getting in the way?
- Take a break. Even if it is just a day or a week off, you need a break to reconnect to the real you.
- Go play, go to a park and swing like a maniac, escape into a game, do something spontaneous.
- Do something creative. Write. Draw. Doodle. Paint, even if you think you cannot, you might surprise yourself.
- Be present with your deep play and allow that flow to overtake you. Creative flow, generated in one activity, has a way of spilling over into other areas.
- Give yourself something. Often we lose our sense of fun when we’re over-giving to something. If you’re not refilling the reservoirs of your own energy, however, you cam find yourself depleted. What was the last thing you gave yourself?
- Take a day and visit shops, or at least start browsing stores, even online, you might like. Plants? Books? Coffee mugs? A cozy sweater or hoodie? What things make you feel like a kid again.
- Visit Pinterest and dive deep into beautiful things that you appreciate. For me, I appreciate Frank Lloyd Wright houses and mission style furniture, even Craftsman style houses. Sure, I’m not going to buy a new house on the California coast just to get me in an inspired state (ahem, YET), but sometimes just looking at pictures and getting the vibe of something that speaks to your spirit can bring you into a more creative space.
- Love someone. It doesn’t matter who you love, be present with them and appreciate all of the things that you love. If your people are on your last raw nerve, find an animal deserving of love and attention. Letting love flow is a big part of being in creative flow.
- Love yourself. I know, it’s hard. But there are certain things that are uniquely you that deserve appreciation. Even if it is that you make the bed every morning or have a wicked sense of humor. Appreciate all that is you and the process of your life.
- Play a practical joke. Yeah, I know that this doesn’t go with anything else, but playing a practical joke on someone is one of the best ways to find new ways to laugh and get creative. If you have kids, they deserve it after all of these years, don’t you think? If you need suggestions for victims, my inbox is open.
- Finally, refocus. Remember why you chose this project. Remember who you’re doing it for, and remember why. Also, remember you deserve to enjoy your life, every minute of it.
These might seem like bizarre ways to get that feeling of passion back into your work. But by generating energy in one space, you can often transfer those feelings into work itself. Like with my friend where business meetings started with jokes, the jokes didn’t make it into our work. But the jokes ended up making the work lighter and more fun.
This is day 14 of #ClickPublish. Feature photo from Scott Web on Unsplash.