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Episode 9: Creativity and Willpower

See the show notes for this Episode here.

This transcript has been automatically generated.

It feels so good to like just start crossing things off. But it will take, maybe, maybe it'll take you two hours and you'll have marked off 20 or 30 things and that feels really good. But you're leaving that biggest thing for the end, like the thing that's most important, the thing that will actually move the needle in the direction that you wanna go.

I'm Bonnie Christine, and this is where all things, creativity, design, business, and marketing unite. I'm a mama living in a tiny town, tucked right inside the Smokey Mountains, running a multi seven figure business, doing the most creative and impactful work of my life. When I first set out to become an entrepreneur, I was struggling to make ends meet and wrestling with how to accomplish my biggest dream of becoming a fabric designer.

Fast forward to today, I'm not only licensing my artwork all over the world, but also teaching others how to design their creative life and experience the same success. I'm here to help you spend your life doing something that lights you up. I'll help you build a creative business that also creates an impact, changes people's lives, gives you all of the freedom you want and is wildly profitable.

Welcome to the Professional Creative Podcast. Today we are going to talk about willpower and how that can affect our creativity. Now, this is one of my favorite things to think about and talk about because you know that we all have willpower, but that it fluctuates on any given day, right? I mean, the simplest example of this is that when I wake up in the morning, I am generally not going to eat like an entire bag of chocolate. And in fact, I'll promise myself that I won't later in the day either, right? But when I get home and my blood sugar is low and my willpower is low, then I will devour the entire bag, right? Like that's just the simplest example. But willpower very obviously fluctuates for every one of us at different times of the day.

Now, when we talk about willpower in this episode, we're going to do so completely nonjudgmentally, okay? So no emotions attached here. We're simply going to document our willpower. We're going to monitor it almost like it's just a study. It's just a study on one's self. Okay? When we take a step back from this and start to recognize when our willpower is at its highest, we can actually better set ourselves up for success for when it's at its lowest. Okay? So there are a lot of studies on how to actually increase your willpower. I am going to link a few of those in the show notes for this episode, but that's actually not what we're going to talk about today. Today we're simply going to talk about how to take advantage of it when it's at its highest, okay? Studies actually show that just like muscles can become fatigued when overused in the short term, but over the long run, they actually become stronger. So can self control. In other words, using your self-control frequently and effectively can actually lead to stronger willpower muscles. Isn't that cool? So let's talk about the definition of like what is willpower? At the core of willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations and desires in order to achieve long-term goals.

It is the prevailing source of long-term satisfaction over instant gratification. So it's the ability to delay gratification and resist those short-term temptations in order to better meet your long-term goals. So it very much plays into goal setting and accomplishing. It's also the capacity to override an unwanted thought or feeling or impulse. It's conscious regulation of the self by the self, right? So it's self-regulation that we do very intentionally.

So in today's episode, what I wanna do is outline eight different ways that I kind of hack my own willpower. And the only way that I've done this is just by observing it. So judge, again, nonjudgmentally, just stepping back to see, well, what is my willpower doing? It typically runs about the same every day. And so I know by studying it when my willpower is going to be at its highest and at its lowest, and what types of things actually affect it. Like I mentioned before, if I'm really low on blood sugar or I'm hungry than my willpower is lower, or if I'm like very mentally fatigued, my willpower is lower. So we all have kind of different things that affect it. So first step is just to monitor it with no judgment and see what your willpower is doing from a day to day basis.

Okay, so let's dive into these eight different things. Number one is that I often very intentionally reduce the barrier to entry for my creative activities because having a barrier to entry will actually require more willpower in order to begin. So for instance, if I want to start sketching more or start painting more, and all of my sketching and painting supplies are like packaged up somewhere, they're in a drawer or they're hard to get to, or goodness forbid, I don't actually know where they all are, so I'm gonna have to go search for some of it. That requires more willpower for me to even be able to get into the exercise, let alone start marking up like a blank page of paper staring back at me, right? So I will kind of hack this and set myself up for success.

So by that I mean I'll gather all of my supplies, and sometimes this is when my willpower is low because I'm not actually doing any artwork. I'm just running around the house and getting all of my supplies. So I'll gather everything up that I need and I'll set it all out so that when my willpower is at its highest, meaning inspiration strikes, and I feel like I could go up some pages right now,

I've got everything ready to go, which actually means that I'm more motivated and more often feel ready than I would be if I just didn't even know where all of my supplies were in the first place. So I kind of do this with a lot of different things. I think about it in terms of how can I set myself up for success? So we're really focusing on creativity today.

But just a side note, like one other hack that I do right, is I'll prepare a healthy snack when I'm not hungry, so that when I am hungry, I have something really quick and satisfying that I can grab and eat that isn't, you know, a bag of chips, which is where I usually head if I haven't prepared something. So this, setting yourself up for success actually works in a lot of different ways when you're wanting to take advantage of your willpower levels. Okay, so the next one, number two, is to remove all distractions so that I can actually focus in a time block. In other words, I'm literally removing my temptations because I know by observing myself that when something gets hard, I'll grab my phone without even thinking about it and I'll end up in Instagram and not even know how I got there. But it's this resistance to doing the deep or more difficult work. And so I will take advantage of any distraction that I have in within my reach. And so again, I'll set myself up for success by literally removing those distractions from my area.

Sometimes I'll put my phone in another room, or at minimum I'll turn it off and turn it over or silence it and turn it over, right? But also this looks like paying attention to how many windows I have open on my computer and all of the different like attention grabbing things or distractions. So removing all of those as much as I can in order to focus most deeply.

Okay, number three is brain dumping a to-do list at the end of my day. This is typically when my willpower is lower, but if I go home with a bunch of open loops in my brain, I will continue to loop them and try to remember the entire rest of the day. But most importantly, like for me, my willpower and creativity is highest in the morning.

And the next day I'll actually waste some of that energy in trying to remember where I left off the day before. So before I go home, I brain dump an entire to-do list of everything that I'm leaving, kind of open-ended so that when I come back the next day I know exactly where to pick up and I won't waste any of my best energy on just trying to remember those types of things.

Okay, number four is easier said than done, but I actually do my hardest work first. This, again, is based on willpower, so you really need to decide and understand when it's at its highest. But by nature, we tend to want to knock things off our to-do list as quickly as possible.

So oftentimes we do the easiest tasks first. You know, if I'm talking to you right, it feels so good to like just start crossing things off, but it will take, maybe, maybe it'll take you two hours and you'll have marked off 20 or 30 things and that feels really good, but you're leaving that biggest thing for the end, like the thing that's most important,

the thing that will actually move the needle in the direction that you wanna go. And by leaving that last your focus, your energy and your willpower is typically lower because you've basically given your best energy to the lower rated tasks. So come in, do your biggest and best work first, and then fill in the rest of the time with those lower priority tasks.

Number five is to utilize batch working. Now, you're probably familiar with this, but for instance, today I'm recording four podcast episodes, and that's because there's a little bit of preparation and a little bit of like unwinding afterwards, and if I just sit down and do them back to back to back then I've efficiently produced without wasting all of that time with like the buildup and the almost like recovery is not really the right word, but the the winding down afterwards. So you'll find me batch working just about anything that I possibly can. I mean, I'll batch everything from folding laundry to bigger work. Like when I'm working on a fabric collection, I'll go gather all my inspiration at once and then I'll do all my sketching at once so that it's batched together and I'm not switching tasks so much.

So again, this helps you utilize your best energy at your highest willpower because when you're ready to dig into something, you can accomplish so much more when you kind of batch it back to back to back. So if you are designing greeting cards, maybe you can do a batch of like 20 rather than one off at a time. Or if you're doing interviews, maybe you can batch four back to back to back so that you're not chopping up for different days, you're just doing it all in one day and really utilizing that willpower and also preserving the willpower of those other days for better things. Okay, number six is somewhat related to creativity, but it's really more related to business and money. Just like so many of these other things, we wanna do our best work first. This is another reason why I like to give first off of our income and save first off of our income. So if you think about it, the moment you get a paycheck or the moment you get paid for something that you've done, your willpower is at its highest because there are a lot of options that you can do with that money.

And so while your willpower is at its highest, go ahead and prioritize the things that you want to prioritize with that money. For us, it's giving back first and saving first, and then we'll see what we do with the rest of it. But again, utilize that willpower at the very beginning because as that paycheck dwindles or as that income starts to get shipped away at your willpower for doing the things that really are important to you, often dwindles with it, right? Number seven is to just start. I have to tell myself this all of the time, and I'm gonna have to tell it to you two. We're just gonna have to tell each other all of the time, get out of our own way and just start, I literally tell myself this usually on a daily basis, but multiple times a month,

a year, depending on how big the project is. But we love to just waste our willpower on procrastination. You know, staring at a blank page is so relatable for so many different things that we do. Like when I started this podcast, it was as if I was staring at a blank page or maybe right before you start a really big project.

That's the feeling of like, oh, I don't know how to start, so I'm gonna do some other things. First, just start because as soon as we start, things begin to flow and we know this, but we still just don't want to start. We're just still standing in our own way. And so use every ounce of that willpower that you have to just start, put pen to paper, either literally or theoretically, but put pen to paper and just begin on the thing that you know you need to begin. And number eight is to really time my activities correctly on a given day based on my willpower. So for me, I know that my willpower is at its highest either early in the morning or around 10 or 11 o'clock, and so it WANs as the afternoon goes on. Sometimes I'll actually get like another kick in the evening, but I usually don't take advantage of that for business unless, you know, I don't have family activities or something. So I know that and I will batch my, or place my highest level work at the times that meet my highest level of willpower, which just means that I'm doing my best work in the best amount of time. Now, I know a lot of creatives who love to work in the middle of the night, or like very early or very late, they get this kind of energy kick from being up in the night. And so there willpower will be the highest after midnight or 1:00 AM That's not me.

But that's just to say that it really does require a monitoring of yourself because remember, like no judgment if yours is highest at 3:00 AM or 3:00 PM it's just important that you are recognizing it and that you know, and so that you can match your best activities to it when you can. Now, some of us have, you know, requirements and jobs and people that we're taking care of, and so we may not be able to match it all the time. And I wanna recognize that when my little kids were at home, you know, it didn't really matter when my, what my willpower was doing, it just mattered when nap time was. And if you have a day job, you'll, you're likely feeling that as well or something along those lines, but you will have some days where it matches up just right or maybe a weekend or something where you can utilize this idea. So again, it's just important to monitor it and understand that it's happening when it's happening so that you can take the best advantage of it. So as a recap, number one is to set yourself up for success, reduce any barriers to entry for something that you really want to do, that you can. Number two is to remove all distractions so that you can focus. Number three is to brain dump a to-do list at the end of the day. Number four is to do your hardest work first. Number five is to utilize batch work as much as you can. Number six is to give first or save first, prioritize your money when your willpower is at its highest.

Number seven is to just start and let's get out of our own way. And number eight is to time your days and your activities according to your willpower. That's a wrap for today. I hope that got your gears turning because it changes and evolves as we change and grow, and it's always something that I'm just watching and finding interesting. Thank you for tuning in to the professional creative.

I will see you next time. Same place, same time. Bye for now.

I'm Bonnie Christine.


Thanks for joining me in this journey. I can't wait to help you to craft a career you love!

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