When is the last time you really thought about what you need? Being attuned to what you need is one of the keys to success as an artist. This month, I want to focus on taking the time to recognize what it is we each need and ensure we have a plan in place to get our needs met. If I asked you “what do you need in order to be successful,” what would you think of? Tangible work supplies? Organization tools? Or do you think deeper? It’s easy to go to the store and buy all of the physical things you need to bring your work to life. The emotional and mental necessities, however, can take time and patience to acquire. We need to cultivate habits that allow us to meet our needs.
In psychology, there is a theory that we each have a need hierarchy. In order to give attention to higher needs, first the basic ones must be met. And that makes sense, right? When our basic needs aren’t met, we can’t truly focus on anything else. If you’re too cold or too hot, if you’re not feeling safe, if some of your closest relationships are struggling… how could you possibly expect yourself to be able to create? Taking a proactive approach to getting in tune with ourselves will help us avoid the inevitable frustration that comes when we find our deepest needs taking a backseat to less important things. But how do you do that?
Let’s think about what you need in order to be your best, most creative self. Maybe it’s a walk every morning to get the creative juices flowing? A quiet moment at the start of the day to get your thoughts in order? Perhaps journaling at night before bed to free your mind for the coming day? Get clear on what your needs are and document them in whatever way best serves you. I talked last week about advocating for yourself. This falls into that category: once you’re clear on what you need, it’s your job to make sure that you get it. That’s arguably your most important job as an artist.
Now what if after determining your needs, you realize that you can’t meet them alone? Ask for help. I know many creatives struggle to do this and I will admit, I am one of them. It’s easy for me to take on more than I can manage to avoid burdening others. I don’t want to put anyone out by asking for help or feedback. But when things start to build up, it gets to a point where you have to reach out. And you know what? Every time I do, I’m glad. I have a great support system and they remind me that it’s okay to let people in. Believe it or not, the people who care about you WANT to help. They’re happy to be a part of your process and they like getting to give you a boost to achieve your goals.
The times I’ve gotten myself into the most trouble are the times that I didn’t ask for what I needed. I thought that I could figure everything out on my own. I convinced myself that it was better to take 10x longer to complete a task than to ask someone I trusted for help. When I look back on times like that, I almost feel silly. I know that if the roles were reversed, I would be so disappointed to know someone didn’t reach out to me for fear of putting me out. And that is how I combat the no-help mentality now. I challenge myself to think the other way around. If the person I need help from were to ask me for what they needed, I wouldn’t hesitate to help them. I would be so happy to do it! To be honest, there are times where it feels like an honor to be entrusted with someone’s creativity. So now when I am resistant to asking for help, I try to reframe the situation and remember that the people in my network would be glad to help me, just as I’d be glad to help them. We’re not meant to exist completely on our own, we’re meant to help one another and grow together.
Once you’ve gotten clear on what your needs are and made sure that you have a plan in place to meet them, you’ll find yourself starting to feel the mental space to create. Set regular time aside to re-evaluate what you need and be honest with yourself. No one is an island. Ask for help when you need it. You deserve everything you need, and even everything you want. Cultivate habits that reinforce that and watch yourself grow.
And in the spirit of asking for help, maybe you find yourself seeking the help of a coach to get more aligned with your needs and your creativity. I offer 1 on 1 coaching to help creatives with just that. Click HERE to find out more and schedule a free strategy call with me to see if creativity coaching is the right fit!