I’m doing the A to Z Challenge in April using the theme “What to Pack on Your Creative Journey.” Today, let’s add the motivational power of yearning to our metaphorical suitcase.
Every time you have to make a choice about anything, think “Does this go toward or away from what I want?” Always choose what goes toward what you want. ~Barbara Sher, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It (1994)
Years ago, I trained myself to stop saying sentences that began with “I need…” or “I have to….” Instead, I started saying, “I want….”
I forget where I learned that. Possibly from Barbara Sher in her book Wishcraft. Or, maybe, from Shakti Gawain in her book Creative Visualization.
When I say, “I need…” or “I have to…”, I end up in a survival mindset. My mind can’t really distinguish between “I need air” and “I need that sparkly purple pair of sneakers” or between “I have to outrun this lion” and “I have to write this blog post.” Dire situations provide focus, but they don’t promote creativity.
“I want…”, on the other hand, immediately puts me in a creative mindset. Before the statement is fully formed, my mind is already asking questions: “Will sparkly purple sneakers go with anything I already wear?” “Do I have room in my closet?” “Is the cost really worth it to me?” “What might be even more fun than sparkly purple sneakers for my wardrobe?” “Why am I attracted to sparkly purple sneakers, right now?” “What other ways can I bring the spirit of purple and sparkle into my life, right now?”
Even things that are closer to real needs, benefit from the “I want” phrasing. I feel restricted and resentful when I tell myself, “I have to do this paperwork or my bills will be overdue.” A necessary task is so much more pleasant when I rephrase it as “I want to do this paperwork, while watching Tiger King, as a way to relax at the end of the day.” The work gets done either way, but the second is a lot more fun.
The real power of “I want…” comes from the longer-term creative projects. Yearning comes with a built-in motivation. When I say that I want to write 26 posts for the A to Z challenge, the energy shows up when I sit down to write to help me make that desire a reality.
How does yearning help you on your creative journeys?