I’m happy to have Allen Paul guest posting today. Allen C. Paul has served over 20 years as a church staff musician, performing artist and teacher, and is the author and creative director of God and Gigs, a book and blog for faith-focused musicians and artists. He is passionate about helping artists fully enjoy their God-given creativity through the arts, and spending time with his wife Lia and their three children. You can find more info about his writing and resources at GodandGigs.com.
I get it. You lead a very busy life.
You may be reading this post in between bites at a hurried lunch, at the end of a long day, or even as you wait in standstill traffic that feels like a parking lot. Somehow, you managed to steal a few moments from work, family responsibilities, and other insistent tugs on your time.
And in the midst of all this, you are supposed to be ‘enjoying’ being an artist / musician / creative professional.
Maybe you’ve heard others who lead less artistic lives express envy when they talk to you. They might say something like, “if only I had your talent.” To which you might respond, “If only you knew my struggle.”
Maintaining passion for your creative profession while balancing the everyday responsibilities of life is far from easy. In fact, many musicians and artists feel torn between the desire to have unrestricted freedom to create, and the need to make a living and manage day-to-day issues.
The buzzword we use effectively managing all the responsibilities of life is “Work-Life Balance”. The goal is this: that if you can fit it all in, you can have it all, as author Greg McCown states in his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. McCown points out the dilemma that many creatives run head-long into – The more successful we are, the less time we seem to have to do the very things that we wanted to do.
For example, imagine that you have worked for years to record a music project. You realize your dream of finishing this album. Now what?
Now you have to promote it. Sell it. Go on tour. Do interviews. Seek out reviews. Manage the band. And people have the nerve to ask, one month after you’ve completed it… “So when are you doing the next one?”
You see, today’s success can become the enemy of future success.
So how can we avoid creative burnout? Can an artist or musician remain engaged in their love for their art without becoming jaded and burdened by the trials that everyone faces?
Yes, but it requires one key action.
Instead of trying to do more, decide to do less.
Less? Yes. Less.
As the book’s subtitle alludes to, creatives have to be disciplined in the pursuit of less, not more. There will always be another appointment, another tweet, another project, another connection to make.
But ask yourself – do these activities honestly add value to your life? Will the issue you are worried about make it into your autobiography? Can you honestly say every single moment of your day must be programmed toward a goal?
Or, should your only goal be to fully enjoy the talents you’ve been blessed with?
This is a very counter-cultural claim to make, I know. But if you look back over your calendar from the last 3 months, and you can see that most of your activities weren’t directed toward the things that matter most, you can see why it’s so important to evaluate your artistic activities carefully and honestly.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work hard. It means you should only invest your best efforts into the things that make the biggest impact. And pretty much drop everything else.
Your faith? That has to be your foundation for life to make sense. Family? That’s a very big deal. Close relationships? Big deal as well. Your major musical or artistic goal? Definitely keep that as a priority.
But remember how two sisters, Mary and Martha, dealt with the issue of priorities. Martha, the busy one, got frustrated trying to keep everything perfect. Mary, the unburdened one, spent time with the One that mattered the most. Only one of them had peace in the midst of the craziness.
I encourage you, as a fellow artist and musician; don’t let the pressures of life dampen your creative dream. Take a few logs off of the fire, focus on the few things that matter most, and don’t feel guilty about lightening the load.
Your schedule will be a little less hectic, you’ll feel more creative, and most importantly – you’ll enjoy life more.
What do you need to let go of in order to make more time for the most important people and activities in your life right now?