In this issue ~~
Very often, while we're building our creative careers, we have to find other ways of making money. We may fall into jobs we began in high school or college, developing additional skills and getting better positions. Computers have opened up a myriad of well-paying jobs that you don't have to "take home" with you and that don't carry the stresses of waiting tables. If the work is pleasant enough, pays enough, and doesn't drain your creative energy, these are certainly viable options. But another possibility is to adapt your creative skills for the market.
Make a list of the skills and resources you've developed in and around your craft. How else can you apply these skills? Do they fit into an existing job, or can you create something new? If you have an entrepreneurial bent, you might want to start your own business. One actor I know who's self-motivated and efficient set up his own "guy friday" business, doing errands for other people. Another started a service organizing and managing home moves and relocations for busy executives. Or get the Sunday classifieds and go through with a fine-tooth comb and some imagination to see where you could apply your skills.
How about a mailing service to send out pictures and resumes or press releases using databases you've developed for your own mailings? Or selling your mailing list on self-stick mailing labels? How about teaching kids or beginners what you know? Selling theatre books, art supplies or musical instruments in a retail store? Or turning a hobby into a job, like teaching tennis or skating, or working in the pro shop?
Or how about these ...
Taking other jobs may feel to you like a failure. But doing what you need to do to support yourself while you build your artistic career is smart. The suffering, starving artist image just doesn't cut it anymore. Aside from the expense of your training and supplies, you deserve to be comfortable and creative. If you work it right, you can certainly have both.
Being involved in a creative pursuit often takes a lot of time and energy. In the whirlwind of our hectic schedule -- pushing ourselves to earn money, create, and still get the dishes done -- we can easily drop out on taking proper care of ourselves. But if you're sick or exhausted, you can't create. You need a clear mind to generate ideas and a healthy body to implement them, especially when your body is your instrument.
I find that when I'm excited about a project, I become driven to work on and complete it and forget to take time for self-care. But when I do that, I'm usually not happy with the consequences. Sure, I get a lot done. But sooner or later, I become fatigued, and if I keep pushing it, start to burn out or just feel awful. I need to find the balance between getting my work done and taking care of the day-to-day concerns of life without running myself into the ground.
A few key ways to take care of yourself:
This may sound like a lot, but when you're in good shape and focused, you can accomplish more in less time. If you can't do everything on the list, think of it as an ideal and go for what you can. Start where you're most out of balance. And you don't have to do it alone. If possible, hire someone to run errands or do housework, or divide tasks among your family or roommates. Trade favors with friends. Clean your house together one week and theirs the next. Have a house-painting party followed by a barbeque. Go to the gym with a friend.
And I strongly suggest not treating relaxation time as an indulgence. I can always find more work that needs to be done, so if I don't deliberately set aside time for play and rest, it won't happen. I've even come to hold my periodic massages as a health necessity, to level off accumulated stress, rather than a luxury. However you choose to use it, do make sure you have some down time to restore body and soul.
Make self-care a priority. Set aside the time. It may be hard, but you'll find your productivity increasing, you'll feel better, and you'll enjoy what you're doing that much more.
If you're supporting yourself with work you don't particularly enjoy, think of ways you can make your job more palatable. Approach the job with a fresh attitude. Create positive relationships with people at work. Make it a game. See what you can bring to the party that will make it a more positive experience for everyone.
"When we truly care for ourselves, it becomes possible to care far more profoundly about other people."
(click on the book graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)
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