Sometimes you need to step away from your business. To take a break and indulge in something you love, so that what really matters can bubble to the surface. It’s what author Julia Cameron calls ‘filling the well’.
It’s more than 15 years since I first read The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron’s classic book on re-discovering your creativity. I was going through an exploratory phase, trying to find out what excited me creatively. I’d never really identified as an artist or creative of any description, although I played a bit of guitar and was developing an interest in writing screenplays.
After working through the many creative exercises in the book I came to the realisation that business was my creative outlet. It was in the business sphere that my new ideas and creative energies were channelled. I’ve owned that discovery ever since. Could that be true for you too?
Are you a business creative?
If it is, then you need to treat yourself like a true creative, not an automaton. Great artists, writers and musicians don’t just flog themselves silly in the pursuit of their goals. They work a bit, and live a lot in between. They mix it up to allow their creativity to replenish.
Here’s Julia Cameron talking about ‘filling the well’ for artists and creatives; although if you change the word ‘art’ to ‘business’ it reads just the same:
“In order to create, we draw from our inner well. This inner well, an artistic reservoir, is ideally like a well-stocked trout pond. We’ve got big fish, little fish, fat fish, skinny fish – an abundance of artistic fish to fry. As artists, we must realise that we have to maintain this artistic ecosystem.
If we don’t give some attention to upkeep, our well is apt to become depleted, stagnant, or blocked. Any extended period or piece of work draws heavily on our artistic well.
As artists we must learn to be self-nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them – to restock the trout pond, so to speak. I call this process filling the well.”
Are you replenishing your creative resources and practising good self care? Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint and you need to take good care of yourself on the journey.
Here are a couple examples of business folks who take good care of their creativity, with stunning results:
- Ken Welsh at VWM Wealth has worked hard at getting his business well structured and organised. A few years ago he put a practice manager in place and identified a talented, younger successor. As part of his creative process he takes the best part of two months off every summer, spending time with his family and filling his creative well. I know he’s a keen skier in the winter time as well.
- Stephen Jones at Cooper Parry Wealth took some creative time out several years ago, and made a bold decision to totally restructure their wealth management business in one fell swoop; selling off all clients who no longer fit the direction the firm wanted to go. This resulted in significant (but planned for) losses for a year or two, however a few short years later, they are bringing in well over £50m+ of new assets each year. (You read that right; each year).
My top ten tips for filling the well
- Book more holidays – can you increase the number of weeks you take off work? I would have thought 6-10 weeks off each year is mandatory for business creatives. In this case, more is definitely better.
- Limit your work hours – creativity is enhanced when you give it rules and restrictions (poetry is a good example).
- Do something fun every week – like a regular hobby, or take a couple of hours out to take yourself on what Julia Cameron calls an Artist’s Date.
- Exercise three times a week – good physical health enhances your wellbeing and your creativity.
- Catch up with friends that fill you up and inspire you – you know who they are (and who they’re not).
- Turn off the TV and talk to your partner or close friend for an hour – you’ll be amazed at what can happen creatively when you connect like this.
- Stop watching the news – it’s negative propaganda, and doesn’t reflect the beautiful and amazing things happening in our world.
- Get a life coach or mentor – so you can start to foster your creativity and live your ideal life on purpose.
- Take weekends off completely – that means no work, no emails and minimal contact with your electronic devices.
- Dress down at work at least one day per week – wear whatever makes you feel creative and relaxed. If that’s a pair of old jeans then go for it.
For many years I took pride in myself for my ambition and work ethic. I realise now that my pride was misplaced, and working harder doesn’t foster the fun, learning and growth that supporting your own creativity can.
I highly recommend Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way as a fantastic tool for discovering (or rediscovering) what makes you tick in a creative sense, even if you don’t think of yourself as a creative type.
I’m hoping this article has given you some food for thought on how you can enhance your creative journey and make your life brilliant in the process.Take a look at Brett's course on illuminate learn on ‘the ultimate guide to managing your financial planning business’.