I've always been an idea person; I always had great ideas but zero follow through. I was totally overwhelmed by all the things I wanted to achieve yet I was never any good at executing them. It was the weight of feeling overwhelmed by my ideas that kept me from being productive. Until last year. In 2015, I set out to make ideas realities through my passion project, cultureisland. Through a mixture of creative strategy, patience and belief in myself, I proved I could do just that. I finally created projects I was proud of!
At first, I was totally scared to put my own shit out there. What will people think of me? Does what I have to say matter? But as I began to release my creative work out into the world, a weight lifted off my shoulders.
First, I got over the fear. I took ownership over my vulnerability. I never gave up. And I haven't stopped putting myself out there since I started. Along the way, I figured out how to create my own opportunities. Moreover, I realized I wanted to share my own learnings, which is now a huge part of my artistic identity.
Overtime, I have grown more confident, calm and collected. Letting go of all the built up stress has actually made it easier to execute my ideas. Sometimes one by one, and often all at once. Yes, I'm still working on creating equilibrium in my life, but now more ideas come to me more often and more naturally. Instead of feeling totally overwhelmed by them, now I feel excited and confident that I will actually make them happen someday. I'm now collecting ideas as I go.
Recently, a friend expressed his own feelings of being totally overwhelmed with ideas. This inspired me to share my own experience of turning ideas into realities.
Here's 6 learnings I have found helpful:
1. Set general goals.
Don't put pressure on yourself to make huge life changes. Instead of feeling totally overwhelmed by everything you want to achieve, set some general goals. Keep them simple, broad and realistic. For me that meant making ideas realities last year. This year I'm focused on helping others get their voices heard.
2. Start somewhere.
Getting started is by far the hardest part. Get over the fear and just start somewhere. Anywhere! Start doing the things you've always wanted to do one by one. And take your time. You can plant seeds everyday and watch it grow little by little. But if you don't start now, you'll never get anywhere.
3. Create a daily practice.
Work on your creative work every day. For me, this is a mixture of writing, reading, collaging, photographing my surroundings, engaging in inspiring conversations, seeing art and curating events. While I can't do it all everyday, I can grow creatively and engage my artistic process in small doses each day. Ultimately I have watched my creative work grow from small ideas to big ones because I haven't stopped working.
4. Learn from the people who inspire you.
Recently a friend shared this realization: We connect with certain people because we feel they exhibit a part of us. Instead of feeling jealous or intimidated by others success, study their work and learn from them. If possible, even try befriending them. Reach out and show your appreciation of their work. If they're open to it, it could lead to collaborative opportunities down the road.
5. First comes experience, then comes money.
When I first started my passion project, I put a lot of pressure on myself to gain a profit. I drove myself crazy thinking how will this ever make money? I hit a breaking point and realized I needed to refocus my energy on getting experience and simply having fun. With that, I started enjoying myself more and I was able to focus on the learnings from every experience. After working for free for a little over a year, now I'm finally figuring out how to make my passions profitable.
6. Pull your resources.
While I learned how to create my own opportunities last year, I realized I couldn't do it all myself. I had to ask for help. I stopped being stubborn about it and realized that asking for help didn't make me vulnerable. It actually made me more strategic. Now when I run into a snag I think, who do I know that can help me solve this?
With little money and often no access to resources, it's easy to feel lost and overwhelmed as a young creative person. We live in a very singular, competitive world. We create boundaries between us and those around us as a coping mechanism. So how can we solve this? Let's build each other up, instead of breaking each other down. How can we do that? Let's support each other. Let's create opportunities for one another. Let's work together. Let's share our own learnings. Let's help each other make ideas realities.