Aight ya’ll let me set the scene…
I had just shot my magnum opus. I had spent two day’s filming the best thing I had ever done, two tiring ass days a lot of the time in the sun, carrying gear, shooting and re-shooting. But when I reviewed the footage I knew it was worth it, all that was left to do was edit then push this thing out to the world, and I was gonna be outta here (at least that’s what was gonna happen in my head).
I say was, because none of that is happening now…
I lost all the footage…
I could blame it on Mercury being in retrograde or whatever, but it was my fault. I know to always back up my data, and the one time I didn’t… this happened… and it feels like shit.
It’s hard for me to put into worlds exactly how i felt. Deflated maybe?
I don’t know, but just try and imagine doing 2 days of your best work and then it all disappeared and you knew there was no way to get it back.
I felt like giving up.
I was already feeling some type of way about things before this happened, because i felt like once again I was doing too many projects that I didn’t really want to do, which is not how I want to spend my life. I was already reconsidering my direction because I felt like I had hit too many dead ends, and this was the perfect occurrence to really set shit off… All that work for nothing. Because I knew better than to let this happen, I felt like a failure, because I really had failed, there was and still is no way of really redeeming this. And what’s worse this wasnt some projects i didn’t care about It was a passion project with some of my best ideas finally executed… But there would be no return on my investments of time and energy.
Thoughts crept into my mind of giving up on cinematography all together.
I once again had to ask myself the questions, is all this work worth it?! And why am I even doing this work? Why do I want this?
And this time I couldn’t give myself an answer…
So I give up…
or gave up…
for like a day…(had to get ya’ll reading somehow)
This post is just in case you also feel like giving up.
You may be wondering what changed after I couldn’t give myself an answer to stop me giving up. It’s not the usual positive spin that I usually try to give everything, sometimes that doesn’t work.
So today we’re gonna dip our toes in the shadow side and learn how to use it to our advantage.
Now without further ado what was the tool I used to save myself?
A lot of people like to pretend that regret isn’t a thing to them, and I get it, I do that spin too. “How can I regret what brought me here to this very wonderful moment?”
I’m talking about future regret here, I don’t know if that’s a real term but just roll with me for a second.
If you ask most people especially old people what they regret, it’s quite often the things they chose to do over some alternative, or the things that they altogether neglected to do. It’s more likely that people regret not trying at all over trying and failing.
So how do we use this regret to our advantage?
Consider your death.
Imagine you have lived out your life never again attempting that thing you had given up whatever it is. Really imagine that moment, really take yourself there. Close your eyes an imagine, perhaps you are dying of old age, perhaps you are drowning, but you really have to as much as possible really get yourself to remember that one day you will “die”.
How does it feel?
How does it feel knowing you never gave it everything you had?
Could you die in peace? or would you struggle clinging to life for the chance to try again?
Fortunately you are not actually dying, so if you wouldn’t be able to die in pace after giving up why not try again?
This particular exercise wont work super effectively for everyone but if you know yourself and your emotions well enough you can tweak it into something that will work for you.
This works well for me because I actually did almost drown and die as an adult, and the one of the big things that kept coming to my mind was that I wasn’t ever going to get to actualize so many of my ideas.
In this life we have so many options and possibilities that sometimes it doesn’t so important if you give up on something because you could always do something else, and sometimes it is good to leave somethings behind and move on.
But if when a sense of urgency arises (or is simulated), if you can feel it in your body that you will regret not giving it another go.
You owe it to yourself to consider giving up, on giving up.
Something to keep in mind as you go into this new year…
All is Mental… It’s all in your head.
What do I mean?
Well I was thinking, what is the best idea I could share that would help everyone that reads it? Something universal so that it doesn’t really matter what kind of art you make. What is the number one most important thing I have learned so far?
The importance of mindset.
Everything we experience in what we call “Reality” is filtered through the mind. You may think you see with your eyes, but actually those are just like camera sensors, you see with your mind. You may think you can feel with with your fingers but if the nerves were properly communicating with the brain you would feel nothing. You may think that emotions are just arising in you but they get interpreted and contextualized by the mind. You may think your circumstances are an issue but that’s only in your mind because chances are someone from worse circumstances has already achieved something similar to what you are trying to.
Everything that happens in your life and art is touched at some point by the mind. This being the case, it is clear that one has to guard, cultivate, and develop the mind in order to accomplish anything and find true deep meaning in life.
Your Mind-Set is the actual set that the play that is your life unfolds on. My goal is not to try to convince you or guide you to some certain mindset that I think is best, although I will be sharing mindsets that I try to cultivate. My goal is only to convince you that you need to be intentional about your mindset, otherwise it becomes very difficult to sustain the intense level of consistent effort required to meet whatever goal you have, whether it’s becoming a wedding photographer, or putting out your first EP or mixtape.
lets continue with the play analogy for a second. If the set for your play looks like this
what kind of things do you think make sense for the plot of the play?
What about if it looked like this?
Granted there could be a twist, something that you didn’t see coming but generally speaking if the set is gloomy gloomy stuff happens, if the set is happy happy stuff happens. We all know that environment plays a huge role in development thus the environment you establish in your mind determines how much your ideas actually get developed, and as artists we want our ideas to see the light of day instead of being trapped in a toxic environment in your mind where they cannot develop.
Now before I share the mindsets that have been most helpful to me so far It’s important that I stress to you that you cannot (in most cases) change mindset over night. Once you find a frame of reference that serves your happiness and your goals it is required that you find ways to reinforce and cultivate your new mindset otherwise you will simply regress back into a mindset that doesn’t serve you. This means again that you must be intentional.
Let’s talk about what it means to be intentional because it is a very misunderstood concept. People are mislead by this idea of good intention vs bad intention. That “good” vs “bad” thing is judging, it’s a trap. I could talk about why judging is a trap in another post that’s really beyond the scope of this but let me know if you’re interested.
Let’s start by understanding the word intent.
Intent means intention or purpose.
synonyms:aim, intention, purpose, objective, object, goal, target;
as an adjective it means
resolved or determined to do (something)
attentively occupied with.
example: “Jill was intent on her gardening magazine”
synonyms:attentive, absorbed, engrossed, fascinated, enthralled, rapt, riveted;
So why did I do the most with that and going into definitions? Because I want you to realize when you say I didn’t have bad intentions what you mean is most likely that you actually didn’t have intentions at all, and that you were acting without intention because every true definition of the word implies some specificity. If you say you intend to finish a project, or even change your mindset and it doesn’t happen there’s only a few things that could be wrong. One is that you didn’t put forth the required effort, this is a conclusion that many people jump to about others but in most situations is not the case. Another possibility is that you simply haven’t been patient enough and that the thing you are intent on will still happen given enough continued effort. These first two are obvious what isn’t as obvious is maybe the problem is that you were not entirely attentive, absorbed, engrossed, fascinated, enthralled, rapt, riveted
when it came to your
aim, intention, purpose, objective, object, goal, target.
And this happens because you did not create enough clarity within your mind about what this aim was that you needed to be so engrossed in.
I say all this to let you know the scale of what you’re trying to do when shifting mindset so that you don’t disrespect your own efforts because it is difficult to actually be intentional and consistent.
(This has me thinking i should do a full post on intention…)
So what mindsets have I found useful?
The Growth Mindset and the Pro Mindset.
There’s a lot of info on the growth mindset but a good start is the book Mindset by Carol Dweck and a good place to start understanding the Pro mindset is my article Are You a Real Artist and This video by the Storytellers.
So I haven’t published a Blogpost in a month so we’re gonna talk about it.
First of all, lets talk about why this blog even exists. As many of you know I mainly do photo and video. I manly make content for Instagram and YouTube, because right now those are the two platforms where the attention are for photo and video. Each platform puts viewers in a certain state of mind so it’s important to put the right content in the right place. So for longer form written word content I started this blog because there only so much people want to read on Instagram, and people need good long form video not just audio on YouTube (I will eventually get into audio). With these platforms I want to help you, the people who support me, and consume what I put out. I will never produce content that is purely a cash grab because my goal is to help you improve your life through art however I can.
So why did I stop?
Well I didn’t stop I’m here which is what this article is about, but i get it so I’m gonna give a real answer.
I was making excuses…
Lets go through some of them:
- I don’t know what to write about.
- I don’t have enough time.
- I’m not in an optimal mental state.
Now I’m gonna explain why all those things were real, but still don’t matter.
Excuse #1 “I don’t know what to write about”
Now this is somewhat true because although I actually have a backlog of topics, I had the idea in my head that every single thing i wrote needed to be super valuable. As a result some of those ideas i saw as not as good as others so i convinced myself that I shouldn’t publish anything unless it was even better than the last thing I posted. All this sounds good, it’s easy to convince yourself excuses like that are valid BUT THEY’RE NOT.
The truth is, the more I write the better I will get at writing, so If I’m actually trying to provide the most value in the long term the best thing i could do is write as much as possible so that i reach my potential as a writer even faster. In that way I will be able to provide value at an even higher level to you.
Every Idea I write does not need to be the best most mind blowing thing.
Who’s to say if what I write will be valuable or not?
I don’t get to decide that, you, my reader decides that something that might seem simple to me or uninteresting to me could be a break through for you if it’s something you just didn’t know or never thought of. If you’re an artist you know this sometimes you make a bunch of work and a piece that you thought was so so turn out to one that someone or maybe even everyone loves the most.
You get to make things but you don’t get to decide how it’s received that’s for the audience, all we need to do as artists is make as much as possible. We can leave interpretation and all the things that come with that to the audience, that doesn’t need to be your focus.
Excuse #2 “I don’t have enough time” .
Now this excuse is big bullshit, I know it’s bullshit, you know it’s bullshit, and deep down inside everyone knows this excuse is bullshit, but it still gets used so much.
Because people are afraid to face the truth.
The truth is time is one of those rare things where the playing field is all the way equal. I’m sure you’ve heard before that saying “we all have the same 24 hours” and that’s because it’s true. What it ultimately comes down to is priorities. So let’s talk about my situation.
It’s not that I didn’t have time, I chose to prioritize other things over writing this blog. I could have easily still be writing. I just had to do less of something else in order to do it and I didn’t want to, it’s that simple.
I chose to make a money grab, not gonna even lie to ya’ll I was just focusing on a doing a lot of shoots that I didn’t necessarily feel like doing because I needed the money and I just like how it feels to help my customers (in that order not gonna lie to ya’ll). That may not have been the right choice long term, which is why I’m back to being selective with my gigs in order to create more content.
Yes, I needed money because real life stuff was happening. And yes I love taking peoples picture pretty much anyone, but money, or just taking peoples pictures is not my main goal, so my priorities were not in alignment with my main goal…
Which is why I’m back to writing, because that’s more in alignment with helping my fellow artists.
This one is kind of touchy subject so be open minded as you read.
I don’t think you should wait for the right mental state before doing your work, at least not always…
You have to asses thing’s for yourself don’t want to tell you how to live or to do anything that’s gonna make you unhappy. But I’ve found for myself and many others doing the things you don’t feel like doing because your depressed or anxious helps to relive the depression/anxiety.
Again I’m talking about in art making, I’m not a psychologist so I’m not going to claim to 100% know what you should do about your mental health just sharing what works for me.
My mind was full of worries, I want to move and that requires money so I was trying to get some extra money to set aside to make sure moving is as painless as possible when the opportunity to do so arises. Someone died that I didn’t really expect to, and it really made me reflect, a lot, like too much.
I found myself reflecting on things coming to conclusions, and then reflecting more and spiraling downward instead of actually taking action on the conclusions that I came to about life. We all need to reflect when major events transpire but not to the point where you get stuck in overthinking.
One thing that I always have to keep in mind that overthinking usually mean underacting, and action is they key to results.
What does all that have to do with you?
I’ve heard so many artists talk about ideas they want to make reality or skills they want to learn, and then I see them later and they haven’t gotten there and have veered off the path to getting there completely. I do not want this for you!
I say this phrase a lot to myself and to others “I will reach my desired destination”. There isn’t just one point where I want my life to end up I have a ton of ideas to make realities, I just like the journey metaphor for life.
The only reason my ideas get done is because i just keep doing them until their done once i decide that they have to happen.
Things will always come up.
There will be things knocking you off your metaphorical horse for the rest of your life. It is absolutely imperative that you do not let those obstacles keep you off the horse for too long. My goal is to become someone who gets back on the horse super fast, but I’m not there yet and that’s ok.
As long as you get back on the horse you can continue toward your desired destination and with time you will get there, just don’t waste too much time in the dirt when you get knocked off.