4 Helpful Questions

Thoughts + Opinion

Every day I try to remind myself to ask and answer 4 questions:

  • What are my ultimate goals?
  • What motivates me to be creative?
  • What will stop me from achieving these goals?
  • What can I do about it today?


What are my ultimate goals? – It’s helpful to have some clarity on what you’re working toward. If you could snap your fingers and change your reality, what does that desired end state look like? What would it look like to achieve those goals? How are you defining success? Keeping the big picture in mind and referenceable can be a life preserver when you feel lost in the sea of uncertainty. It’s easy to get so deep into something all you feel is doubt and question what you’re doing. Like the physical pain associated with learning guitar chords for the first time, there are no shortage of discouragements when first starting or struggling through something. I don’t think it matters much if it’s one single thing or a handful, as long as you manage your expectations and have something to offer a reminder of what you are trying to accomplish. Elon Musk’s Tesla Master Plan is a great example I love to reference. He had 4 steps which guided 10 years of his business. That doesn’t make it simple, but it offers a lot of clarity on whether or not they are/were achieving their goals.

What motivates me to be creative? – I think everyone is creative. I’ve seen excel models that factored in data categories I would have never thought relevant. Financial models repurposed to assist in placing sports bets. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools used to help conduct advertising traffic for reselling clothing. Creativeness is all relative, and I think a fundamental part of it stems from the desire for freedom. In all my frustrations, I realize all I ever have and ever do want is freedom. I think that is true for the vast majority of people. So in writing these posts, working on side projects – as the partner to my ultimate goals – what is my creative motivation? Obviously the goals play a part in this, but there is a separate layer that better articulates the interaction with your creations. The emotions or messages to be elicited from and conveyed to those that interact with whatever it is. For me, it’s simply that I want to create things that might give people a sliver of what has made me feel like life is worth living. Hitting play on a transcendent album. An unbelievable slice of pizza. A mesmerizing image. I’m motivated to be creative in my chosen avenues because I want to be free, I want to work on things that matter to me, and I want to create something beautiful.

What will stop me from achieving these goals? – This helps to calibrate obstacles, both internal and external. Nothing will be a greater obstacle than your own mind. Making excuses on timing, putting off what can be done right now for a seemingly more fitting future time, or falling into a loop of doubt. But there are external factors to evaluate here as well. If you want to become a great illustrator but have no pencils or paper, that is pragmatic gap in your goals. You can’t even get started. This can help you invert the problem. If after the first two questions you have established goals and creative motivations, you can work backward to get there. Art supplies, a new computer, eliminating negative habits that directly contradict your stated goals – it helps create a headspace of being grounded in reality, capitalizing on the time you have in a day, and establishing the requirements necessary to begin to act on your stated goals.

What can I do about it today? – “The training is nothing! The will is everything! The will to act.”. No matter the extent of your goals – any grandeur or impossibility – you can do something about it each day. Even on the worst day where time has slipped away from you, or work has been particularly frustrating, or everything has seemed to roll against you – the only reason you could end up doing nothing for your goals is simply that you chose to. Reading 1 page of a book is a world of difference from reading 0 pages. It’s not a difference of 1 page. It’s the difference between reading and not reading. Doing 1 push up rather than none at all is the difference between training and not training. And once you get started, you’ll do more than you probably figured you would. And even if you didn’t, you still chose to act. And that action, consistent over time, is more important than any planning or training. The will to act.

See you tomorrow.
Nick

Inspirations: Farnam Street, Tesla Master Plan, Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy
Quote: Batman Begins
Image Source: Batman Begins (2005)

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