Red Thread

Pulling the Thread…

on What You DON’T Want!

For those of you already in my community, you know one of the first thing I ask is “What’s your creative genre? What do you want to do?” Scary, huh?

And for many, the answer is “I’m not sure. I don’t know.”

Or if you do know, there is still a lot of uncertainty around what to do WITH it! For example, I like to sew, but don’t really know “what-I-want-to-sew…

Many of us have trouble articulating what it is we really want. It’s difficult to put into words – sometimes because those words – aren’t even in our heads yet!

When asked, “Want do you want to do,” it can be intimidating! And the answer “I’m not sure!” certainly doesn’t feel like something you can use to move forward.

I hear ya! But you’re here for some helpful tips and I have one!

This isn’t a rare occurrence by any means, so don’t feel bad! It happens more often than you might think. It happens to me all the time. As humans we are meant to evolve over time. Circumstances and desires change, and we are left feeling that, once again, we have to make a decision on which fork in the road we want to take.

It is true – If we don’t know what we want, we don’t stand much of a chance at finding it. It could be standing right in front of us, but because we don’t realize it, we don’t recognize it.

Now, for sure, there have been instances when I have been looking for that next wonderful project and it just showed up. It found me! But I had to be in a state of receivership, in my studio, ready to go to work. I had to be where it could find me.

But I digress.

What do you do when you simply can’t figure out what you want to do with your creative genius?

Reverse Creative Psychology

Let’s try a little bit of reverse psychology.

Caveat: I do not recommend this as a long-term mindset. After all, focus is a key word in creative success, and what you focus on expands! So, I DO NOT recommend using this hack as a standard way of thinking!

My reverse psychology is this: Ask yourself “What is it that I DON’T want?”

This reverse psychology stuff should feel familiar. We visited it a bit last week!

OK – let’s stop right here and go through some ground rules!

Creative Ground Rules

~This isn’t about listing all the negative things happening in life and saying “I don’t want that! Remember – what you focus on expands.

~It’s not about listing all the negative emotions you might experience and saying, “I don’t want to feel that way.”

~It’s not even listing all the things that are missing in your life! No, not at all!

It’s about the two-sided coin. It’s about looking at the long game, the variety, the options.

It’s about ferreting out the other things that are opposite the stuff you don’t want. It’s a way of shining a light on the other side of the coin.

Don’t ask me why, but it’s human nature to be able to see the bad stuff first, instead of the good stuff. I guess it’s evolutionary. It served us well to look outside for threats before venturing out into the wilderness for food and drink! Beware the saber-toothed tiger!

But this is the 21st century, so we can probably let that one slide for now. However, there are so many more options available to us now that it could be fear that paralyzes us into inaction.

Not knowing what you want could simply be not knowing which option to choose!

The Hack In Action

So, let’s look at this “I DON’T want” hack in action.

Let’s take sewing as an example.  This is a craft I used to do A LOT but don’t do it much anymore. But wait! When I pull on that thread a bit it’s not necessarily true. I don’t want to do it THE WAY I used to do it before. Aha! I used to sew for the public. I definitely don’t want to do that. I used to make bespoke designs and make patterns for others. No, don’t want to do that. But I still love to sit and sew, and I do love to make MY OWN garments, and garments for family. Hmmm, I might be onto something. Stay tuned.

What about painting? Maybe painting is your thing. You might say “I don’t want to paint realistic landscapes anymore.” It was OK, but I never truly loved it. What are some other options? I’ve got the paint, and I like “to paint,” just not pictures anymore! If you’re not painting something for the wall, how about painting decorative door hangers, flowerpots, or garden decorations? What about stenciling on furniture?

What about your creativity in general? Maybe you’re saying: “I don’t want to sing. I don’t want to dance. I don’t want to paint.”

“I like drawing but I’m not sure what to draw.” Pull that one aside. What is it in drawing you don’t want to do? You can eliminate those. What are the other options? Maybe you could draw coloring book designs or just doodle! There is a huge area of surface pattern design that starts with simple doodles. Pull on that thread.

Maybe you like fibers, threads, and yarns but don’t want to knit. What are other options? Consider tatting, crochet, embroidery, macramé, weaving, and felting. Pull on one of those threads (Pun intended!) There are a lot of interesting styles of creativity around fibers.

Think of what you did as a child. “I used to do X as a child, but I don’t want to do that anymore.” Where could it lead? What’s the adult version of that fun childhood diversion? Pull at that thread a bit and find where it might lead. There is always a flip side to the coin.

RED THREADS are activities that you do that give you energy, excitement, and joy. Marcus Buckingham

So, let’s finish that sewing story from above. This is a big DON’T want/DO want from my life. I love designing clothes. In fact, I have sewn my own ever since I was little. I was even in the garment industry for decades. That road is closed now but I still feel a calling for fabric and design. I don’t want to take an hourly position in the industry anymore. I didn’t like it when I exited the industry, and I don’t want to do that now. I love fabrics, and designing clothing, but I DON’T want to do it in a commercial way anymore. When I pulled on that thread a little, I found some other interesting options. I still like the idea of designing my own clothes, and I can use that to teach others how to do it. In fact, as I worked through the options, I found I could teach the pattern making part. I could help others design their own wardrobe and show them how to make the patterns for their own ideas.

I “DON’T want to” led to several I “DO want to” scenarios.

Unravel the DON’T

You get the idea, right? I started with the idea of what I didn’t want and pulled a few threads to discover several options that use the gift I’ve been given but in a different way. These are possibilities that I may never have been able to say outright if someone asked me what I wanted to do with my garment industry experience now. In fact, my answer was “I don’t!” Flat out!

But my muse knows me better than I know myself sometimes. And so, it goes – I just needed a little rest.

In this case, it was helpful to cut out all the options that were NOT desirable and narrow the field a bit. Then as you pull on the threads of the few options left, a couple desirable ones emerge.

So, where will you start? If you’re having trouble deciding what your creative passion is, or what you’d like to do, start by dropping the stuff you don’t want. All the “coulds” are clouding your field of vision. So, get rid of the ones that you know for sure you DON’T want. Now examine those that have possibilities and pull a little on that red thread. Dig around a bit.

I admit, it is kinda like cleaning out the closet. If you get rid of all the clothes that you no longer like or wear, the rest of the stuff suddenly looks pretty good! AND – you’ve made room for some new stuff to enter the picture!

Make space in your creative closet by looking at what you DON’T want and moving them aside. Now focus on the few remaining possibilities and expand on them for a while. You might be surprised by what you see.

Your Turn

OK, it’s your turn. Instead of asking you what you want to do, I am asking you want you DON’T want to do. Share in the comments and expand out a bit. What cool tidbits are you finding? Where is your “don’t list” leading?

Join my private Facebook group, Virginia’s Studio Cats where we can share our discoveries and help you reverse your DON’Ts. If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with your friends and family. Click your favorite social platform below. And join my email list for weekly creative inspiration and get support and encouragement.

You can find me here LIVE on my Facebook page, Virginia Leigh Studio, at 3:00 pm Central every Wednesday and we’ll chat about this. I’d love to hear from you.

Become Creatively-U!

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