Mindful Growth & The Creative Journey: Find Your Spark & Map Your Future | Mimi Chao | Skillshare

Mindful Growth & The Creative Journey: Find Your Spark & Map Your Future

Mimi Chao, Owner & Illustrator | Mimochai

Mindful Growth & The Creative Journey: Find Your Spark & Map Your Future

Mimi Chao, Owner & Illustrator | Mimochai

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12 Lessons (2h 5m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:43
    • 2. What You'll Learn

      1:59
    • 3. Preface: My Story

      16:49
    • 4. Start Where You Are

      6:01
    • 5. Clear Your Mind

      7:59
    • 6. Chart the Skies

      19:57
    • 7. Make A Map

      27:22
    • 8. Face Your Fears

      19:25
    • 9. Create Your Magic

      6:18
    • 10. Epilogue: Final Thoughts

      1:47
    • 11. BONUS Pt I: Meditation Basics

      7:46
    • 12. BONUS Pt II: Beginner's Guided Meditation

      7:05
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About This Class

Do you wish you could lead a more creative and fulfilling life, but don't know where to start or are scared to take the first steps? Are you already on the creative journey but feeling a bit lost or overwhelmed?

This class addresses these questions and introduces an approach I call Mindful Growth. Mindful Growth is the practice of pursuing our life's meaning, connecting with our creative spark, and realizing our true potential in a more mindful way. We are not about that burnout culture life.

Your life is your story, and you are in more control of the narrative than you think. Let's start to think about how we'd like our story to go. 

This Skillshare features a free downloadable Class Workbook that will guide you through the exercises we'll do together in class. We'll address thought exercises as well as specific practical advice on common hurdles, including:

  • How to find and process your inspirations
  • How to clarify your "Why"
  • How mindfulness and the creative pursuit go hand in hand
  • How to create a learning plan for your journey
  • How to address time and money challenges
  • How to deal with common fears 
  • How to find your alignment with your purpose

The free class workbook download under the Class Project section under attachments!

If you want more, I've provided lots of additional resources here: Additional Resources Link

I look forward to seeing you in class!

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Meet Your Teacher

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Mimi Chao

Owner & Illustrator | Mimochai

Top Teacher

I'm an illustrator with an independent studio based in LA. I'm here to share useful skills along with my love for meaningful make believe. If you'd like to be updated of my new classes, just hit the +Follow button. 

Visit my studio at mimochai.com and find more resources at mimi-chao.com. Follow me on IG @mimochai and @mimizchao.

See my full teacher profile for more! -Mimi  

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: We all want to follow our dreams and to do what we love, but how exactly do we go about doing that, and what do we do when we get there? My name is Mimi, and I'm an illustrator with the Independent Studio based here in Los Angeles. I draw, I write, I teach, and I genuinely love what I do. But it wasn't always this way. I started my career as a lawyer and I worked at a big law firm for four years before taking the leaps to find a more meaningful life and get to where I am today. Along the way, I've worked as a project manager at a design agency, as a creative director at a start-up, and got to collaborate as a freelance illustrator with clients like Disney and Adobe. At the time of my big transitions, I was on my own and it was definitely scary, but I am so glad that I did it, it is so worth it. Because of what I've been through on my journey, I am really passionate about encouraging others to discover their own true path and realize their true potential. It's been eight years since I first took that big leap of faith and I've thought a lot about what do what you love really means, and how we can approach this pursuit more mindfully. In this class, I am going to be sharing my story with you, and through that story provide a framework for you to think about your own. I've also created an accompanying class workbook so that you can follow along the exercises together at your own pace. We'll talk about inspiration and pursuing your passions, but also specific practical advice about the necessary transitions along the way. I'll also share the one thing I wish I knew when I had started which is how a mindfulness practice and a creative journey really go hand in hand. This will also address a lot of the common pitfalls that people face in this pursuit. This class is really also a response or an alternative to that hustle and burnout culture that I believe has led many of us to anxiety, fear of failure, or a stark opposite, addiction to success. Instead, I want to share this approach that I call mindful growth. This class is for anybody who wants to discover or reconnect with their creative spark, whether that's for a big career transition or a meaningful hobby. It'll also be great for creatives who are already on this path, but maybe you're stuck in a rut or not sure what direction to head into next. This is your life and I hope you're excited to take control of your own story. I'll see you in class. 2. What You'll Learn: What are we going to be learning in this class? I will be sharing my story with you and through the story I provide a framework and tools to help you start to think about yours. I'll be sharing my experiences, how I dealt with common pitfalls and challenges, and talk about the paths that I found worked and didn't. The reason I'm approaching it this way is because I found that I was helped so much by hearing other people's stories when I got started and I still do it to this day. I've tried to pay that forward as much as I can by sharing my story but I realize I'd never fully explain how it can be applied or actionable by you. While we're all going to have different answers to the questions of how do I get started and when do I know and how exactly do I get there? I can also relate to a lot of the questions that you might be going through because I went through that same journey. I know that can seem all really daunting and I want this to not feel like a stressful exercise, so I designed it to be as enjoyable as possible and I want us to think about it more as telling a story. How it will work is we will start by getting a lay of the land and then we are going to talk about the one tool that I really wish that I had with me from the start. Then we'll zoom out for the big picture and understand your underlying why and motivations. From there, we can work on our map, which is our plan of getting through obstacles and responsibilities and limitations to our destinations and our goals. I'll then talk about some common fears that we tend to have and how we can overcome them and get to the point where we can start to align ourselves with our purpose. It might not be easy, but it's going to be worth it. I hope you're excited to start to take control of your own story and I'll meet you in the next class. 3. Preface: My Story: I'm going to take some time now to share my story with you. I'll be referencing details throughout the class. I want to lay the foundation and provide some context on what I've been through and where I'm coming from. For those of you who might have heard my story before, I've added a lot more detail specific to this class. As a kid, I was always creative. I loved to draw, I loved to read, I loved to make up stories and secret clubs and names, and it all came really naturally to me. I wasn't thinking like, I'm so creative. But my parents really discouraged me from pursuing creativity as a career. Some of you might know that Asian or immigrant culture where there's really only three acceptable career paths which are lawyer, doctor, engineer, and maybe accountant and dentist if your parents are feeling generous. That's where I was coming from. It didn't help that I didn't know anybody with a creative career. This was before the time of social media. I was growing up in a community of mostly other Asian immigrants, so there was really nobody that I knew of that was pursuing something like that. In my mind to become an artist, you either had to work at Disney or become Picasso and that just seemed like a universe away from me. I internalized that a creative career just wasn't available to somebody like me. I went straight into college at UCSD, which is a very medicine and sciences and engineering oriented school. Looking back, I really didn't have any guidance on what type of college would be right for me. I started there and thankfully, it's split into six sub colleges. I was placed in the Thurgood Marshall College, which is named after the first black Supreme Court justice. I found that I really enjoyed the classes on law and the Supreme Court. So I decided my first year that I wanted to pursue law. While there wasn't really a lot of guidance on that either, I figured out at least you know what UCLA law's average LSAT and GPA scores were, and I remember printing them out and pinning them on my dorm room wall. I worked super hard to get those numbers and eventually I got in. That was my dream at the time. I was like, okay yay, like one dream or big goal checked off, I was on my way to success. So I went straight from college into law school. I should note here that I'm a pretty risk averse person and that might seem surprising given the situation now, but at least at the time and I really liked knowing what I was doing for the next three, four, five years. So it gave me a lot of comfort or felt right to me to just go straight through. At law school, it was super challenging and stressful as they all say. But I felt that I more or less enjoyed it. I liked the classes and learning about the nuances of law and how law both is shaped by and is shaping societal behavior. I began work hard enough to get to the position where I was able to get a job at my top choice law firm. Again, it was my dream at the time and I was like, next goal mountain has been checked off like again, on my way to success. So like marching forward without too much doubt in my mind at the time. After passing the bar and entering the law firm, I was all of 24 years old. I had a six-figure starting salary, I had window office, the business card, the secretary, all of that. It was also during the time right after the financial collapse, so we were all just super thankful to have a job. I mentioned all of this because I want to show that you can achieve all these things that you thought were your dreams, and then you get to this point where, after accumulating all the things that everyone else told you that you wanted, you might get to a point where you realize that you've climbed to this peak of the goal mountain and you look around and you realize that you're miserable. That's why I had to confront. The law firm life is really brutal. There are really long hours and the work is super stressful and you don't have control over your own time. Oftentimes it'll be Friday afternoon and I wouldn't know if I had a weekend free. More often than not, I didn't. I realized both me and my coworkers were really miserable. At the same time like that would've been okay if I felt like I was working towards something meaningful that I had purpose in my life. But the two together, it was just not working for me. The side of me that had been really creative growing up, the side that people say you'll grow out of was just really getting louder and louder. I found that one of my happiness experiences was actually when I got to redesign the newsletter for the firms pro Bono committee, I got to highlight the charitable work that I cared about and I got to design for the first time in forever. There were a little clues like that that woke me up to, some off. At the same time, I was lucky to have a few friends from college were in LA pursuing creative careers. It was the first time seeing peers or people who look like me doing something that they loved for a living, and so it really woke up to the possibility of that as an option. Being at the firm was also just the perfect storm, truly forced me to reckon with this. It's not easy to get to this place where you thought you've achieved everything that you wanted and everyone else thinks that you're successful. You're making a lot of money and it seems prestigious and still feel that unhappiness inside. If I was any more comfortable, I probably would have just let it slide. But after experiencing what it feels like to make a lot of money and all of that, I was really forced to consider and think about what's important to me. Not everyone is going to be like this, but at least for me, I realized I didn't care about the luxuries that my salary could afford or the prestige that my position came with or even the prospect of making millions of dollars as a senior lawyer, if that meant that I was not happy or loving my day-to-day life. I really cared about doing what I love, as cliche as that sounds now at the time I was like this is really important to me. So I started planning two years in. I finally built up the courage and the financial position to be able to leave after four years at the firm. My first big leap was going from the law firm to a design agency. I prepared a lot before making this jump. it was both financial and also I did a lot of research and figuring out what the right next step would be, and I really didn't have a good idea when I started out. I actually stumbled upon the world of design agencies when I was looking for jobs and I was like, this seems really interesting to me. I can translate my experience as a corporate lawyer into something about project management and client relationships. While I was at the firm, I took a online course through UCLA's extension called Design Project Management. I also started a blog just about museums that I like going to, exhibits that I enjoy and art that I appreciated just to show that I was interested in and had a commitment to this field. I prepared a ton for the interview and all of that added up together to get at least one agency to take a chance on me. I was super-excited because I really admire the work of this agency and I liked it's smaller size. Off I went, it was scary, but I was really excited at the time. I will also mention that I took a huge pay cut to do this. That I think is something that's really scary to a lot of people, but I was prepared for this, so more on this later. At the agency, when I got there, I didn't even know that being a freelance illustrator was a job, much less the difference between front-end and back-end coding, or even the difference between illustration and graphic design. There was a lot to learn, but I learned really quickly in that environment. I have to say that agency hours are also very brutal and thankful that I was prepared for that from my law firm training. But it also allowed me to learn a lot really fast. I also realized that designers are well-paid, so that started to crumble my ingrained stories of the starving artist. I felt myself inching closer to the creative side, but I still wasn't quite there. At night, I started to draw again for the first time in forever and it's worth mentioning that. Shortly after I left the law firm when I was at the agency, I went through a traumatic break-up of my long-term relationship and it felt terrible at the time. But looking back, this period of solitude was really critical for me to figure out who my true self was without the influences or expectations of somebody else. I'm definitely not saying that you need to be single to go through this, but I just wanted to share this because I know that a lot of us are going through unseen suffering and I really believe that you can transform anything that you're going through into something of meaning or something that can help you on your journey. So more on that later. Anyway, art became my therapeutic release and I was drawing more and more and I started to share on Instagram, and this was a long time ago. It was before Instagram became really big and is what it is now. But I was able to try these drawings in-between other things. I wasn't thinking like, oh, this is going to be my ticket out. It was more like, here's some food I'm eating, here's what's going on my life, and here's a random drawing. But while these drawings were unsophisticated, they were true to me and they connected with other people on some emotional level enough to get me traction and start to bring in my first commission requests without asking. That was a big realization moment for me where I was like, "Wow, people will pay me to draw, that's amazing." I started to draw more and more because I was so motivated by this and I was really burning the candle from both ends. I be working all day at the agency and then coming home at night around 8:30 or 9:00 PM to draw all nights. I knew that if I kept going this way, I wasn't going to get very good at either job. The transition from the design agency into taking the leap to becoming a freelancer was in some ways much harder for me mentally. Basically it was hard for me to wrap my mind around not having a salary. I had been trained and it's been ingrained in me that I needed to have a responsible job and a responsible salary. I have to admit that I held onto some validation through being able to see like I have this good job and I'm okay. That was something that I had to work through personally and I didn't really talk about it with that many people because the few that I did, people project their fears onto your situation. I know they were well-intention, but they discouraged me. But thankfully, I had two girlfriends who are freelancers and I really admired them because they were doing something that they loved. One was a musician and one was a designer. They're really opened my eyes to what's possible. I remember talking to one of them and she was really encouraging me to just give it a chance and I was like, "Well, I can't. I need to make money," and she said, "well, do you have any savings that you can fool yourself for a little bit?" I said, "I have savings but I can't touch that, it's for rainy day." It's also more like immigrant frugal mentality of just like you have savings but you just never touch it. She was like, "Well, maybe this is your rainy day," and that seems so simple, but it really shifted my perspective enough in a way to make it seem at least possible. I thought about it some more and finally decided that I was going to give myself six months of runway to work as hard as I can at illustration and try to see where it could go. I think I called myself six months just to make that risk a little bit more palatable to me. I gave myself six months, I figured I would go get another legal or agency job after that, but I never did. Six months turned into a year, a year turned into two, and then I remember my third year thinking, I can say that this is what I'm going to be doing for the rest of my life, and that was really amazing. That's led to where I am today and I'm really happy with what I do and it would be clean to end that story there. But it would be leaving out one more really important aspect of my story that I want to share with you. I remember this was when I was already full-time illustrator and doing my small business, Mimochai, and I was working at Adobe MAX, attending to as a creative. Adobe MAX is this massive conference for designers and creatives. I remember there was a sticker that they were passing out there by the artist Adam J.K. and it went like this. I took that quote, "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life," and instead I said, "do what you love and you'll work super fucking hard all the time with no separation or any boundaries and also take everything extremely personally." I laughed and I also really resonated with it and I think a lot of people did too. Obviously it was much that was being passed out by the conference. That's the shadow side of the creative pursuit. It's really easy to fall into that trap of attaching your self worth, your self identity, just basic everything about yourself to your creative work because creativity is self-expression and so that can really get convoluted. The problem with that is that you start to compare yourself. Whether it is to others who are more successful to you or to the future self that you perceive to be a certain level of success and you feel like you should be more productive or more prolific. You wonder you should be gaining followers more quickly or what Achilles you have not yet received. You can basically drag your dream back into the realm of agony. I was like, is this what happiness is? I didn't think so. That leads us to where we are today. Basically I found that my creative journey and my mindfulness journey started to naturally merge and become one and this was not something that I was expecting from the outset, but it does make sense looking back on it. In the creative pursuit, you're really asking a lot of questions of who am I and what is my purpose here and what will make me happy? Those are a lot of the same questions that you ask on the mindfulness journey. That was something that helped me so much and I realized that I wish I had this from the start. It's not a big secret or shouldn't be and it's something that I feel like even little kids can understand and grasp. That's why I want to share that here with you. It took me until I mid 30s to figure that out and I was like, "Well, how can I try to incorporate that more into the story I had been already telling about my creative journey?" That's my story and I know it can seem like such a quick thing when I say it in a sentence. I used to be a lawyer and I'm an illustrator. That seems like, you took that leap and now I'm here. But you can see now that it's really this long and gradual journey and a lot of thinking and a lot of planning, and that's my personality. I hope that it can show that it's possible. It's not some magic thing that happened, it's really I'm a normal person. I don't think I'm special and I mean that in the most complimentary way. I think that normal humans are capable of amazing things. Let's get into your story now, let's get to the good part. I am going to work through the circular framework that I developed and we'll start with where we are. Get your workbook ready and let's meet in the next class. 4. Start Where You Are: Start where you are. Okay, so to begin our story, let's figure out our starting points. Where are you in life right now? When I was going through my transitions, I journaled a lot. I reflected on where I was in life, what was making me happy, what was making me unhappy, what I felt was missing, and what I wish I had more of and I feel that these self-reflections are really important to get started with. So these exercises are going to recreate a similar practice. For our first exercise, we're going to start really basic by telling the story of ourselves. So this can be a short summary or as long as you want, just figure out your location. So what that means is where you are in life, you're going to be really descriptive on what you do right now, what you're about, what you like to do, what you don't like to do, what's bringing you joy, and what might be bringing you down. You can also include things like what your childhood was like, and how that led to where you are today. I've included an example here so you can get and submit, but feel free to make it your own. There are some blank pages at the end of the PDF that you can make multiple copies of, and stick in wherever you need. So some quick tips as you get into this exercise. First of all, definitely don't feel like you need to make it perfect, just think of it as an open flow of thoughts right now, and we'll think about and reflect on it more after this. Also, be honest. Obviously at this point, it can be sometimes challenging to really confront some of the things that are making us unhappy or to really dig deep, and figure out what is it that's missing in our lives. But if we aren't honest with ourselves right now, we won't be able to know what story it is that we're trying to tell. We need to have that strong foundation. In order to be honest, the third tip I have is don't judge yourself. Whatever you write down right now, it's just like imagine it as describing the main character of your story, which is true, it's you. We're not judging or harshly criticizing our main character, we're just describing very objectively what's going on, and we're rooting for them, right? Like in any story that you'd like to read, we're curious about what's going to happen with them, and we see all the potential that's there, so give yourself that same chance. Another exercise that I did shortly before leaving the firm that I thought was really helpful, and really simple actually, was I created a two column chart, and on the left side, I just wrote what I do want, and on the right side I wrote what I don't want. It can be tangible, practical things like, I would like to have this in my life or that but also more lifestyle topics were at least what was important for me. Obviously the big one was, I want to do something creative or I want to do something that just feels more true to myself. On the right side I wrote, I don't want to work in a situation where I can't be myself, so not having to be serious all the time, which was how it was, obviously it's a professional environment at the law firm, but it was especially more corporate, and serious than my actual personality is. I also wrote that I want to have more control of my time. In the flip side of not wanting to always be unsure of what my schedule was going to be like, so you keep going back, and forth. I also wanted to be able to have time to explore, and I wanted to still have a comfortable life. I didn't want to be suffering in order to do all with this. What this will help you do is be able to have at least a keystone to start to go back to as you're making certain decisions. So a lot of times on this journey, you might be distracted by different opportunities that might seem really shiny, and interesting but if you take a closer look, and look back on this list that you create, you'll be like, actually this opportunity doesn't satisfy or is also just another way of addressing some of these things that I don't want or just has few things that I do want. It just helps you develop a guide to get started with. For some people, they might be unsure of what they want out of life. I've talked to several people who are this way, and I totally get it. We've been conditioned to ignore our inner voice, and what we naturally gravitate towards a lot of times, so that side of us can be really, really buried and don't worry about that. That's totally normal. I think an easier exercise that can help you start to think in this manner, and start to loosen up those gears that have been stuck for a long time, is what I call negative space thinking. Negative space drawing, as most of you may know, is when you fill in the areas around an object, and then the space that is not filled in or left over is what the actual object is. So applying that same idea to a thought process, you can fill in the area around the shape with all the things you don't want. Because I find that most people can at least articulate, and identify the things that they don't want in their current life. Maybe too much stress or responsibilities that they don't even care about or a lack of meaning or purpose, which is quite common. Put in all the things that you don't want in your life, and eventually, that image is going to emerge, maybe not overnight, but take some time to experience life, get that feedback, and then come back to this exercise, and keep filling out, like what are all these things that I don't want? You'll start to realize what it is that you do want. Okay. Once you have a sense of your starting point, and you're feeling ready, let's meet in the next class where I'll talk about mindfulness, and why it's such an important tool on this journey. I'll see you there. 5. Clear Your Mind: Clear your mind. Mindfulness is something that has become an integral part of my creative journey and something that I practice on a daily basis. But I really didn't come to understand what it really means until, I would say, the past year or two. Now that I know what it means, I wish I had it with me from the start, it would have been useful from the very beginning, so that's why I want to share it with you now. I'll also be bringing up various mindfulness tips throughout the next few lessons, so I want to lay the foundation here and make sure that we're all on the same page. What's so great about mindfulness? Mindfulness has been proven to help us reduce stress, increase our clarity, deepen our gratitude, help us stay more calm, basically improve every positive trait that we value in modern society. Mindfulness is rooted in well-established Eastern philosophy and also has been proven over and over again by Western science and medicine. It's this incredible tool that we all have access to inside, anytime and for free. What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is a word that's used a lot lately and sometimes people can have a vague understanding of it being something to do with being thoughtful. What mindfulness is, at a basic level, is a mental practice that helps us bring a gentle, non-judgmental awareness of what is happening in the present moment. I'd like to break that down into its three elements because each part is really important. First, we bring an awareness, a focused attention, and really notice with curiosity what's going on. We bring that awareness of what's going on to the present moment. We're not focused on the past or the future, it's the experience that we're having in the present moment of what's going on inside and around us. What that means is both noticing what's going on in your environment, in your situation, and what's going on in your life, but also how you're feeling about that. You go inside and notice how your body is feeling, what you're thinking about that, your emotions and the stories that you're telling yourself about your reaction to this experience. Finally, we bring that awareness and that noticing of the present moment in a way that's gentle and non-judgmental. This part is really important. Mindfulness is also called loving-kindness or kindfulness and also known as meta, and this just gives you a hint at how important this aspect is. When we're noticing what's going on around us or inside of us, we don't judge it or harshly criticize it, instead, we just notice it, acknowledge it, and then deal with it in a calm and measured way. The way that I like to think about it is as you're growing more mindful, you're learning how to balance on a ball, and the more mindful you are, the more centered and balanced you can be, to the point that no matter what life throws at you or if someone comes along and tries to push you off, you know how to stay centered and stay balanced, or at the very least you know how to fall off easily and get back onto the ball. Why do I think mindfulness and creativity go hand in hand? First of all, on the creative pursuit, there's inevitably going to be a lot of ups and downs, challenges and setbacks, wins and losses, and what mindfulness can help you do is to better react or notice how you're reacting to those situations and then decide how to respond in a calm and really thoughtful and healthy way. Mindfulness is really great for your mental wellness, which in turn of course is going to benefit your creative work. Second of all, in creativity, we often talk about flow and getting into the flow and being creative in the flow, and mindfulness is really about the same thing. With your mindfulness, we are able to remove these unnecessary blocks in our mind, and that helps us get more and more seamlessly into the flow. I really like to think of mindfulness as this multi benefits super vitamin for creativity. Let's go into the next exercise for this class. By now, you've probably heard from many people, and now me, that mindfulness is really great and good for you. But it's important to make it personal to you so that you feel motivated to make it a priority in your life. Take some time to reflect on the many benefits of mindfulness and think about which one of those really speaks to you and would help you in your life. By now, hopefully, you have a clear understanding of what mindfulness is and you're starting to see how it could be beneficial to you. Next you're probably wondering, how do I get more mindfulness? Mindfulness is a mental ability that you can strengthen just like any other muscle in your body, and you do this through a meditation practice that works for you. Even if you've tried meditation in the past and you're just like, this isn't for me, it didn't work, I can't sit still, I encourage you to take another look and see all the many different kinds of meditation that there is. Some people have the mistaken notion that meditation is just this one big thing so it's just about breathing, or it's just about not thinking about anything, but there's many different kinds of meditations just like there's many different kinds of sports, so you want to find the one that suits you. For example, if you can't sit still right now, you can start with trying walking meditations. There's also one for meditation, guided visual imagery meditations, there's really something for everybody. The basic purpose of all these meditation practices is to develop your ability to be mindful all the time, not just when you're practicing meditation, so it doesn't really help if you're super calm while you're meditating and then you're just blowing up all the time other than those 10 minutes a day. What this does is it helps you become more calm and less stressed and be able to approach the various challenges that life throws at you in a really calm and healthy way. For our next exercise, look into some basic meditation practices, such as the ones that I've linked in the additional resources, and see which one sounds like a good match for you. Start simple with an achievable commitment, it can be something as simple as breathing mindfully for one minute every day before you go to sleep or when you wake up, or going on a five-minute mindful walk around the block in the afternoon. Whatever it is, consistency is key. Just like working out to build up a muscle, you want to build it up in a daily basis or as close as you can. I know it's really hard to develop a new habit, so I've also added a page in the workbook to help you start to track this habit and integrate it into your daily routine. Hopefully you'll start to see the benefits of taking this time for yourself so that you will naturally become more and more motivated to make it a part of your life. Now I want to quickly address a couple of concerns that people might have at this point. First of all, mindfulness is not religious, I really believe that it can fit into any lifestyle whether it's religious or non-religious, but it's really more about becoming one with yourself and learning how to listen to that inner voice. Second of all, I know that there's sometimes this romantic idea that artists or creators need to be suffering in order to create good creative work, and I disagree. I acknowledge that there's a lot of amazing art that has come from suffering and that's often part of the process, but I really believe that you'll create your best and truest work when you're at peace with yourself, and that work is also going to be what's most important or helpful to the world. Now that you have a better understanding of this really important tool, when you're ready let's meet in the next section, we'll get back to your story and zoom out for the big picture. I'll see you there. 6. Chart the Skies: Chart your sky. Now, let's move on to the next phase of our story, which I'll call Chart The Skies. Before we dive into the details, I want to zoom out for the big picture, and I like to think of it in terms of looking at our own skies. Think of it as sky-high thinking. For centuries, humans have relied on the stars to figure out their direction and navigation, and so in that same sense, we're going to figure out our anchors and our constellations. We're going to start with the most important one by figuring out our North Star. Our North Star is our why and is basically, why are you doing this? Why do you want to go down the creative pursuit, whether it's to make it your career or to reengage that spark in your life, and it goes beyond just saying, "Well, I want to pursue my passions because, of course, I want to pursue my passions." Having that deep understanding of your why will help keep you motivated and heading in the right direction throughout your journey. You might have heard of the phrase, start with why, which was popularized by author and speaker Simon Sinek. The basic idea is that individual, or group, or a company, an enterprise, whatever it is, needs to have an understanding of their underlying motivations and incentives for why they are doing whatever they are doing. Having that why, really brings a group together, but on an individual level gives us that drive and motivation, and understanding what is all of this for? There are two important benefits of the North Star. First of all, it helps us get a direction. When we are tempted to veer off the path or when we don't really know how to get started, at least gives us a sense of where we are heading. Second of all, it can help us overcome challenges that, like I mentioned, are an inevitable part of this journey. I really like this quote, "He who has a why can bear anyhow." Just like anything else that comes hard in life when you know why you are doing that and have that thing you're aiming toward, it makes it that much easier to overcome those challenges and push through. It's important to start here and set your direction because as you saw through my story, sometimes you might get to your North Star and then realize, oops, it wasn't mine, it was somebody else's. Sometimes we mistake other people dreams or what other people tell us we should want as our North Star, and it takes some time and real deep thinking and self-reflection to understand our true why. Let's get into our next exercise. Think about why you want to pursue your dreams and passions and write it out. It can be really short, and sweet, and simple, as long as it's true to you. As you get into this exercise, here are a few mindfulness tips to keep in mind. First of all, for example, consider whether your why is being motivated by any of the following things. You're angry that nobody believes in you or some particular person doesn't believe in you, and you want to prove them or everyone else wrong. You hate what you do and you just want to escape anywhere and anything will do. Use one, the easier of course. You want to find the easy shortcut to fame and wealth for fame and wealth sake. You want others to think you're cool or successful, and finally, you feel pressure to do something you love because everyone else says it's important. The issue with these are that they set you up for an underlying motivation that is not rooted at something true to you, that will keep your motivation healthy. For example, if you're doing something for what other people think, whether it's to prove them wrong or because they'll think you're cool or successful, or even just because everyone else says that you need to be doing something you love at this point, it's still doing it for them. Other reasons, such as wanting to just be famous or wealthy, for fame and wealth sake or because whatever situation you're in, you want to get out to whatever it is, doesn't give you a strong underlying motivation or incentive to make you feel fulfilled and have meaning when you get to that destination. Instead, I encourage you to really dig deep and figure out what is your true why. On the flip side, another common pitfall that people might fall into is that they'll write that their why is, I want to be happy, and that's a great place to start. Of course, we all want to be happy, but dig deeper on what happiness means to you. Because unfortunately, a lot of our understandings of what happiness is and what it means to be happy have been really manipulated and conditioned by social media, or advertising, our own peers, and our culture. A lot of times we associate being happy with having a lot of things, or being really rich, or being really good-looking, or having a certain type of partner, or friends, or house, or a car, or title to brag about, but there are studies that have shown what we all probably guess in our gut feeling, that these things don't actually bring us happiness. One in particular that I found really impactful, that I came across when I was transitioning out of the law firm, showed that after a certain basic comfort level, the additional income or material gain don't correspond with that much more happiness. Of course, if you're in poverty and you're struggling to even find a home, the additional income is going to be a huge jump in happiness to be able to afford rent, to afford to put food on the table, and to afford some basic clothes, but after that, the difference between being able to afford $100 watch versus $10,000 watch, really didn't make people that much happier. Instead, at that point, our happiness really becomes a lot more about finding meaning and purpose in our lives, and our relationships with others and with ourselves. You've probably also heard of Maslow's pyramid of needs and that's a similar concept. All that to say, instead of just writing, I want to be happy, think about what it is that would make you happy in your life, and put that down in your why. It could be about having meaning and purpose, or being able to provide a comfortable life for you and your family, and then dig deeper from there. But that goes into the next tip, which is that if you're in doubt, make it about service. I know that this might sound counter-intuitive, especially if you're in the beginning stages of your journey, and that's fine. You need to focus on being settled in yourself first, but I just want to share this at this point, because it's something that I found and then I've heard through many other stories that other people have found that this is the ultimate realization. That having your why and your purpose being rooted in service to others is what leads to a really fulfilling and meaningful life. My why, in summary, today, is to live life as fully as possible, while being the most helpful version of myself that I can be. The first part addresses that as you're being true to myself and understanding who I am, and who my unique skills, talents, needs, personality is, and then with that, how I can best fit into my role and help others. Yours might be different, and when I started it was really, something more like, I don't want to die with regrets or I don't want to die feeling like I've left all these life stones unturned. I visualize as, underneath various rocks, you might find a piece, the winning ticket, and if I played it safe, I was just leaving all of these different stones unturned. That was my driving force in the beginning, and that can be your why too. But eventually, you might find that that's not keeping you motivated and driven to start to orient it towards being of service. I really believe that true happiness comes from the place where you are finally at peace with yourself, and you have genuine compassion for yourself. Then you figure out where that being aligned with a greater purpose. That greater purpose doesn't have to be grand or magnificent. It can be as simple as improving your little corner of the world. I really like this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. He's talking about what it means to have succeeded. "To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children. To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition. To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." Take some time to come up with your own why. Again, it doesn't have to be perfect or finalized right now, just start to think about it and keep it front and center in your mind as we move forward. Once we have a better understanding of what our North Star is, we can start to explore the rest of our skies, and what that means is really listening to our interests and our passions to clarify what exactly our dream or what we're pursuing is. Some of you might already have a firm understanding of what it is you're trying to get to and you're welcome to move into the next section if you feel ready. But these exercises still might help you think through that and clarify a little bit more and also help you think of some things that you might not have thought of before. For those of you who are not sure what your passion is or what your dream is and you're wondering, well, how do I find it? I don't like to talk to people who are like, "I don't feel like I have any passion, or I feel like I'm not creative, or I don't know what I want," and again, don't worry about that, that's normal. It's not that you don't have it, we definitely all have it inside. It's just that it's been buried after many years of being told not to listen to that inner voice, or inner child, or inner gut feeling. First of all, just go out there and explore. The thing is there are many opportunities out there right now. There's so many people sharing online, teaching classes, but also teaching workshops in person, or go to museum exhibits, or watch a documentary about people who are doing something interesting online, whatever it is, there are many different outlets right now for you to go and explore. Even during the pandemic right now where we're stuck at home, there are ways online that we can learn. Once this is over, there are just so many opportunities in real life that encourage you to go out there and just experiment and explore. For our next exercise, I encourage you to create a mood board. Just collect anything that sparks your interest, anything that you think looks interesting, or you're already naturally interested in. For now, don't worry too much about filtering or making sure that it's a perfect mood board, just gather everything. I like to use Pinterest for visual inspiration, and I collect pictures of everything from architects to inspiring people, to illustration obviously that I like, or just objects that make me feel happy. Then I also like to use Notion for creating text documents. Here I'll save articles that were inspiring or interesting to me or notes that I take in on books that I've liked, basically everything else that you can use, any document managing organization app for this aspect. Here's my example, and you can start to collect your interest separately, but also fill in some of the highlights in this section in the workbook. As you probably know, social media can be both a blessing and a curse, and for better or worse, it's there for us. We can gain inspiration from it and we can pull from it things that we just weren't able to do before. Like I said, when I was growing up, I just had such little exposure to what was possible, partly because the Internet wasn't widespread back then. The way that I would approach this is, again, to use mindfulness when you think about how you're going to use social media. When you're just scrolling aimlessly on social media and you're just being fed whatever the algorithms want to feed you is really easy to get sucked in and lose yourself and then become overwhelmed by all of the stimulus you're being fed or start to feel like you're comparing yourself to all these beautiful images that you are looking at. But if you are approaching it from a mindful and you say, "Okay. I am going to use social media for 10 minutes right now to look for inspiration," then you're in the driver's seat, and you can decide whether you're going to go to Instagram, or Pinterest, or blogs, or websites to collect that imagery and to know that this is for building up your story. It's not for you to compare yourself to others. You're actually taking their powers and putting it into your secret inspiration pouch, that I'll talk to you in a sec, and making it work for you. Just remember, you don't need to see every piece of inspiration out there. I know there's this tendency sometimes of like, "Oh, there's a few more blogs or a few more books that I need to read," but after you get to a certain point of saturation, you start to get a sense of what you're interested in and you can start to move from there. Another exercise that I've created in this workbook is talking about your inner child. Again, some of you might still be unsure of where your interests are passions lie and I think another great place to look is actually your past. What did you like to do as a child? Really dig deeper into that, and if you don't remember, ask friends or family members that were there what it was that you naturally were inclined to do? Now, I'm not trying to say that we should just finger-painting and stick noodles up our noses for the rest of our lives, it's that we can get clues from the things that we naturally like to do when we were kids. Did you like to draw and paint all the time, or did you like to read and tell stories where you putting on little plays for the neighborhood, or did you love setting up lighting stands and selling things? All of these can give clues into things that you are interested in that translate into fuel adult's practices, whether it's art, or business, or performance, or storytelling, whatever it is, there are clues in yourself. The sad thing is that we've been really conditioned to bury that side of us. Even for me, it seems like very obvious that I like to draw as a kid and now I draw, but I always so conditioned to ignore that side of me that took years and years for me to take that intuition seriously, and I think that's probably true for a lot of people. Here's my example. As a kid, as I mentioned, I love to draw, I love to read, I like things like Sailor Moon, and I like Narnia and Harry Potter, and I liked horses, I like making up secret clubs. I made up names all the time, which I didn't realize as a skill until later in my adult life. I liked collecting pretty things and I really can synthesize all of that, not everything is relevant. I don't know what Sailor Moon and horses have to do with my life right now other than that they're beautiful and maybe that plays into my appreciation of aesthetics. Whatever it is, just write it down right now without judgment because it's going to add to clues in the next few steps. One thing I would like to highlight at this point as you're getting into this exercise is there's often this resistance in people's thinking like, "But I'm not creative or I wish I was creative, but I'm not." I really believe that every single person is creative, we just need to open our minds as to what creativity can mean. Most people associate it with the obvious visual arts, like drawing, painting, but there's much more than that. You can be creative at singing, at writing, at cooking, at inventing things to help solve other people's problems, or even just creative in how you care for others. You really is this infinite sky of possibility and creativity, and somewhere in there is your personal spark. In the last section of this class, I want to talk about our inspiration constellation. Think of all the inspiration that you gathered through the last two exercises as various stars and sparks in your sky. Now, we're going to try to connect them to create art inspiration constellation. Pick the pieces out from your various interests or your childhood passions and highlight the ones that really speak to you now. Reflect on whether there's any throughline. It might not be obvious at first, but think about what are some common elements in all of these things and what is it about these things that speak to you. All of my experiences and interests came together in this way. Starting from my experience when I was a lawyer, I had to reengage with myself, to be honest. I hadn't really been created for a long time but I liked going to museums and so I started that blog. I started to think like what is it that interests me? I was really interested in design and illustration, and I looked into things like museum law and what it means to be an art curator. I actually tried or mentally looked into a bunch of different things that don't make it into my neat little summary that helped guide me towards what exactly it is I wanted, because again, I had no idea that you could even be a freelance illustrator. So it wasn't in my mind very clear, but doing these exercises will help you shape what it is that you are moving towards. Nowadays, this is what my inspiration constellation looks like. The little prince is always my main keystone, I just think it's the perfect book. It's exactly what I want to do, and I also like other books like Narnia. I mentioned your meaningful stories that can shape how somebody thinks, especially if they're read yet as a child. I love world-building like Moomins and Studio Ghibli like Totoro and those Japanese animations. I like modern design, such as Eames and the architects that I admire today. I love modern illustration obviously and some of the more modern kids' friends are also something that I'm really interested in. I love Calvin and Hobbes growing up, so that sense of humor with, again, combined with something more meaningful, and then female creatives who are owning their own business. Jungalow and Rifle Paper are good examples. Finally, like I mentioned mindfulness has become a big part of my life, and so spiritual leaders such as Thich Nhat Hanh are people that I hold very dear and find a lot of inspiration through. This might all seem really unrelated, like Thich Nhat Hanh and Calvin and Hobbes, but there's a throughline for me, at least, it's about storytelling. It's about using whatever creative vessel is to do something meaningful, it's about beauty and art, and it's about hope through spirituality. As we clear our minds, our skies are going to be clear. Just keep exploring and reflecting, and living in that balance of engaging and applying, and eventually, your inspiration constellation will emerge for you. Don't worry about making it perfect right now, just get started, and when you feel ready, let's meet in the next class, we'll create something that we all need on a journey, a map. 7. Make A Map : Make a map. Let's talk about our map. With a map, we can create a plan of how we get from point A to point B. I think a map is a great metaphor to visualize this journey. I like to think of it in terms of laying out our destination, so our goals, figuring out the terrain, which are the obstacles and the responsibilities and limitations that we have in life, and then figuring out our path, which is learning, practicing, experiencing, and sharing. I am a planner by nature. I like to plan and plan and plan. I mean, I was a project manager for a time. One thing I would say that is there's a balance to it. Of course, a map and a plan is important for us to know what direction we're heading towards, so think through any pitfalls along the way, and it's great for that. But we also don't want to get so caught up in planning that we get analysis paralysis, where we just keep thinking through all the different scenarios and then end up not really doing anything at all. Also we want to have this map but not be so attached to it that when we go off course, which we inevitably will, we feel like a failure or feel super discouraged. We also don't want to be so rigid that we just do exactly what the map says when it doesn't even make sense anymore after a certain amount of time. Just think of this map as a flexible thing that can help you get to where you want to be, but to be more in tune with your commonsense and your north star in terms of when you need to go off the path and when you want to stick to the path. Let's talk about the first thing, the destination. Just write out your goals starting with the high level. Then if you want, you can consider any smaller milestones that you want to unlock along the way. Think of them as stepping stones in your journey. For me, I would say that my true goal was to become a full-time freelance illustrator that could support myself. I didn't say that was my goal at the time because it was too scary, but I would tell myself write that down. Instead, what my initial goal was to learn as much as I could in six months and get as good as I could possibly get an illustration in that time and then also try to publish a picture book. The first goal I would say I more or less achieved because it's quite subjective and I just worked hard and I felt like that's what I could've done in six months. The second goal was wildly off target on how long it takes to make a picture book, and I eventually didn't do it and I would say probably faster than what would be expected by a normal person, but I didn't hit the initial goal that I set. Do I consider that a failure? Absolutely not. It gave me a direction and something that I wanted to work towards, and it helped me figure out the next step. I do want to take some time here to provide a tip when you're thinking through and starting to work through your goals. Goals can be a double-edged sword depending on your personality. It's great for giving you drive and motivation, but it can also start to make you someone who's just constantly striving towards that next goal, which is the trap that I found myself in. Another downfall is that sometimes people get so obsessed about their goal, they start to think that the ends justify the means. They'll do whatever it takes, even step on people or do some things that aren't really great to get to their goal, and I disagree with this because I think that the destination is important. But as cliche as it is, I find it totally true that the journey is just as important, if not more important, than the destination. I want to be proud of the journey as well as proud of the destination. The thing about goals is that once you hit your goal, there's always another goal. If you're constantly basing all of your purpose and meaning on hitting those goals, you're inevitably going to get into this cycle of just focusing on the next goal and not being happy about your current wins. To combat this, I think mindfulness is really helpful to catch yourself when you're in that mode and really start to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy working towards your goals. I really like how mindfulness teacher and speaker, Jack Kornfield, puts this, "Distinguish between painful and unhealthy desires such as addiction and driven ambition and helpful, healthy desires such as dedication and commitment. A strong and powerful dream or goal such as writing a novel, going to the Olympics, starting a business, can be pursued in different ways. If the goal exists primarily to prove we are worthy, to cover our insecurity, or prove you are better than others or conquer others, it'll ultimately prove to be unfulfilling and come to an unhappy end. The same activity can be done in a healthy way. To do it with dedication, commitment, and love. This is healthy desire. With mindfulness practice we can transform desire, we can release grasping, greed, or deficient sense of self. Through the psychological principle of reciprocity, the opposite arises: generosity, abundance, and love of beauty." Once you have your goal written down and you set the initial direction, let's move on to figuring out our terrain. Think of terrain as the mountains and the rivers that correspond to your obstacles and responsibilities. In this next exercise, list out all of your obligations, challenges, and responsibilities, and limitations. You can figure this out by asking yourself what's holding you back from getting started or moving forward. You can categorize them by real versus mental. What I mean by that is there are a lot of real responsibilities and obstacles that we probably have such as children, or elderly parents we have to care for, or a mortgage, or student loan debt, things that are actually relying on us to get done. Then of course, there's all the challenges and limitations that are more in our mind such as doubts and fears. Write those down too. If you can, try to categorize them by real versus mental because we'll be addressing more of the real ones in this section and the mental ones in the next one. Again, try to be as honest as you can in this section. No one else has to read this, but you need to get as clear of a picture as you can on your terrain so that you can figure out the right path to get to your destination. Just as an example, here are some of the challenges that I was facing and what I would have written down in this section. The main one is obviously a lack of skills. I didn't have the illustration skills at the time to become a professional illustrator right away. I also had limited finances. I didn't have anyone else to support me and so I had to figure out how to support myself through this transition. Then there were a lot of mental barriers such as I'm scared of this not working out, I'm scared of not being able to find another job after I take this break, I'm scared of looking stupid. A lot of mental things like that. Lack of skills and limited finances were something that I could figure out, but the greatest hurdle was really in my mind. That actually empowered me to see that what was holding me back was really myself, and that's something that I had control over. For now in this exercise, just get it all out. Then we'll dive into two of the most common real challenges, which are finances and time. The reason why me I want to talk about money first is that money is important to help you feel free to pursue what it is you want to do. It's not that I think it's the priority in life or the most important thing, it's just that if you're worried about paying basic expenses like rent or putting food on the table is going to really stress you out. When you're stressed out, it's going to carry into everything else in your life. Your relationships will suffer, your mental wellness will suffer, and your ability to be creative might be stifled. I don't want that for you. I want you to be comfortable just enough to be able to pursue what you want without having to worry about the basic needs in life. That said, having some financial limitations or sacrifices will be helpful to keep you motivated to work hard to reach that next level. In this next exercise, let's figure out our minimum monthly budget. What this is is a budget where you're not suffering, but you're not spending unnecessarily. The way that I would approach that is to track your expenses for one month, just starting now, what is the average amount you're spending? I would include everything at this point. I did this in a Google Sheets document. You can do it in whatever works best for you, but I kept it super simple, just tracking every single item that I was purchasing, and then I totaled up that number to see where my money was going. So even things like paying a parking meter or buying a cup of coffee, all of that went in because those little things can add up. Then once you have a sense of your average monthly spend, take a look at it and see if it's something that you need to cut down to be able to reach your goal a little bit sooner. So are there extraneous expenses that you really don't need to be spending on? Now, I am not going to sit here and talk about $7 lattes and how you shouldn't be buying avocado toast because I really think everyone's different. For some people that might be important in their lives. Instead, I would just think holistically about everything you're spending on. Be honest about what parts are bringing you real joy and what parts are really not that important right now. Think of it as like every single dollar you can save is funding your freedom, and is this thing more joyful to you than that then keep it. If an expensive coffee is bringing you joy, real joy, then try to work that into your budget and then see if there's something else that you can cut out. If you really can't find places to cut expenses, then another place you can save more money is by figuring out additional streams of income. So I really think during this period there's no shame in things like picking on gig work, especially because it gives you so much flexibility or bringing in a roommate or even moving home if you have that as an option. Priority right now is to be at a basic level of comfort, but be able to save as quickly as you can towards your own personal freedom. So here's specifically what I did. I actually didn't spend that much more money once I started working at the firm compared to when I was a poor grad student. Instead, I set up financial goals that I was saving towards, including I want to pay off my student loans, I want to save enough money to put a down payment on a house, and I want to build up a rainy day savings which ended up being a lifesaver. So figure out your monthly budget, your financial goals, and then how long it will take to slowly start to funnel money into these sections so that you can get out in time to pursue your dreams. So I think that six months is a good amount of runway in terms of having it give you enough time to really spend concentrated time focusing on your work, but not so long that you feel like "I'm just never going to save enough money to get to that point." So after money, I think the next biggest obstacle that most people have is time. I often hear like, "I just don't have the time." The thing is that time is really about prioritizing. So whatever you find as a priority in your life, you're going to make time for. So prioritize this aspect of your life. Again, I would do an audit of where your time is going every day, just like with the finances, start to track your time on a daily basis so that you can see where your time is going. Be really honest. If you're spending 20 minutes staring off into the distance, or you're spending an hour on social media, whatever it is, just write it down without judgment right now. Once you have a true audit of your time, then you can start to figure out, where can I start to carve out time for myself. So notice I didn't say make free time because free time gives you this impression of like it's leisurely and if something more important comes up, then I will have my free time. Instead, I would treat the time that you're working on your creative pursuit or your dream as priority time. So figure out where you're going to put your priority time. Ideally, it's a set amount of time, ideally on a schedule somewhere in your week, whether that's an hour in the morning or an hour in the evening and more time on the weekends. Again, consistency is really key here and the more time that you can carve out for yourself, the sooner it is you can get to your next big step. I also want to address some common places that you might be able to find some extra time. One of the main culprits's obviously going to be TV and social media. I'm not saying to go cold turkey on these things that they're a big part of your life right now because it'll feel too drastic and discouraging. Instead, what I would recommend is to approach this really mindfully again. Decide what TV shows or social media platforms are bringing you true joy, then when you decide to use these, really focus on those particular predetermined programs. So instead of mindlessly surfing or just seeing whatever is trending, only use those platforms when you decide like I want to go do that thing, that really brings me joy. Another place that you can potentially find some extra time, is really looking at how much you're socializing. This might be more or less for some people and obviously, during the pandemic, it's going to be not the same situation, but in normal time, socializing can take up a lot of time, I would say, to approach this mindfully again. Where are you really getting benefit from being around others? A lot of times we might be going out to bars or hanging out with friends and just being on our phones, and that's not really giving us that much more life enrichment. That said, I do think that socializing is really important. You want to be with your loved ones and your really good friends and spend focused time with them. So when you're socializing, really be there and make sure that it is potent and think of it as quality over quantity. The more you stay at home and don't go out to socialize, the more money you'll save. So this one is also a win-win in that sense. Finally, another place to find some time is fair out what are those various responsibilities you have and can you delegate any of those? This is going to have to tie back to money and depend on your situation, but for example, a lot of chores like say laundry can be delegated or outsourced to services now that you can pay for. So if time is more precious to you and you have some money where you can pay for that kind of thing, then do it. If on the other hand, you don't have that much in finances, we have a lot of free time, then make the calculation there. I know that time can be really hard, especially in the beginning when you're just starting to let go or stop doing some of the things you're so used to doing. For me, I wouldn't have been able to go home at night and work all night after a long day at work on something I didn't care about. So really keep that why in mind because just like with the financial situation, it'll help give you the motivation to push through. Really when I think back on it, I sacrificed certain things that I could have bought more or I could've gone out more, but what I got in return for this sacrifice was so much more and filling, being able to work on my skills and get to where I am today is so much more gratifying than any purse I could have bought or any dinner that I could have gone out to. I think that you'll find that too, the more time you spend on pursuing your own passions. Now that you have your destination and your terrain laid out, you can start to see your path. Let's work out what you need to do to get from where you are to where you want to be. So in this next exercise, we're going to plot your path, create a learning syllabus or plan of practice that will move you towards your destination. Everyone's path is going to look different of course, but some common elements are going to emerge. You need to learn the basic fundamental skills of whichever area it is that you want to move towards and then need to find opportunities to apply those skills and to keep practicing and practicing and getting experience. As you're going through this period, I do want to highlight that it's going to feel uncomfortable at first, especially if you're transitioning careers because you're going from something that you probably are already good at, to doing something that you're totally new at. It's really hard for many people to go and start from the bottom again. For me, I found that this quote was really helpful to give me that motivation to push past this current phase because it wasn't comfortable for me to feel like I wasn't good at something. "Nobody tells this to people who are beginners. I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste, but there's this gap. For the first couple of years, you make stuff it's just not that good. It's trying to be good. It has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game is still killer. Your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. If you're just starting out or you're still in this phase, you got to know it's normal. The most important thing you can do is to do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one piece. It's only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap and your work will be as good as your ambitions. I took longer to figure out how to do this and anyone I've ever met, it's going to take awhile. It's normal to take a while. You've just got to fight your way through." My favorite part of this whole journey is that there's no way that you can't get better. Think of it as when you were learning how to walk, a baby. Walking probably seem like a miraculous thing, but once we can do it, we think of it as no big deal. That's the case with really anything. There's no way that you can keep practicing and practicing something and not get better at it. That's another thing that really motivated me. I want to spend some time to address specifically people who are transitioning from one career to a totally different career that they don't necessarily have the skills in yet because that's one of the most extreme cases and it's also what I went through. I know that this can seem really daunting, but break it down into step by step pieces. Spend some time learning about what are the basic skills that you need to get your foot in the door in this particular area. If you can afford to go back to school, then great. But for many of us, the idea going back into student loan debt is just not an option. As I mentioned, having a huge financial burden once you get out of school is going to also damp in your creative ability. For me, I didn't want to go back to school. I also saw that there are just so many ways of learning online and books that I could read that I could pursue at a much lower cost. I've always been good at self teaching. I'm pretty disciplined and so it really depends on your personality. But nowadays there's so many ways to learn the same skills online for free or at least a much lower cost. What I did was I read the books or I watched the classes and then I applied them through passion projects. For example, I read this book about vectoring in Adobe Illustrator, and then I created chat stickers. That wasn't a project that the book came up with, that's something that I really wanted to do, but it helped me learn about how to vector. I also read this book called The Natural Way to Draw. I really liked it, but then I just took those teachings and applied it to things that I wanted to sketch and draw in my notebook. Same thing with typography and layout, I designed my own calendar in InDesign and so on and so forth. A lot of these basics are out there for you to learn and it's just a matter of absorbing it and applying it to something that you care about. That said, I did at the beginning, decide that there were two things that I wanted to learn that was worth the investment, or at least I wanted to try to see whether it would be. I took two evening art classes at my local art school and I learned digital painting and I learned about children's book illustration. I did like it in the sense that you're in this classroom with other peers. Of course, the teacher can help mentor you a lot quicker than you might be able to learn on your own, but I also felt that it was $600 for each class. These days, you can learn digital painting online for much less than that. Same thing with how to make a children's book illustration. When you start to feel overwhelmed, I always like to go back to this quote, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." You can go back to that mindfulness concept of being in the present moment. Often you will get so overwhelmed by thinking about all the things we have to do in the future, or maybe we wasted time in the past when really all we have control over is what we're doing right now. Like the quote said, everyone takes years to be able to develop that skill and ability, but along the way, you're going to be good enough to keep moving to the next stage. My illustration skills have been improving over the past four or five years. The quality of clients that I have been able to get have improved with that skill improvement. But for me, in the beginning, I had to make it work in tandem. I would have loved to be able to go to art school for five years and then emerge with my first masterpiece, but I gave myself a six month runway and that was just enough to get my foot in the door. But from there, I was constantly trying to work hard to improve while getting client work so that I can sustain myself. In the beginning, I just took whatever I could, it was great experience. Even if it wasn't a dream client, it was still amazing to get paid to draw and it helped build up my portfolio. From there, I was really intentional for what kind of work I wanted to get. Once I got to a certain level where my skills were good enough to allow me to be more picky, I started to only share the work that I wanted to be hired for again. Even though I might take some jobs or be in a transition period where I'm taking jobs that I don't really love to do, I'll just keep taking those so that I can support myself financially, but be focused on where I want to head. That meant curating my portfolio, being selective on which clients I'm reaching out to or taking on, and really continuing to reflect over and over again on where it is that I want to go and why I'm doing this. Let's talk about sharing a little bit more. As I said, I had to put myself out there, I had to share my portfolio and share my work in order to get my first paid clients. It started very innocently with Instagram and just getting commissions from private individuals, but that's not going to work forever in terms of client commissions, or at least for most people is not going to. It's going to be a balance of putting yourself out there in social media, but also reaching out to clients and showing them your portfolio in the beginning at least. The thing about sharing is that it's an important part of this process, but there are healthy and unhealthy ways to engage with it. I would keep improving on your skill. Once you get to a certain level of skill, once you're good enough to be paid as a professional, it's almost inevitable that you're going to get paid work, especially now, I feel like the creative field is in such demand that you're going to find work. The thing is it takes awhile to get to that point, and in their end-run, it's important not to give up. Instead of thinking of it as a statement on your self-worth or self-value, to see it as like you're doing what you love. That is already amazing. When you feel ready, put your out there so that people can know that you're doing this. Sometimes all it takes is telling your friends and family that, hey, I would like to get work in this particular field or I'm trying to become a freelance illustrator and you never know where your extended network might go. Networking is something that doesn't come naturally to most creatives, I would say. A lot of us are introverts and I can totally relate. But there are ways to network that don't make that side of us feel uncomfortable. One is just sharing genuinely with the people that you know. A lot of my early work came from referrals through friends. Then after that, it's just being really easy to work with and nice to the people that you're working with. Sometimes the work can get a little bit stressful, but that's networking too. The more that your clients feel that they can recommend you to others, the better it is going to be for your practice as well. Think about what sharing will work best for you. It could be a social media platform that has good engagement and you feel comfortable operating in, or just focusing on your portfolio and reaching out to art directors or clients directly to see if you can get work. Lot of other people wait till they get good enough to find an agent and they can help them find work, or it can just be as simple as sharing your passion and what you're trying to pursue with your immediate network. In terms of our story metaphor and our map, I like to think of it as talking to the villagers along the way. The more you share where you're trying to get to, you might run into a helpful villager that be like, oh, you should go talk to this guru or oh, you should go through this secret, pass through the mountain that will save you a bunch of time. But if you don't tell anybody where you're trying to go, then no one is going to be able to help you. Again, I know putting yourself out there can be a little bit intimidating sometimes, but the more that you can detach yourself worth and self value from these feedbacks that you're getting, the more you'll be able to just take it in with a sense of humor and just be like, oh, yeah, not every villager is going to be caring about where I'm headed, but I'm going to find that one person that is going to be able to help me. Hopefully that helps a little bit. I know that was a lot, but we have our big picture and the lay of the land. From here, let's talk a little bit about some fears and obstacles that we might face next. For many of us, it might be not as difficult to intellectually think about the plan and why we're doing all this, but to actually get our foot out the door that is really daunting. Let's talk about those fears and how mindfulness can help us approach them in a healthier way. I'll see you in the next class. 8. Face Your Fears: Face your fear. This is related to Chapter 4, but I really think it deserves its own section. Fear is often the greatest obstacles to our journey, and I realized that it's like this fog that we can't see through and we're really scared to go through it. But for those of us who have gone through it and we look back, we realize that it really wasn't so scary at all. It's really the unknown that is so frightening. In this section, I'm going to talk about my experiences with some of these common fears and also how mindfulness can be used to address or at least approach a lot of them, and then also talk specifically about a few common ones. We're going to talk about fear of the unknown, lack of motivation, fear of judgment from others or parents, and fear of failure. The first step is to acknowledge our fears, and I know that this can be tricky for most of us because we've been raised throughout our lives to avoid or deny our fears. We've been trying to prevent ourselves from getting hurt which makes sense, but that also means that we haven't really developed a healthy way of how to address the real fears that do come up. The thing is that if we don't acknowledge them, then they can't be solved because how do you solve something that you pretend isn't there. I really like this quote that goes, "Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I'd like to see you living in better conditions." Let's talk about how we can do that. In this next exercise. I just want you to name your fears. Again, be honest and don't judge yourself. Just identify and acknowledge, and there's a lot of common examples because we all go through this. Here are some of my examples. I was scared to fail. I was scared to look stupid. I was scared to not know what I was doing. Coming from a whole lifetime of always knowing what I was going to do for the next three or four years, it was scary that I wasn't even sure of what I was doing in the next month. I was scared of what other people would think of me. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to go back to any successful life if this turned out to be something that didn't work out. I think most of all, I was scared that I was going to realize that I wasn't good enough. Once we get that out, let's talk about how we can start to address some of those fears, and I need to put a disclaimer here that I'm not talking about serious trauma here. I'm not going to pretend I know how to solve any sort of clinical depression or clinical anxiety, but I do want to talk about just those common basic fears that we all struggle with. When we think about addressing our fears, we often associate it with finding courage like we had the courage to overcome our fears, and then we usually associate courage with being like really tough and bold, and then a lot of it is like but I'm not so tough and bold. But I also think that courage can come from a place of gentleness and caring. I really like this quote that comes from the mindfulness practice, "There are two kinds of suffering. The suffering you run away from, which follows you everywhere, and there is a suffering you face directly, and in doing so become free." Mindfulness helps us recognize the feelings that we're experiencing in a given situation, acknowledging that they're there, and then start to dig deeper and be curious about where are these feelings coming from. It's interesting that in a lot of ways, fears are just something that you need to approach with a gentle care. Mindfulness can help us notice our feelings and our reactions to given situations when those fears start to arise, acknowledge them and welcome them with gentleness, and then be curious about what is it that's causing this fear and what's really the underlying story here. I have to say that I didn't have this tool to begin with, and so at the time the way that I overcame those other fears was with a bigger fear. I had that big fear of dying and regretting everything that had done in my life. I didn't want to be on my deathbed, looking back on my life, having played it safe and just be like there was so much more I wanted to do. That's how I overcame my initial fears and you're welcome to use that as well, but I found that mindfulness was the more powerful tool when it came to more advanced fears later on. Let's talk about some specific fears now and some practical advice that I've gleaned from my personal experience with them. One of the first fears people have and that they ask me is, how do you know when to do it? It's basically boiled down into a fear of the unknown, and I totally get it. The thing that I would say is to start now, start small. Break it down into something that you do feel comfortable with and then slowly gain momentum from there. It's just important to start now whether it's with a daily quick exercise or starting to plan into your next step. As long as you're making movement towards that goal, that's a great place to start. After that, I would say start to learn how to get comfortable being uncomfortable. I know that sounds like a paradox and it is in a lot of sense, but here's what I mean. Our stress doesn't come from the unknown, it comes from our fear of knowing. We need to know every single step of what happens next in order to feel comfortable so we can let go of our attachment from the need to know that our fear of the unknown can start to get less and less. Next, let's talk about lack of motivation. I put this in the category of fears because I actually think a lot of times that's where it's rooted in. If you're feeling unmotivated or stuck in a rut and people asked me, what you do when you're feeling uninspired? For me, I honestly just feel inspired by everything all the time. But if I was feeling discouraged, what I would do is to take some time and sit and reflect on what it is that I am motivated by. Is it a fear of failure? A lot of times, we don't want to try because we don't want to figure out that we're actually not that good or that is going to not work out. Or is it because I've lost direction? Have I lost sight of my why or has my why changed, and that's why I don't really want to do it? Is it a fear of what other people think? I do think a lot of our lack of motivation is rooted in these types of thoughts. In this situation, first acknowledge what the underlying root cause of the motivation is, again, without judging and then try to figure out one small step that you can do. If you're feeling unmotivated, you can at least try one thing, like maybe I'll work on my mood board a little bit today or I'll do one quick sketch or one exercise that'll help me improve my skills. Then think about the different ways that you can start to tackle it from a bigger picture. Like I mentioned, I think passion projects are a great way to overcome any sorts of lack motivation because you created this dream project yourself, of course you're going to want to work on it. Another very helpful thing is to find a community. Whether that's a friend or a group or online peers, having some community that is on this journey with you and maybe can hold each other accountable is going to really help through those down phases. Another thing is that sometimes you just need to rest. Listen to your body. Again, mindfulness is really good for this as well because you're constantly tapping in and listening to how you're feeling both physically, and emotionally, and mentally. If your lack of motivation is really because you're burnt out and you need some time to rest, then listen to yourself and give yourself that space. Lastly, I really think that your north star can be used over and over again in all of these situations. Remember your why. If you need to, write it down, make it pretty, pin it up so that you can always see it, and that will help motivate you. I will say at this point earlier when we were coming up with our "why's," I told you not to base it on anything that was because of what other people think or some grudges that you had inside or proving your parents wrong. I will say, I would allow that stuff into this section. Sometimes we are motivated to be honest, by a little bit, of "I want to prove them wrong", or "I can do this, and they just don't know." In that sense, you're welcome to use those as motivations. The next one that I want to talk about is judgment from others. I know a lot of us don't want to admit that this is what's holding us back, but I also think that it's a common one; our peers. I totally relate to this because when I was leaving the law firm or even the agency, I'm surrounded by other successful people. All my peers at the time when I was in the law firm were mostly lawyers, and so they were like, "What are you doing?" At the same time at the ANC, I still felt the need for that validation of, "I have a job and I'm doing something cool." I get that a lot of times what other people think of us is something that really holds us back. The way that I overcame that, was really thinking about why is it that I care what other people think? I don't need to care about what everybody thinks. Not everybody even likes chocolate, so if there's no hope for chocolate, there's probably no hope for me. Then second of all, can I be more discriminate about whose opinions really matter to me? Because this dream of mine is super important. If someone's opinion is going to hold me back from that, it needs to be a very important person. Oftentimes we let the opinions of just random, mysterious peer hold us back when we can't even put a face to that person. One way that I like to think of it is, be the balancer of your opinion club. In this club, are people who matter to you that you love and love you and you do care about their opinion. I don't think that that's wrong. But everyone else, keep them out. Really look at each person in the eye when you determine whether or not they get to come in. If you can't even see their face like it's some mysterious online person then, of course they can't come in. But your best friend or someone that you really admire, they can come in, everyone else you keep out. That brings us into parents. Parents can be very tricky. I know from experience when I finally told my dad that I had left the law firm, and was working at an agency, at least I could show that I was still being financially responsible and taking care of myself. But even then he said, "You're lowering your value and people aren't going to see you the same way. They're going to look more down on you basically." That can be very hurtful to hear from your own parents. But I reflected on it a lot. Even though it's really difficult, your parents mean well. They want what's best for you. The thing is that they're also human beings that are bringing in their own fears, their own cultural limitations, and projecting them onto you. I realized he was saying that to me because that's how he felt about how others looked at him. While I can appreciate that he meant well when he said that, I also don't need to let that hold me back. The thing is that parents, there might be some tension in the transition periods, but they want you to be happy. Once you reach that point of being able to show that you're happier, a well-meaning parent is going to be happy for you and they're going to come around. My parents did eventually come around and now they're really proud of what I do. I'm not doing it for their approval, but it feels good to know that they ultimately just cared about me. I'll add one more quick note about online mystery strangers because this ties back to what I said earlier about sharing. Sharing can be really important and I don't want your fear of what these online strangers think to hold you back. Instead, really reflect on what it is you're sharing for. If you're sharing so that you can get validation and increase your self value by gaining more followers or impressing people that you don't even know online, then you're setting yourself up for a lot of fear in terms of what they're going to do or say, or whether they're going to like or comment on your particular creative work. But if you're sharing because this is just what you love to do and there's this piece that you're proud of, and so you want to share it with the world regardless of whether they like it or not, then when people do like it, you can just really enjoy that feeling of vibing with somebody, and when they don't, it's totally fine, because it's still something that you really like. That brings me into the last one; just general fear of failure. That is an umbrella for a lot of this because at the bottom of it all, our fear of failure comes from the notion that we've attached whether we're successful or a failure to our entire sense of self-worth. When we fail, we feel like that means we're worthless, and that's something that we can unlearn, and something I feel really strongly about because I think it's so terrible that that's how a lot of us have been set up to think in life when really we're all worthy. I know it sounds very cliche sometimes, but we have to come from an understanding that we have a basic goodness inside. We were born with this basic goodness and we still have it now. Any story you're telling yourself about not being good enough or having some faults, if you really dig deep and think about it, all of that has come from what society and other people have told you. If you were just living on your own since you were a baby in the forest with your animal friends, you would probably think you're pretty great. I think the more that we can reflect and think about that and to nurture that self-compassion for ourself, the more we can start to distance ourself from attaching our self-worth to our failure because failure is inevitable. It's just a part of this journey. The more we can think of it as just some feedback from the universe, like we put in our little ticket of input, and then we got feedback of success or failure. It's not saying you are worthy or not. It's just "Oh, that was a good try or a bad try," and you can see it with a sense of humor. When you fail, you can be "Oh, interesting, like that didn't work. Let me figure out another way that it can." I still like that famous Edison quote that goes, "I have not failed, I've just figured out 10,000 ways it wouldn't work." If we can approach our life with that kind of mentality, then those fears won't have that control over us, and that's what I really want. I know that this is one of the hardest things to unlearn. I came from years of school meritocracy where an A is an A and F is really terrible, a B is terrible, and you're constantly ranked against your peers. I mean that's essentially what the whole curve system is. Then you're ranked by your school, then you're ranked by the grad school. Whether my law school was ranked number, whatever it was, and then my firm, what rank that was. It's this constant comparing to other people and feeling like that is what your worth is, but it really isn't like that. That's just what we've been shaped to think. The more we can unlearn that, the better. There's no way for me to address every single fear out there but I hope that you can see a pattern is emerging throughout all of this. It's first recognizing your fear and acknowledging it, and then moving on to this gentle caring that you give to yourself and your fear. You bring it in with love and to ask it what is the underlying story here? Then you can figure out how to reframe this fear in a way that can be helpful to you on your journey. I learned so much from my fear and hardships that I am just as grateful to those challenges as I am to my successes. I wouldn't be who I am or where I am without both of them. To close out this class, let's do one more exercise. Transform your fears. This is a really simple chart that I set up where you can put the fears that you've recognized earlier and then go through and exercise together on how we can start to re-frame that story. In the first column we'll put and reflect on the fears you have named. In the next column let's think about what's that underlying story we're telling ourselves that makes this fear so scary. Then our the third column, let's think about how can we reframe this fear to be something that is helpful on our journey, or something that we can overcome on our journey. Finally, let's reflect on what does this fear have to teach us. For example, your fear might be; I'm scared of what other people will think of me." The underlying story is; I've attached my sense of self worth to what other people think of me. The way that we can reframe this is one, your self-worth isn't attached to what other people think. I know that can be a little bit hard, especially if this is your first fear that you're trying to tackle. Maybe an easier way to think about it is, yes right now, my self-worth is attached a little bit to what other people think of me, but I care so much more about my dream and to fight for what I believe in that, that is going to overtake my fear of what other people think. I'm going to be really selective about whose opinions I do care about; only the people that love me and that I admire. Finally, what is this fear teaching me? It's teaching me that I need to let go of my attachment of myself worth to others. Another fear is I'm scared of looking stupid and wasting a lot of time. The underlying story is that if this doesn't work out, then all of this was a waste of time and that you were stupid for doing it. But another way that you can reframe the story is that there is no waste of time. There are no mistakes on this journey. Everything that you do becomes part of your unique skill set and experience. Once you have that framework in mind, then you can move on without fearing that this is all going to be a waste of time. What this fear has to teach you is to just reframe and rethink what it means to waste time and how any experience can be helpful to your journey. Don't feel pressure at all to resolve all your fears right now, that's basically impossible. But hopefully, this starts to give you a framework to think through all the fears and stories you've been telling yourself and see that there is a path through each one where you can overcome it and not let it hold you back. When you're feeling ready, let's move on to the next class. We've gone through the dark part that every story needs, and now we can move on to something much more fun, which is talking about creating your magic. I'll see you there. 9. Create Your Magic: Create your magic. This is the best part of the whole story, creating your magic. As you're going through your creative journey, you're going to evolve. Your skills will improve, your taste will enhance, and your personality you might change. That's all normal. Something inside you is developing as you're living life to its fullest, and I call that your magic potion. What goes into your magic potion? Everything. Your taste and your interests, your experiences, and your strengths and your weaknesses, things I might have seen like mistakes or challenges along the way. Some people are mixing their magic potion subconsciously, and that's fine. But you have the tool of mindfulness, so you'll be able to take a step back and be able to mix your magic potion with intention and intuition. What that means is that you'll be able to notice your influences, your mental thoughts, what's getting poured in there. The things that are not really serving you, you'll be able to turn that off, and the things that are really bringing your spirit to life, you'll be able to add more of. Don't be afraid to change it up. There really are no mistakes. Things that might have seemed like, "That shouldn't have happened, " or "I messed up," or "That person screwed me." All of that can be transformed and used as part of your magic potion. For example, people ask me if I regret leaving the law or going into it in the first place, and I can genuinely say no to both questions. I know that that path has led me to where I am today and that what's makes me unique, just like your story is going to make you unique. For me, having gone through the experience gave me a lot of critical thinking abilities, ability to stay really organized, have professional client relationships. All of it really ended up helping me in my later career. It's not that I'm saying that you need to become a lawyer to become a freelance illustrator, it's just one example of how you can take something that might have seemed like a mistake or the wrong turn into something that benefits you. Are you an accountant who wants to become a musician? Great, because bookkeeping is really helpful for freelancers. Or are you an executive that wants to be a chef? Great, because management skills come in real handy in the kitchen. So whatever it is, don't feel like you've made a mistake. As you've gone down your path in life, all of those experiences are going to make you, you, and that's what makes it really powerful. The thing is, you can't separate the good parts from the bad. They're really like one big ocean and the waves represent ups and downs, but at the end of the day, it's all one big thing, and so you really have your bad parts to thank for your good parts. You can't have one without the other. The thing is, with mindfulness, you'll be able to avoid the unnecessary mistakes, and then be able to transform those inevitable challenges that come along, and that's the real magic. Let's do two more exercises to close this class out. The first is just to list out the ingredients of your magic potion on the left side of the circle. Obviously your experiences, your skills, your personality, your perks, everything that you can think of, and at the same time, there might be some invisible ingredients that might not be obvious to you. If you feel comfortable, you're welcome to ask your family or friends what they think should go into this circle. The second part to this exercise is what I call alignment. On the right side, you can start to think of what are all the different areas of need that you see in this world, it can be really big issues are just small things that maybe your community or even your family is dealing with. Write that in here, the things that you care about, and then slowly try to see where these two circles are overlapping, and that is the sweet spot. It's the ikigai. It's the raison d'etre. It's everything that starts to lead to having purpose and meaning in your life. Where you can start to line what your unique skills are, where your interests and your passions that you're good at with what the world needs. That's what you're really going to be driven by and have meaning in your own fulfillment. Just for example, I can put in here things like climate change, lack of education in parts of the world, poverty, racial and social injustice, gender discrimination, or more immediate things like people who are elderly having trouble getting their groceries, or having basic errands done. There's also for me the all-encompassing issue of a lack of mindfulness. I think at the root, a lot of the societal problems, including people say not caring about the environment, or not caring about the plight of others, or discriminating against others. To me, it's all rooted and this lack of mindfulness in society. When I started to realize that and started to see how my work in illustration or teaching and storytelling can at least address that in its own small way, that became a huge driving inspiration for me, and what I identify as my true purpose and gives me a lot of meaning in my life. Again, this is not an exercise that you need to figure out today. It's just something to keep in mind because as you grow, and as your skills grow, this left circle is going to get bigger. Then as you go out there and experience life, and talk to people, and hear what other people are struggling with, the right circle is going to grow. There's going to be more and more room for that overlap for you to find where your true purpose and meaning is. I hope that was something exciting to start thinking about and something that'll give you some drive as you go along this creative journey. When you feel ready, let's meet in the next and final class. 10. Epilogue: Final Thoughts: We've made it to the end of the class. I hope you're excited about working on your own story. Keep in mind that this isn't something that you're going to be able to just knock out in the hour or two it took to watch this class. It's something that's going to be unfolding over the next few days, months, and years. So feel free to come back and revisit this class and its sections anytime. Just get started. I want to leave you with one more optional exercise, a letter from your future self. This future self is part of themselves and they're proud of you for getting started. I read an example here and you're welcome to use it. But I encourage you to create your own. This future self is dreaming for you and they're depending on you. I hope that this motivates you, but more than that, I hope it helps you zoom out for the big picture and realize that where you are right now is just part of the story. Your class project is this workbook, and I would love to see what you come up with. But I know that it can be really personal. Of course, just share the parts that you feel comfortable with. I also highly encourage you guys to talk amongst yourselves in the class discussions and projects sections. Thank you so much for joining me in this class. I'm so glad that you came along for the ride. You're welcome to connect with me by following me on Instagram, visiting my websites to see my work, or following me here on Skillshare so that you would be updated of future classes. Until then, I am cheering for you, and I am wishing you all the best. Bye. 11. BONUS Pt I: Meditation Basics: Hi. Welcome to this guided meditation. This is a compliment to my mindful growth class where I share just how important I find a meditation practice to be in my creative journey and part of my day to day life. I wanted to create this introductory simple meditation to show just how accessible it can be because I know that when you're new to meditation, it can seem a little bit intimidating or maybe just a feeling of, that's nice, but it's not for me. I really want to try to help break down those walls because I've just seen how many people from all different walks of life have really benefited from this practice. This guided meditation is meant to be introductory and accessible to anyone and that you can do it anytime, anywhere. Before we get into it, I just want to share a few introductory foundational things so that we're all starting on the same page. Meditation is most effective when it's done on a daily basis. A few minutes a day is better than 20 minutes here and there. For me, my daily meditation practice is part of my morning routine. I really like it this way because I can just start the day off on the right foot and it helps make sure that I get my practice in. That said, if you're not a morning person, I totally understand. I am definitely not naturally a morning person. It took me until this year to finally start waking up early on a voluntary basis. If you are not there, I totally get it. Just work it into wherever it can be most conveniently done for you on a consistent basis. For me, I used to meditate in the evenings after a workout or before I went to bed. As for how long to meditate, as I mentioned, a few minutes a day is better than many minutes here and there. I would say when you're new, start with five minutes, 2-6 minutes is a sweet spot and I know that doesn't sound like anything. But when you try for the first time, you'll find that five minutes can feel like an eternity and so it's better to start small and build up just like with training for anything. For me, I now practice for about 20-30 minutes a day depending on how much time I have. You can totally build up and then get to a point where you feel like it's working for you. One thing that can really help and support you in committing to your practice is to set up a space that is dedicated to meditation. It doesn't have to be anything grand, if you have a spare room, great, but if not just a little corner of a room also works well. Once you've picked your space, I encourage you to make it nice and calming and inviting. For most people that will mean some nice lighting or maybe bringing in some candles. I think plants are always helpful and then of course, some nice textiles like cushions for you to sit on. You can also bring in some artwork or books or photography, things that inspire you and we'll get you in the mood. You can keep it really minimal, which is how I like it or make it feel really full and abundant. Just learn to listen to yourself on what works best for you. Now let's talk a bit about the recommended postures and some adjustments that you can make. In most meditation classes, they'll recommend that you start seated on the floor. Classic trainings will often talk about the lotus or half lotus position. If you're not familiar with those, I would say don't worry about it. Start with just regular cross-legged position on the floor, whatever feels most comfortable to you. The main idea is that you want to keep your body in a alert but comfortable position. Thinking of it as your head, your neck, and your back in alignment, but not in a way that feels stiff or in pain. Some people will try to push themselves and sit in the position they think is right and then this feel like they're in such pain throughout their meditation and that ends up being what they think about the whole time instead of actually clearing their minds. I would say that if being seated on the floor doesn't work for you, you can definitely sit in a chair. Just pick one that helps you sit upright and you can use pillows on your back or under your seat to support you. If even that is too painful or maybe you're dealing with some chronic body pain or a recent injury or illness, then a lying down position can be totally appropriate for you to start with. Just keep in mind that meditation is not about falling asleep but to awaken. As for what to do with your hands, I like to keep them folded and gently resting in my lap most of the time or I'll have them resting on my thighs or close to my knees. You can have them facing palms up or palms down depending on how you're feeling. As for the breath, I recommend that when you're starting, just breathe naturally. However you breathe, start with that. I know there's many meditations out there, they'll have guided controlled breathing, and those are great to explore and experiment with later. I also recommend that once you start to feel comfortable with meditation, to try to breath in and out through your nose. If that's not possible for you, definitely make adjustments, but I do recommend reading the book Breath by James Nestor because it does a really good job of explaining both how and why breathing through your nose is so much more healthy for you than breathing through your mouth. The last but not least, I think that the attitude that we bring to our practice is just as important as our posture, so I recommend a compassionate diligence. What that means is to always have compassion for yourself first and foremost, so not harshly criticizing yourself or letting that judgey voice in your mind runoff, but instead being really gentle with yourself. At the same time, being diligent means practicing with a sense of commitment and care. Now that we have our foundation, we are ready to get started with the actual guided meditation. I do want you to note that I'll be using the breath as an anchor, which is [inaudible] common practices. An anchor is just something that's in the present moment that you can bring your focus and awareness to so it keeps your mind in the here and now. I really like using the breath because it's something that's always with us and it's a nice reminder to be grateful because it's what's keeping us alive. That said, there are many people who don't feel connected to their breath or when being asked to focus on their breath, they start to get tripped up. If that's you, then pick another anchor. Another great one is sound. Just listening to the sounds in your environment and anchoring your awareness there or you can bring your awareness to the sensation of your body, maybe how it's grounding into the floor as quite a literal anchor. During the meditation when I'm talking about breath, if that's not connecting with you, feel free to replace that with your own anchor. Now when you're feeling ready, let's get into the next part where we'll start the actual guided meditation. 12. BONUS Pt II: Beginner's Guided Meditation: Welcome to a new day. It's wonderful how each day brings an opportunity for new growth. May this meditation help open our awareness to hit in opportunities and new ideas and help ground us in mindful awareness as we take on the day. Let's get started by settling into our space and our bodies. Finding that comfortable position that allows us to be relaxed and alert. We can begin to look around at our room, the space we're in and just notice our surroundings, and where we are. You might open your ears and note any sounds that you hear, and then begin to gently bring your attention to your body, maybe feeling the crown beneath you, firmly supporting you. Now, when you're ready, I invite you to gently close your eyes or lower your gaze. Let's begin by taking a few deep clearing breaths together. Slowly breathing in and slowly breathing out. Breathing in and breathing out. Breathing in and breathing out. Begin to notice where is easiest for you to feel your breath in your body. It might be the feeling of the cool air as you breathe in through your nose, or maybe the rise and fall of your chest, or you can try bringing a hand to your lower belly, feeling it rise with every inhale and fall with every exhale. Wherever it's most easy or most pleasant for you to feel your breath, put your awareness rest there. Gently follow the breath and stay in the present moment. Let's continue to breathe this way together, slowly inhaling and exhaling. As you get comfortable following your breath, you might like to imagine that with every inhale you're bringing in this clear fresh air deep into your body. Now with every exhale you're collecting and exhale old air and letting it go, so breathing in, clearing and breathing out, letting go. With this in and out flow, imagine that you're clearing and refreshing your creative energy. Let's continue to breathe this way together, holding your breath and staying in the moment. Gently take a moment to notice where your mind is right now. You might find that a lot of thoughts are coming and going, where you might find that your mind has completely wandered away from your breath, and that's okay, especially us creatives, our minds love to think and wonder. Instead of criticizing ourselves when that happens, we can just notice smile with the awareness that we even noticed, and gently bring our attention back to our breaths. Do this as many times as we need to that day. Just continuing to return to our anchors and the hear end now. Now with your eyes still closed the sound of the bell, gently bring your awareness back into your space, following the length of the chyme. As you're ready, you can gently open your eyes and notice how you're feeling. Remember that you can bring this awareness with you anywhere into your day-to-day life. As you bring your attention back to your breath and into the present moment, you can notice what's going on inside and around you. By training your awareness this way, your mind will clear and your creativity will flow. Be gentle with yourself as you grow.