One of the main challenges, shall we say, in my life…
has been my tendency to start things – projects, tasks, you name it – with vigor and energy only to see my enthusiasm peter out in a matter of months (days, minutes…). I’m better at it now than I used to be, but for 2016 in particular, one of my rules has been to FINISH WHAT I START.
Case in point, I happen to be on set right now as this is posting, however I’ve been tied to a desk every night for the past 2 weeks on this blog. Why? Because an opportunity for the blog recently presented itself but in order to take advantage I had to go back and clean up older blog content. Long, boring, and tedious are just a few of the words I could use to describe the task, HENCE I’ve been putting off doing it (it has to do with going from the old timey theme I used early in the blog’s life, to the modern-day theme I currently use and a whole bunch of other tech-blog stuff I’ll go into some other time). With real opportunity staring me in the face, however, I could play it off no longer. For an entrepreneur of any kind, the ability to push through and complete tasks enable us to complete GOALS that propel us in our careers. Here’s my thoughts and tips to finish what you started.*
– That Whole Planning Thing
Spontaneity and the ability to improvise are important traits – I believe – for a creative professional and I think they’re some of my best qualities. That said, I have had a lifelong tendency to jump first and think later. This has landed me in many a pickle wherein I then felt overwhelmed, and next thing you know I’ve quit on a task and/or project.
This blog is a perfect example. If I’d taken a minute to learn about some of the inner workings before just launching, I very likely would not have had to do the work I’ve had to do over the last 2 weeks. If I’d thought more about my focus and my intended audience, I likely would not have had to stop and start quite so much. Now I’m more clear on all that and things are flowing much more smoothly. And it only took 7 years! LOL! 😀
Planning helps you work smarter instead of harder which is important because…
– Enthusiasm is Not Enough
At least not for me. I’ve started out enthusiastic about every single project I’ve ever started in my life, doesn’t mean I’ve always finished it. The projects and goals that have gone the distance were the ones where I felt compelled in some way. Either by a consequence of NOT finishing it – like losing this opportunity if I didn’t clean my blog up – or by a deep drive to see it through. When I think of a deep drive, I think of my makeup career itself. While that drive has definitely ebbed and flowed, becoming a professional in the industry and then staying here has been adequately compelling for me to weather those storms and keep on trucking. Simply “liking makeup” would not have been enough to keep me going through everything I’ve gone through in this profession.
Speaking of drive…
– Do The Hard Stuff First
This is a habit I got into via my baking. Periodically I do pop-up sales and farmers markets and I’ll have bar cookies, pies, maybe cupcakes, etc. Making apple pie is great, peeling and coring apples is not. But ya can’t have yummy apple pie without apples so ya gotta do it! HOWEVER if I do all the brownies and blondies and easy stuff first and then say “ok time to bake my pies”, guess what isn’t getting baked.
Way back in the day I used to only focus on the fun parts of being a makeup artist – buying product, doing creative photo shoots, etc. – and never attacked the less fun parts of filing, invoicing, marketing, etc. Eventually the less fun parts snowballed to the point where I needed prayer to get through everything. Nowadays, I just get that part over with. It’s still wack, but at least it’s a manageable part of the overall puzzle, and I do not feel like Rover* is coming to attack and overtake me.
Once the hard stuff is under control…
– Do A Little Bit Everyday
Using the blog, again, as an example, I’ve had long stretches where I gave the blog no energy whatsoever so of course it didn’t grow. Contrast that to the way I’ve approached my makeup career – particularly when I was first on the come up – and the difference in result is clear. If you want something, you need to work on it EVERYday. If you want to shoot more editorial, you need to be reaching out to photographers who shoot editorial EVERYday. If you want more advertising clients, or get on the sets of films or TV, or whatever the case may be, you need to be working on some aspect of making that happen EVERYday. It doesn’t have to be a big thing everyday, but it needs to be something that will propel you forward towards your goal. By applying this principle to the blog and my goals for the blog, I’ve gotten more done in the last 6 months than I have in the last 6 years.
Speaking of getting more done…
– Use Progress to Propel
Anyone who has ever had to lose weight knows the feeling; it’s hard to stay motivated with a goal if you aren’t seeing any results. Blind faith can get you started but it might not be enough to help you cross the finish line. For me its important to assess where I am with a goal. It helps me to see what’s going right, what’s going wrong, if I should keep going or if I should drop it. And when I am seeing progress it’s beneficial to me to acknowledge it because success is motivating straight up. I think I still have a copy of the first check I ever received as a professional makeup artist. That was a proud moment for me and it made me want more hence it made me want to keep doing the work necessary to get more.
If it feels like you’re toiling and toiling without seeing any progress on a particular project or goal…
– Are You Sure Its Something WORTH Finishing
How do you know if something is a compelling project/goal worth seeing to completion or if it’s merely an infatuation? Aye, there’s the rub! When I was researching project completion at the beginning of this year I came across this article by Scott H. Young that I really like. I like the idea of finishing project as a habit to be cultivated, first of all, but secondly I like the idea of thinking of some things as experiments and some things as commitments. Again, using the blog as an example, that’s basically what shifted. Initially Makeup to Go Blog was just a sideline/experimental/loosey-goosey/let’s see what happens thing adjunct to my makeup career. But over the years I became committed to it as a part of my makeup career that I want to further cultivate, hence I’m doing the work necessary to get it there.
Everyone doesn’t need to blog. No one needs to do – or can do* – every single social media outlet (*unless you have help). Maybe every makeup artist on the planet loves one particular method of kit storage and you hate it. Maybe you just work better with a slightly cluttered work area and constantly worrying about organizing it isn’t worth the time. Tasks and projects and goals and wanting to be better is great, but people are individuals and we don’t all operate the same way. I think it’s important to discern what is a goal that will add genuine value to your life and what is an aspiration that might be a needless waste of time. I went through a phase of trying to have an extremely minimal, all completely bare surfaces, spartan work area and it was a joke. Just thinking about trying to keep my space that way added more stress to my life, not less. #NOPE!
15+ years later, I’m still hustling in this thing called being a pro makeup artist. 7 years later something is keeping my butt in this chair working on this blog. Both goals are still compelling to me, therefore I’m gonna keep pushing through all the tasks and projects I need to do in order to reach my goals.
What are you going to put your mind to doing and finishing?
Leo Bautista – Zen Habits
Zen Habits is a mindfulness blog (mindfulness being a principal of Buddhism, but it’s not a blog about Buddhism, I actually don’t know if he practices Buddhism or not). If you need pretty graphics and whimsy, etc. this is not the blog for you. But if you are looking for helpful nuggets on living simply and efficiently this is a great blog.
30 Days at 100 Percent (Affiliate Link)
Crystal A. Wright – mentor, career coach and former Makeup/Hair/Wardrobe agent penned this 2nd book as a life-improvement tool to help you eliminate bad habits that hold you back and cultivate the positive habits necessary to focus on and achieve personal goals. (her first was the Hair, Makeup, Wardrobe Career Guide that I’ve mentioned before several times 😉 )
*Rover was a mysterious prison enforcer you did NOT want to encounter from the 60’s TV show “The Prisoner”
This blog post title is of course taken from the Van Halen (Van Hagar) song of the same name…
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