(This is number three in a series of four about this cornerstone of creative thinking. Read my review of the book here. Subscribe to Creative Juicer to get the rest of the series, or visit again next week.)
There are a lot of good things about business and offices. I’ve really enjoyed some of mine, and met some inspiring people and even some friends.
But there’s a lot of ways for an office environment to turn toxic.
Business can be competitive and even nasty. Sometimes it feels like that kid from kindergarten who knocked down your block towers follows you all through life. We’ve all waged our battles, and shied away from them, at various times.
Or perhaps for whatever reason you don’t feel you can bring your full self to the office. You censor yourself and become safe and neutral, leaving your personality at home.
Sometimes we get stuck on a treadmill–business can become busy-ness for the sake of being busy.
But one way or another, we burn out.
It’s okay. We all burn out. But as they say in The Artist’s Way at Work, to burn out, at one point you must have been alight.
How do you rekindle the fire?
It all starts with knowing yourself–all of your selves. Artist’s Way recommends morning pages (learn more here). But it also suggests that if you find yourself experience strong negative emotions throughout your day, take a few minutes to freewrite on it.
It’s all about listening to what’s going on behind the feelings, letting your many different internal voices have their say, and then using those to find the best way forward. If nothing else, you leave your emotions on the page, and your mind is clear to tackle what’s next.
Remember why you started.
You started down this career path for a reason–and it wasn’t just to put food on the table. There are hundreds of ways to get enough to live on. But somehow you landed here. You had a passion, a talent.
Think back and reconnect with it. Take yourself back to a time when you loved what you did, or were excited for what was ahead. What’s changed? What hasn’t? What would your past self say to you today?
Bring yourself to the office.
Is there a part of you that you don’t usually show at work? Your sense of humor? Your love for drawing? Your opinions?
This can be a great source of dissonance. You start to feel you’re living a double life. Hiding so much of yourself can be exhausting. And most of the time, it’s unfounded.
Start small. Play some music you love. Post a painting you created. Keep a few recent copies of a knitting magazine around. You’ll be surprised how these small changes impact your environment. You may even find your coworkers gravitating toward it, as many of the testimonials in Artists’ Way did.