set and forget

Here is some advice I’ve been giving myself lately (side-note, do you ever do that, give yourself advice because you know it’s good but you’re not great at implementing it?): set it and forget it.

Following the launch of this site, I’ve been more active on social media. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but I sense a few dangers from such platforms. It’s very easy to fall into a trap of constantly checking posts and the like in search of validation, looking for approval from every like and comment to follow. This can get unhealthy fast, regardless of how well-received your offering is.

I’m often reminded of the very end of the movie, “The Social Network” where we leave a movie version of Mark Zuckerberg as he is constantly hitting refresh on his Facebook page in hopes of a reply from an old flame. The sad irony is, he’s become a slave of his own invention, he’s just like the rest of us.

My other unfortunate habit is to obsess over something before putting it out there for the world to see. Yes, I'm a recovering perfectionist. The thing about perfection and wanting to appear perfect is it gets in the way of completion. As copywriter Ray Edwards puts it:

"Done is better than perfect because perfect never gets done."

Besides that, a perfection obsession can lead us to a place where we aren't being real anymore but instead just trying to make ourselves look good. We convey to the world a false image of who we really are. But people can't get to know and care about a fake you (well, they can, but they won't know the real you this way).

So, my solution is simple: set it and forget it. When you post anything, just let it be for a while. Turn off the notifications and just let it sit out there, riding the high waves of the interwebs (or however it works). Give the world a chance to take it in instead of smothering it with even more time and attention.

I’ve found this practice helpful beyond social media. In a broader respect:

Let your creative work go.

Don’t cling so tightly to your inventions that you are unwilling to release them to the world. And when you do release your creative doves from their creative coops, don’t let your concern for other’s reactions cloud your experience. Like the witch from Oz, you must cry, “fly my pretties, fly!” and then, without another blink, turn your back on them.

This is not always easy. After all, those babies were ours. We raised them, nurtured them, cared for them from the nest, and now must we release them into the cold, cruel world? But yes, it must needs be so (or is it needs must, help me out here Shakespeare).

When it comes down to it, there are two things I’m most scared of when I put something on the internet:

  1. No one will see it
  2. Everyone will see it

The first terrifies me because I fear what I’m doing doesn’t matter, that it will go ignored and unnoticed. No one really cares what I have to say. The second, because I worry people will finally see the real me and not accept me for who I am. The struggle is real, people. And I know I’m not alone in this.

So I encourage you, keep making, keep doing new things and when it’s time to release them to the public, let them stand or fall on their own feet (or fly on their own wings). Let your validation come from the quality you put into the work itself. Get your advice from the people closest to you, the ones you don’t have to prove yourself to, not from any random Joe or Sally who knows how to type words on the internet.

If you don’t have people like those in your life (mentors and friends), it’s time to start creatively building a few deep and real relationships with people who are willing to spend the time it takes to know you. It’s time to find a tight group of like-minded folks who have your back. And if you just need a little encouragement, I’d be glad to give it. I’m proud of you people and I want to know about every little creative project you’ve got in store, because if it’s creative, it matters. If it’s important to you, it’s important to me.

 

Creatively yours,
A.P. Lambert

 

Hey Creatives, do you ever have a hard time letting your creativity go? What have you done to overcome the struggle? Let us know in the comments below.

A.P. Lambert

A.P. Lambert is a creative professional who helps others live with creativity and purpose.