self check

When our daughter is getting out of control, my wife will often pull her aside and lovingly suggest (or strongly require) that she do a “self check”.

The self check is a reminder to pause and reassess how things are going, whether or not she’s behaving the way she ought. Sure, it doesn’t always work, and it’s still her call whether she’s going to make the right decision, but it often helps bring her back from the edge. It helps us temper our own anger as well.

The self check can be a handy practice, not just for kids on the verge of crazy, but also for your own personal discipline.

I’ve been reading through Dr. Wayne Andersen’s promotional booklet Stop. Challenge. Choose. It’s mostly about recognizing our habits and turning the unhealthy ones into healthy ones. At least, that’s what the parts I’ve read are about.

It’s Andersen’s own brand of the self check:

-Pause when you’re faced with a choice that could lead to unhealthy action.

-Confront the temptation by considering whether it will lead you in the direction you want to go.

-Make a decision.

Besides just examining my daily habits, I’ve been trying to pause and do my own form of self check. At present, I’m focusing on my posture (it can get pretty bad) and breathing.

At different times throughout the day, I’ll do a self check to assess where I’m at and what sorts of thoughts I’m holding. Then I’ll straighten my back, and breathe deep. It actually makes a difference. I’ve noticed I can think more clearly and just feel better and more emotionally stable.

I’ve even found it helps promote creative thought as I end up being less distracted and more open to new and exciting ideas.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy to remember to do this and it’s not like I’m transported to some happy place where everything’s peachy and I’m floating on a cloud. But at least I come away a little more refreshed and with a better perspective.

So, next time you feel out of control or faced with temptation, try a self check. Take a little break and a big breath. Think about where you’re heading. Examine your thought patterns. Then straighten up and press on (hopefully in a better direction).


As you’ve noticed, the name of this site is Creative and Beyond. You may wonder why I added the beyond and didn’t just go with
Truth be told, the domain was taken, as was 100 others like it. These days, you have to get pretty creative just to find a decent domain still available. I mean, you would think might be available, but you’d be wrong. Anyways, there is actually a good reason it’s called Creative and Beyond. But I’ll never tell …

I kid, I kid. I’m about to tell you right now, in just a moment, right after I—oh, sounds like the laundry just finished—be right back.

There, had to hang the lederhosen out to dry with the ascots. Don’t ask.

Now, what were we—oh right, why the beyond? Here’s why: as much as I want to keep creativity center stage (and I aim to), I have to admit there’s more to life than just being creative all the time.

Creativity is an excellent springboard and a helpful guide along the way, but it isn’t the final destination. Really, it’s not a destination at all. While creativity helps us get where we’re going, and provides the fuel to get there, it’s not the reason we go in the first place.

You don’t board a spaceship because you like traveling in spaceships (ok, maybe some of you would—scratch that—maybe I would). No, you get on that ship because you want to go see the stars, or, at least, the planets and such in between—the stars are too bright to look at up-close for long, and way too hot to visit.

Here’s my point: you begin with creativity, you continue with creativity, but you don’t stop there. Creativity is its own reward, but it also demands a purpose, a reason for being, and end goal. Life itself requires purpose, otherwise, what’s the point? Every person does have a purpose—whether they know it or not. If you don’t know yours, then it’s time to begin the search.

Naturally, as a Christ-follower I find purpose in serving and obeying him. For me, everything else comes second (or is viewed in light of it). Now, you may be inclined to look elsewhere for your purpose—I get that. But whatever it is you believe, you still need to know your numero uno, your ultimate goal, why you're here kicking up dirt and what you hope to accomplish before you bite the dirt.

Unless you have a purpose, a desired destination, you're going to lead a very aimless and fruitless existence. You won't be satisfied because, how can you be if you don't even know what you want? Whatever it is you're going for, creativity can help you get there. A creative approach can even help you find meaning and purpose to begin with, but being creative, in itself, is not it.

If you are on that search, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What are my interests and what do I enjoy about them?
  • What talents do I possess?
  • Where do I have the most experience?
  • What particular resources do I have?
  • What special connections do I have?
  • How can I use my interests, talents, experience, resources and connections to do something great?
  • What is my story—the details of my life in which I find meaning?
  • How can I share my story with someone else?
  • How might I use what I have and who I am to add value to others?

Purpose, like creativity, comes from being part of something bigger than yourself. Until you're willing to step beyond your own boundaries, purpose will remain out of reach. So stretch yourself, ask hard questions and maybe even take a big old leap into the unknown, who knows where you'll land? (I certainly don't)

We’ll keep circling back to creativity, sniffing it out with our collective nose (potential band name?) to the ground, because it’s essential, but we’ve also got to keep our eyes on the skies, always looking to move upward, beyond, to where we’ve never gone before.

Creatively yours,

A.P. Lambert


Hey Creatives, where do you find meaning or purpose in your life? Yes, it's a big question, but what better time to think of it than the present? Let us know in the comments below.