Magnetized…

17 Sep

So drawing should be fun, but what kind of fun is that, exactly?

Warm-up sketch for September 17, 2010

Well, I can only speak for myself, and for me, it is all about magnetism, about sticktoitiveness. This is a mix of discipline, honesty, accountability, and habituation.

Ditctionary.com defines it as follows:

dogged perseverance; resolute tenacity; also written stick-to-it-ive-ness

The Urban Dictionary defines it as follows:

n. The ability to stay with a project and see it through to completion.

However, these definitions say nothing how to get into a state of sticktoitiveness.

Art Petty has a better description in his article about sticktoitiveness.

What it comes down to is priority. Some things are more important in life than others, and since time is limited (for humans at least), you can’t do everything. You must make choices in life. For some this may pose an unsurmountable obstacle, because how do you know a particular road you take is the best road? Well, you pick a road, see if you enjoy its path, and if it does, you stay on it. That wasn’t too hard, was it?

The feeling that everything in life should be to-the-max is silly. You can’t live in extremes, because if you do, there is nothing to refer to as less extreme. A full life is about contrast, of having success and failure.

Yes, failure sucks and hurts a lot, as it should (otherwise you can hardly call it failure), and the more we invest in something, the more it hurts, because we hate losing something more than anything else. The grief over loss is a corner stone of the human condition, and perhaps the main motivator in life. Ask yourself, why do we go to work/school while we don’t really want to, at least, some of the times?

These are negative feelings, and we’d like to avoid them, but we can’t. However, for some this is a reason not to make choices, or to put off those choices for as long as they can (procrastination). What if I fail, or it doesn’t do as well as I initially thought? How can we get through that?

I think it is about not taking things too serious, taking a step back, and acknowledge how things work. We humans live in social patterns, and the pattern we go through in grievance is an important one to be aware of. You are able to go through the grief of failure, while disassociating somewhat from the emotional roller coaster. This is, I believe, the basis of stoicism. It is accepting life’s hardships and lucky breaks with a more even emotional attitude. You accept the chain of emotional reactions you go through, but keep the eye on the ball, the thing you want to accomplish. Going ballistic or giving in to primal emotions often does not bring you closer to what you really want. You need to restrain yourself for the higher purpose of getting things done.

It is this discipline of keeping your head up despite defeat, of accepting defeat as something that is part of the creative process, that makes you forget about the consequences of possible failure. You can deal with it. Of course, if you’re into competitive sports you already knew this. It’s how you deal with losing a game, rather than winning, which defines your “sportsmanship”.

So now you know that, even it may turn out to be a total flop, you can do anything, do you simply take on any challenge that is in front of you? Well, no. You can’t take every challenge. You always have to ask yourself if this really is something you want to get into. You need to be honest to yourself.

There are those who pray on people’s sense of loss and guilt to make them do things. We refer to them as marketers, advertisers. We learn early on in life to ignore those people, or give them only a small place in things we find important in life. However, there are also challenges in life, that get our blood boiling with emotion. That is a cue to take a step back, and ask yourself, honestly, is this something I want to be bothered about, and if so, how much?

One of the things about honesty is that you don’t break promises. Not breaking promises is called accountability. We make promises all the time. And like challenges, not all promises are made equal. Some are small commitments that don’t take much time and energy, others are big, lifelong commitments which define who we are, and anything in between, of course.

I realize that promises are generated inside ourselves, while challenges are external (they present themselves to us). However, on an abstract level, there is really no difference between challenges and promises. So, as with challenges, if a promise makes an emotional impact, makes you gulp, you should take that step back, too.

Then there is habituation, things we do because we are used to it. It gives us a kind of comfort. Like anything, we can use it to our advantage, or we can let it use us. To use it in a positive manner, people usually set schedules and acknowledge milestones of achievement.

You want positive reinforcement for a habit to take hold, stick. The best way to do this, in my experience, is to chop a big project into smaller, achievable mini-projects, and cross if from a list after completion. The positive experience makes you want to do more of the same, and habituation sets in. You get addicted to an activity, like creating art.

Those are some of my thoughts about sticktoitiveness, about how you can be drawn to a subject like a magnet. Fee free to add some of your thoughts in the comments.

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One Response to “Magnetized…”

  1. Jose Gonzalez September 17, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    Great treatise on stick-to-it-ive-ness, Rene. You explored it thoroughly, and it just verifies to me why I see you as a very determined artist (and to use a description I use for myself, art explorer).
    Breaking down your goals and projects nto units that quickly give you a sense of reward is an excellent idea.
    Thanks for sharing this. It is very realistic and inspiring.

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