Posts Tagged ‘create a better life’

createbetterBack in Spring of 2015 I was working on a book project called Create A Better Life. One of the things I hammered hard in that book was setting a goal, giving yourself a deadline and finish on time, no excuses. As poetic justice and irony would have it, I never finished the book. I know, “Hypocrite!” Actually it was mostly done but I couldn’t bring myself to post it. So what happened? Well the short one word answer is “life” happened. I lost my day job and had to hustle. The thing is, in the hustle I actually found the better life I was looking for. Losing that job could have been earth shaking (and in ways it was), but as it turned out, it was the impetus I needed to leave the theoretical world behind, hit my knees in prayer and get to work. The result is a life where I create every single day, I get paid to speak all over the country and pastor a wonderful church that encourages me in all of it. I would have found none of this if I had stayed where I was.

Now please do not overlook the obvious, the hand of God was all over this, but there are a few things I have learned in the process. The first was while I got hit with something somewhat unexpected (I say “somewhat” because I had been hearing for several years that my job may be outsourced), all the work I had been doing definitely helped open some doors when the other door closed.

Secondly, my wife was invaluable in this in so many ways. From the fact that she reacted calmly and helped me make the adjustments to the fact that her job helped to provide for us as well as made us able to have things like health insurance. Over and above all of that was her encouragement to put a plan in motion, stick with it, and work hard, but not too hard.

Thirdly, not everything in creating a better life can be planned. Sometimes things will hit us unexpectedly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed and even thrive. The key is to keep praying and preparing and working toward the life you imagine and don’t forget, you don’t see the whole picture all the time, so be prepared to shift. If someone had told me I would be pastoring a church again, I would have told them they were crazy. I thought that stage of life had passed. I only ended up pastoring because my speaking schedule was slowing down for the winter and I was told of a church I could help for a few months until it was time to get back out on the road again. I decided to try it and put my whole self into it and you know what happened? I discovered there was a place missing in my plan. A piece involving relationships and gifts that were going unused. I discovered I loved these people and they loved me. They gave me stability and encouragement and I gave them the best of my creative energy, They were open to trying new things and a lot of my “better life” was made possible because I decided to take a little detour from my original plan and help someone else.

I am going to start rewriting Create a Better Life, but this time, I am going to take my time, and adding some of what I have learned on this journey. Sometimes you have to eat your words and realize you don’t know everything. The funny thing is, when I lost most of my control, I found my better life.

Here’s what I want you to do. Today is the day to pull out all the stops. Today is the day to throw away the negativity and every negative “what if?” Today is the day to let your imagination soar. Today I want you to imagine a better world. Better yet, today I want you to imagine our part in making a better world. Think about that thing that makes you say “someone should do something about that…” Now imagine you’re that someone. What would you do? What is the change you would like see? Imagine a world where that change has been made. What does it look like? What would you do? Imagine every limitation between you and that dream has bee torn down. It’s gone, nothing stands in your way. What would you be doing today?

You see this is imagination properly used. Imagination allows us to see a brighter future and say, “Why not?” God gave you the ability to imagine for a reason, and I believe this is it. To see the solution and to be a part of it, to do good in our world. This is a big part of why we were created. Ephesians 2:10 tells us this, “For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” This is our purpose and while there will still be obstacles, some of the greatest obstacles are the misused imaginations that keep us from ever getting started. Imagining those obstacles gone will give you a clearer view of what will happen if you power through them, in Christ, to the goal. God makes the impossible possible and imagination helps us to make those things only we can see, the invisible, visible.

I can’t promise the actual obstacles will be removed. I can’t promise you success but here’s what God promised. He who began a good work in you, will carry it through to completion in the day of Christ Jesus. Sometimes I believe God begins those works in our imagination. So what do you imagine, in your deepest, most consecrated imagination. When you open your heart to God and your mind to what He is doing, what do you imagine?

Now pray and then take the first step in making it reality. This is imagination properly used.

Imagine a better world and work toward it.

createbetterWell here we are on the last day of a 48 day journey. I thought I would spend a little time reviewing and a little bit looking forward. First of all I want to say, this project has been fun and really uplifting. I have enjoyed it immensely and have grown quite a bit in the process. Just past the middle of this project, I had a major setback in my personal life, one that could have derailed the whole thing. I decided not to share what happened as part of this project, but it left me with a choice. Give up or press on. It was an easy choice because giving up rarely leads to a better life (unless we’re giving up negative behaviors, thought patterns, habits, etc.). Instead I decided to treat this challenge as a challenge and hit it head on. I stayed to my usual schedule, working on this project predominantly in the early mornings and then getting on with my day.

This project inspired me to finish another major project that was largely complete but sitting on the back burner because I needed to make a few decisions. I am pleased to say that the decision have been made and the project, Creativity Kickers will ship when I deliver Create a Better Life early next month. I am excited to see what it does.

Create a Better Life has had its fair share of missteps and course corrections. It has evolved from a day long workshop/seminar to a webinar and may morph one more time as I finish researching a delivery service. I have an idea for it that may work, and it would accomplish another goal I’ve had for years. Please note, the vision hasn’t changed. I still plan to do the live workshops/seminars. I just decided that something else must be done first. I decided it would be better to deliver some online content and allow that to help promote the live events. Part of the reason for this is logistical. While I love the one on one contact I get when I do live events, I have yet to master being in more than one place at a time. I truly believe that Create a Better Life will help a lot of people, so I wanted to create it in such a way that people can get the materials and use them at their leisure. Let’s face it, most of us will create a better life while working around jobs and other obligations. Having something that is available at any given time is crucial.

So where do we go from here? Well will go back to being about creative arts ministry. I will no doubt post updates from time to time, but if you want to follow Create a Better Life, subscribe to and/or follow us on Facebook. Some time during the week of June 10, the initial webinar (or whatever incarnation it takes on) will drop. The main Create a Better Life project is finished, so updates will come via but I will be sharing other content there as well. Marketing of the webinar will also begin this week. The editing of the workbook continues. There are a couple formatting issues that I think I need to address, but I want to keep to the day by day format. Look for an announcement about its availability next week.

So what did I learn from the project? Keep your plans flexible and allow for course corrections. Setbacks happen and we can power through them. Sometimes you need to take a break. Meeting deadlines is important, but so is making it right. Do your research thoroughly. Creativity is even needed in projects about creativity. Mainly I believe what I have always believed. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (The Bible) Secondly, the future belongs to those who create it. (me) Finally, you can do this. You just need to push fear aside, do the work and get creative.

You really can create a better life!

createbetterSecond last day of the project, and one thing has become apparent, this won’t be the second last day of the project. I’ve had a setback. The service I was planning on using for the webinar is not going to work. As you recall I am trying to do this project entirely with free resources so that anyone, on any budget, can do it. The blame for this setback falls firmly on me. I didn’t research as well as I should have. Remember also that I said early on that I was going to share the missteps and course corrections. This would be one of those. It’s a setback but not nearly enough to derail the project. I just need to adjust.

In the mean time. I received a short free video course in my email on the subject of promotions and product launches and It gave me some great ideas not just for promotions but also for a way to deliver some of this content. I need to research this a little further but it may be a much better way to bring this content to the public. This course has also shown me a few things I could have done better in the promotion of this product, and I may make a few adjustments based on what I learned. I am also researching other delivery ideas for this content. More on this soon.

This setback will also effect my delivery date and that is really disappointing. I am not giving myself a lot of leeway here, but setbacks happen in these types of projects. That being said, I have also stressed several times in this project the importance of deadlines and delivering on time. This setback could have been avoided with a little more careful research. That being said, the worst thing a creative person can do is beat himself up over an error. Believe me that has derailed more than one project for me and for countless other people I’ve talked to. Don’t let that happen to you. I made a mistake, I can make excuses, I can give up or I can make a correction and move on to a better life. I’ve decided to give myself another week and deliver this content some time in the week of June 10.

Setbacks happen, we can dwell on them or we can learn and press forward and focus on successes. I’ve decided to do the latter. Working on this project and sharing the whole process with the world has been a bit daunting and yet also rewarding. I have written a book in a little over a month, using the early morning hours before my work day began. I am still working on the edits and seeing a few adjustments that need to be made, but that too is progressing and should be done in time to be delivered with the webinar. I finally finished a pretty major project that I want to offer as an ancillary product to create a better life. I call it Creativity Kickers and I am really excited about it. I have had most of the creative work done or Creativity Kickers done for months but kept holding back because I couldn’t figure out the best way to deliver it. Now I can’t wait to share it with the world.

Creating a project like this is a journey. There have been other obstacles, missteps, false starts and setbacks, but those happen to us all. Pressing through them is the key to creating a better life!

createbetterSomewhere in the midst of day 45 of a 48 day project, it happened. I should have been ready for it, because it always happens, but my confession is it hit me like a ton of bricks. Steven Pressfield, in his book The War of Art, calls it the resistance. Essentially it’s this voice that pops up and says, “Who are you to do (whatever it is you’re doing)?” It strikes nearly every creative project on a seek and destroy mission to keep you, the creative person, stuck, unproductive and not moving forward. The resistance is awful, and it’s a lying voice that needs to be silenced.

For me it went this way. “Who are you to tell people how to create a better life? After all you haven’t made it yet. You’re not rich. You’re not famous.” From there it goes downhill all the way to “You have nothing to offer. This project was a mistake. Quit!” Here’s the thing. I confessed all of this on day one. I didn’t position this project as “Hey, I’m a huge success, follow my ten easy steps and become a mega-bazillionaire!” Instead I said “Join me on a journey, to creating something better.” I didn’t even define what something better was, because that is an individual choice. Instead I shared what I am doing and principles that will help you to get where you want to be. The truth is, only you can define what your better life looks like. By this point, the people who were in this looking for the easy route to wealth and fame have probably given up. Anyone who is still with me at this stage of the journey is probably part of the audience I sought in the first place—people seeking to do the work of creating something better. For me to give up now would have been to let a lot of good people down.

That’s exactly what the resistance desires. To stop good things, and good people, in their tracks, by asking “Who are you?” and “What’s the use?” The resistance is the guardian of the status quo at best and diabolical at worst. It kills great ideas, knocks down great solutions to great problems and strangles dreams. It makes problems seem insurmountable and it makes us feel too small to do what it takes. The resistance is to be resisted and on the other side of resistance, great things happen. Do not let it stop you.

Vincent Van Gogh, the great artist once said, “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” This is how to defeat the resistance. You do what that negative voice says you cannot do until it shuts up and goes away. So let’s answer that question once and for all. Who are you? Well you might be the person who makes things better. You might be the person that makes a difference. You might even be the one who changes the world. You have within you the ability to at least help one person and maybe many people. You’ve got a story to be told. You’ve got a battle to be won. My faith says you were created on purpose to do good things that were prepared in advance for you, by a creator who loves you sacrificially. (Ephesians 2:10) There is a real purpose in your life and a real resistance that comes against you and that purpose. Resist it and live.

Who are you? You’re someone creating a better life, maybe even, in some big or small way, a better world.

Fight the resistance!

createbetterToday is one of those days where I force myself to look at logistics and all the other stuff that makes my creative eyes glaze over, but that need to be done for the good of the project. I continue to work on finalizing all the details of the presentation for the webinar ad the work book. Also I am pretty dissatisfied with the designs I posted last post so I need to reconsider them. (I could still use comments from you on those by the way.) One of the struggles of creating things is there are times where you are so close to the project that you have a hard time seeing what needs to be refined. A second set of eyes is always helpful. The main thing though is the deadline.

I have decided to make a slight adjustment. I am definitely still on board for finishing the project by May 30, but I have decided to put the webinar itself off until June 5. The reason for this is really simple. I want to make the most of this project and opportunity and I have been so consumed with creating it and working out al the details that I have really not promoted as I need to. The landing page still needs some work and I feel I need to give a few days for people to get signed up. So look for the webinar on June 5. Still working out a time and I would love your input on this as well.

Thanks for joining me on this journey. Together we will create a better life

createbetterToday I worked on cover designs for the work book and a graphic for the webinar. In truth I am not sure I am happy with these designs yet, but I did say I was going to share steps and missteps. I’d be interested in your opinions on these pieces. What could be done to make them better? Do they communicate what I am trying to say?

A word about design. For some of you, design like this is in your wheelhouse. You design for a living or you are a gifted amateur. For the rest of you, this is the time to bring someone in. It doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many people out there that are trying to get started in the business of design and some of them would be willing to help you out. If you are on a low budget, seek them out at art/design schools, social media, etc. There is something to consider here though. I have done hundreds of pieces of art for free, because I have either believed in the cause or I just volunteered to help someone out but I would never ask someone else to do something for free and you shouldn’t either. You may not have a huge budget, but “a workman is worth his hire” as the saying goes. Be as generous as you can to get the best work you can, and whatever you do, do not ask someone to do something for “exposure.” No other profession is asked to work in that way. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The idea behind the men holding up the pictures is that amazing and scary time when we have to take what we created and share it with the world. As I draw near to this point, I am really feeling that tension. How about you?

Make no mistake about it, it is on the other side of that presentation that the better life begins.

createbetterWell by this point, five days from the end of the project, most of the content has been created, much of the work has been done. I’ve got lots of detail work to do but it’s pretty mundane. Today I am working on a product that will be offered in my webinar. All the writing is done, so it’s really just an assembly and editing project that will take a few days. The webinar needs to be assembled as does the downloadable workbook. A good bit of work needs to be done, but the details will be somewhat boring. There is something else to considered and this is what I wanted to touch on today.

You see today is a holiday. I’ve recommended taking one day off each week, but what do you do when a holiday falls in the middle of the week. It depends on your perspective and your level of determination, but I do want to say this, this is not religion, this is work and there are times where you can put work aside for a while, especially a holiday. Please keep something in mind, and I know I have said this before, but we are building a better life and the people we love are a huge part of this. If we push them aside, I don’t know what it is, but it’s not a better life. There will come a time in our lives where we will regret the times we’ve missed. Do not sacrifice the moments that make life worth living. Holidays are a gift. Use them well.

Create a better life, and live.

createbetterYes, I know I spelled it wrong but the truth is, I did it on purpose. The form of the word brake I used is the noun form like when you hit the brakes on your car. You use them to slow down… to stop. This is a crucial step of the creative process. It’s time to hit the brakes and get off the hamster wheel for a little while… time to recharge and to rest. If you’re following this closely, you will even notice this is posting a day late. That was partly because I was speaking yesterday and partly because I decided when the speaking was over so was my work for the day. I drove home and spent the rest of the day with my family. After all, they are the biggest part of a better life, and time with them is a lot of what makes this whole process worthwhile.

The world will not stop turning if you take a break (see, I can spell it the right way). Take sometime and enjoy the ones you love.

createbetterOne thing that should not be overlooked is the importance of reading and studying in the creative journey. There have been many great books written on the topic over the years. These books will help to inspire and motivate you to keep moving forward on your journey. Some are more artistic, some are about promotion/marketing, some are about moving forward and succeeding. I highly recommend all these books. They are in no particular order.

THE WAR OF ART by Steven Pressfield
The author of The Legend of Bagger Vance among many others presents this amazing book where he primarily deals with what he calls the “resistance,” a fearful mentality that keeps us from creating. If you’ve ever been creatively blocked or struggled with those voices that keep you withholding your gift from the world (and who hasn’t?) this book is for you.
TRIBES by Seth Godin
This little book really deals with finding your audience. There is a great temptation among creatives to create for the masses. Godin asserts that who we are really looking for are the people who are like minded with similar interests, building tribes of followers and leading them. This blog was started after reading this book. It was a major influence on my life.
LINCHPIN by Seth Godin
The only author who made the list twice. In this book Godin describes being an artist in ever aspect of our lives and succeeding by being indispensable. The only book I’ve read more times than this is the Bible. It is a really important book.
PLATFORM by Michael Hyatt
The former president of Thomas Nelson Publishing has written the quintessential book on building a following and getting people interested in what you do. This is an essential skill for anyone who wants to succeed in virtually any creative enterprise.
Perhaps the foremost book on building your creativity, combining exercises and well thought out articles and essays, this book will be a great help in making you the best you can be.
This unique book combines great ideas for building creativity with exercises and unique interactive online content that will help you to actually assess your creative journey.
THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron
This classic book combines the arts and spirituality. It also includes several exercises that really are more like disciplines that will break creative blocks and get those juices flowing
This book, written by one of the founders of Pixar, gives great information about founding a creative organization, using real life examples and stories from Pixar. A fascinating book on a number of levels.
THE IMAGINEERING WORKOUT by the Disney Imagineers
This book is filled with creativity exercises from some of the most creative people on earth, the Disney Imagineers. How could you go wrong? A really great book.
A WHOLE NEW MIND by Daniel Pink
Pink asserts that the future belongs to creatives and I think he’s right. This book is filled with research and statistics along with stories that will encourage you on your creative journey. It’s a really wonderful book.

All of these books should be in the library of anyone interested in creativity an creating a better life. They will inspire and encourage you on your journey. You can learn more about them by clicking on the pictures. If you purchase them there a small percentage of the purchase price will go to supporting Create a Better Life.