In this week’s episode of the Creative Introvert podcast I talk to Pete Mosley, author of one of my favourite books: the Art of Shouting Quietly who helps people in running a business creatively, how to find and build relationships with customers and how to tell a great story about your work.
We talk about the intersection of creativity and introversion, whether we should just fake it till we make it if we want creative success, the advantages of being an introvert and how to avoid burnout.
You can leave a rating and review on iTunes (here's how to do that) and I will be as happy as a panda pounding bamboo (or sob into my pillow, depending on what you write.)
You may recall last week I declared I booked my barista training.
But, as I sat on the bus, 10 minutes away, I randomly checked my emails and - oh - the guy who was training me, cancelled.
I'm not sure if it was a hangover (this is 9 am on a Sunday) or if he genuinely was sick, but I sadly accepted my fate: a long Sunday with nothing scheduled.
And because I have you to report to, keeping me accountable for my 'year of fun' I had to come up with a plan.
The problem was, it was pissing down with rain, and the idea of traipsing anywhere outside my cosy little home... did not appeal.
l learned a new word that perfectly describes this weather: Gluggavedur - this is an Icelandic term to describe weather that is best enjoyed from being inside: i.e. where it’s warm and dry.
The only thing that was definitely on the cards was a reluctant food shop. What could I buy there which could be a source of fun? Other than Krispy Kreme donuts?
It came to me: a magazine!
This is an odd indulgence I've considered fun since I used to subscribe to both a Dinosaur mag and one that Nickelodeon produced. Both of these rocked my world age 7.
Now my idea of a magazine worth buying generally revolves around home decor or crafts.
The selection wasn't great, but I spotted one that was new to me, called In the Moment. The extortionately priced pad of printed paper was added to my shopping basket and I went home to spend the rest of the day indoors, moving between my bed and my desk.
Safe to say I did not hit my step count.
Now, this could be the dullest episode in the entire series of my Year of Fun but: I do have a few insights to share with you:
1) I have some serious guilt around doing things for pure pleasure when I could be working or learning or challenging myself in some way.
I very rarely have a full day with no plans, and rather than basking in that freedom, it kind of panicked me.
When I ultimately settled down with my tea & magazine, I definitely started to enjoy myself, but there was still a nagging feeling that someone might jump out from my wardrobe and yell "Get back to work, yooou slacker!"
I know. Crazy right?
Ironically (I think it was ironic, I'm never sure how to use that word even though Alanis Morisette has given us so many contextual examples...)
Ironically, there was an article in the mag about how hard it is for many of us to take real time off even at weekends.
2) It also made me think about last week and how challenge, when it's too extreme, can really such the fun out of an activity for me. On the other hand, when it's too low, I'm left feeling a bit... empty.
It's not that I didn't enjoy my lazy Sunday - it was delicious - but at the end of the day, I didn't have that feeling of satisfaction: the afterglow of doing something that mattered.
It's basically confirmed for me Martin Seligman's theory on 'Authentic Happiness', or his updated terminology 'Well-being'
For Seligman, the formula for this ultimate state of being is:
Positive Emotion - pleasure
Engagement - flow state
Relationships - people
Meaning - higher purpose, being part of something bigger than yourself
Accomplishment - winning in some way, achieving a goal
The magazine and tea fuelled Sunday I had hit 2 out of 5 of these - I experienced positive emotion and a small amount of engagement or flow.
So maybe I'll be taking into account these 5 factors more into my fun activities: may be I'll devise my own... who knows!
My fun rating: 4/10 - high pleasure, but low on the satisfaction afterglow.
Next weeks fun is not coming from the Jar of Fun I'm afraid because I already have something quite fun - I hope - planned. I'm packing my bag and heading to Northern Spain for the weekend.
Specifically, a region called Asturias. It's a bit of a hidden gem at least to ignorant tourists like me, and famous for it's cider. Yum.
So I'm guessing I'll find some fun there, and report back to you next week!
And if you happen to be from Spain or as unlikely as it is, Asturias, let me know if you have any tips or suggestions for me to try out on my travels!
If you tuned in to the Creative Introvert podcast last week, you’ll have heard me give my top tips and tools for goal accomplishment, with a focus on the inner work: the stuff that bubbles up in our minds, our hearts our bellies.
But there is one more piece to the puzzle, and this is the one that doesn’t come from inside. It comes from outside - the big, scary, extroverted, external world.
But don’t worry - this isn’t going to become the Creative Extrovert anytime soon, I just want to give you the piece to the puzzle that made all the difference to me, when I finally let it in, and gave it a go.
That is… accountability.
Firstly lets get some terminology right… What IS accountability?
Accountability is a term I used to cringe at. For some reason it stunk of the cheesiest end of self-help, as well as co-dependency and ultimately I took a lot of pride in doing everything all by myself.
Now, a bit of googling will tell you accountability means ‘the condition of being completely responsible for what you do.”
Ooh. Completely responsible? Not sure I like the sound of that either. Sounds like a whole lot of pressure that I am not keen to take on. At least, that’s what the free-spirited rebel in me says.
But… what if we were to look at it from another angle?
What about all the stuff we wish we could do, we know we should do but just aren’t doing?
And it’s not for want of desire or even motivation - we simply aren’t taking responsibility.
Of course, reasons that we aren’t acting on the stuff we want to make happen are varied.
We can dive into them deeper another day, but for now, some that come to mind are:
I will note that those are typically introverted excuses: we tend to blame ourselves (or the subject) more than we blame the world around us (or the object.)
In this episode, I'm going to take you through the OUTER solution to goal gettin' and hopefully help you find an introvert-friendly approach to accountability.
Self-Knowledge series episode 8
The League of Creative Introverts
First of all, let's address the elephant in this blog post: I did not do my planned fun this week (as dictated by Jar of Fun), which was barista skills training.
The first available spot is next weekend – but I can confirm that I'm booked on so coffee-making-101 is happening!
But I was left with the conundrum... What Fun could I partake in this weekend?
Scanning Eventbrite.com, I came across a dance workshop, in nearby city, Chichester.
The Charleston eh? My head swam with pictures of black 'n' white flappers with feathers and shiny jewellery and Charlie Chaplin was somewhere there too...
I'm not going to pretend I have a clue about dance history, or dance...at all.
I accidentally experienced a taste of the Lindyhop at a quirky Brighton conference last year, and I'll admit... I didn't hate it.
I made a pact with myself to explore dance some more, a task that could get me into my body and less stuck in my head.
Introverts, particularly the intuitive type (more about intuition vs sensing here) are prone to being a bit heady and disconnected from the real, physical world, including their bodies. And I'm definitely in that category.
Plus I love learning new things. It builds confidence like nothing else, plus I quite fancy myself at some great Gatsby themed party sipping cocktails and throwing some shapes on the dance floor...
The other bonus was checking Chichester cathedral off my list.
Underwhelming, but then I have recently been to Rome and have been a wee bit spoiled for cathedral eye candy.
So... the class.
I was nervous, duh, and I didn't feel welcomed as I entered a busy little studio, packed with ladies who - I fantasised - all knew each other, were pros at dancing, and just really hated 5'3" redheads.
I had a moment on the loo where I told myself - specifically my inner critic - to shut the fuck up and stop being a baby. But you know, kindly with self love etc.
I'll admit the teacher was lovely, sweet, funny, not intimidating at all and did make the steps very clear. Despite my two left feet, and rhythm of a drunken uncle at a wedding, I mostly got the hang of it.
That didn't stop it from being... not fun.
Not fun at all.
It took me back to P.E. classes at school. I didn't feel like a sassy flapper in a silent movie: I felt like an awkward introvert who would much rather be in one of the many cute tea rooms or coffee shops the city had to offer.
The workshop was 3 hours but I left during the break, politely declaring my knee was giving me trouble. Which it was, a bit, but it was most probably psychosomatic because it conveniently eased up as soon as I stepped foot outside.
Fun rating: 2/10 because the were moments of mild enjoyment when I celebrated getting the steps right.
That public dance classes are not my jam.
I still like the idea of dancing, but hello...Youtube?
I can dance around my room and have actual fun, plus it's free.
I've mentioned that fun, often but not always involves a bit of challenge for me.
And I strongly believe in stretching our comfort zone regularly, like exercising. When you haven't exercised in a while, it becomes much more painful when you do it. So... I believe in a regular dose of mild discomfort.
A level 3 or 4.
This was a 7 on the discomfort Richter scale, which pushed it out of the fun category for me.
It makes me think of a saying from Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and others. Her life motto is, 'Be Gretchen'.
Today I learnt something about myself: this Cat does not like dance classes.
Ok so the timing for this episode is all kinds of perfect.
If you’re listening on the release date, you’ll likely be aware it is a brand new year, and you may very well have set yourself a new years resolution - or assuming they’re becoming a little unfashionable, may be you’ve picked a year goal or - er - a word to set your intention for the new year. Whatever floats your boat.
May be you’re on the more skeptical side of the fence and refuse to set any goals or resolutions because the new year is arbitrary to you. I don’t blame you.
But still… there’s likely something you want, something you want to feel or be or do or have.
Now there are a million and one reasons why we fail at getting what we want or doing what we want - but there are far fewer solutions to this challenge.
So did I stick to my fun guns??
Well, yes… but let’s never call them ‘fun guns’ again.
As you may remember, the first fun activity I picked from my jar of fun was ‘go to a Nomunication.’
Now, a ‘nomunication’ is basically an event that a local Japanese learning meetup group holds. The problem was… there was no nomunication this week!
It normally involves drinking and talking, both in Japanese and English. My insecurities in my own noob status at Japanese has meant I’ve never attended one.
Now I should have been less specific, because this particular event wasn’t on last week. Instead, I had the option to go to a Mochi-making event held by the same group.
And I went!
Honestly I was not massively looking forward to it when the day came. I felt my standard fears around being in a big group of strangers - plus the possibility of having to speak Japanese which scared the crap out of me too.
But I had to go: the Year of Fun would have been a bit of a flop if I couldn’t even make my first week’s event.
It was… really nice. I felt comfortable in the group: this is undoubtedly a friendly bunch and I’m looking forward to dipping my toe in more of their meetups.
I did my classic introvert thing: spent most of my time speaking to just one person, but she was lovely and we had a lot in common.
And of course: the mochi!
Mochi is something I love anyway, but I have never made it before: and now I know it’s not that complicated, I have bought myself some mochi making flour my very own mochi rice cake things.
A fun part was shring tips on how to eat the mochi, and as someone who loves food and especially loves weird combinations of food, I very much appreciated one attendees tips for making a mochi cheese melt in the microwave - it was amazing.
So, out of 10, I’d give this a 7: it wasn’t super duper fun but it was pleasant, a nice thing to do on a Sunday afternoon and it is likely to lead to a lot more fun: at least in terms of making mochi on a regular basis.
Now: to reveal next week’s fun!
BARISTA SKILLS TRAINING!
Yikes! I'm not sure I can make this one happen by next week, but I can certainly investigate it.
There are a few different coffee shops in Brighton that offer barista skills training, so I can enquire to see if they'll have this creative introvert messing around with their beans...
Either way, I'll have some fun to report back this time next week!
Have you ever tried mochi? Have you made mochi? Any good recipes to share
Morra is the author of Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home) which really spoke to me because of my own experience in an office job – I wonder if you can relate...
We talk about Morra’s career and her experiences of hiding in the bathroom, much like myself, before she hit rock bottom and made a major life change, we talk about being a stealth introvert, introvert ambition and managing social anxiety.
As someone who is obsessed with goal seting, actionable plans and productivity... this year i have decided to do things a bit differently.
To try to balance out my type a, INTJ personality, I figured I could choose fun as my one overall theme for 2018.
I'll admit: this is not a totally original idea.
See the Year of Fun - Sarah did one fun thing every day for a year and blogged the process.
I’m not planning one fun thing every day but I am aiming for one fun activity a week, most of which I've never done before.
l like an experiment: organised fun may be a paradox for some but for me it's the only way to get me onboard.
Actually, the planning of the fun has been... fun. Even before the year officially started.
A bunch of activities I imagine will be fun: they feel light, playful, adventurous - not without a sense of risk or challenge.
We all have different interpretations of fun, and part of this is to further understand my own idea of fun. Much of these are things I think will be fun (some more so than others) but I'm prepared to be surprised.
Challenge is also an element: I know pushing my comfort The gives me a great deal of lasting satisfaction: very different from the short-lived pleasure we (I) often find myself addicted to : chasing comfort and avoiding pain. This, I've found, as many a spiritual seeker before me, have only ever ended in a dog-chasing-it's-tail-like scenario.
My hypothesis is that these tasks will change me in some way. At the very least they'll shake my weekends up and give me some stories to tell.
I pick a new predetermined fun activity from my overflowing jar of FUN. Activities are colour-coordinated depending on effort required. Some need people to get involved, or advance booking. Some will definitely not be fun in winter months in the UK, others require a trip to the shops for supplies.
But picking one week ahead should give me enough time to plan.
Note: most activities will happen at weekends unless I'm busy with less fun activities, in which case I'll make an effort to do that task during the week.
I'll also be documenting this process as much as possible, both on the podcast and on my Youtube channel - so feel free to follow along there: I'm aiming to publish once a week about the most recent fun thing I've done and my thoughts on the challenge so far, which may include fun ratings for each activity.
The grand finale of the Self-Knowledge mini-series!
To end, I’m asking you the deceptively simple question: what do you want?
It’s easy to go through life without really answering this question.
Of course, we can answer specifics: like what do you want to order from a restaurant. Or you can be tempted to answer through the structure western society has imposed on us, claiming to want to go to university and settle down with 2.4 kids and get a mortgage and OH MY GOD KILL ME NOW.
I’m a big proponent of asking this question on a regular basis and spending a significant time ruminating on it.
I do this because I don’t want to be fooled into thinking society knows what I want, or into thinking I don’t have a choice in the matter.
When we know what we want - what we really, really want, as the Spice Girls say - we can aim true and have - obviously - a way better chance in getting what we want and living a meaningful life.
How do you tackle a question like What do I want?
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