Are You Sick of the Pandemic?
What is a person to do in this season of stagnation? We all have a range of experiences and perspectives that build up frustration for several reasons. Our social lives have taken a hit. Businesses have had to become incredibly innovative or have had to set aside their dream. Educators strain to effectively teach their students in modalities that seemed incomprehensible a few months ago. And then there are the creative masterminds out there.
If you make your living and livelihood from producing, entertaining, or designing products and services, you have certainly felt the blow of the pandemic by now. The creative types in our world are especially in a position to suffer. Musicians, artists, and everyone else who lives for the chance to share their talents and uniqueness with the world are struggling.
Even if you avoid wearing a mask or social distancing, you still have severe restrictions on your typical life. We all do. Creative energy flowing through your instrument or brush, camera lens or food creations is a source of life for you. True enjoyment comes from producing something that comes from you, and you alone. It’s how you define your value, in part. When that is yanked away, that life giving source of pride and fulfillment is shattered. To make things even more complicated, we don’t have a timetable for when or if our old life will return. The longer this continues, the more anxious and even depressed we can feel. You are not alone.
One little nugget of help you may be able to use comes from Dr. Anders Ericcson’s research on mastery learning. He’s the one who promoted the idea that 10,000 hours of practice is needed to become an expert in any field. You may consider yourself an expert already because you have spent that amount of time and then some in your field.
Interestingly, just spending time in a field doesn’t exactly make us excellent, much less an expert. There is much more to it. We must go beyond practice and spend time beyond our performance zone. Doing the same thing repeatedly does little for improving our craft. We need to reach for our learning zone. That is the range of growth we invest in that propels our skills into the next level of future performance.
Alternating between performance and learning allow us to continually improve. Just think of an elementary school teacher who teaches the same methods she learned in college twenty years later and waves off new studies and strategies. Do you want her to teach your child? That tendency to settle for our comfort zone happens in all careers and creative endeavors. But, the greatest of us all will stay eager to learn. That is what separates the mediocre from the best.
So…if you are feeling that missing element of moving forward in your career or life, consider setting up systems of expansion. This mess around us is an opportunity to build your muscles for the next race in your life – your future success. If you are a musician, work on a new style, stretch yourself. Review your previous performances with a critical eye and work to improve. Then set up virtual performances with all your friends or plan an event outside that will give your new talents a chance to shine.
Plan for your future success by setting mini-goals that give you the one up on your old self. It will make this season a time of purpose and lift your spirits.