Creative Restlessness

Sometime in the summer of 2010, a year after I started Studio Sky (my brand design consultancy), I was overcome with a sense of restlessness — What more can I do? What do I want to learn next? Where do I go from here?

I know we ‘creative types’ are known to be restless. It’s how we fulfil our curiosity and desire to keep learning, growing and creating. After all, as my yoga instructor once said, if you aren’t pushing yourself to stretch further, you’re not growing. And if you’re not growing, then are you just stagnant?

This line of questioning started at a time when my design work was stable and exciting. I had a great set of on-going projects. Client interactions were smooth. I was happy that I had set out on my own. But yet, there was an urge to push further. Clearly, comfort zones are not soul-satisfying. We have to grow out of our comfort zone into unfamiliar territory — only then do we grow as individuals and professionals.

A few casual and inspiring conversations with a close friend led me to co-found Footsy — a brand of playful socks. Footsy was a huge challenge, and it continues to be so. But it opened up a whole new world of learning possibilities — e-commerce, finance, manufacturing, multi-tasking, retailing, textiles, marketing, maintaining sanity, media and publicity.

Along with this, I learnt life lessons I wasn’t expecting to learn:

  • Excitement has to be fuelled by consistency. I tend to get carried away in the moment. Get distracted by the new and exciting. But consistency is important. Sticking with the plan is important. Of course, don’t be rigid. Allow for change. But stay the course, instead of running astray every now and again.
  • Hard work is not always immediately rewarding. And sometimes, you have to work really really hard. Until your back hurts, and your fingertips are numb, and your vision is blurry and your head is spinning. And yet, you don’t see the finishing line.
  • Self-motivation isn’t easy. Every year starts on a fresh note. Every Monday sounds promising. But what happens to the energy by Thursday afternoon? This has been one of my biggest learnings. I will run out of energy. I will be demotivated. I will get tired. But I must carry on.
  • No over-thinking, please. I’ve learnt to trust my instincts. I’ve said no to projects when it didn’t feel right. I’ve walked out of an investor meeting, because my gut was telling me to get-the-f*ck-out of that room. I’ve made big decisions without consulting anyone. Sometimes, it’s just you. And that’s okay.

Creative restlessness has revealed to me that as a right-brained person, I owe it to myself to recognise and harness this buzz, this restlessness. The amazing Shonda Rhimes calls it the hum. Working alongside this buzz/ hum/ madness is challenging, but it feeds the soul.

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