Work Imitating Life

Somewhere between becoming an adult, being an adult and thinking that I am an adult, creativity was put to the wayside. Though I am a designer, and while I’ve been regarded as an artist or a creative or “different” (whatever that means) something was unsettling. For instance, I wondered what was keeping me from getting non-work related, creative projects going?

I think part of the problem was that everything distracted me: Netflix, *insert popular on-line shopping site*, the good weather so that we can finally enjoy the great outdoors above -15 degrees, my family all of whom I’d like to visit more, best friends who I need to "eat, drink and be merry" with, my health that I need to be concerned about, laundry, reading, and newborn relatives to name a few. However meaningful, mundane, enjoyable, frustrating or tedious, it kept me from the other list of “creative” projects I wanted to check off.

So. Was that it? My restlessness stemmed from time management?

Four months ago, my design partner, Marnie Meylor, and I were assigned to explore positive behavior change in the realm of wellness. This was a bit ironic given my state of wellness. However, as the research moved forward and we learned about what our wellness coaches do with their clients, I began to realize that the connection between my creativity and life was becoming more and more disconnected.

Wellness coaches help clients identify what is meaningful in their lives and align them with their behavior. Unlike a medical visit, clients diagnose and prescribe themselves; coaches do not tell clients what they should value. Coaches do not assign goals for clients to achieve. Coaches guide their clients through a future oriented, creative process of self-discovery. They help clients imagine their vision of the their future.

Awareness of 'the present' plays a large part in this creation. Coaches ask clients how they feel about something. They don’t reprimand their client if they didn’t do something they said they would. Rather, coaches ask why and how that goal might be achieved. In some cases, the client and coach discover that the goal should not have been a goal in the first place!

As I observed about a dozen coach-client sessions, it was like watching a magic show. Though the 12-week program may be a roller coaster of successes and failures, clients were allowed (and allowed themselves) to experiment with strategies and tactics to achieve their self-initiated goals. From meal planning and exercising to building social circles, clients made small steps and turned their new habits into behaviors. What was most profound was that process resulted in a greater sense of confidence, forgiveness of others and self, resilience and other strengths that would help them connect their values to their behaviors.

Now what about my own creativity? This research made me realize the need of being more self-aware of the present. Unlike the clients, I didn’t allow time for this. My problem was not about prioritizing my time. Whether my behaviors connected or distracted from what I truly found meaningful in my life, I “had to” do them. I had no clear, articulated intention and I needed to change.

And just to be clear, I’m still working on that checking off that list of creative projects!