Do you keep trying? Lessons from a different outcome.

Some things don’t turned out as planned. What do you do when that happens? Do you keep going and trying, or do you stop?

I used to stop. Especially when it was something personal. Or more appropriately, I wouldn’t start because I was afraid of failing again and not completing my original vision. And, then the worst thing happened, I stopped imagining and stopped having visions.

It was very interesting because in my corporate job, I had visions and knew clearly how to handle change. I coached people on it. I wrote blog posts about it and included it in training. But, when it was so personal, I shut down. I did exactly what I coached people not to do.

As I progress in this personal challenge of 52 images in 52 weeks, I usually have some direction. I have a feeling, or a see a particular line or a color. With this week’s post, it started as an explosion during the new year explosion series. You can still make out the center starting point and envision how it explodes. But, somewhere along the way it changed. It was not an easy change because I couldn’t see the next step clearly, but ultimately it started a new series. Here are the steps I took to complete it… many of these are the same steps I use in my corporate job and in my marriage. Interesting how things overlap.

1.) Step away.
When I don’t see the next step clearly, I’ve learned to take some time. Put things away, take a walk, come back to it later. I actually learned this in art school. Just give things time to simmer. Give yourself some space… mentally and physically. I put this drawing away several times.

2.) Do just one thing.
This is the life lesson I learned from Matt. Just do one thing… but do one thing consistently. After stepping away and looking at it later, sometimes I heard that voice tell me a color or a mark or a shadow. I would do just that one thing. Sometimes I would hear another instruction, but mostly it was just one thing at a time. So I followed that voice and the commitment to ‘one thing’.

3.) Turn it upside down.
Look at things from a different perspective. Bring in someone else to talk to and share ideas. Just do something from a different angle. Sometimes when you look at something too long, you can’t see beyond what you’re seeing right then. Change your perspective. Move to the side, walk around it, turn it upside down and see what happens then. Sometimes this worked right away, sometimes it took several days to adjust and let my brain see something different.

4.) Be willing.
My #1 life lesson. Be willing to change. Be willing to love. Be willing to accept something new. When this started changing from an explosion into something I couldn’t see. I almost tore it up and put it in the ‘failure box’ (More on that another time.). I kept at it because something just said to try, be willing to look at it differently. This is a lesson for life. Just be willing to see something different and to let it become something else. Be willing to let it evolve.

5.) Trust.
This is the main thing I’ve been learning again. Trust the process. Trust the marks I make. Trust this is happening. Trust myself. It’s coming again with each image, and this image is a big leap. Trust myself, trust the process, trust that it’s good enough. Trust that more will come.

I believe perfection is impossible, but I strive for excellence. When something is not turning into excellent, I want to walk away and not try. I’m learning. Be OK with things and stay with it. I stayed with this one, little by little, upside down, and trusted it even though it wasn’t my original definition of excellent.

I wish you the time, patience and willingness to learn some of these same things. These are not just art lessons, these are life lessons that I just applied to art. They helped me, I hope they help you.


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Mia

    On the topic of trust … I started a little experiment a year and a half ago that whenever I found myself facing a situation that I wanted to resist (e.g. run away from), I would ask myself, “What if this moment was perfect as it is?” My life has not been the same since. :-)

    1. Ellen

      Exactly! That’s a perfect way to describe the focus of those moments. Would love to hear more about that from your year. Thanks for coming to the site and posting.

  2. Bianca

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot today. There have been situations in my life where I just didn’t want to give up: to no avail. No matter what I tried, it seemed that the Universe was against me having that particular thing.. It wasn’t until much later when I found out there was a reason for that all along. When deciding to try a different avenue somewhere along the way it was the right thing to do.
    This life lesson has been accompanying me ever since: if confronted with setbacks, I try to listen closely and find out if it is only a setback or perhaps the Universe wants me to know there is more…

    1. Ellen

      Hi Bianca!
      After you listen… how do you know if it’s only a setback of if there is more? I’m curious how it works for you.

      For me, there’s the ‘gut voice’ that I hear. It’s taken time to filter that voice from the others, but it works every time. The trick, though, is having the courage to do what it says. I can hear it, but doing what it says is the magic. How about for you?

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