78: Kristen Fagan on the Downside of Perfectionism, the Power of Play, and Following Your Intuition
Kristen Fagan has always been a creator. Even when she was young, she would create coloring book drawings for her younger family members to color in. That creative mindset helped her get a degree and a job doing graphic design.
After a few years working in design, her interest in art was reignited. Her job allowed her to work on her art while also working in design, which fueled her interest in paintings and drawing. Her passion for art grew so much that it even led to creating her own painting workshops.
In this episode, Kristen talks about letting go of your perfectionism, the power of play, and following your intuition.
Here are three things you can learn from Kristen:Let Go of Your Need to be Pefect
One thing that plagues many creatives is the idea of perfectionism. We spend all of our time worrying about making things just right, that we are petrified to make mistakes.
Kristen believes we need to stop worrying about making things perfect and just let go. "Just keep letting go. Just keep letting what happens, happen on the canvas. Paint dries. You can paint over it. You can always change the outcome... and that's the same in life. You can always change the outcome. You can always do something different. Try something different. And that is so much more empowering and so much more exciting to me than being perfect."
The way we let go of our perfectionism is by taking on the mindset of a beginner. Beginners aren't afraid to screw up. They go into things head on without the fear of doing something wrong.
When you are a beginner, things are exciting and new. You get to experience things for the first time. Instead of worrying about how everything that can go wrong, look at how exciting it can be.
"You have to be a beginner. You have to allow yourself to be a beginner. And by being a beginner, then all of these wonderful things happen. If you just came in and knew how to do something right away, there you go, it's done, what fun is in that? What did you really learn in that journey? What things did you take away in the end? Nothing. You just came in, created it, then you're done."
So stop creating unrealistic expectations for yourself. The harder the struggle, the more fulfilling and unexpected it will be.
"So I feel like it's within those struggles that the reward is even greater and you feel like you were really able to express yourself in a way you didn't even imagine because you didn't come in with any expectation of what you were gonna do. You just let it happen."The Power of Play
One of the things that prevents many people from being truly creative, is their unwillingness to let go of their inhibitions and just play. As children, we let our imaginations run wild. We embrace the impossible. That all changes when we begin to grow up.
Kristen believes we need to let go of these imaginary restrictions and learn to just play again.
"As we get older... the world becomes labeled more with this and that, and good and bad, and right and wrong. And it becomes really difficult to remember that childlike wonder, and I think play is where that really brings you back."
Kristen believes the symbolism of the paintbrush prevents many people from getting started. Instead of embracing the canvas, they are let the paintbrush and canvas intimidate them.
"You can almost finish an entire painting without picking up a paintbrush, and that kind of gets people out of that mind. It's like when they pick up that paintbrush they get really nervous."
When she removes the formality of the paintbrush people begin to let go.
"If you're just playing with bubble wrap or you're playing with tissue paper or all of these random items, you don't really know what that outcome is, so you can kind of let go of it a little bit more."
Once people figure this out, it becomes much easier to play. Instead of worrying about making the wrong choices, her students are able to embrace their choices. When they learn to trust their own intuition, it leads to some amazing results.
"You just figure things out... As you go, as you play, you just start to figure things out on the canvas. And I think in the long run, you start to build a... trust of yourself because you're not worried about 'Oh, I'm gonna make the wrong choice.' You go 'I'm just gonna make this choice and I'm gonna do it. If I don't like it, I can paint over it... And other times you go 'Wow, what did I just make? That's amazing.' And now you have this whole new feeling of trusting your intuition and that I can do this on my own. And you don't have to show me every step. I can just play and see where this leads."Let Your Intuition Guide You
Early in our creative careers it's easy to take every job that comes our way. We want to gain exposure and we want to open ourselves up to as many opportunities as possible.
But as we grow, and demand for our services grow, it becomes much harder to decide what we should work on. Kristen has solved this dilemma by relying on her intuition.
"You have to know what your mission is and not get too distracted. And I think the work on my intuition over the past two years with my painting practice has made it easier for me to feel like when something is right, or maybe something is a little bit off. And feeling a little nervous when you say yes to something is one thing, but if you feel sick... you should say no."
Listening to your intuition is easier said than done. Some opportunities sound good on the surface, but they might also drive us crazy. In the end, it all comes down to being in touch with yourself.
"It really comes back to working on your intuition and being in touch with yourself, however that means for you... and when other things arise, you can say 'Is this a feel good nervous yes or is this a uhh this sounds terrible,' And really be able to tap into that and listen to yourself."
It's all about listening to what your mind and body are telling you. And just like other skills you want to perfect, honing your intuition takes practice.
"When you're not practicing your intuition or you're not in touch with it, sometimes it's hard to tell. I think when you give yourself that space of self-care and all those things that allow you to make those choices when stuff comes up, because you can really listen to what it is your body is telling you."
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