Financial stability (aka - the practical side of living) appeals to me mainly because it can assist with carving out more time for creativity, reading, writing, and music.
I want to do my favorite solo activities without compromising time with my family and friends.
Simplistic me thought the answer to this dilemma was more money.
As a result, I worked hard on expanding my definition of creativity to include basic math.
Money = Time
I dived down the personal finance rabbit hole.
Recently, however, I thought about my basic wants again.
Reading. Writing. Music.
I can give myself most of these things right now… for free. Money isn’t what has been in my way. It’s more complicated (or maybe more simple) than that.
Switching On and Off Voices (Literally)
A few years back, I went on a mission to find financial writers who tackle the intersection between creative living and financial responsibility. I found quite a few of them.
While not a die-hard business person, I constantly listen to entrepreneurial podcasts and read blogs on a variety of lifestyle topics that often get woven into this blog.
I also work in cycles where I listen to history podcasts and seek out moving stories about creative people. (I think I’m moving into one of those cycles now.)
Either way, I’m procrastinating. I haven’t been indulging in my own creativity because I’m leaning too heavily on the “input" part of my process. As a consequence, the more difficult tasks in the "output" part are lacking (or being avoided).
Before I switch to focusing on the hard parts of artistic creativity (booking shows, recording, etc.), I have a couple of takeaways about personal finance from the past year.
Flexible Thinking is a Survival Skill
The biggest lesson I have learned about my journey with creativity and money is the power of flexibility. Staying flexible on your life path is invaluable.
I went back to college at 26 after having a wild ride in my early 20s. I was very hard on myself about supposedly being behind and not having an exact life plan. Now I realize rigidity in thinking held me back more than any fictional timeline designed by the world.
For music, in particular, it’s a career with an expiration date for the majority of people. (A lot of people are selling how to get into the biz but not a lot of people are selling how to get out of it.)
At some point, it dawned on me I never wanted to tour with a two-year-old or stay up late, and I’m not really comfortable on a stage. I like to write songs, but I don’t like the lifestyle requirements of being a musician.
Quitting is Hard
We all desire to be consistent. There’s a lot of old energy trying to make you stick with your own status quo even when you realize it doesn’t fit you.
My husband once mentioned the only thing that kept him going with his old band was a feeling of shame - a resistance to giving any amount of satisfaction to the people who wanted to see it fail.
Obviously, this approach of being driven to prove people wrong is a kind of a soul-destroying way to live. (I’m happy for him that he knows himself better now, prioritizes what he enjoys, and changes when he wants no matter who is watching.) Perks of aging!
Fear Still Finds Me as an Adult
For any artistic or free-styling person afraid to invest in themselves, I think examining a scarcity complex is necessary. There’s a torturous dichotomy between wanting security, wanting freedom, and thinking those two things can ever exist together peacefully.
This is especially true when the nature of your work is to move from project to project while relying on your own mind and a changing economy. (Sometimes it’s healthier to create a baseline to draw from with a day job that you love.)
Even as an adult with a steady job, I have a fear of putting myself out there creatively. (I thought I would go on the internet with some strangers and not care what anyone thought of my writing. Not true! I couldn’t pull that off!)
Now I’ve realized most of my fear stems from caring a lot about what I do (and what I create), and caring about my impact on other people.
I also have a fear of being spread too thin as someone with a variety of interests. As a result, my message may be lost and have zero impact. Yet another fear!
The Fears Keep Coming!
Then there’s this new fear of putting money into myself and my business (even when I know I have some quality ideas). As a result, I’ve become frozen with my approach to recording music. (I procrastinate by writing blog posts - ha!)
Basically, right now I’m "trying" to draw up a budget for recording 30 songs.
I’ve never struggled with this before. I used to dump a couple of thousand dollars into an album and watch it come right back to me.
Somehow, as a mom with the prospect of needing to save for my child’s college, it seems selfish to spend money on something like a blog or an album in order to have no guaranteed return.
I show up at my blog each day to fight this feeling and remember my passions make sense. It’s responsible to invest in myself and a well-thought-out life that includes some exciting variability.
Scarcity: A Blurred Relative Reality?
I’ve never made enough to save as much as I want to, let alone spend money on myself free of guilt. I guess my current definition of worldly success is maxing out every tax-advantaged account available (2 HSAs, a 403b, 2 Roths, 529 - am I missing any)? Well, I’m nowhere close to doing that. So I maintain a gigantic pull towards side-hustles, both for the emotional rewards and the potential to build a confidence-inducing side-business.
Maxing out our tax-advantaged accounts is a boring goal. It doesn’t really motivate me to make more money when I’m not very driven by money in the first place.
I think a lot of people can probably relate to this. (I’d be more motivated to earn more for a vacation or something - not maxing out the HSAs).
This leads me to wondering if extreme frugality is just a healthier form of self-punishment and self-deprivation for some people wired like me. I will never have enough to buy myself a treat here and there if I don’t rewire some things in my head first.
I Have Enough
Creative living is probably fueled by financial security, but for most people, life-long financial security isn’t an option. And people are still finding ways to be creative.
In fact, there are some gutsy people creating great solutions and great art while having only a dollar to start with.
Furthermore, numerous creative people throughout history battled incessant poverty. For example, I just finished reading about Margaret Fuller. Her life story will slam your soul.
My basic needs are met. I’m in an affluent country. I’m extremely grateful to have running water, food to offer my son, safe places to walk, and school systems where children are given an education.
I know enough to start. I have enough to start. It took a while to realize, but my internal creative struggles have little to do with basic math.
Thanks for tuning into this off the cuff journal-style entry.
What keeps you from creative projects? Do you have clever ways you procrastinate?
DISCLAIMER: AS ALWAYS, IF YOU NEED PSYCHOLOGICAL OR FINANCIAL ADVICE PLEASE SEEK A PROFESSIONAL FOR YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION.