Abraham Lincoln is famously quoted as saying, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” He knew from experience that having a sharp ax makes all the difference when it comes to downing a tree. This sounds so obvious that we might wonder why this is even a quotable quote to begin with. I mean…duh…of COURSE it’s easier to chop down a tree with a sharp ax! That’s just common sense.
But here’s the rub—common sense is not the same thing as common practice.
How often to we force ourselves to keep working on a solution long after our “creative ax” is dull from over use? Somewhere in our little pea brains we think that if we just try harder, the answer will come. And sometimes we’re right. An acceptable answer does come. But at what cost?
By the grace of God, creativity is a renewable resource. It’s not a finite substance like fossil fuel, which, once used up, is gone. Creativity is more like an African Violet (one of my mom’s favorite plants). If consistently cared for and nurtured, it will bloom again and again.
But it must be nurtured.
There are endless ways to build renewal into our daily lives. In her book The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron suggests three simple tools:
- Morning pages: In longhand, write three stream-of-consciousness pages every morning about whatever comes up.
- Artist dates: Once a week, go on a festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you.
- Walks: Take a 20-minute walk at least twice weekly—without your dog or your phone.
Do you notice a thread of consistency running through those three tools? They all take planning. None of them will take place by accident. Renewal is like that. If we want to make our unique, creative contributions over the long haul, we have to BE the kind of person who will beRENEWED! on purpose. For many of us, that will require change.
Our path to experiencing continual renewal begins with asking a simple, but hard question. Am I ready for change?
For more on beRENEWED! check out my book Burnout Sucks!