I am an all or nothing kind of guy when it comes to enjoying the things that inspire me to action. In many ways this is awesome, because, once I get going on an idea there are very few times when I find it hard to not attain at least a little bit of success in my pursuits. Just to give a few minor examples would be to point out some of the things that I have goofed off with in the last few, more recent years.
I operated an Etsy store designing and selling embroidery and screen print patches. I chased this venture for nearly two years, I think. Within that short time the store exploded with sales exceeding an average of 10 to 12 sales per day. I don’t remember exactly, but when I decided to step away from it, deleting the store, I think it had something like 10,000+ five star reviews. That’s pretty good for just being a hobby.
Before that, obviously… if you have read my bio, there was my music career in the mid-2000’s which went full time for 6 years nationally. It got to that level not because of skill or talent, but because of the “all or nothing” mentality that seems to burn within me.
Then there was the very short stent were I decided to start a podcast about the growing Cosmology Debates on social media and, especially Youtube. I didn’t expect it to grow very quickly, but… by marketing it to the right crowd it somehow managed to gain 100+ subscribers and over 150 listeners per episode before I deleted the podcast. This number may not seem like a lot, but the podcast was only live for a few months and I think I only did something like 5 or 6 episodes.
There was also the time I became an author, publishing a dozen or so books, some full length novels and other short novellas with various publishing companies. That pursuit grew very fast and was likely one of the ventures I spent the most time and effort on outside of touring. I managed to lock a contract with my favorite publisher at the time and even had my all-time favorite author of the time review one of my books. But, alas, I trashed that venture also, giving all of my published titles to a close friend who did most of the post editing for my work prior to publication.
And now, I have started up a home studio to record and publish music as a studio artist. And within the first 6 months of owning the studio gear I managed to release a three song EP with a record label out of Iowa.
So, here’s the thing… if I don’t have to try so hard to move forward successfully on something, why have I quit time and time again to do all of these things if they were being successful? And, if I am likely to quit something after it becomes bigger than my goals intended for them to be, why start something new to begin with?
Honestly, I feel like stepping away from each past pursuit is justified in its own right due to personal reasons (tour, being an author, the patches, the podcast, etc…).
But, this blog post isn’t about me justifying via excuse my reasons for quitting while being so called “ahead” of my goal expectations for each project.
This rant is more about being the type of person with the “all or nothing” mindset trying to cope with downtime in life. We all have seasons where things are busy and we are moving forward with goals. For some it might be building a career or creating a family. For others it might be launching and maintaining a podcast, youtube channel, or writing a book.
Right now, I find myself in this so called downtime phase in life where things are moving at a specific pace outside of my control. I am in my mid-30’s, leaning toward 40 and somehow, in some way, life has managed to make an adult out of me without my being aware. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just looking back, somehow it feels like it happened out of nowhere. I’m at a transition stage in life where I am not committed to any one creativity based project which frees me up to do anything. The possibilities are endless. While at the same time, the life transition of moving and starting a new job is keeping me from committing to anything as well.
So, if it’s all or nothing… right now, my mindset is leaving me in the nothing phase. I have literally had the last week and a half off from work, and yet I haven’t seized the opportunity by utilizing that time for creativity. I’ve just been stooping.
That is the conundrum of an all or nothing mindset. When you have set yourself to doing something, you get it done. But, when life forces you to slow down, a person with the “all or nothing” view, tends to just sit stagnant under those circumstances (now, I could be wrong. Which is why I am just speaking for myself here).
And thus, here I am feeling stagnant.
This isn’t to suggest that I am unhappy. That is far from true. I have just been doing a lot of internalizing lately and I have concluded two facts. One, I love the pursuit of pursuit itself. And two, I am entirely burnt out on the internet and the mass consumption of entertainment provided by mainstream society. It is corrupting our humanity to the core and creating distance, not only between varying cultures in local communities, but also within individual households as well.
This creates a problem… because, every venture that I have been successful with has been due to the fact that I am good at “online social networking”. I wouldn’t have become a full time touring singer-song writer without Myspace. I wouldn’t have become a successful author without Facebook. I wouldn’t have had a successful Etsy store without Instagram. The podcast wouldn’t have been successful had it not piggybacked off of my previous successes along with Youtube. And even now, my latest EP Ignorance is Woe got picked up by a record label because I operate a website, which in its own right is an online social media platform.
I am absolutely tired of the internet, but it is the internet that has allowed me the luxury of being semi-successful at my creative pursuits.
Couple this together with the stagnant position I am currently in due to a life transition taking place… and with being someone that is the “all or nothing” type in regard to pursuit, a slow season can tend to make you a little twitchy (for lack of a better term).
Obviously, once my family is moved and done with the relocation process, I will still continue to write and produce music in my home studio. But, I don’t know that the music venture will be my primary platform of creativity driven focus. Since I am in this stagnation stage, my prayer is that God will speak to me and show me what I should be doing rather than the usual… me just listening to my gut and doing what I want to be doing.
God has a purpose for my life. And right now, outside of providing for my family, I don’t know what that purpose is.
This is the issue of an “all or nothing” mindset.
We tend to not like the question; what next? And besides, as a Christian I know the primary focus with creativity should be to spread the gospel. But, as I look at the world, too many Christians have switched to strictly “online evangelism” (I can witness to you so long as I don’t have to interact with you). Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great tool and a great platform that I myself have benefited from as the listener.
However, this isn’t good. And I want to do something for Christ. But, how can I do that without settling into the internet as my outlet like so many other Christians have begun to do? There has got to be more to life than this.
And yet, that still leaves me with this… what next?