30 lessons from art / business / life (01)

a list of things I learned from my first six months of being a full time artist-business-human being. (well, all at the same time.)

  1. Uncertainty and instability was always part of the agreement. What if, instead of resisting it, it could be a peaceful state of being?

  2. Continual discernment is key — to productivity, but also to way-finding in general.

  3. The journey is about continual way-finding. It’s not like you find a way and then you’re done. Way-finding must happen everyday.

  4. If the work feels like a drag, you're doing it wrong.

  5. Always pay attention to both long term and short term priorities. The long term will not bring instantaneous results, and that’s okay. Adjust expectations accordingly.

  6. Build reliable routines. Build reliable routines. Build reliable routines.

  7. Consistency is the key to success.

  8. If something is important and a bit uncomfortable, keep doing it until it's a habit; until it feels effortless.

  9. Reframe hard things so that it's enjoyable for you. The for you part is key. (For instance: networking, marketing, sharing your work, self promotion in general.)

  10. Always follow and trust creative urges - even if it doesn't make sense to you in the moment. It will.

  11. Develop a keen sense of what you love. Be devoted to the art of finding great and small loves, of nurturing old loves, and kindling new ones.

  12. Don't listen to advice from anyone who hasn't done what you are doing before, even if they love you.

  13. Always trust yourself first. If you don't trust yourself, ask yourself why. Work on yourself until you do.

  14. Try to focus only on the present task, and maybe the next important thing. Shine the flashlight 3 feet in front of you, instead of trying to have the journey all charted out. See #1-3.

  15. You are enough, and you have enough. Work to believe that and it will feel true.

  16. Count your gifts everyday - both the light and darknesses.

  17. Tackle hard things first, big rocks first. Learning to prioritize is key. Otherwise, everything will feel like a big rock when really they’re just pebbles.

  18. Learn to let go of self sabotaging emotions: fear, doubt, shame, guilt. They are only in your way.

  19. Everything happens in cycles: flow —> resistance —> stuckness —> renewal Embrace the cyclical nature of everything

  20. The best state of creation is un-self-conscious creation.

  21. When deciding which of your money-making seeds to put effort in, first focus on the one which could grow the biggest with the least maintenance effort.

  22. Embrace the fact that there is no one like you, no touch like yours. Embrace your own magic touch.

  23. Impress yourself first. Do all that you can to make yourself proud. You are your hardest critic. Make work that helps you fall in love with yourself — that is the magic key, NOT trying to impress others. Paradoxically, it works because that's what makes your work its absolute best.

  24. Be hesitant to make concrete plans beyond a single day - unless you KNOW that it'll feel good to you. For example, resist the urge to make grand schemes of what you want to do for the next week.

  25. Compare your present self only to your past self, not to anyone else, nor to your future self.

  26. Instead of planning and controlling what to do for an entire project's length, let your fingers / body / intuition guide you. It's like sex. You can work on it, but trust that what comes naturally will come.

  27. Be unapologetically yourself in your work. Infuse as much of YOU into the work as possible. It won't be for everyone, but the ones that do stay and listen will be absolutely entranced. It’s better to have a few true fans than a room of half-hearted listeners.

  28. Be precise around your expectations around money & time. As in which things you expect to bring you money, and on what scale of time. Expectations can be both a burden and a driving force. Pay attention to which one it is.

  29. Keep your weekly to-do list to less than 3 things, and your daily to-do list to no more than one thing. This is what works.

  30. Seek to find a continual balance in everything: work / rest, home / city, analog / digital, long term / short term. If you work for twelve hours one day, expect to rest the next day. If you go to the city one day, stay home the next. This is how you can keep yourself from getting restless.

my intention for the next season is the word  surrender , which I define as to live with lightness, no resistance to what wants to flow

my intention for the next season is the word surrender, which I define as to live with lightness, no resistance to what wants to flow


JourneyKening Zhu