The anti-to-do list

Our first Creative Workout Group has wrapped up, and I am sad to see it end. (But I am excited for another round to start next week!)

We ended by coming up with alternatives to the dreaded to-do list, which included:

  • The trail map timeline: come up with a KEY for your project and mark the time-trail on the page (preferably with crayons)
  • The visual icon / talisman board: track your project through symbols and containers for relevant objects (hard to describe but highly inspiring)
  • Brian Eno’s oblique strategies: make a set of cards with the things you have to do, and draw one at random. I can’t tell you how much I LOVE this idea.
  • The don’t-do list (the jury is out on whether or not this would work): make a list of what you do not want to do, and don’t do it (or if you’re a born rebel, do it).

We also reflected on what we discovered together, including our academy of critics — not included on this list below is a late addition, and one of my personal favorites, the Iconoclast Curator (he is very concerned as to your status as an original thinker and whether or not you are HOT SHIT):

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…and our crack team of champions:

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Boasting practice (part 1)

In this week’s Creative Workout Group, we took all the work we’ve done identifying critics and champions, and used it to start developing material to boast about ourselves and our accomplishments.

This is surprisingly (or not surprisingly, I guess) hard to do, and everyone was nervous about it.

But we took it slow, and by the end we were cracking each other up and feeling inspired. It sounds paradoxical, but I think the key to learning to boast about yourself is:

  1. Not taking yourself too seriously.
  2. Focusing on where you’ve been and the hardships you’ve overcome (not just how good you have it now).
  3. Setting the stage with anything that helps you feel powerful, including props, shoes, a fabulous pantsuit or haircut (speaking of which, I LOVE this video I just came across from Lucky Bitch – and I say this as someone who spends zero effort and money on my hair), and most importantly, the right backing music.

So, in part one of an ongoing series about how to ease into boasting about yourself, I offer you some inspiration from the masters:

Nicki Minaj, “I’m the Best”

Muhammad Ali — man, I could watch videos of him all DAY:

See if this inspires you to talk about what you’ve overcome and what a badass you are.

And if you want to take that inspiration further, put on one of these backing tracks and get some practice!


By the way – if you’d like to join a Creative Workout Group, we have a new one starting on March 3! I’m also offering a free Creative Work Out Zone workshop the first Sunday of every month, starting March 1 — RSVP here.

Try this: Identify your champions

Last week in the Creative Workout Group, we put names to our critics — this week we went in the other direction, and identified our champions.

If you would like to identify some champions rattling around in your head, try this (and warning: don’t let your critic stop you! If he/she keeps getting in the way, get out a separate sheet of paper and write down whatever they say there, to be addressed later).

1) Get some things down on paper — don’t worry about answering all of these, use any that get the ideas flowing and skip the rest.

  • Write down anything positive that is running through your head about yourself right now.
  • Think back over the week until you hit on something that you feel proud of. What did you say to yourself when it happened? What did other people say to you about it?
  • List all the compliments paid to you this week.
  • What would you like people to say about you? What would you like to say about yourself?
  • Think about someone you saw this week who you admire. What did you admire about them? What did you say to them (out loud or in your mind)?
  • Fill in the blank:

I am at my best when I _____.

I have always been good at _____.

I really know how to _____.

I wish I could spend all my time _____.

___ is one of my greatest strengths.

2. Go down the list and for each phrase, jot down any associations that arise:

  • Can you hear someone saying it? Is it someone you know? Does it remind you of someone, real or fictional?
  • What does the person saying it look like?
  • What qualities does their voice have?
  • Do images or objects come to mind?

3. Write associations down on a new sheet of paper.

  • Take a look at them. Are there different camps or are they all a variation on the same thing?
  • Group them together or separate as needed.

4. Give each group a name and a catchphrase. 

  • As with the critics, this can be a descriptive alias, a random strong name, a job title or mark of authority, or it might be right there in your list of associations.
  • Give them a catchphrase — something that they say often, or that embodies their spirit or sums them up for you.
  • And now if you want to get really warm and fuzzy, write those names and catchphrases on a big sheet of paper in sparkly markers and give them a team name. The one our Creative Workout Group came up with for our collective champions yesterday was The Crack Team.

When I did this exercise for myself the other day, four different champions emerged. I’m calling them the Breakfast Club:

Gruff Teacher → “I’m proud of you.”
Excited Little Sister → “Wow, you’re doing this!” or “It’s WORKING!”
Calm Clear Girl → “You’re weird. I like you.”
Wild Freestyler → “I’m the Best!

 See what emerges in your champion world!


Want to delve deeper? Sign up for a session and we can work together one on one — the first one is free!