The creator or the critic

The best way to change anything is to do something about it. The advice is mostly obvious, yet how often do we find ourselves complaining or wishing for things without taking action?

We want to make more money but find ourselves paralyzed at the thought of doing more work. We want to be more creative but regularly stick with routine or fail to surround ourselves with anything inspiring. We want to turn our hobbies into more fulfilling careers but never dedicate enough time to turning them into our livelihood.

There’s a great way of thinking about this stuff I’ve tried to keep in mind through my own life: if something is important enough, you’ll make time for it.

Generating new ideas, working on side projects, becoming a better creator, writing, meditator, or artist, all require time investments. If you can’t find a book out there you think is worth reading, you should write one that is. If you’re not finding the type of inspiring work in the world you feel you need most, create it. If you’re not happy with your work, start taking steps toward doing different work.

These things aren’t going to happen through wishful thinking or complaining on the Internet. And there isn’t a shortcut to these things happening either, no matter how many self-help books are out there with titles like: “The Secret to Being More Creative Overnight.” If we want these things to occur in our lives, the only shortcut is knowing there is no shortcut.

Dedicating just a few brief moments of our time to the things we want changed can make a tremendous difference. Just five minutes can go a long way.

Five minutes is enough time to strengthen or break apart our assumptions about the work itself. It’s enough time to plan the next series of five minutes in the future. It’s enough time to reach out for help, to gather the necessary tools, or create a formula for how to get from the world of today to the one you’re imagining. Small steps toward big impact. That’s how things happen in the real world.

But nothing happens if you don’t first start. Nothing happens if all you do is send a tweet or rant to a friend.

Of course the critic needs no more time than a minute to construct their argument. The creator often needs all the time in the world just to get an idea put onto the page. One exists in the past while the other presses toward the future, shaping it to fit her vision.

Here’s the thing: if you’re not one, you’re the other. There is no in-between.

You either spend your time wishing you had more time to change things, or you spend it doing whatever you can to make change.