It can be ridiculously hard to get your mind in line sometimes. Whether you know there are tons of things that need doing, or you have ideas buzzing around in your brain; getting things organised enough to actually accomplish your goals can be a bigger challenge than the goals themselves. It’s a no win situation if you’re being stifled by your own creativity and drive. The thing that becomes clear very quickly is that it really doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you just do something.
That might sound like dumb logic, but come on, how are you ever going to accomplish what you want if you’re static. Being glued to the sofa is very unlikely to get you anywhere, I mean unless you’re attempting to beat Suresh Joachim’s TV watching world record, but even then, you would still be doing something. You might not know exactly what you want to do, but some great advice I recently heard on a Casey Neistat vlog was not to waste too much time pondering, just make a decision. Whatever decision you make will be the right decision because you will make it right.
That’s the point, make decisions, take opportunities, say yes to the things around you. The more weighed down you are by everything the less you will achieve. For example: writer’s block. You know you want to write something, and you know roughly where you want it to go, but you just can’t start it. No matter how many words you write and rewrite, it just doesn’t work. Don’t stare at a blank screen or page for hours, do something instead. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something, and you will make whatever you do the right decision. That means even your decision to go for a pint with mates will end up being beneficial. No pressure, but you will make it right.
I’m trying to put this into action constantly at the moment. Design work is not dissimilar from writing. You can create something over and over again and it just won’t be right, until you’re left staring at a blank screen for hours wondering when you should just give up and give Netflix your full undivided attention instead. I’m currently working on shirt designs for the Exit Left Apparel relaunch and they have been killing me. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer this to the vast majority of jobs I have done in the past, one hundred percent, but when you have stared at that blank screen for too long you begin to plateau. It becomes more and more difficult to try again, so you stop, you become static; that’s what has happened to me over the last few days at least.
However, today I put my own advice into full effect. I turned off the screen, took a long shower, went outside, and ventured into the countryside. Without a doubt I couldn’t see exactly how this would turn out to be the right decision, but as soon as I was away from people and cars I knew it was the right call. It wasn’t until the sun was setting and I looked out over rural hills that I realised just how right the decision was. I had flipped the bird to static ‘designer’s block’ and done something. It made me realise why I started this business in the first place; liberation. Exit Left started as a way to create something true to what I wanted, and something different to what anyone else was creating. It grew quickly into something other people identified with, and anyone who didn’t quite understand the brand didn’t have to, they didn’t matter.
When I watched that sunset I felt a momentary wave of freedom all over again, and in all honesty that feeling is addictive. Instead of attempting to create things that fit someone else’s ideas I’m going to try and stay true to the ideals from when ELA had barely even begun. In 2011 I wrote that ELA was an alliance between the brand and its customers, and that while the journey wasn’t mapped out we would see where it took us. 5 years have passed, and now seems like the perfect time to get everything moving again.