Planning the workday like a hike

When my friends and I plan a hike, we always look for routes with a particular highlight at the end. That can be a great lookout, an abandoned castle ruin, a waterfall, or a restaurant. That is our goal, our reward, and our motivation.

This concept can be applied to the workday. Whenever I have a highlight of the day in mind that I am particularly looking forward to, I work in a more structured way, faster, and am less distracted. That could be my son’s gym class, a soccer game with friends, or a movie trip. Setting a definite highlight is an ideal motivation and productivity booster. Without a daily goal, the workday can quickly drift uncontrollably into the late hours.

8 things I learned through writing and blogging consistently

  1. I am feeling good A new habit of writing enriches my daily routine and, therefore, my life.
  2. Consistency is key I knew from the beginning that it wasn’t primarily the quality of the writing that mattered. I also learned that it’s not about quantity. It’s all about consistency.
  3. I am turning my back on resistance Daily writing becomes an unconscious automatism. The fear and resistance to getting to work disappear more and more with each blog post.
  4. Done is better than perfect Now I understand what Seth Godin means when he says, “good enough to ship.”
  5. Itt’s a great way to meet great people After a while, you have a swarm of content that will inevitably attract the attention of mind-liked people over time.
  6. Repetition is part of it – It’s ok to write about a topic over and over again. It’s never the same. The subject might not have changed, but my experiences, perspective, opinion, and thoughts about it might have.
  7. I am proving professionalism Writing about my work consistently demonstrates additional skills and attitudes to audiences and potential clients. It conveys credibility, curiosity, courage to make a statement, and adherence to deadlines, which builds trust.
  8. It’s all about me at first Please check this post for further information.

Pride in creativity is often actually fear of criticism

“I’m really proud of how this illustration worked out.” I heard this phrase often from my fellow students when they had to present their latest work or designs to the professor and the class. It is a strange feeling to hear this phrase myself, ten years later, from students before I look at their work.

The sentence expresses pure self-protection. In reality, behind it lie the words, “Please don’t be too harsh with your criticism.” Especially as beginners, we identify particularly strongly with our work. I can relate to that. That is only natural. I remember the feeling when one of my drawings turned out particularly well. I would look at it days later and ask myself, “How did you do that?“

But over time, we realize that this attitude makes it difficult for us to grow. We start to understand that we’re not the star of the show. Our work is. The ego seeks validation, which inhibits creativity and productivity. Improving and optimizing it is all that matters.

Praise and recognition may feel good when we receive them, but we gain more if we seek constructive criticism. It makes a huge difference in our attitude whether we hope for positive feedback or specifically ask right away what we could have done better about our work.

No one will give us time to inhale. We have to take it

We are all expected to keep climbing in many parts of life. Our society is built on growth. Businesses strive for a higher profit than last year. A soccer team strives for a higher ranking in the coming season than last season.

Each and every one of us also usually strive for more, be it a higher salary, a bigger apartment, or a better cell phone. Lowering our newfound standards is perceived as a step backward, or perhaps even a failure – by others and ourselves. It’s hard to feel comfortable again in a second-hand Nissan Sunny when we’ve driven a Mercedes for years.

But to move forward, we need time for ourselves. To think, to reflect, to survey. We need solitude and tranquility to be able to learn from our mistakes and realign ourselves. Only then will we come back stronger. We sometimes have to take a few steps back to take a run-up.

One thing is sure. No one will voluntarily give us this time—neither our society, Netflix, or Instagram. We have to take it.

To serve and help, we first need a good sense of selfishness

By writing down my experiences of more than twenty years in the creative industry and freelancing, I hope that you, who are reading this blog, will find some valuable information.

Maybe you’ll resonate with some of my thoughts, which will encourage or motivate you. Maybe you will find a shared tip helpful and try to apply it to your life. Or maybe you contradict me sometimes, which helps you develop and strengthen your own opinion on the subject.

However, I must confess that helping you is not my primary goal. When I started, I thought it was. But it can’t be. If you were my reason for writing, what would I do if you stopped listening to me one day? Without you, I would lose my purpose for writing.

No, my drive is selfish by nature. Through writing, I try to organize my thoughts and, in doing so, learn more about myself and the subject at hand. Writing gives me structure and helps me verify that my thoughts are indeed the thoughts I think they are. Writing is meant solely for me.

What is meant for you, though, is publishing my writing on my blog. Otherwise, I might write it all in a notebook and close it. The hope and desire to possibly help you through this is enormous. Even though I can only control this to a certain extent, the slightest hope to help you with my experiences is reason enough to try.

So, the drive to write may be self-centered. But it is a healthy egoism. Because only through freedom, impartiality, and independence from you do I have a chance to inspire you. I just have to be aware that I can never expect that. I can only hope and keep going.

Blogging: The advantage of delayed posting

Three weeks after I decided to start this blog daily, I signed up for the online publishing platform Medium. I began publishing writings here daily as well.

The difference until today, however, is that the texts I publish on Medium have already existed for three weeks. They are the same as on my blog—just delayed.

Because of this delay, I immediately noticed a positive side effect. I read the old texts with a fresh perspective. Mistakes, too complicated phrases, and inconsistencies immediately jumped out at me.

I have kept this rhythm until today. The temporal distance is good for writing. It allows me to optimize the texts without much effort. Who knows where else we might use this strategy?

If it leaves us cold, let’s quit

When we were at school, we read books, learned different subjects such as math or languages, and did the sports we had to do. School education is a foundation. It’s where we first learn about our strengths and interests.

But when we graduate from school, a new chapter opens. Perhaps it is the most important in our life because now we begin to set the course for our future. It is crucial to be active, take up the reins, be curious, and break old habits, which open up unimagined paths full of adventure. To conquer these, we just must not stand still but keep moving.

The school conditions us to deal with things that do not touch or interest us, however helpful they may be in our lives. From now on, it’s 100% about us. We don’t read what we’re supposed to. We read what we want. We still continue to learn every day, but we focus on what excites us. We occupy ourselves with the things that are important to us, that make us happy, and that gives us a sense of purpose. We try out everything and remain open to the unexpected. And above all, we find the courage to stop doing things if they don’t enrich our lives. A conscious no gives us the most valuable currency we have— time.

In school, I was used to reading books to the end. This compulsion has been hard-wired into me for a long time. Today, if I start a book and realize after a while that the content doesn’t excite me or is irrelevant, I abandon it. That doesn’t mean it’s poorly written or can’t be of value to other people. For me, it’s not enriching, and that’s ok. The fact that I could decide this for myself without consequence felt unusual at the beginning and took a little while.

The same goes for movies, events, video games, and sports. When we feel something isn’t touching us, let’s break it off and look for the things that won’t let us go instead.

We are nothing special. And that’s great

We all have our own experiences, world views, principles, priorities, dislikes, and moral ideas. Each of us has unique talents, loves different things, and likes or dislikes doing something. Sometimes we do it better, sometimes worse.

This complexity can make us feel unique and special, which may cause some to feel good or bad. Perhaps it makes us feel especially valuable or even elevated to others. But maybe we also feel like we don’t belong anywhere, precisely because we are so different. We feel like outsiders who don’t fit the norm, which can be agonizing.

But the more we open up and the more people we get to know, the more we realize that we are not alone with our idiosyncrasies. We learn that there is no reason to feel shame or haughtiness about being the person we are.

We understand that the world and life are full of connections. People with the same interests do not find each other by chance. They are attracted to each other. They read the same books, attend the same events, comment on the same YouTube videos, and follow each other on social networks.

Perhaps this realization helps us accept who we are and find the courage to put this into the world so we can learn from each other and meet like-minded people.

A simple hack to do more of what you love

Let’s make the tools we need more accessible. Do we want to draw or write more? Let’s put a sketch or notebook in our back pocket. Do we want to jog more? Let’s put our running shoes by the front door. Do we want to read more? Let’s put it on our nightstand.

If we have to search for the tools first, we’ll quickly lose motivation. The trick is to keep our future self away from as much resistance as possible. Going home after work to pack the gym bag requires a lot of self-discipline and motivation. After all, the couch and the remote are already in sight. However, if we prepare the bag already in the morning and put it in the trunk, the way to the gym will already be easier later.

Every dream job is packed with little nightmares

We usually refer to earning a living doing what we love most as a dream job. Waking up every day and can’t wait to get started is what we all want. But let’s not delude ourselves. No dream job comes without nightmares.

The dream of owning your own restaurant means taking a loan, seeing your family rarely, dealing with the health department, looking for capable employees, etc.

Being a film producer means being responsible for dozens of people. It means keeping a cool head when the lead actor gets sick on the day of the shoot, the requisites don’t arrive in time for the shoot, or the director doesn’t act on the schedule.

Being an illustrator means years of practicing, experimenting, working alone, enduring frustration over one’s own inadequate skills, acquiring clients, and tough price negotiations.

Even ultimate dreams of being, i.e., a professional soccer player, means that other people make decisions about them. A professional soccer player must be ready to pack his bags at any time, separate his children from his new friends, and move to another city, another country, or even a foreign continent. A professional must be aware that a severe injury can mean the end of his career and a financial downgrade.

When we decide to go for our dream job, it is essential to know that, deep dark days with stomach aches and headaches are inevitable. We are prepared for this, so we don’t turn back when facing the first headwind. We must be honest with ourselves. Are we willing to put up with the downsides of our dream job? If love and passion are such that we can answer yes to this question, then there is no stopping us. If the answer is no, great. We were honest and can now leave this illusion behind and continue our search for our calling.

Writing for ourselves. Blogging in the hope of helping others

Daily writing, whether about our activities, our jobs, our lessons learned, our experiences, our setbacks, our successes, or just how our day has been, is first and foremost for ourselves. For some, writing down thoughts and feelings can be an outlet or a way to express themselves creatively. For others, it helps create order and structure in their minds.

The moment we share this with the world, we have no expectations. We don’t wait for likes, comments, and feedback. We have already received the reward of the written words while writing. Now we can only hope that other people can benefit from it as well. We can’t do more, and we can’t expect more.

Don’t believe what I’m writing 

I write this blog for two reasons. Writing helps me organize my thoughts. It is an attempt to make them more tangible to me. Formulating forces me to focus on the essentials, which allows me to fill in gaps and identify contradictions. In short, afterward, I realize whether what I have been thinking corresponds to my reality.

On the other hand, I have gained much experience in the creative industry over the last 20 years. Starting with an internship at a small advertising agency, then an apprenticeship and a degree, and ending with many years of freelance work as an illustrator.

Both reasons are equally important to me. It is a pleasure if the reader can use and take away something from my experiences for his or her own journey. After all, I know from my own life how much people can positively impact others.

But they are and remain my very subjective experiences and views. If I write in a post about how I think it’s helpful in the home office not to work in jogging clothes or pajamas for various reasons, that’s entirely my view. It is my experience. It cannot and should not necessarily be taken as law. Some people would vehemently disagree with me on the jogging pants question. And that is perfectly okay. Everyone eventually finds their own methods and makes their own experiences. There is no right or wrong sometimes. I avoid formulations like “you must” and “you shall” when writing. No one can know what works best for the other. That is up to each of us.

However, sharing your own experiences can have a positive effect, especially on young people. It can motivate, encourage, warn, and provide clarity. That’s why I do not expect it, but I am happy if you gain something of value for your path in my texts.

Bye bye – taking a break till June 27

Hey guys,

At the beginning of March, I decided to write a thought about creativity, freelancing, and illustration every working day and publish it here.

More than three months later, a nice vacation is just around the corner. For a long time, I thought about posting here daily during this time as well. I will not do it and observe if it is easy for me or maybe even good for me to take a break.

I thank you for your visits up here. See you in ten days.

Ciao ciao
Sergio

We believe the expert

“The life you live is equally or more important for longevity.”

Alexander Imich

This is a nice and positive saying. Nevertheless, it might sound a bit trite, and you think you’ve read it dozens of times on calendars or postcards. Maybe a young fitness coach also mentioned this sentence during his lecture on healthy eating.

The words come from Alexander Imich, who in 2014 became the world’s oldest living man. He was 111. With this information, the phrase “The life you live is equally or more important for longevity” suddenly impacts us. After all, it comes from someone who has achieved something extraordinary that only a few do.

At work, we often say, “Success proves her right.” If someone is successful in his doing, it usually makes us more willing to listen to the person very carefully.

Let’s become observers of our feelings to find our calling

By consciously paying attention to how we feel in different situations and moments, we get to know ourselves better.

A simple example is movies when we go out of the cinema and afterward talk with our friends about how bad the movie was? In the next step, we can try to find out why exactly we feel that way. Was the story perhaps too predictable? Were the dialogues too unrealistic or the characters unsympathetic?

Now we ask ourselves what we would have done differently? Can we think of any ideas on how the story could have been more exciting? How would Tarantino have written the dialogue? What exactly was missing from the main character so we could have empathized with her better?

We can apply this inner analysis to almost everything in life. We usually remember one or two works in particular when we visit an exhibition. Maybe it will stick with us for the rest of our lives. Let’s not just take this experience for granted. Let’s find out the reason. Is it the colors, the idea, the material, the motif? What precisely in this particular work is the essence of our attention? The answer to this question is a piece of the puzzle to our vocation, style, and inner voice, making us unique.

I have always liked the color combinations of black, white with red, for example, like the movie posters for Scarface with Al Pacino or the covers of Sin City comics. They have stuck to me since childhood. In retrospect, it was inevitable that my Mindshots series would consist of this color combination.