Motivation, simple steps to consistently move forward

Motivation, find your why


My motivation journey

The back story to understanding my motivation or finding my why.

I’ve been struggling with my motivation for many years, I was actively making make work but my consistency was lacking and the meaning behind it changed quickly. I couldn’t figure out why I kept changing direction until I watched this TED talk from Simon Sinek. Hello! I didn’t have a clear direction because I didn’t know where my motivation came from. Simon’s video really resonated with me and since watching that and reading his book I’ve been trying to articulate my why.

Finding your why is very useful to everyone, not just artists.

As an artist I have gotten very familiar with what I do but not why I do it. I felt like a lot of whys were being put on me by external sources. Artist’s need to figure out why, how and what they do to make their work otherwise there is no collective feel to their work. I’ve been missing this motivation and searching for it.

The internal voices holding me back

Growing up I reacted to my parents’ criticism by not feeling good enough. I created this drama cycle in my head where I struggled to make good decisions about my life because I didn’t trust myself. The feedback loop was “you can’t make a living being a creative person it’s not enough you’re not enough” I kept trying to give up art because I could see no future in it.

Cue sadness, I’ve never been diagnosed with depression so don’t feel comfortable making claims in that direction. However, I do suffer from anxiety and went through a very difficult time after having my son. Parenting is really hard. The number of times I ended up at the doctor in tears… well there were a lot. The advice was always the same, you need to rest but you can’t get it because you have a young child and not enough help. When western doctors tell you to practice mindfulness it can make you stand up and listen. I really appreciate not being given a magic pill but mindfulness is a long road. Worthwhile but really long.

Reality check

Well, some of this drama is real. It is very hard to make a living as a creative. What would have been more helpful as an internal dialogue would be something like? “You might have to work a job that is just a job while you pursue your art career and that’s ok. There is no shame in having a day job. Actually, it can take the pressure off your more important work”.

Getting in the right head space to find my why

Two books that have helped me get out of my slumps over the years.

The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte

Big magic by Elizabeth Gilbert 

I’ve worked away at this for years. Things really don’t happen overnight for me. The struggle is real. But now that I’m in a more positive headspace and trying to put a lot more mindfulness and self-care into my daily routines. What I realised is for me the thing about my art that thrills me when someone buys my work is the connection we share. The piece spoke to that person about what it depicted to them and me. The common threads that we all have that unite us.

I want my work to break my cycle and help others by sparking conversations about the connections between us myself and them, them and others. All of us and our relationship to the subject matter. It seems so obvious now but it’s been a really difficult idea to get down into words. So many of the conversations I have seem to be about things which divide us, I’d like my work to be able the things that connect us.

It’s all about connections

My current version of “my why” is on my about page

To encourage people to look closer at their surroundings so that, together, we see that more connects us than divides us 

It’s taken many many tries to get to this and I think I might have finally hit it on the head. I’m not 100% that I’ve written it perfectly so I might tweak it after sitting with it for a while. What I’m really happy with is that I might have figured out the why behind my why. Haha, it’s like going down a rabbit hole.

This is groundbreaking for me. I can now choose my subject matter with greater ease because for me to see the connection between myself and others in something is all I need. I also know now that things which have repetition but variations are easier to start these conversations. Sometimes we don’t see the connections until we see something a few times. So how I choose the subject for my drawings and art makes sense to me and how I make my art also ties into my why. What I choose to make also comes under this umbrella. It all aligns once you have your motivation.

It also makes it easier figuring out how to talk about my work and find people who are interested in it.

Tools for finding your motivation

A website I found useful for working out my why. Go check it out and follow the suggested steps.

How to Find Your Why and Communicate Your Purpose

Step one: look to your past and search out that connection between moments when everything felt really awesome. Write down the common threads

Step two: write down a “why” that is about other people. Use Simons template and then mix and match it to make it yours.

Step three: get into a positive head space to live and find your why. For me, this was an essential step and I when I started to write down my why statement I couldn’t really get there until my mind was in a better place.

Step four: revise your why until it feels just right. Don’t worry once you have your why the what and how just comes naturally.

That’s it, four steps to finding your motivation.

for me the thing about my art that thrills me when someone buys my work is the connection we share


Please let me know what your why statement ends up looking like.

Kind regards

Ngaio Blackwood