Welcome to the Unfinished Interviews! Each month in 2015 I'll be chatting with a new maker/do-er/creative type who knows a thing or two about unfinished and finished projects alike. I'm excited to kick off this series with inspiring creative coach, Tiffany Han! You can read the entire series of interviews here and all about my monthly projects here.
Tell me a little about yourself and the work you do with creative women.
The official answer: I am a business coach who helps highly-creative women take bold, inspired action.
What I really do: For some women, this means that I help them start and get something launched. For others, it’s about re-designing their existing business so that it becomes something that they love.
The work that I do is always about setting boundaries, getting clear on what you really want for yourself AND what you really want to say, and finally playing a bigger game.
Based on your coaching experience, what are the reasons you see well-meaning people abandon projects?
Fear and a lack of resonance are the two biggest reasons. Over-commitment is also a huge problem.
Fear—the things are big, so we tend to focus on the easier tasks with known outcomes first. I’ve been talking about writing a book proposal for years now, but it’s hard. Instead, I focus on the things that feel easy, the ones that I already know how to do.
Lack of Resonance—sometimes, we have good intentions, but when we get into a project, we just aren’t feeling it anymore. This is usually a case when it’s okay to walk away instead of powering through. It’s like reading a book that you just aren’t into. You can simply put it down and find another book to read. It’s as simple as that, but we tend to put pressure on ourselves to finish.
Is unfinished work always a bad thing?
No, but unfinished work that people can’t move on from is almost always a burden. So many people come to me for help with productivity and procrastination without seeing that they just need to let certain things go. (see above: lack of resonance) We all tend to have projects floating in the ether and if they are unfinished and unresolved, they just become stress.
What is your strategy for helping others sort out what’s worth finishing from everything else—and resolving the potential guilt that might result?
I like to have people start with figuring out the long-term vision of what they want from their lives. How do you want to feel when you wake up in the morning 5 years from now? By recognizing what they want and focusing on their values (rather than specifics), you can use this information to inform decisions.
Also, it’s important to be able to differentiate between fear and lack of resonance. If you’re dragging your feet on something, is it because fear is involved or are you simply over it? Being able to discern this can help make huge progress with letting things go so that you can make space for the new things that you really do want.
Are there specific habits you see in friends, family, clients, and colleagues that lend themselves to better “finish power”?
Boundaries with other people AND social media. Creative commitment, creative habits, and the ability to do the work without waiting for inspiration to hit.
There comes a point, usually towards the middle of a creative project where you have to keep working and powering through even with no end in sight. This is the point that most people give up on themselves. People I’ve seen be successful with creative endeavors are the ones who are able to keep taking those steps forward. No matter what.
On the flip side, these people are also the ones who are very deliberate about what they take on. They don’t have a million projects happening at a time. They have one or two that they’re able to focus on.
Human beings are hard on themselves when it comes to their shortcomings. What advice do you share with people to overcome what’s holding them back and stay motivated, especially when it involves finishing something?
Again, I like to bring it back to vision. If you know how something fits into the bigger puzzle of your life, it’s easier to stay inspired and focused especially when you hit the middle of a project (the part I like to call the slog.)Also, I like to remind people that wanting to give up and doubt are both parts of everyone’s creative process, even though it feels very isolating. We are all the same.
How about your own personal projects? Are you pretty good at finishing things up or do you let things lurk for longer than they should? Any plans to finish a lingering project in 2015?
Both! I’m constantly trying to refine my own creative process and keep moving. I let a lot of little things go in 2014 and I’m excited to start the year off with room for finishing. I’m hoping to get my book proposal done this month so that I can start pitching it to agents soon. Wish me luck!
Tiffany Han is a business coach who helps highly-creative women take bold, inspired action in their businesses...and their lives. She's been called a Professional Yoda and helps her clients—ranging from bloggers, illustrators, and graphic designers to cubicle jailbirds who are tired of putting their creative dreams on hold—raise their hands and say yes: to those things they've always wanted to start, to those ideas that feel crazy, and to themselves. You can find her at her website, The Tiffany Han, and listen to her podcast Raise Your Hand. Say Yes. available via iTunes and Stitcher.