i use the phrase “doing the work that matters” a lot in these letters. i realize that i should probably clarify what the hell i’m talking about.
so i’ve decided to write a 3 part series around the concept of “doing the work that matters”
How I define “work that matters”
Why it’s so hard to do this work
The only thing that has helped me to prioritize this work and actually make progress, aka the advice i would give my younger self as i struggled to build my art practice over the past 10 years
this is part 1 of the series.
A bouquet of brooms in Brooklyn
i define “the work that matters” as the work you feel called to do. it’s the work that might feel scary, but lights you up inside.
the work that sometimes doesn’t even feel like work.
it may or may not make you any money. it might be impractical or weird. it may or may not be considered “creative” in the traditional sense.
it can be small and simple or big and complex. it might be raising kiddos, baking sourdough bread, starting a blog about a niche interest, or recording your family history.
you might be thinking, i don’t have anything like this. i don’t have work that i feel called to do.
and to that i say—you’re not alone. and the good news is that being able to succinctly explain your most important work is not a prerequisite for getting started.
the only prerequisite is that you remain curious and that you admit that you care.
(i do recommend working through The Artist’s Way as a starting point. i’ve done it twice and it has been so transformational.)
in the next part of this series i’ll write about blocks, or why it is so hard to do this work that matters most.
note: you might be thinking, why don’t you just call it passion instead of work that matters?
the truth is i think the word passion is a little overloaded—the traditional “find your passion” advice hasn’t ever resonated with me.
i also want to make it clear that the work that matters, even though it is important, is still work. it takes effort to make art and write these newsletters and edit videos. it is the effort that makes it rewarding.
work has gotten a bad rap in recent years. but i believe most people want to work, they just don't want to do soul-sucking meaningless work for little pay. doing the work that matters is a way to get in touch with the part of yourself that yearns to be useful and helpful.
i'll be back next week to talk about why it's so hard to do the work that matters, the work that we feel called to do.