You want to get better. You know you need to practice. You know it’s going to require hard work.
But you just can’t seem to find the time.
It feels like getting to practice hand lettering would be a luxury. Your life is busy! You have lots of things going on. It seems like you’re doing things non-stop all day and there’s barely even a chance to read this post, let alone actually practice.
But think about that for a moment. You’re making time to read this post. What’s going on here?
Obviously, I don’t want you to stop reading just yet (I want to help you!), but I want to draw attention to something:
You always have time for the things that are important to you.
If you don’t know what’s important to you, all you have to do is look at what you’re doing. The things you do on a daily basis are the things that are important to you. They’re the things you’ve said “yes” to.
Netflix every night is a thing you say “yes” to. Pinterest is a thing you say “yes” to. Going out with friends is a thing you say “yes” to.
Now of course there’s nothing wrong with any of these things. We all do them and they’re perfectly ok. But you’re only going to be able to get that time back for something else (like hand lettering) if you make some sacrifices.
You’ll Never “Find” the Time
The problem we face is that we’re too darn good at filling time. We’ll never find time for hand lettering because we fill time automatically. It’s a habit.
Don’t believe me?
When was the last time someone asked you to do something and you looked at your calendar and had nothing scheduled and you still said no? Most of us fill time automatically without even thinking.
What are you doing in a day? If you wrote everything out, are you doing the things you want to be doing? What could you give up or replace with hand lettering?
We look up to artists and musicians and wish we had their skills, but are we willing to put in the time? They sacrificed.
You’ve Got to Start Saying No
The only way to create time is to start saying “no.” You’ve got to say “no” way more than you say “yes.”
Saying “yes” fills time. Saying “no” makes time.
What are you willing to say “no” to? What are you willing to give up so you can make time for something you want to get better at?
Saying “no” is rarely fun. Often, you feel like a jerk saying “no” (and you certainly don’t want to feel like a jerk.).
But remember that people will always their own agenda for you. They’re always going to ask you for things. Saying “no” might disappoint them for a short while, but very soon they’re going to forget about it and move on to asking the next person.
People are always going to have their own priorities for your life.
The reality is you’re going to disappoint someone no matter what you do.
Do you want to disappoint those people or do you want to disappoint the future version of yourself?
Create Margin & Leave Some Space
You know those times where you have a weekend where absolutely nothing is planned? Those are the best!
Or how about where a friend calls you and says they’re sorry, but they have to cancel and suddenly you have three hours free?
I love it when that happens.
That’s margin. Margin is the gaps in your schedule. The times where you don’t have anything scheduled. It feels good.
A lot of people think margin is a luxury. But margin is a necessity!
Margin decreases stress. Margin gives you clarity and a new perspective and helps you plan out future projects.
When you have margin, you have the ability to act on spur-of-the-moment inspiration. Imagine being able to immediately execute on an idea you just got because you have the availability to do it.
Schedule Your Practice Time
Scheduling is the most important thing. If your practice time is not on your calendar, you can’t be surprised when you don’t have time. You don’t have time because you didn’t make it!
The reason you got better at sports is because you had practice every Tuesday and Thursday. There was no question of whether you were going to show up. If you didn’t, you were off the team!
The reason you got better at music was because you practiced every day (or at least you were supposed to). I don’t know about you, but I used to try to cram in my piano practicing until right before I saw the teacher for my lesson. Somehow she knew. She always knew.
You need to create a similar situation for yourself when it comes to hand lettering.
There has to be no question about it.
You’re going to practice because it’s on your calendar. You’re going to spend an hour at 8pm because you have a recurring reminder set.
Something else you can do is get an accountability partner. This is essentially a buddy you practice with. It’s kind of like agreeing to go to the gym with someone. If you don’t show up, it makes you look bad. Your reputation is on the line!
Reach out to a friend and make a pact. Every night at 8pm (or just pick a time), swap photos of your practice session. No matter how much you got done, no matter how much you hate your work and the fact that all you see are flaws. You’re going to let them know anyway because you made a commitment.
Create An Incentive
Ok, so we’re in the middle of a 30-day hand lettering blog post series. Every day, I send you a new email. You’ve made it to the bottom, so obviously you’re enjoying them!
What if you allowed yourself to only read these email after you put in a practice session? Even if it was just 20–30 minutes.
“Are you really saying you don’t want me to read your stuff until I’ve practiced, Sean?”
Well, yes! I mean, it’s an idea anyway. I want to help you with these posts (and trust me, we’ve got some really great stuff coming up), but the last thing I want is for them to be a distraction from what matters—and that’s the practicing.
Personally, I make a challenge for myself to finish my writing or whatever project I’m working on before I watch Casey Neistat’s vlog. Those of you who watch it know what I’m talking about. It’s addicting!
Whatever it is for you, find something you do regularly that you enjoy and use it as a reward for yourself for once you’ve done your practice.