When You Keep Moving the Goalposts

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Every Sunday, I share a quick post to help you bring some intentional creativity into your week — usually something that I’m soaking up from the world around me. These 2-minute bites of inspiration are a place to tune in & take some space for you and your creative practice.

You can use these posts as journalling prompts, reflections, or even just tiny meditations to chew on throughout the week. I’ll offer my take in a couple notes, too.

This week, I’m thinking about delightful practice (and IG reel!) from Marina Gross-Hoy, a Museum candidate currently working on her PhD.

Early on in her academic work, Marina made a deal with herself:

For every day she spends working on her PhD, she gets to go outside, visit with nature, and pick a rock to honour her progress. Super simple: Do the work. Get a rock.

Nice, right?

But here’s what caught my attention, because it’s so indicative of how we often change the goalposts on ourselves about our creative projects. Recently, she shared that, on this particularly rough work day, she felt that a rock wasn’t called for. Instead, she only deserved a pinecone, saying, “I don’t deserve something as solid as a rock!”

Oof. We’ve all been there, right?

We show up. We do the work. We put ourselves out there in whatever way feels doable that day, and try to recognize that perfection or world domination isn’t actually possible.

In other words, we do our best — whatever that looks like at the time.

And yet — it can still feel like it’s not enough. Because we see the big picture of what we’re trying to do or create, the small, daily steps seem to lose meaning. But they are the only meaning we really get to work with.

My take?

The phrase “go big or go home” permeates our culture, with big, bold moves touted as the way to show that you’re “truly” invested in your goals and dreams. But if we’re more invested in the long game, we get to not only take a quieter, gentler approach to our creativity — but also the one that offers the most self compassion along the way, which further fuels our creative practice. I will always opt for ‘go softly’ over ‘go big’.

Thankfully, Marina gives herself the check we so often need to hear, reminding herself of her deal. Did she promise to show up and be a genius every day? Nah.

She just promised herself she’d do some PhD work.

Do the work. Get the rock. 

And that commitment to ourselves matters.

As we move into a fresh week, it’s worth examining your own constraints. As Marina says, “What pinecones do you need to turn into rocks today?”

I’d expand upon that to ask you — where are you downplaying what you’re already doing? Where are you moving the goalposts of when you’re allowed to feel good about the steps you’re taking?

When is it actually enough for you to be proud of what you’re doing — in all of its beautiful ebbs and flows? Where do you need to honour yourself?

It’s a thought I’ll be taking into the week with me.

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