pay yourself first

April 10, 2013 |  Category:   life nyc






It was 82 degrees today.


And in that way that Spring sneaks up suddenly and then passes over entirely, we were in sandals and short sleeves. The trees that were bare just a few days ago had magnolia blossoms and the tiniest green buds that opened into leaves overnight.
I left the house early this morning, joining the early morning rush hour commuters into Manhattan after dropping the kids off to school and didn’t come back until after the kids got home. After a photoshoot for a client, I walked around Soho and had lunch with a friend out on a restaurant patio. I even wore a dress. I think I’m starting to emerge from the (self-imposed) confinement of winter, and now with a bit a time before my next project starts, I’m making plans and seeing friends.
I had a realization after talking with a few people recently and finally came to a bit of clarity on what I feel has been missing from my life. I’m missing art. Not the kind of creativity reserved for client work or even stuff that I’m creating for the business, but art for myself. This is surprising for a number of reasons, but mostly because I haven’t felt any desire to create art in a really long time. When I started giving it more thought, I questioned whether I ever made art for myself outside of maybe my childhood, despite the fact that I’ve been creative one way or another my whole life. There was always some sort of agenda or end goal – a school grade, a teacher’s critique, an art scholarship, or a client approval. I think taking up photography again in recent years was a step towards doing something creative just for the joy and exploration, but I haven’t pushed it far enough. I don’t know if I’m ready to bust out the paints or anything yet, but it’s time to do something.
I always latched onto this concept of paying yourself first when it comes to finances and saving. It’s guided the way I approach money and this philosophy has served us well over the years. I realized the other day that time can be as valuable a commodity as money and there’s no reason not to approach it the same way. So I’m challenging myself to pay myself first; instead of becoming frustrated with the lack of time to pursue my own projects, I’m going to pay myself in time each day, even if all I can manage to squeeze some days is 30 minutes. Let’s see what happens.

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  • Lara April 10, 2013 at 3:37 am

    I love it! I’m behind you 100%!

  • rebecca April 10, 2013 at 9:05 am

    this is so so so very important! taking time for yourself! & art is so very important as well. This april i am working on creating more art (for myself) as an act of working through the grief of my mother’s unexpected passing in November (she had ALS). & it has furthered my lifelong belief (ever so much so) that art does/can/will lead to healing AND what children need more of in school, is not armed guards but simply, Art(in all it forms). Children need to be in touch with the very foundation of their souls so they can love more deeply, be more HUMAN (especially in a time where is seems okay to brag about atrocious crimes on social media). Anyway, I have gotten in the habit of doing a quick sketch here and there on my silly notebook I carry around (I pretend it is my planner so folks don’t ask questions), it is nice to squeeze in that time for myself, amongst a very, very busy life. It helps my mind relax and un-plug. It is my “creative meditation”. xxoo

    • Jenna April 10, 2013 at 9:17 am

      I’m sorry to hear about your mom, but happy to hear that you have been working through the grief through creating. It’s affirming to hear this. All the best!

  • Kathleen April 10, 2013 at 9:10 am

    I’ve been feeling the need to really create lately too. I didn’t realize how much my blog was my art until I wasn’t able to spend as much time there. I’m currently reading The Artist’s Way. It’s a little woo-woo but totally inspiring and motivating me to be disciplined enough to create for myself.

    • Jenna April 12, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      I’m going to have to check out that book. Thanks Kathleen.

  • Sarah April 10, 2013 at 9:23 am

    I think it’s probably more important to pay ourselves with the gift of time than anything else. The older I get, the more valuable it is to me…it just goes by so fast. I don’t want to ever get to the point where I think back and wish I had done something but didn’t. I started a photography class this spring and never really realized how creative I am! I’m having a ball and so glad I take the time and found the time for it.
    I say go for it!

  • Lakshmi April 10, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Today is the Lunar New Year, celebrated across India. Cannot think of a better way to kick start a year… Good luck, Jenna.

  • Katie April 10, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Spring dresses, patio lunches, paying yourself first – with time. Great post! (as always.)

  • sylvï April 10, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    i’m paying myself an evening of listening to the doors and feeling 16 again… 😉
    i can relate to this and i should do the same. i keep on waiting for ‘the right time’ even though the only time is now.

  • Renita April 10, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    I agree with Katie .. spring dresses …

    • Jenna April 12, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      Pretty! But I’ve never worn a maxi dress. I feel like I’m wearing a nightgown??

  • Juhae April 10, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Looking forward to hearing how it goes! Or not…if you choose to keep it a little bit of a treasure for yourself…either way, this is inspiring ~

  • Jill April 10, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    You know I support this 1000000% — and then some. I may not be very eloquent at actually saying this aloud, but I fundamentally believe that if you fully throw yourself into an artistic endeavor without ulterior motives that the payoff will always be worth it even if it’s in the form of a lesson learned. The dividends may not be financial, but feelings of fulfillment, time well spent, creative renewal, and satisfaction are just as valuable.

    I think the hardest thing for me sometimes is to just let go of those ulterior motives and trust in myself and my work. The ulterior motives can be so counterproductive to the act of getting out there and CREATING something (is this good enough? is this marketable? is this a good representation of me? are all excuses I use ALL THE TIME).

    It’s so easy to play my own devil’s advocate. So much harder to have faith in myself. I can’t wait to see what you create this year, Jenna!

    • Jenna April 10, 2013 at 4:39 pm

      such pressure, Jill!

      • Jill April 10, 2013 at 4:48 pm

        pressure? or accountability?? 😉

  • Jessica H. April 11, 2013 at 2:01 am

    “I had a realization after talking with a few people recently and finally came to a bit of clarity on what I feel has been missing from my life. I’m missing art.” It’s one of the best forms of therapy, especially for creative minds. I make art when I feel like something is missing from my life.

  • mau April 11, 2013 at 10:31 am

    I’ve been feeling the exact same way lately. I was getting very frustrated until I realised that I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t writing (which is my creative outlet), meeting any friends or even wearing makeup. Until I realised that unless I started ‘paying myself first’, I would never be able to take care of those around me. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Lani April 11, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Hooray for you! That’s a lesson some of us don’t learn until we retire (if then) so I’m happy for you!

  • Lauren April 12, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Just in case you don’t hear this enough: Thank you for your writing. While you are working out your personal paths, by letting us read it, digest it, and confront some of the same issues that we may ignore, it makes this space wonderful.

    • Jenna April 12, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      Thanks Lauren for the lovely comment!

  • Amy April 12, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I needed to read this post today, so thank you. Such an important lesson!

  • bronwyn April 12, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I never thought paying myself in time – be it first or last. Interesting. Much of my day is structured – getting the kid to school, work, dinner, homework, bed – but i could probably manage to get up a little early and dedicate that time to myself. I give myself my lunch hour daily, but it’s really just some quiet time to keep me sane, not productive time for personal projects. And cheers to patio lunches with friends! I go in waves of getting out with friends and hermitting at home. Always feels good to get out.