Stick to Your Creative Goals

It’s not who you “stick it to,” it’s sticking to it, no matter what “it” is, that is essential for you to achieve your goals. Perseverance for the win. Here’s the plan:

by Nicole Dieker

The next time you worry that everything you want to do creatively has already been done by someone else, or feel anxious about the amount of time it will take for you to become as good at your creative work as you’d like to be, tell yourself that you’re on a bus. In Helsinki, Finland. And the most important thing you can do for your career is not get off the bus too soon.

The Helsinki Bus Station Theory was initially presented by photographer Arno Minkkinen in a 2004 graduation speech; journalist and author Oliver Burkeman sums it up at The Guardian:

There are two dozen platforms [at the Helsinki Bus Station], Minkkinen explains, from each of which several different bus lines depart. Thereafter, for a kilometre or more, all the lines leaving from any one platform take the same route out of the city, making identical stops.

These bus lines are roughly analogous to creative careers, in the sense that anyone beginning to pursue a creative path will often find themselves arriving at “stations” that other creative artists have reached before them. Early creative work is often derivative, whether or not we intend it to be, and some people may get frustrated by the idea that everything they want to do creatively has already been done by someone else.

Not only is the bus stopping at well-frequented stations, but it’s also still pretty full. With all that competition for seats and nowhere to go but places other artists have already been, why stay on the bus?

Because if you ride the creative bus long enough—as the metaphor goes—it takes you somewhere unique….

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