Let’s face it, it’s impossible to begin a new year without thinking about resolutions.
Okay, okay, I get it. You don’t like resolutions; you see them as a sign of impending failure and an early reminder of unreached goals. Or, maybe you don’t even consciously think of them as resolutions at all, maybe you like to go deep and think of them more as a yearly motivation lingering in the fabric of our culture.
Whatever your thoughts on resolutions, it is hard to deny that the new year brings with it an aura of starting fresh.
Personally, I have given up on New Year’s resolutions in a concrete form. Gone are my days of telling myself I’m only going to start working on losing ten pounds come January 1st, or learn a new instrument, or whatever this year’s cause may be. I know that, in reality, I’m only going to accomplish any of these resolutions when I’m good and mentally prepared, regardless of the calendar.
Because it’s not about the new year, it’s about the mindset.
So, with my mind fully in gear, there ain’t no time like the present to lay out a creative action plan. When I decided to write this piece, I first thought of it as a goal list for myself. I began to think about the things that are going to drive me to be more creative in 2018; both creativity in the workplace and creativity with personal projects. So what are the things that will excite me enough to get out of bed every morning and dare to try a new strategy or hone a new skill?
But then, it became clear to me that I didn’t want to just write something of this nature for myself, I wanted to make it into something that each and every one of my dear readers could use for themselves and accomplish their creative goals, whatever they may be. Because if you’re reading this, and you’re anything like me, you thrive on goals, and you like having a list or some kind of concrete reminder that won’t let your goals slip out of mind.
Don’t take this as a guide for what your goals should be, because only you know that. If you’re a photographer and want to set a goal of scheduling two photo shoots a week, that is up to you. If you’re a writer and dream of getting published in your favorite magazine, that is also up to you.
I can’t tell you how to define your goals, but I can help you accomplish them by boosting your creativity.
A Goal Reaching Guide For Creative People
Part 1: Reflect
Recognize past triumphs and failures
It’s impossible to begin looking at your creativity goals without looking at what you’ve already done for yourself.
Examine exactly what you have done in the past to get you where you are today. Write down your previous triumphs and failures, and try to pin down why they did or didn’t work for you, respectively.
For example, if you are a writer and you’ve gotten your work published in a major publication in the past, what did you do to get yourself that success? Did you hash out a writing schedule that you stuck to? Did you recognize that you are more clear-headed and focused during specific times of day or in certain environments? Conversely, what strategies have you tried that only slowed you down or made you feel apathetic towards your work?
Play to your strengths.
Clear the slate
I find that before I get to work on setting fresh goals and giving them my undivided attention, I have to clear out any lingering stressers or doubts that could potentially hold me back.
Answer those e-mails sitting in your inbox, finish projects that you’ve already begun or let go of the projects that you don’t feel particularly passionate about. If you’re owed money from completed projects, chase down the payments.
Do what you need to do in order to dig into your new goals 100%.
Part 2: Identify Intention
More than just picking some numbers out of a hat, really examine why you have picked the goals on which you intend to devote your energy.
What will you gain from accomplishing your goals? Do your goals have monetary value? Are you feeding a personal need to have a creative outlet or get yourself to the next level?
You will only succeed in accomplishing your goals if something motivates you to do so.
Part 3: Spark Creativity
There’s no point in creating goals and attempting to accomplish them if you just don’t feel inspired. Inspiration comes from all kinds of places, and tapping into your genius is different for everyone, but if you’re looking for a few ways to get a jump-start on your creative unconscious, try out the below:
Read, Read, and Read some more
In my humble opinion, there is nothing that works better for stretching your creative muscle and forming a world in your mind’s eye than reading a novel.
When reading, the words on the page are just a guide for what you envision. An author can tell you what a room looks like – purple walls with a bookcase along one wall and a chair in the corner. But only YOU will choose the shade of purple, YOU will choose which wall the bookcase will go along, and YOU alone will pick out what the chair looks like.
Reading is instant creativity.
Listen To Music
And do it while doing nothing else. Don’t put music on as background filler, or watch music videos telling you what you should see and feel. Put on an album, lay back, close your eyes, pay attention to the rhythm and words, and let the music guide you to feel and envision what comes naturally.
Meditation is one of my favorite ways I cure myself of any creative blocks I may be experiencing. Before meditating, I set an intention that will guide me through my meditation. Then, I go to meditation group, or put on a recorded guided meditation, and spend time just being.
If a thought comes into my head during this time, I don’t force it away, but I take note of it and let it go. Many of these thoughts come as excellent creative ideas that I have used to strengthen my skills and my business.
Spend Time In Nature
There is nothing like planting your feet in the grass, breathing in fresh air, and taking a walk amongst some trees to find balance and get thinking creatively. Much like meditation, spending time in the elements will allow you to declutter your thoughts and focus on what’s important.
Part 4: Create
The most important part about deciding to create something is getting your butt in the chair, or the paintbrush to the canvas, or… you get the picture. Once you get yourself in the physical position to do your creating, half your battle is over. Just do it.
Creativity over Perfection
If you’re anything like me, then you struggle with your work being made perfectly, and to the utmost best of your ability. I find that this strive for greatness tends to hold me back more than it thrusts me forward. Yes, it’s important to always put your best foot forward, but it’s even more important to create regardless of whether you feel it measures up to somebody else’s work, or heck, even work you’ve created before.
Some of the best pieces of art ever made were deemed flawed by their creators, but at the end of the day, it is those flaws that will make them stand out against competitors.
Calendarize Your Projects
If you’re anything like me, then you both hate deadlines and yet work best when they’re set. Don’t put yourself under so much pressure that you begin to resent your self-imposed time frames, but do promise yourself to meet realistic dates in which you’ll reach your goals.
Tell yourself you’ll write an article a week, or meditate every day, or schedule your social posts in advance on a specific day every week and, if you need to, write it in a weekly planner.
Part 5: Relax
Remember why you are creating. You’re putting your work out into the world, and even reading this article, because your work, your self, is worthy. The world will only grow and blossom and expand once you put your work out into it. Know this, keep the promises you’ve made to yourself, but don’t forget to relax.
Take a couple of days a week, or more or less, and create absolutely nothing. Forget about your work, even if it’s only for a little while, and enjoy any of the other things you know you love to do. Give your body and your mind a break, and you’ll thank yourself for it when it’s time to put your ass in that chair once again.