Recap, Regroup, Restart

Traci Turner_art_Hemorrhage_Distance

“Distance”, oil on canvas. By Traci L. Turner

Coming to the end of another year, it’s about that time again for reflection. I hope it has been an eventful and productive year, Creatives. Personally it’s been the best year yet in my own art-life. I had my first solo show, set up my artist website (finally!), sold some original work and prints, and I’m closing the year with an art schedule set up for the first half of 2015 already. For the most part I’ve been able to fulfill goals I projected at the beginning of 2014. How about you?

If some of your goals weren’t met, it’s ok! I didn’t hit all of mine either, and some of those goals were stupid-easy so I had no real excuse for dropping the ball. All that means is that we now have a jumping-off point for 2015. These types of lists and aspirations are on-going, so cut yourself some slack if some of your goals didn’t get the attention that you meant to give them. To help get you back on track, here are three steps that I hope will motivate you as we close out 2014 and enter 2015 with renewed energy.

Recap
This is the stage of reflection. Take an objective look at what you’ve done in the previous months. What did your creative life look like this year? What goals did you reach? What worked? What didn’t work, and most importantly, why? Asking yourself these questions (and being honest!) should help set the framework for the next step. I understand the inclination to want to maybe bash yourself for being inactive, or compare yourself to others who have more going on, but don’t. It’s not productive and it’s discouraging. Acknowledge where you fell short, yes, but try not to get stuck in it. The flipside is that you should also be looking for the times when you excelled. Overall, the point is to reassess and make necessary adjustments moving forward. That brings us to the next step.

Regroup
Now that you’ve reviewed the year you’ve had, it’s time to regroup. This is a planning stage. This should also be considered a resting stage. Yeah, take a bit of a break from life.

“But Traci, how can I be productive if I’m taking a break?”

Hush, because planning and chillin’ out IS productive as long as you’re intentional about your time and set a time limit. Setting a limit is important because deadlines push us. Maybe you can commit to 2 days to get your head back on straight. Or maybe you only have time for about 2 hours to yourself. Whatever time you can force yourself to spare, do it and make it count! You have to use this time wisely or you will fail yourself before you can start the final step. In the regroup stage, you should be taking the information from your recap of the year and using it to help loosely plan out your goals for next year. I say “loosely” because it’s more realistic. Nothing is permanent and you have to allow yourself some wiggle room for your goals and timelines or else you risk stressing yourself out and losing motivation. From the goals you were able to meet this year, extract what you did to reach them and plan to reinforce those good habits to meet new goals. The goals you didn’t meet should be high priorities for next year, unless other things prove to be more pertinent. Recall the habits that hindered you then resolve to avoid those pitfalls as best as you can. I suggest doing this during a planned period of downtime so that you can truly focus on this stage. The end of the year is usually a great time to do it because most people are already in a mindset of reflection and will be able to have some time off because of the holidays. And personally, I think having that kind of break to rest and visit loved ones, or being on your own, will allow you to return to everyday life refreshed and more prepared for what’s ahead. So once you have some goals in mind, have a good idea of what has worked for you this year, and are more refreshed, you are set up for a better position to do the final step.

Restart
The execution stage. Here is where everything comes together and plans can start to be put into action. The beginning of a new year is a prime time to build the momentum you’ll need to accomplish whatever you’d like to do. At this point so much looks possible, right? If you’ve done the work appropriately in the planning stage, you will already have a personal roadmap and a forward-thinking mindset by the time you are ready for this step. So follow it! Ride the flow of that renewed and refreshed energy you’ve taken the time to store up and finish off your tasks one by one. Just like with an exercise regimen, once you start to see results and make progress you will have more incentive to keep it up. But the trick is to just DO it – that’s it! Any little bit that you can do is way better than nothing.

That sums up my suggestions for figuring out your creative goals for the coming year, but I would love to hear any tips that you have to share in the comment section. Let’s keep this conversation going! What are your thoughts? If you end up trying out these tips, come back and let me know how it went!