I have a clean sheet of paper and a sharpened pencil. Or… perhaps that’s too old school, so I have also opened a new note on my iPhone and my fingers are poised over the keyboard. Either way, it’s time to reflect on the past year and set a few goals for 2019. I know the experts say putting too much stock in the classic commitments can actually amplify disappointment rather than generate hope. So, let’s steer away from: losing weight, flossing regularly, and drinking more water. Instead, I want a bigger picture to keep in my mind’s eye. Let’s think about what will help make us more creative and inspired. We put together our Top Seven ideas for amping up enthusiasm and imagination… and joy. What are you planning?
Set big, but still achievable goals.
Nothing puts you on a path to discouragement faster than a few early stumbles. If your goals are too lofty, you can set yourself up for failure before you’re even out of the 2019 starting gate. Be realistic. Don’t lower the bar all the way down to the ground just to have something to check off your list; there should be some effort involved. But don’t make yourself crazy with by going in with a goal you know is unreachable. “Finish every UFO in my sewing room” is probably a bit grandiose. “Prioritize my UFOs and make a hit-list of which to finish when” just might make you feel like a creative winner.
Check in on those goals on a regular basis.
Just saying you’ll do something is one thing. The triumph is in the follow-through. Most goals can’t be achieved with one wave of a magic wand. They require continuous effort and gradual improvement. Studies show it usually takes a full 30 days to change a habit. Make a pragmatic plan. Write messages on your 2019 calendar to remind you of milestones you’re hoping to meet. These milestones should include both inputs (what efforts am I making?) and outputs (what results am I seeing?). Take a moment each month (or more frequently) and jot down everything you’ve accomplished during that time period. Slip that note into a jar. At the end of 2019, you’ll be amazed at everything you achieved!
Make time to learn new things.
Explore. Wonder. Question. One of the best ways to bust open a new creative pathway is to try something without knowing what to expect… perhaps something that’s always scared you. In the world of sewing, fear might have kept you away from (cue the offstage screams) zippers, buttonholes, three-dimensional objects or learning to thread a serger! Staying in the “safe zone” may mean fewer mistakes, but it also means fewer ah-ha moments, and fewer times you feel the exhilaration of tackling a challenge. Stepping away from the but-I’ve-always-done-it-that-way methods and getting fresh inspiration from the wider world is invigorating.
Remember what you want – not what you don’t want.
One of the most interesting reports we’ve read recently was about how creative people speak – to themselves as well as those around them. There are words that occur in their conversations on a regular basis, and researchers believe these words are a window into how creative people think and why they are the ones who consistently come up with the big ideas. Think creatively, be creative. The five words are: Why? (constantly learning), Yes! (moving forward rather than standing still), And... (looking to include not exclude), Can! (believing in themselves and others), and Try! (see 1,2,3 and 4 above).
Surround yourself with your favorite positive people.
One of the catch phrases of 2018 was how we all need to “find our tribe.” It’s a little cheesy, but the recommendation is a solid one. Creativity feeds on itself. When you surround yourself with others who share your passion, you can literally feel and see the ideas burning more brightly. Join a club; take a class. Do you have a neighborhood that loves community events? Put a new spin to the “progressive dinner” and launch a “progressive craft night.” As creatives, we can become isolated as we focus on our passions. It’s important to come up for air and see what the rest of the world is up to.
Go “digital free” at least one day every month (every week would be even better).
We are in a handmade universe, so perhaps we step away from our devices more regularly than others. And, yes, we do see the humor in a website suggesting you go digital free, however, we also believe in it. There is wonderful online content out there to be discovered, but it pales in comparison to spending time making something with your own two hands and conversing with someone face-to-face, eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart.
Share skills – share the love.
Give back and you are the one who receives. By reaching out to others, you energize your own creativity and refine your ideas. When you share and teach others, it can expose an idea or technique that might be in need of improvement; perhaps there’s a different way of looking at something that opens up both teacher and student to new things. We can learn so much from one another if we follow two simple rules: 1) don’t be afraid to share, and 2) don’t forget to listen.