Happy New Year, everyone!
I had a real whirlwind of a year in 2015. I toured San Francisco visiting Design Studio, IDEO, Facebook, Pixar (PIXAR!) and other creative companies with my amazing Special Edition course-mates, spent a weekend in Paris at IT'S ART's first Masterclass - getting portfolio reviews from Marc Simonetti AND Raphael Lacoste, holy crap - and visited New York with my parents to celebrate my 30th birthday. I crammed in a lot of time with friends, hit 45kg on the bench press, and finally nailed my surf pop-up. I didn't manage to fit in everything I wanted to do, so I spent a lot of time in December thinking about what I wanted to make happen in 2016, and how I was going to do it.
When I took part in Special Edition, one of the best lessons I learned was the importance of setting SMART goals - Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-Bound. Ok, the acronym varies a little depending on who you ask, but you get the idea. I set too many goals for last year and the year before and flumped a lot of them, so this year I'm focusing on Realistic, and keeping the list small. I'm also not plotting all the way to December yet. Once I've hit these milestones, I'll add a few more.
1. More Personal Art
I know I'm not alone in this one. Work in a studio all day making art for someone else, it's tough to find the mental energy to focus on my own art at the end of the day. I find when I do sit down to paint something just for me, I feel the need to really really make this time count and produce something spectacular. I panic over which idea to work on next, obsess over tiny details, and thoroughly kill any spark of productivity or creativity I might have worked up by putting too much pressure on myself.
Since "Do more personal art" is too vague in itself, I'm setting myself the goal of finishing five personal paintings from my current work-in-progress or idea list by the end of May 2016. They can be total crap - as long as I finish five. I have three already chosen that are in various stages of completion from almost done to halfway there, so I've got a good head start.
I've also just got to accept that if I don't schedule time for personal art, it won't happen. I'll get distracted by housework, procrastinate on the internet or just turn into a puddle of Don't Wanna on the sofa after the gym. But I'm not bad at making a habit of something as long as it has a proper home in my daily routine. So "Make Art Time" has its own place on the calendar now.
2. Start My Day Earlier
I love my snooze button and I have a flexible work schedule. These two things are not greate as a combination. I have always had trouble waking up in the morning, and it's not because I stay up incredibly late. I'm not a night-owl - I just really like sleep! There's something about being snuggled under a warm duvet on a cold Scottish morning (i.e. most of them) that turns my brain to mush and makes me not care about the day slipping away. But I sure care about it when I'm still in the office later than I'd like, going to the gym and cooking dinner afterwards, and then trying to focus on doing something productive (like accomplishing Goal 1) when I've already got one eye on the clock, hoping I'll be able to switch my brain off at bedtime.
Changing my sleep patterns is pretty much all about practice and blatant bribery. I have soothing music for my alarm, and fancy coffee waiting for me when I wake up. I get a tick in a box for every morning I get up when I'm supposed to, and a wishlist of shiny things I get to treat myself to when I hit a certain number. Yes, I basically give myself gold stars on a chart. Shut up. Also - confession of a sceptic here - I've been trying a meditation app (Headspace, in case anyone is curious) to help clear my head before sleep. It's not a cure-all for a racing mind, stress or worries, but ten minutes with the app does a good job of helping me transition from work mode to rest mode.
This morning I actually got my butt out of bed early enough to go swimming AND get to work earlier than normal and somehow did not feel crashed-out-useless by lunchtime. Bribery and gold stars. They work.
3. More Blog Updates
I'm setting myself the challenge of updating this blog every two weeks for the next three months. I'm always full of ideas for posts and topics I'd like to share, but by the time I get around to writing them down, the original inspiration has gone and I've forgotten most of what I wanted to talk about (You can sense a pattern in my personal goals here, can't you? This is why I want to make more time in my day). Plus, this goal means I'll be extra motivated to make progress on my personal art - so I'll definitely have something to post about!
4. Run a 10km Race on May 22nd
I spend a lot of time sitting on my butt in front of the computer, so staying active and fit is really important to me. If I don't get that balance and regularly do something challenging to burn off energy, I feel like a slug. A very mentally restless slug with cabin fever. I started running on the weekends last year when I couldn't go surfing (I need that outdoor fix) and now I can comfortably(ish) run 5km, I wanted a new challenge. So I've signed up for a Race For Life 10k run in May, set a training plan, indulged in some new running shoes and I'm doing this! Bonus point: I should be resitting my surf rescue & lifesaving qualification around June, and I'd like to do better on the fitness side of that than I did the first time.
It might seem mad to set a big fitness goal at the same time as I'm trying to carve out time for personal work and writing, but as I said, staying active makes me feel better in general. Running and surfing give my mind time to rest & recharge while I just focus on moving my arms and legs (and at this time of year? On staying warm). Then I'm very grateful to be able to curl up with a blanket and my Wacom while I give my poor body a rest!
If you're looking to set your own plans in motion for this year, Lauren Panepinto recently posted two great articles on goal-setting over in Muddy Colours.
What does everyone else have planned for 2016?