Ed’s note: This post was written by guest editor Tess Robinson of Smack Bang Designs.
Admit it, you’ve got goals the length of an awards night speech. Financial goals, career goals, lifestyle goals, hair goals, heck, you’ve even got #squadgoals. But what about creative goals? Those of us in creative fields might shove this into the ‘career’ section of our weekly planner, but what about those projects near and dear to our hearts, that exist outside the realms of a typical 9-to-5 churning through emails and scheduling EDMs? How can we possibly make time for imaginative, left-field, purely creative exploration amidst all the torrents of work, life and play that so frequently consume our lives?
Well, firstly, I’m no expert myself… yet. It’s a constant dilemma, deciding between sipping on a handsome glass of rosé come 5pm on a Friday or sitting down to nail a creative pursuit that’s been brewing. After a week of hard yakka, sometimes we just want to zone out rather than tune in to our bubbling and dormant creative spirit. So maybe it’s time for a taste of my own medicine when I offer up the following little pearls on how to prioritise the sort of work that actually makes your soul sing.
1. Baby steps
Want to know the best thing about having a goal? Achieving it and feeling utterly and completely chuffed. The best way to do this is to start with small, baby steps! When so many of us miss our goals, it’s because they might have been slightly out of reach; the stakes too high, the pressure too much. You aimed to be Tina Fey’s best friend by the time you turned 30, yet you never attempted contact nor wanted to give up your current adorable bestie in the process. Perhaps you were going to be a millionaire first year out of uni, but then you realised you still had a liiiiiiittle bit of growing up to do. Shift the goalposts a little, bend the rules, cut yourself some slack.
“This is meant to be fun, dang it. Light a candle, open the curtains, do a handstand, and get creative.”
Rather than always focusing on high-pressure goals (write a New York Times bestseller in the next month, paint a canvas that makes grown men cry…etc.), try starting with something smaller to get your creative juices flowing. Your first goal doesn’t have to be the completion of a huge project, rather it might just be setting time aside each week to brainstorm, mull and daydream. If you managed to do this for three consecutive weeks, goal ticked! These daydreams will inevitably lead to something a bit bigger, then a bit bigger, then a bit stagnant, then a lot bigger. You get the gist. Which brings us to the next step…
2. Get bigger
Now that you’re in the swing of things, up the ante. You’re now able to crawl and roll over (whoop!), so you’re probably ready to swap milk for solid food, and tackle a bigger creative project. It might be something you’ve had floating around in the back of your mind for years, it might be a new business idea, it might just be a lightbulb moment that you want to explore. Break it down and take a close look at all the little things you need to do to achieve this goal and set up a loose timeline. Remember to keep it realistic, keep it loose – the last thing you want to do is halt all creative energy because you’ve gone overboard on the planning. This is meant to be fun, dang it. Light a candle, open the curtains, do a handstand, and get creative.
3. Deadline diva
Step One: remember how good it felt to reach a goal, no matter how small? Nevermind how big the goal might seem, the same theories apply. Set yourself small deadlines or milestones along the way, breaking your project into bite-sized goals. Every time you hit a milestone, celebrate! Pop them bottles, call in a pizza, immerse yourself in a bubble bath. Keeping the experience positive will render the best results and keep your creative juices flowing as you continue to move towards incentives. And, if ever you don’t meet a milestone, don’t stress. Just have a look into why you missed it, move your mini-deadline and think about how good it’s going to feel when you do finally tick that box.
4. Breathing space
It got too hard, you got too tired, the party got too exciting on Snapchat and you just had to go to there immediately. All good! If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed or under inspired, just step away. Giving yourself the slack and grace for a breather will pay serious dividends once you clear your head and finish the movie with that chick and that dude on Netflix. Come back fresh, calm and ready to tackle whatever it is you’ve set yourself. It might even help to get some outside opinions, as this might help you to realise how far you’ve come and also give you motivation to keep on keepin’ on. Nothing like a friend to gawk and gush over how sensational your progress has been.
“Giving yourself the slack and grace for a breather will pay serious dividends once you clear your head and finish the movie with that chick and that dude on Netflix.”
A day will come when the goal that felt so far off and distant will finally be staring you in the face, and winking, we like to think. Take the time to acknowledge your achievement and celebrate a little (or a lot, go crazy). If it’s your project you’ve conquered, you deserve to enjoy the feeling of standing on top of it. If it’s the work of a team you manage, they deserve to hear and feel your admiration and gratitude for all the work put in to completing a project. When we don’t take time to reflect and celebrate on the wins, we tend to find ourselves lacking in thankfulness and constantly spinning the pedals towards accomplishing something that won’t receive the appropriate amount of bubbles and lobster it warrants! While you were in the process of achieving this goal or project, there’s no doubt the task gave birth to more incredible, creative ideas that you can put down on your hit list. Now that you’re a pro at establishing creative goals and seeing them through, get cracking!