*Revision: Whenever you read ‘New Year’ or any date, replace it with the current time. The possibility of mid-year burn-out is just as likely as at the beginning of the year and these tips are just as relevant to apply now (and at any time, really) if you’re feelin’ the burn.
It’s an exciting New Year and you’re all ready dive in and get shit done, right?
Well, perhaps for some, but the reality of the New Year for many is absolute exhaustion, on all fronts, and creative motivation is nowhere to be seen.
I’m not sure about you but 2017 was HUGE! Lessons on life and death, how to juggle a day job while trying to build the foundations of a successful design business, devoting love and time to dear relationships, while trying to maintain the work/lifestyle balance with a healthy dose of travel and an every-now-and-then drink at the bar with mates.
I, like everyone else, rode the rollercoaster of 2017 and was thrilled as it came to an end. I gathered everything I learned along the way, pondered the lessons I was taught and made grand plans to enter 2018 with a bang; to hit the ground like a cheetah with a thirst for blood and get productive on all of my creative projects.
Then January 16, 2018, suddenly rolls around. Half of the month is already over and I’m still somewhat scared to open my diary. What happened? Where did my grand plans and motivation go? Well, I guess they drifted off with the tail end of the New Year fireworks and as I finally wake for the year I am grateful for allowing myself some time to rest and recoup.
Complete bloody exhaustion, more commonly known as fatigue, happens once you allow yourself to wind down and relax after strenuous mental, physical and emotional activity, a.k.a. getting through 2017! I found myself unable to get out of bed in the mornings and, despite imbibing on excessive coffee, was in a dream-like haze well into the evenings. But what about my new website? My social media strategy? The creative courses I’d set aside to combat in my end of year break?
Well, sometimes you have to accept that not everything goes to plan and maybe taking a nap IS the best thing for you right now. It is important to allow yourself the time to get back on track. Allow yourself guilt-free sleep-ins, spend a night in bed watching a new series, take that bath and get a delicious meal delivered. Basically, just rest. Once I accepted the fact that I was exhausted, it was obvious to me that sitting at my desk trying to take on the world was unrealistic and counter-productive.
So, despite the fact you might still be finding your feet, here are my six tips for keeping creatively focussed in the New Year and taking smalls steps towards fulfilling your big dreams:
1. Do something you don’t usually have time for
Even if it’s just sitting at your local café or park with a sketchpad or a good book, get out and do something you don’t usually allow yourself the time to do. The change of scene and the downtime will allow you to think and will get your creativity flowing. The simple act of writing down a few concepts or sketching out a design will ease the pressure off the fact that you’re not being as productive as you’d planned to be. And more often than not, it will generate some new ideas you hadn’t thought of yet.
2. Go to your local galleries and museums
The abundance of inspiration in these places is invaluable and, most of the time, free. Wandering through the space of a gallery and pondering the creation of an amazing piece of artwork has to ignite some spark of creative thought and action you into creating something yourself. These places are also filled with so many photo-worthy scenes, even if the least you gained was a picture, you could hashtag it and tick off your social media task for the day.
3. Start thinking about your goals and aspirations for the year ahead
Starting to think about a few short and long-term goals will get you into a creative mindset and could even spark the motivation to delve into taking action. From something as little as planning to write one paragraph upon waking for 4 weeks, to implementing a business plan that will enable you to quit your job and be a full-time freelancer by the end of the year, getting clear on a few goals now will help you get off the couch and into action.
4. Open your new diary!
Although the idea of opening up your diary might still be daunting, jotting a few things into it will start to bring back perspective and remind you of milestones you may have set as your New Year’s resolutions. Even if you just start by filling in all your favourite people’s birthdays, you will be surprised how looking at a monthly planner will inspire you to get motivated and plan more.
5. Pick just one creative thing to work on daily.
If you’re like me, your project management program is jam-packed with a long to-do list and sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin, especially if your brain hasn’t quite caught up to what day it is yet. Even if one task ends up taking all day, chipping away at it will bring a sense of fulfillment and motivate you to keep working through your list. Showing up, even if it’s in your pajamas, is the most important thing to keep the momentum flowing.
6. Read through some of your favourite blogs or listen to creative podcasts.
There’s nothing like getting a healthy dose of inspiration from some of your favourite creative mentors through their blog or podcast. Utilise this time of rest to catch up on some creative content or to learn about a new skill or tool relevant to your field. Whatever medium you get into, take this time to absorb creativity so you’re ready for your next project. Or hey, you could even start your own blog!