A New Creative Year 2016

2015 is coming to an end. The transition between years is always a good opportunity to reflect on and evaluate things past and to plan for things to come.

In this spirit, I’d like to revisit last year’s resolutions and maybe make a couple of new ones for the upcoming year.

Reflecting on the Old

I find it quite hard to summarize the year as a whole…

To begin with, it has been a very strenuous and work-intensive year. I started a new job toward the end of 2014 that I like a lot but that is also very demanding on my time and energy and where I have a lot to organize and plan, which bleeds into my free time. In addition, I started teaching again and have a lot of preparations to do.

On the other hand, I would say that, in general, I have been more creative in 2015 than before. More productive, too. There have been a few times throughout the year where pauses between projects stretched a little too long and various projects again did not see completion. Especially the fall has been a crazy time.

These are the times when I feel—more than ever—how badly I need being creative. If for whatever reason there are longer periods where I’m not creative, I grow profusely unhappy and unsatisfied with my life. That is something I need to take into consideration when planning my year—and my life…

What amazed me in 2015, though, was how quickly I was able to get back into creating after pauses—at least most of the time. Usually, when I work on a project, I’m completely immersed in it but once there is a break, I find it very difficult to get back in. This time, I often found that the minute I did have some free time again, I could plunge right back in. Fall was harder, the enforced break too long, and I find it more difficult this time. But I’m back in the game, if not quite back in shape yet.

I guess in summary I could say that it has been a very busy year, sometimes too busy, and I reached my limits a couple of times. I’m proud to look back at what I have accomplished, both at work and in my free time, but I’m also aware that I have to look out for myself a little more.

Resolutions

My goal for the new year, in a nutshell, therefore is to keep dedicating my free time to my creative projects because I know it makes me happy. And also to finish a couple of those that remained unfinished this time around. However, I also realize that I have to pace myself a little more while doing so.

The thing is: a lack of time is not the only problem. I do have little time, but my biggest problem is that when I do have time, I have way too little energy and focus. A recent episode of the podcast Cortex that I listen to suggested that it is not (just) the time we spend on something that stresses us out.

The problem is that the internet has changed our consumption habits and with it our production habits: jumping from one small chunk to another, working on too many things at once. This slows us down and causes us to feel overwhelmed while we actually get very little done.

This made me rethink my Jack of all trades problem. I do have trouble finishing stuff before new projects fascinate me and draw me away. I’ve written before that I know it wouldn’t make me happy to focus on only one project at a time. I’ve tried to fight this without success for years. I was actually quite happy to finally have accepted my nature and stopped fighting it overmuch.

But this once again made me realize that I should really try to focus on if not one then at least only a few projects at a time. Maybe 3-4. The idea for next year, therefore, is to keep a list of the projects I’m currently working on, make sure it’s not too many, and track the progress.

The main point is to make sure that the things that are most important to me get enough room. That is the hardest part. Identifying the most important is hard enough, but to resist the lure of the new and keep focused seems like an impossible task to me. Still I have to try.

In a little more detail:

  • Blogging frequency:
    Without the intention of tooting my own horn, I’m quite happy with my posts once they come out. The problem is that they still come out way too infrequently. When I started the “Creative Month” category in February, the plan was to up the number of monthly posts with this move and have 3 per month instead of 2. This took some time to take off, though, and at first the creative month post replaced the second post I might otherwise have written. And it hasn’t always worked since. But I’m proud to find that, in average, the 3-posts-per-month plan has worked out because in some months I wrote more.
    So, for the upcoming year, my plan is to keep up the number of 3 posts per month but get more frequency into it.

 

  • Organizing my (creative) life better:
    There has been some progress in organizing my tools and materials, but not nearly enough. I’m still working on that.
    Where planning is concerned, I have made some improvement by creating my own personalized systems: an own calendar with a week-planning section, a planner, and a reworked note-taking system. It’s far from perfect yet and my mind still resists doing what is planned. But it’s an improvement.
    My goal for 2016 in this area is to finally get my tools and materials organized and to use my planners more.

 

  • Finishing creative projects:
    Still, the most frustrating is when I don’t manage to finish stuff. I have finished a few quite large projects this year, most prominently my planner and calendar. Those projects feel especially rewarding since I’m actually using them in my daily life.
    As I have elaborated above, however, I need to focus more on fewer projects at a time. I’m sure that will help me not to feel so stressed out anymore and also to finish more in the long run. The biggest problem I see here is that I’m working on several projects that are HUGE and some that won’t ever be completely finished. But I’d like to see some progress here, too.

 

  • Less perfectionism: I think I’m doing fine on reducing perfectionism. Now and then I still spend a lot of time working on things, but I find it much easier to let go and label something done even though I’m not 150% satisfied with it. That’s a trend I’d like to continue. Still, I think it is important to keep reminding myself of this in order to avoid falling back into old habits.

 

  • Things that have come short in the past year:
    Last year I named: knitting, fiction writing, DIY projects here. I’ve done some knitting and more DIY. So this year it is most definitely: writing. I’ve been taking part in a creative writing workshop for years and for the New Year, the teacher asked us to think about what significance we want writing to have in our lives and what we could do to give it its room. That’s indeed a very tough question for me to answer. At first I wanted to include it here but eventually decided to give it its own post to figure it out.

 

  • 30 day challenge:
    While all the above issues were at least tackled in 2015, this one was finally abandoned, although never forgotten. I’d like to include participating in a 30-day challenge as a goal for next year again, but I really don’t know how realistic that is because I really only have time during the weekends to work on things. But I guess I could at least start once and try this out.

I’d really like to continue working on all of these and be more creative and productive in the upcoming year. In particular, I would like to get a healthier frequency into things. There are times when I can’t work on anything and afterwards I feel like binge-creating just to make up for lost time. Let’s see what the future will bring…

Happy New Year to you all!

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