Another year has left us so it’s time to look ahead for 2018. Forget Christmas, I’m all about New Years during the holiday season. December is my month for reflection over the body of work done in the past year. What worked, what didn’t work, what projects did I enjoy, what projects will I never do again, that sort of thing. With the build up to 2018, I have the chance to outline what I want to tackle in the new year.
I’ve abandoned the concept of resolutions. It’s a definitive concept but it doesn’t have much room for growth. The definition is “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” I make the resolution to work out more this year than last. If that means I run only one more mile than last year, I’ve done it. But is that it? It seems too flimsy to be anything worth continuing once you’ve done the bare minimum. The work is done but it feels hollow.
Instead I make goals I want to achieve throughout the year. They often require many steps, check-in points, and have many moving parts. I’m more involved in getting things done that work towards my end goal. It’s more than “do or do not” to something. It keeps me motivated to continue in the progress, as I’m much more involved in the success. Plus the end goal is greater as it requires more work to get it done.
Everyone compares themselves to others. Whether it’s how much money they earn, the type of car they drive, the house they own, any part you can see will be judged. I’m guilty of doing it for years. Even over the most simplistic of stuff, I was living in envy of my closest friends’ success. Or things I thought meant they were successful. It took years to break that habit, but now I live on my own level of success. The new year allows me to see how well I did last year and the years before that. I can measure my success to myself, no one else.
I can now look back at my own path and see what did and what didn’t work on my journey. Spending time checking-in on other people was a distraction from my goals. With the power of hindsight, I can now make better judgements on myself and work in the direction I want to go next.
Everyone should have goals that vary in scale. Some should be easy to achieve so they are easy to maintain and quickly become habitual. Those little victories will keep you motivated to continue with whatever it is. Without a reward, your interest will wane and the goal will become a chore. Eventually it’ll become a burden and poses a risk of being abandoned completely. Even if you have a lot of small goals, make them manageable for you.
Do One Thing Everyday
I’m drawing on my iPad everyday. I don’t start with the intent of making an amazing illustration, I just doodle until it becomes something interesting. It’s just practice to get more comfortable with the tool for future projects. You can only get better with practice.
After I’m satisfied with my daily doodle, I post it to Instagram and Facebook. I started a new photo album on Facebook just for this exercise. If I don’t post a new image everyday, I feel guilty. That aversion to guilt motivates me to keep drawing. Whatever works to keep you going, it’s better than giving up.
Push Yourself More
The year is still young but I know I’ll get tired of these simple doodles. I’ll have to switch it up with drawing from life, which presents a new challenge to an ongoing project. I have a jar filled with ideas that I’ve yet to get around to doing. When I feel stuck, I’ll dip into that jar for an idea to explore.
No matter what your goals are, take time to check-in with your progress. How far are you in achieving your goal? Are you where you expected? Why aren’t you further along than you wanted to be at this time? This coupled with being held accountable will help you take a moment to step back and see the progress made, or lack thereof. Ask friends or colleagues to look over your progress whenever possible. Another set of eyes can help spot an issue you might have missed.
And finally, don’t be too hard on yourself. Set backs will happen and being upset at yourself for a lapse in progress won’t help you move forward. It might not even be your fault for a delay: illness, unexpected obstacles, really anything outside of your control can screw things up. Even if there’s a delay, don’t dwell on it too long. Your progress will keep going forward, you just might not reach the destination when you intended. It’s still a noble effort none the less. Learn from mistakes and missteps along the way. It’ll make you faster next time.
I sincerely hope you all have a wonderful 2018.
Here’s to making great things and doing good now and into the future!