Mid-Year Goals Assessment for Creative Minds

Evaluation and refocusing are two essential pieces to accomplishing goals, especially for someone like me, who often comes up with tons of creative ideas, but never seems to have the energy to complete them all.

Last week, I posted regarding my goals for 2010 and the plans in place to achieve those goals. This week, I reflect on what’s worked, what hasn’t and where to go from here. I am doing this with just a few simple steps.

  1. Review my best laid plans to remind myself of all the things I want to accomplish, both large and small.
  2. Assess which goal paths I have been following and how much progress I have made.
  3. Look for other goal path opportunities.
  4. Act.

Learn

Assessment: I have utilized my free time very well and integrated learning into my work life with much success. I have accomplished a lot in the way of reading (books and blogs). I have deepened and broadened professional relationships, both through my office and no my own. I am extremely grateful to have a great new mentor and other professionals in my network whom I consider positive influencers, teachers, and colleagues. I’ve discovered areas of interest I didn’t know I had, uncovered talents and built skills I didn’t think I had the capacity for.  I view every challenge as a learning opportunity. I’m grateful and determined, working hard on every creative project and taking every chance to develop skills as a young professional. I’ve started journaling (on paper, in ink) again, launched this new blog to catalogue my progress in creative ventures and I am keeping the conversation going on the creative process across disciplines and fields and various platforms. I haven’t made it to any of the finish lines for my learning goals, but I’ve made huge strides.

Next step: I need to get out that 35 mm film camera and take some photos!


Create

Assessment: I’ve started this new blog about the creative process and have been successful with posting fairly regularly. I’ve cleaned out old clothing and have a huge pile of things to donate to charity… soon it will be time to make my own pieces. Though I haven’t completely succeeded here, I’m encouraged to do more the second half of the year. I’m excited about more opportunities to create blog content, my own clothing, jewelry for my roommate (who’s allergic to any metal except for gold), and putting together a cohesive and comprehensive offline journal. I used to carry around a Moleskine, which was not just a journal, but a living piece of art – I’ve started to get back into this practice and it’s amazing what a difference it makes in my life. Even if no one else ever sees it, “Art for art’s sake.”

Next step: Design my logo and put together a site. Completely finish cleaning out my closets and get my art and craft supplies in order in a workspace.



Invest

Assessment: I am doing MUCH better with eating well and have been shopping almost exclusively at the farmer’s market and only at Trader Joe’s aside from that. I have invested money into a personal trainer and this morning I started working out at the gym with her. The monthly membership and training sessions are expensive, but I’m looking forward to getting into shape and staying that way. I felt great this morning and, though I will be sore tomorrow, the investment in my future health is the only motivation I need to keep going. I’ve done a terrible job at keeping track of the accomplishments, but I certainly have been keeping up with the goal of doing something every week that I’m proud of – I think I’m going to start writing them all down for future reference and motivation. As I said above, I’m working on cleaning up and out and getting rid of any clutter (this one still needs quite a bit of work). I’ve been doing great with paying down what little debt I have and hope to continue on that trend throughout the rest of the year.

Next step: Writing in my journal the accomplishments I want to remember, work at better balancing my budget.

Image Credits: Learn – Rachael Ashe; Create – jessica wilson; Invest – connie zhen.

I’d love to know where you are on your goals for the year. How do YOU assess your progress? What adjustments have you made? How do you feel about the rest of the year?

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Dew Droplets

image by Rakeem Cunningham

The best of the web as relates to creativity:

Think a press release sounds too much like fiction? That’s probably because the writer has a great handle on writing. Read this post that explains 10 Things Public Relations Flacks Can Teach You About Writing Fiction.

Not sure what to write about? Here’s an idea or three: Let Analytics Be Your Guide from HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog.

The the Creative Copy Challenge and show what your made of! These sets of key words challenge you to create a short story that incorporates all 10. This morning, a feisty, fantastic bunch inspired by Shane Arthur’s grandmother.

Len Kendall Tweeted the other day about the word “fresh” – thinking fresh involves strategy and discipline. Becoming Innovative involves using what you know and linking it with the unexpected. Use what you know, turn it, mold it, form it into something fresh.

How To Grow New Brain Cells and Outwit Competitors is another knock-it-out-of-the-park post by Jonathan Fields. He illustrates how physical fitness leads to success in his series on Fueling Epic Journeys. Get ready to fuel your own when you join Zia Hassan, who posted not long ago on this blog about How To Get Into The Best Creative Shape of Your Life. How similar are building muscle and building brain cells? What does that mean for the creative spirit? I’ll let you be the judge.

What kinds of things influence the creative process in putting together a logo? There are many, but have you ever thought about what the energy of your logo embodies? Carolyn Winter, a professional energy healer and life coach, analyses Chris Brogan‘s new logo in her post, asking Do you resonate with your logo? Do your customers resonate with it? Something else to think about when you are creating – how does energy, physical and perceived, play into your work?

How to Get Into the Best Creative Shape of Your Life

This is a guest post from contributor Zia Hassan. I have known Zia as a friend for years – we went to college together at American University. Throughout time, he has always been an inspiration in his creativity. As a songwriter, guitarist, and singer, Zia is always bringing more light into the world and he has a lot to share. If you are interested in collaborative projects, I encourage you to take a look at the project he completed for his 25th birthday this year – Collision. The Collision project and performance benefited Haiti Relief.  Proceeds from the soundtrack will go to Words, Beats, and Life.  Proceeds from the book will go to Hollaback DC.

How to Get Into the Best Creative Shape of Your Life

Getting into the best creative shape of your life is hard work.  It’s comparable to the challenge of getting physically fit.  Most fitness experts recommend a healthy lifestyle, which promotes permanent, long-lasting changes. Living a healthy lifestyle also means that you can’t be as focused on immediate results as you would be if you were doing P90X or the Southbeach diet, but it means that you’re attacking the problem of your current unhealthy lifestyle from all relevant angles.

The same concepts used in developing a “fit” lifestyle can be applied when designing a creatively fit lifestyle.  For instance:

1. Eat nutritious foods.  Devour as much relevant content as possible.  This means skimming the fat by deleting RSS feeds that don’t inspire you or give you new perspective.  it means un-following those Tweeps who just post their daily meals.  It also means seeking out as much knowledge as possible in the offline world, as well.  If you meet someone who is successful (in whatever field), ask them what they did to get what they have and try to apply it to your own work.  Just like in the dieting world, it’s important not to get obsessive about this.  Watch stupid YouTube videos occasionally.  It’s just important to make sure that this part of the plan doesn’t consume your entire life, or you’ll never get around to actually creating.

2.  Work out regularly. Sit down at the same time every day, and do your work.  Creative work doesn’t get done if you sit around all day dreaming about it.  Get something onto paper, even if it’s absolutely terrible.  If you can do this, you’ve already made progress.  You wouldn’t give up on the gym just because you couldn’t bench press immediately, right?  You may start noticing, after you develop this habit, that inspiration starts to strike (coincidentally) the minute you pick up your pen in the morning.

3.  Rest. This is two-fold. First, you need to actually rest.  As in, sleep.  8-9 hours a night.  You can’t be possibly be as perceptive as you need to be in order to be creative if you’re running on 4.5 hours of sleep.  No, coffee won’t help.  Second, take breaks from creating.  Don’t try to write a novel in one day.  If your mental energy gets you as far as half a page, don’t over-exert your creative muscles or you’re looking at injury.  And mental injury is much more difficult to recover from.

4.  Muscle confusion. This is a term used in the fitness world for mixing up your exercise routine.  If you do the same thing every day, your body learns to adapt and you end up on a plateau.  Same goes for your creative work.  Try writing a country song if you normally do hip-hop.  Color in neon green.  Take a photo in black-and-white.  The more things you try, the more you stimulate your mind.

5.  Ditch the treadmill and run outside. Seek out new experiences.  Be curious. Sticking to your same old routine will only keep your mind stagnant.  Go to art galleries, concerts of musicians you’d normally never go to, movies you’d never see, places you’d never visit.  If you stick to the same old routine, it’s a lot like being on a treadmill at a gym every day.  You don’t want to run in place, creatively. 

6.  Stop calorie counting. Sure, calories counting can help you lose weight, but it can also suck the joy out of the “getting fit” process due to constant over-analysis.  When comes to being in creative shape, you don’t want to be a meticulous perfectionist.  I know a few perfectionists and the one thing they have in common is that they rarely produce creative output. Being a perfectionist about your creative work can suck the joy out of the creation process to the point at which you give up entirely.

7.  Habits first, equipment later. Some people think that if they buy an expensive piece of exercise equipment or a really expensive gym membership, that the money they spent will motivate them to work out regularly.  The truth is:  paying for an expensive tool won’t automatically produce work of quality or frequency.  You won’t take more pictures just because you bought that super expensive Nikon.  You won’t write better songs with that 3,000 dollar Taylor.  Pick up your point and shoot and go for it.  Make recordings on your iPhone’s voice recorder.  Get into the habit first, and when you’re producing a steady stream of output, you’ll know be able to justify the cost of that new condenser microphone.

The obvious lesson here is that living a creative lifestyle is not actually about being creative.  It’s about forming habits that will end up making you more receptive to the connections in the world around you, and as a by-product, you’ll end up being more creative.

Now go, go, go!

Zia is a songwriter, music producer, and tech geek.  Hear his music, read his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ziasami.