As 2016 comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on the year past and eagerly looking forward to 2017. This is a popular time of year to set new goals, start better habits, and create lists of resolutions for the year to come.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always struggled with keeping these types of resolutions. I’ve tried several things – traditional resolutions, “do not do” lists, dream boards, etc, but they all fizzled out. I think this is partly because I’m not so a much a “lose weight this year” type of person, and instead I’m more of a “feel more relaxed and happy this year” kind of person. It’s hard to find a list or resolution that can accomplish a state of being.
But for 2017, I had an idea I wanted to try. Instead of a New Year’s resolution, I’m going to focus on a year long creative project. Something that’s both challenging and fun.
Studies show that creative projects and pursuits have positive benefits throughout several areas of your life.
Dr. Kevin Eschleman, a psychology professor at San Francisco State, has measured the effects of creative pursuits and has found that those with a creative outlet were more likely to be relaxed and feel fulfilled. Benefits even spill over to your work life. When Google began its revolutionary “20% rule” (where employees were allotted 20% of their work time to devote to creative projects and pursuits) they found that job performance went up and employees were more productive during their working hours.
Hmm…this seemed like something that was worth exploring, but I still wasn’t quite sure what to do.
As I started to reflect on 2016 in search of an idea, I found a common theme that can best be summed up by one of the quintessential parenting quotes of all time – “The days are long, but the years are short.”
I don’t know about you, but most of my days seem to be endlessly filled with checklists and tasks. Instead of finding much time to enjoy being in the moment – I’m often distracted by what needs to be done next. And the truth is, there’s ALWAYS something that needs to be done next.
Laundry. Vacuuming. Packing lunches for work and school. Filling the gas tank in my car. The days seem to drag slowly until Friday.
But when I look at the pictures I’ve taken this year – my entire year seems to be summed up by just a few special moments- a family trip to Disney World. A good friend’s wedding. My daughter’s 4th birthday. Pictures I took after we remodeled our kitchen.
My entire year, summed up in about 15 pictures.
I don’t know about you – but that doesn’t seem like quite enough. So for 2017, I’ve decided that my personal creative project will be to take more photographs to chronicle my year. Have you ever heard of Project 365? It’s where you take one picture a day, for an entire year!?
While that sounds like a ton of fun, it also sounds like a ton of work…and let’s be honest, I doubt I could keep up with a schedule like that. But here’s the thing – NOTHING says we can’t just create our own rules!
Maybe taking pictures once a week is a bit easier to accomplish – or even taking them once a month. Whatever format best fits into my busy life is the best place to start.
I’m not the greatest photographer – but luckily, I found a photographer who was willing to give me some tips and mentoring – none other than CMB’s very own Aaron Taylor! (Are you in a similar boat? Then check out his 1 on 1 mentoring program.)
While thinking about what type of project I could start, I came up with a list of ideas. Here are some other ideas to inspire you to find your own creative project for 2017.
- Starting a gratitude journal. Reflecting and writing daily, weekly or monthly about the things in your life that you are most grateful for.
- Writing weekly letters to your child in a journal to document what they currently love to do, their favorite meals, their current passions, favorite toys, etc. What a neat gift to give them at graduation or their wedding!
- Photographing specific themes – such as a photo of every Sunday dinner, every Saturday morning family activity, every time you wear your favorite pair of shoes, etc
- Check out some “learning to draw” books at the Library and commit to an hour – a day, a week, a month, of doodling and trying out different techniques
- Create an altered book – save an unloved, discarded book and turn it into a work of art. Paste things inside. Color the pages. Write outside the lines.
Are you planning on a pursuing a creative project in 2017? I’d love to hear your ideas!