As a new year dawns many of us turn our minds to how we want this one to be different to last, or the one before that. Making new years resolutions is a time honoured tradition which, for many, is a process of committing to a whole slew of things that we either cannot achieve, or don’t know how to achieve (although this post I did a few years ago may help you).
But at the very base of it, new years resolutions are all about working out the things we need to do to be happier. What will make us more present, more content, more understanding, more contributing? Although it’s tempting to focus on the physical in terms of what we want to look like or have in our closet, over time I’ve come to see that planning the year ahead is more about the things you do rather than the things you have. I guess that’s why this year, more than ever, I’m going to focus on doing more of what I love. It has been riveting chatting with people from all around the world through the Do What You Love series, and so, in an ode to all of us doing more of what we love, every day, I thought I would share my 2014 Do What You Love pledges and a few exercises I’ll be doing to help achieve them.
I will think big.
Someone asked me a few years ago ‘what is the biggest thing you want to do’ to which I replied ‘ummmmm’. They asked me to think really big. Did I, for example, want to design a collection? Dress the windows of a department store? Write a book? My mind boggled at these ideas, up until that point I had never thought those things even remotely possible. Since then I’ve realised that the only limitations that existed were the ones I placed upon myself. It’s clear to me now that unless you put into words (or, even better, on paper) what you really really (reaaaaaalllyyy) want to do, chances are you’ll continue to repeat the same day to day activities and won’t challenge yourself to take on those big, life changing ideas.
Exercise: In need of a dream big session? Take a few minutes this weekend to write down the big (HUGEEE) things you want to do this year – in work, in love, in travel and for others. For this sort of exercise they don’t even have to be achievable, the more out there the better. Writing down your biggest dreams is a great way to get the cogs turning in your brain. You won’t know the answer straight away, but I promise you ideas shape themselves if you give yourself a little prompting.
I will make achievable goals.
On the same token, having huge dreams can be daunting if you have no process for how you will put them into action. I have to admit that in the past I’ve been immobilised by some of my biggest goals/dreams (one in particular!), but this year I’ve decided I’m going to try my hardest to make it happen. But how does one do that? One way is that rather than focusing on the intangible concept of your big (and often scary) dream, break the idea down into smaller and more easily achievable goals. These smaller goals can be spread out across the course of the year so you know that by the end, you’ll be that much closer to doing what you love (here’s hoping!).
Exercise: Pick one of your biggest dreams/ideas. How can you divvy it up into smaller, more achievable activities or concepts? For example, want to open a bakery? Some of the smaller steps you could take could be working out your point of difference, putting together the business model, deciding on a name etc etc. All of these things take you a step closer to doing what you love (yay!).
I will seek out others.
It’s so easy to become insular when you are trying to achieve something you really really want, and indeed I was a little bit like that when I first started out. But the bottom line is that no person is an island (how funny is it that we find ourselves using phrases our parents use, as if by osmosis?), we all have so much to learn from and also to teach others. This year I’m going to go out of my way, more than ever, to seek out people to learn from and to share with. Having a mentor or being part of an established professional group is a big part of this, but even casual interactions with others can open doors and teach us things.
Exercise: Find someone within your circle who you aspire to, and ask them to meet with you for a coffee to talk about your big idea or concept. Test the waters and if it works out, set up regular opportunities to chat and exchange ideas. On the same token, find someone with less experience than you and offer your guidance and experiences to them. Sharing is caring!
I will stick to it.
From looking at the way that other people have managed to be successful, to me it seems like the key to longterm success when it comes to any goal, be it a new years resolution or a life change, is about sticking to it. Ideas and concepts can of course evolve over time, but chopping and changing can mean losing your focus and the time and effort you’ve invested. Because success takes time, consistency is key. This usually means working hard to be sure you know what you want to do at the start.
Exercise: Take the time to work out what you really love and want to do, rather than jumping headlong into a commitment or interest that may wane in the short term. Stay tuned for a post about working out what you love through a few different activities.
I will review and plan.
Even if you don’t work for a bank or big business, reviewing your past activities and planning your future ones based on previous experiences is essential. I for one know how easy it is to get to a point when you’re completely reactive and your day to day is pretty much putting out fires and dealing with issues as they arise, with no concern for the broader goal. This year is going to be different!
Exercise: Make a regular monthly time to go over your past progress and plan your goals for the next month. This will help you be consistent in your approach and start every month on the front foot (this is one thing I’ll be trying to do more often, because I tend to be more reactive in my approach).
I will grow my skill base
It’s easy to think you know everything there is to know about a subject you’re passionate about, but the chances are that’s far from the truth. This year I am going to invest more time and money in my own skills, whether it be taking a photoshop class or learning more about web design. The goal for me is to know more about specific technical skills by the end of the year than I do now.
Exercise: Have a think about the skills you have, and what you lack in order to do more of what you love. Research people in similar roles and see what skills they have, would any of their skills be useful for you? Once you’ve worked out what skills you lack, find a place where you can learn them – even if it’s just a short 1 hour class per week, or investing in a few e-books.
I will give myself a break
Although doing what you love will give you a sense of achievement and purpose second to none, life is, at the end of the day, for living. Give yourself time to relax and recuperate and you’ll be able to enjoy your successes so much more. I have a tendency to work all through the weekend, justifying it by saying ‘I love what I do!’ but this year is going to be different. Giving yourself some time out will help you to be positive and happy (I recently read this article and realised that we all have small things we do that make us miserable), and after all, that’s what doing what you love is all about.
Exercise: Make some structured time when you are neither working on your day to day job or working on your ‘do what you love’ hobby (props if they’re one and the same!). Clear your mind and do something completely different. You’ll probably find you have your best brainwaves when you’re not forcing yourself to be creative!
I would love to hear if you have any pledges you’ll be working on in
Typography by Jasmine Dowling