6 Tips to Be a Successful Creative in 2018

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2018 is going to be the year of taking risks in creativity, chasing bigger dreams, and getting sh*t done. I just feel it. Already, I've taken the leap to completely rebrand my blog and start a Youtube channel (something I've been sitting on forever). I'm ready to take 2018 by storm. Who's with me?

//all people will be able to say to you in 2018 is "congratulations".//

As we excitedly write down our year goals and start fleshing out ideas, I want to give you a few tips to remember so you can have a successful year. Having enough inspiration and motivation to begin a project is a great place to start, but it can be easy to fall into creative traps that keep you from getting stuff done. I learned this the hard way in 2017, so I compiled some advice that I myself will be following this year and that will hopefully be helpful for you too!

get over your perfectionism

Not all perfectionists are creatives, but it's quite possible that all creatives are perfectionists. It's easy to understand why we get so...BFHSfhsgduvfb...about making sure everything is totally perfect before we do something. You might claim that you're just very meticulous, detail-oriented, or deeply care about putting out high quality work. But perfectionism is really just a lack of courage, a fear of being vulnerable to criticism. Nobody likes not being good at something or feeling like a failure. I think creatives in particular feel like they're under immense pressure to only ever be excellent because creative work is often seen as trivial and something only few people can do and become successful at. We don't want to hear, "I told you so," when things don't immediately work out.

//Healthy striving is self-focus: "How can I improve?"

Perfectionism is other-focused: "What will they think?"

-Brené Brown //

Ironically, perfectionism is actually the one thing that can keep you from reaching the level of excellence you desire. Perfectionism doesn't allow for growth and development. It expects you to put out work comparable to experts when you have just started. And when you don't meet that unrealistic expectation, you freeze and start making up a million excuses. You'll never get where you want to go if you keep waiting for the perfect conditions. Get over this fear by replacing the desire to be perfect with the desire to get better. Find delight in the process of creative growth and mastery. Be proud to showcase work that reflects improvement, not perfection.

and if you're worried about what people are going to say:

Have you ever noticed the people with the loudest mouths are the ones who never had the guts to chase their own dreams? Their opinions literally don't matter. Stop letting them determine the value of your work. You know where you're headed, you know that you're growing towards greatness. And often times, that criticism you fear will never even come. More than likely, they'll be impressed.

set specific, measurable goals

I was really, really bad at this last year. And I'm sure a lot of people were too. In the first week of January, we crack open our fresh journals and use the first page to pen all of our goals. And then we never look at them again until it's time for that end of the year review and we discover that–"oh yeah, I did have that goal..."

The key to actually following through with your goals is to make them specific + measurable. We have a tendency to write lofty goals and projects, but won't outline any strategy for actually getting there. You want to run on motivation but have no idea where you're going. You need clear tasks so you can track your progress and know what needs to be done. "What should I do next?" should never be a question.

Let's work with an example:

Lofty goal: I want to become Instagram famous.

Okay...but what does that mean? What does that look like? To you, how many followers makes one "Instagram famous"?

Define the goal: I want to reach 15k followers by the end of the year.

Well there we go! How are you going to get there?

Strategy: Start posting 3-4 times a week, join a Facebook promo group, follow similar profiles (by niche + following)

How are you going to measure your progress?

Benchmarks: Each month check if I have gained at least 1,000 followers (lol), have been posting consistently, and if the promo group is still beneficial

Now you've given yourself a good goal. You know exactly what it looks like to reach it, and you have a system that ensures you'll be paying attention to your progress. If you fill out a monthly overview in your planner or journal as well, make sure you revisit the larger goal and put it there so it's more recent and accessible.

plan ahead

There are two types of planning ahead. There's the type that's similar to the above tip where you plan a comprehensive strategy ahead of time. There's also the planning ahead that's useful to avoid decision fatigue. You'll often hear in those "22 things successful people do" or "ways to be more productive" type videos/blog posts that you should have some sort of routine or schedule. This is not because successful people want to become robots. It's because they don't want to waste precious energy on making insignificant decisions.

Have you ever woken up and spent way too much time just trying to figure out what you need to do, what to wear, what to eat, blah blah blah to the point where you're ready to just go back to bed? That's what decision fatigue is. We have a limited capacity for making decisions before our brains need to rest and refresh. You could be spending that time actually making decisions where they matter–in your creative work.

In periods of time where you want to go into a deep creative mode, turn daily parts of your life into habit so you don't have to focus on them. And if you're like me and have a hard time sticking to a routine, at the very least, create a to-do list the night before. This way, you wake up ready to jump right into the day. I can't tell you how much more productive you'll become when you have a clear idea of your tasks for the day.

multiple layers of organization

Maybe this is a weird tip, but I like to have levels to my organization. Just using an online calendar won't work. Just using a journal won't work. Just scratching my ideas wherever all willy nilly definitely won't work. So I have a system that I'm trying out this year.

My Tools:

+ Airtable for planning and scheduling out posts (and spontaneous ideas)

+ Apple calendar for setting deadlines to publish (so I get real-time notifications)

+ Creative journal for setting and ingraining goals into my mind (writing stuff down is far too powerful to ignore), fleshing out content ideas and thoughts, and setting daily task lists based on my monthly/yearly goals

Moral of the story, have a system of organization and stick to it. Shuffling through papers, sticky notes, or desktop files to find your work/ideas all the time is distracting and tiring.

be ready to change courses + create your own opportunities

//A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds. -Francis Bacon//

If you've been living for, like, any amount of time, you know that things rarely go to plan. If your idea of how 2018 is going to go doesn't include an acceptance of possible roadblocks/inconveniences in your plans, you're in for a wild ride. Prepare to hear "no" in many ways. But remember that there are always multiple pathways that you can take to reach success. If the way you had imagined isn't working out, don't get frustrated. Seek another route–I swear there's one there. Don't be so attached to a road to success that you forget what it is you're trying to get to. Sometimes a failure is exactly what you need to know that it's time to pivot and head in a new direction. Never give up on a dream, just know how to approach it in different ways.

It's also important to create your own opportunities when others don't present themselves. Stop waiting to happen upon an opportunity if you can find a way to do what you want yourself. That's how I ended up designing my own internship. You should never rely on or expect someone to care more about your own success more than you do. I don't want to hear any whining  on my timeline that nobody is helping you and that's why you can't be successful. Do your best to help yourself first.

finally: get it like you already got it

//Act like an icon and people will start thinking you're an icon. -Nicole Milfie//

I don't know what the psychology behind it is, but there's something to be said about moving through life with the serenity of knowing that what you want is already yours. I am a deep believer that anything you want is achievable, it's just a process. If you can visualize it, you can actualize it. I know that I'm going to be successful in whatever I want to do because I can commit and consistently work at the dream until it manifests. So, I try not to fret about what I know will already be mine. You should also be aligning yourself with your idea of success however you can. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, start developing the mindset of one whether or not you have a million dollar business. Prepare for the success you want so that when it comes, you're ready to take off with it.

Have any tips for being a successful creative this year? Let's discuss in the comments!