I’m not really a resolver. From hitting the gym more often to being more disciplined about backing up files, new year’s resolutions always sound like a drag. And if I do feel like making a change, why do I need to wait until a milestone moment to start them, anyway?
I have a better idea. I think everyone—starting with creative types—can benefit from a different kind of resolution. Something useful, something attainable, something that won’t prompt us to binge on a box of Oreos.
Here’s my list. Maybe it’ll work for you, too.
#1 I will continue to procrastinate.
Okay, not all the time. I do have deadlines. But studies show that short diversions actually help you concentrate and improve your performance on more important tasks. It’s unrealistic to think that we can work on a single thing all day long without diminishing returns. Our senses are trained to respond to changes, not constants. So, guess what? If we don’t give our brains a quick distraction from time to time, we actually start to lose focus.
Keep that in mind the next time you get sucked into a Buzzfeed quiz to find out which Disney princess you really are, based on your bread choice. (I like garlic bread and I’m Mulan, BTW.)
#2 I will walk away from my desk.
To paraphrase the lemurs of Madagascar, I’ve got to move it, move it. And it’s not just because my skinny jeans aren’t making me feel very skinny. There’s an entire movement (see what I did there?) of scientists studying the effects of physical activity and creative thinking. Movement affects mood, stimulates the imagination, and helps us process ideas better.
Plus, remember what I mentioned earlier about the senses responding positively to change? A change of scenery away from our desks can also work wonders for sparking new ways of thinking—just like when you suddenly have an ah-ha moment in the shower, while you’re planking, or on the commute. No matter where you go, you take your artist/writer/problem-solver brain with you.
#3 I will find time to play.
Not to get too philosophical on you, but we all have something called a creative well (an idea borrowed from the brilliant Julia Cameron). When you’re a professional problem-solver, you constantly tap it for ideas. If you draw from it too often without refilling it, the well could go dry on you. Think writer’s block, think lackluster design, think creative disaster.
That’s where play comes in. What inspires you? What makes you laugh? What makes you forget that you’re supposed to be adulting? If I can recruit some fellow creatives to take 20 minutes, I love a good game—especially one that’s fast-paced, like Heads Up (you can watch Ellen play it expertly if you’re not familiar with this one). Another recent well-filler was a team fieldtrip to SFMOMA. I’m no Magritte, but after wandering the halls, surrounded by art that challenges reality and expands your perspectives, I felt more refreshed and imaginative. (Plus, there’s nothing quite like an afternoon spent with my Contrast playmates.)
Here’s wishing you a happy, creative 2018!