Personal DevelopmentProductivity

Go Beyond the Usual Resolutions by Setting Creative Goals

posted on January 5, 2021 | by Heather Bien

Go Beyond the Usual Resolutions by Setting Creative Goals

Who’s looked back at their 2020 resolutions? 

I know we have an ambitious, creative, talented bunch here. A lot of you probably ticked off those resolutions and goals from January 2020 –– even during a pandemic. But, if you’re anything like me, amidst the wins, there were also hopes and dreams that simply weren’t feasible given the year’s obstacles

However, 2020 gave us time to think. To reflect. To focus on what really matters when the hustle, the bustle, and the distraction of life and achievement is stripped away. 

That’s why 2021 could be the year we go beyond usual resolutions and instead set creative goals that light our internal fire and give meaning to the solitude that the pandemic has brought. 

What do I mean by creative goals? So, usually this time of year, we hear people setting resolutions like “go to the gym three times a week,” “make a green smoothie every morning,” “start searching for a new job,” “apply to grad school,” “ask for a raise by the end of Q1,” “commit to intentionally dating,” or “read 52 books in 52 weeks.” All of these are great resolutions but creative goals go beyond the should-dos into the want-to-dos. They challenge you not to worry about the end result but instead focus on process, enriching, and feeling. There isn’t a financial, health, or organizational objective. Creative goals let you pursue something simply because it brings you joy.

And, no, you don’t need to be “a creative.” Everyone has creativity swirling about inside them! Sure, it can look like painting or photography –– something traditionally “creative” –– but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative just because it isn’t relaxing for you to pick up a paintbrush. So, here are a few of the varied creative goals we’re setting as we look towards 2021 –– and how we’re taking them from abstract hopes to actionable resolutions.

Put pen or brush to paper.

Whether you took art classes or not, the act of making a mark on paper, canvas, whatever you choose, can be therapeutic. It doesn’t need to be frame-worthy (heck, you can throw it away as soon as you’re done!), it’s just meant to be an expression. Take paint and splatter it across a canvas in big strokes or maybe dedicate a few hours to sketching out the intricacies of a flower. See what makes you feel relaxed and at ease.

Pause to notice the little details around you –– and capture them.

Too often when someone says they’re picking up photography, it turns into a side hustle whether or not that was the intention. Friends start asking for headshots, engagement shoots, and something that should have been fun slips into monetization territory. Don’t let it (unless you want to!). Instead, grab your camera (or your phone!) and take a walk. Stop to notice the colors on a mural, the peeling paint on a building, the brickwork on the sidewalk. Capture your world exactly as you see it with no end goal besides creating in that moment.

Whip something up in the kitchen.

One of my favorite ways to fuel creativity is with flavor. Stock your kitchen with the ingredients and spices you need to feel empowered and start cooking, baking, or mixing up whatever feels right to you. For me, that’s been coffee drinks. I love experimenting with extracts, syrups, froths, and infusions. It’s a literal creative jolt to start my mornings.

Move your body!

It doesn’t matter what you look like, moving is a form of creative expression –– and a boost of energy. Dedicate 10 minutes each day, maybe it’s first thing or a break in the afternoon, put on some music or maybe even a dance video off YouTube, and move. You could flow through a vinyasa or literally dance. Whatever form movement takes, it’s creativity in physical form.

Pick up an instrument.

Did you play piano as a child? Always wanted to learn to play the guitar? Make this the year you take the initiative to stretch your creative limits musically. Don’t worry about where it gets you –- we’re not trying to record the next Folklore here. Just have fun with it. P.S. Musical instruments can get expensive but if you do some digging on Facebook Marketplace, you can often snag instruments for cheap –– or even free.

Revisit old fashioned crafts.

I love a creative pursuit that requires use of both your hands (read: you can’t pick up your phone), which makes the grandmillennial hobbies perfect for 2021’s goals. Needlepoint, embroidery, knitting, crocheting, all of these allow for creative thinking and zoning out from the world for a bit. Don’t worry about perfection, just savor the repetitiveness of the craft.

Write what you know –– and what you don’t.

Buy a notebook and commit to writing for 15 minutes every morning and every evening. It could look like journaling or a short story or poetry or just writing down quotes you like. Whatever the form, that written expression is creatively cathartic. 

And lastly, remember…

With these ideas in mind, remember, creative goals aren’t about reaching a specific end result, making money, or checking off the list. They’re about enjoying the process and finding a way to enrich our lives along the way. So, what’s your creative resolution? How are you going to find inspiration?

Want to dive even deeper into creative goals? Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, is one of my favorites to explore the breadth of creative expression and how it influences our everyday.