Create your own challenges via a Project Plan
Lately I’ve been considering what creative challenges I want to work on for 2018. Rather than using a challenge to be competitive or testing my abilities, I use challenges to actually develop my abilities. I’ve talked previously about stretching out of your comfort zone by creating steps to walk over your comfort zone (See My dragon, comparisonitus and not enough Syndrome). Here I want to show you what I use to extend my comfort zone.
Honing down on your idea
Firstly I consider what I would like to do for my project, using a mind-map method or just write a list of things. From this I find that I’ve been meaning to learn more about watercolour drawing and develop my drawing abilities lately. I also consider what my current needs are and what I want to get out of the project. What is essential and not as essential in my project. How I want to feel whilst doing the project. I use art a-lot for self care and I don’t want to have to learn something new every time I draw. I want as certain amount of freedom each day to follow my flow, but I also would like to keep myself to creating daily. I am also curious about exploring new ideas and techniques as part of my creative growth. These factors define what my intentions are for the project.
Therefore, after considering these things, I have two separate intentions for my creativity which I need to take into account. These two different intentions have created:
Daily art journaling (for my selfcare)
Art learning (Learning from others for my creative growth)
Then I consider what do I need specifically to do for this challenge. I quite like my idea of having a creative theme for the month. I feel that it that a month gives me enough time to explore the situation without becoming overwhelmed. But a month also keeps me interested in the theme. It also allows me to have different elements to my art earning project. So don’t discount the little bits of your idea – when they could add to your project plan.
Therefore, I have created some possible themes challenge list for 2018
- Watercolours lettering and Background.
- Drawing Painting Faces with different expressions.
- Painting Abstracts and landscapes.
- Creating an art story in my journal.
- All things sketchy (Drawing).
- Intuitive Journal techniques.
- Quirky, Whimsical art.
- Animal Magic.
- Finding my own creative voice
- Doodles, Mandalas and chill-out creation.
Each of the considerations you need to make around the initial planning will be different depending on what project/challenge you are creating. Therefore, the above is just an example of how it works in practice.
Therefore, in summary for honing your idea I would suggest you consider;
- What challenge do you want in your project.
- What your personal needs are.
- What are the essential non-negotiable aspects of the project (based on your intentions how you want to feel whilst doing the project).
- Then you need to create the parameters of your project (for me in my project this is monthly learning but daily creating as separate aspects of my creativity)
Planning out your problems
Some of the problems and issues come up when brainstorming and can be dealt with there. But you then need to scope the project – basically look closely about your project in more detail.
Actually theming (or themed challenges/projects in my case) what you want to learn can be an antidote to shiny object syndrome when you’re hopping from one thing to another depending on what available at the time. This way you have a clear idea of the direction want to go and find resource and courses that fit your direction. Rather than letting a shiny object dictate what I’m doing. So I make a list of the resources that I will need for the challenge – for example I have my watercolour supplies, but what books or courses could I use as a framework for the challenge. Usually this is what I’ve already got access to, but I may do some research as well.
In creating any project plan, a key aspect is the idea is to plan any issues out. Consider what issues you may have (from time to environment to dealing with overwhelm) before you start the project, try to iron them out and provide solutions for them.
You probably won’t iron every issue out or know all the issues that you will com across (if you did then it wouldn’t necessarily be a challenge!). But take confidence in the fact that you have set yourself up for a good start. Its part of the challenge to deal with these problems and issues, to find ways around, threw them or to change direction.
To give an example, one of the issues I face is that I’m a reformed perfectionist, my initial expectation is that I should be good at something. Which is to say I have an unrealistic expectation that should always be at the level of the person who is teaching it. That’s not to say that I will be or feel I am, but I expect myself to get there very quick. Yes I seriously know this is completely unattainable, but that sneaky inner critic of mine won’t shut up about it. If I procrastinate on it I will either end up very stressed before I even beginning the project or I will talk myself out of it completely. Therefore I to counteract my inner critic I literally plan in time for making mistakes, and give myself permission to make as many as possible. Mistakes are very likely when using watercolours. I have used watercolour before and I often feel frustrated with them (they are more tricky for me than acrylics, acrylic generally do what they are told, watercolours always seem to have a mind of their own!). So I will start from the basics in my watercolour project, to actually allow myself to enjoy being a beginner for once.
The Projects First Step
Finally I work out what my first step is: For me the first step is to set my supplies out – to create an environment where am ready to paint. Then the next step may be to just try one watercolour out – make marks or lines, or to watch a video and then try out the examples. But I often find that the first step is the most difficult, it is a step that once it is taken, will move me onto the next step, then the next. It’s a process of building momentum.
You don’t need to see the whole picture, every step, just take the next step. You may notice that I haven’t written about finishing, with creativity the end goal is always just to create. I don’t think that there is an end to learning watercolours, but my end of the project is when the next month starts and I begin a new theme. I may even decide to add future projects about learning more specific things about watercolours. Personally I sometimes like having a vague idea as I have spent too long in the past aiming for specific things that are years away. So it’s refreshing to keep a month or year focus, which is flexible and ever changing. Although I do find ways to keep myself accountable to my goals, so that’s a question that I concentrate on. How to keep moving myself onward with the momentum.
However, you may wish to do visualisations on where you want to be in the future and write down your ideas. Explore these questions in your journal:
- What does finish the challenge look like to you?
- How do you want to feel when the challenge is over?
- Where do you think or want this challenge to lead to?
- How does it link to your other goals?
- What tangible things do you want to get out of your project? (e.g. new journal pages)
- What do you think your last step is and how does it link to the big picture of your life?
As always I’m just sharing my process and you can tweak it to fit you, as add your own ideas into the project planning pot, to get your right way of project planning and developing a challenge for yourself. I have created a free printable journal workbook on project planning, please sign up to the website to get access to this content and other freebies.
Be your creative self!
December and January are the months when we tend to consider where our life is going and reflect on where it has been the most (with perhaps the exception of our Birthdays). Perhaps at this time we are reminded (as one year ticks into the next) of the finite nature of life. Or we are inspired seeing others setting with the new year resolutions and goals. Whatever the reason tis the season to reflect and plan. So, I want to share with you a few practical ways to look at your goals, that I’m currently using.
The Yearly Reflection and Review (the biggie overview)
Freebie available for you to use*
The good olde Yearly reflection and review is first in most goal setting plans. It tends to have several sections;
Firstly, the what did you achieve, accomplish or do section.
Secondly, the positive, gratitude filled and best memories section.
Thirdly, the (so-called) negative, what didn’t go so well and what we want to stop and let go of section.
However, I have to say that the fourth section is probably one of the most important to me – Lessons Learned. Or what can I pull together as some lessons I’ve learned from the stuff that went on in 2017? Lessons Learned pull all the previous sections together. It provides us with self-development possibilities of actually looking at the so-called negatives as challenges and looking at the so-called positives to decide which parts of life are for us and which aren’t.
How many times have you done something positive and it ended up, well, with a sprinkling of negativity? Or vice versa something really negative happened and a few months down the line it ended up as the best thing that could have happened? The lessons learned mean that we can further examine the positives and negatives of a single situation in more detail. Or even label the experiences we have a just experiences or challenges.
A small example from my life, would be an instagram challenge I did in November definitely didn’t feel all that positive at the time, but it has helped me to build up confidence about sharing with others (even if it was a small amount of people in comparison to other artists/creatives). So lessons learned can be things gained from all parts of your life. Plus lessons learned can also help you with the time-frames, what you actually do want to do with your life, speed of your goals or your preferred way of working (which we often overlook or are unrealistic about when planning).
Yearly goal-setting (big goals, year-long goals, habits)
Freebie available for you to use*
There are a number of different ways to set your goals for the new year. The first is the long-term goals, year-long ones that have more of a project plan type, many different stages to complete. You can look at your key priorities for example:
- Creativity and self-expression/self development
- Health, well being, self care and exercise
You pick approximately 5 of your key priorities to work on this year and then put your long or medium goals around them, for example what you want to accomplish, how you are going to accomplish it and why.
You can also choose desired feelings (see Danielle LaPortes work on the desire map), if you would prefer to. Sometimes the feelings help us define what goals we haven’t even thought of. For example, my word of the year is Harmony, how can I promote more harmony in my life?
Either way, your priorities or desired feelings become the structure you use to review your big goals each week or month. A way in which you can keep momentum working towards things which may be year-long activities. So for example, I have regular goals that I want to accomplish around Faith, self-care and self-development, biz, creativity, family and relationships. These are my focal points, so I know where to prioritise my time and energy. I do review them as the areas may change, but they are helpful in setting my daily and weekly agenda. You can use habit trackers to monitor that you are doing something towards them. You can also more easily develop the details of projects if you are a type of person who develops projects as you go along. You may also find it easier to change your goals – by changing your goal area, as your ideas about your project develops. You can also set monthly challenges or 90 day projects on your priorities or themes without too much change to your goals.
I would recommend having habits (I’ve written about the creative habit) that you develop instead of new year resolutions which you may feel like you’ve ‘failed’ in on the first day or month. Resolutions to me promote all or nothing thinking. Habits are things that you develop and then restart when you recognise you’ve fallen of the bandwagon. Work on one at a time and implement them not all at once but about one every month or two (or as part of a 90 day project).
Yearly goals (Shorter goals, quick wins) – 101 things to do
Freebie list available for you to complete
This is a way to monitor any small- quick win goals that you have. Pick some goals or things to do that you can tick off when complete. They have a finite time-frame and once they are done they are completed. Some examples are:
- Fitness classes
- Books/blogs etc to read
- Self-care activities
- People you want to see
- DIY projects
- What you want to learn
- Podcasts and online-videos
- Day trips
- Art/Creative Projects
- New things to try
- Clubs and society
My preferred method is to give myself a gold star when I complete them (yes like I got when I was a kid – it seriously works for me!). This 101 things to do method makes it fun, doable, easy to achieve – especially if you like lists. You can set them all at once or leave some space to set later. You can also make it a family activity where everyone contributes to the list or just do it for yourself. The 101 goal method may also feel less pressured than having the big goals of the other goal setting methods.
The vision-board (or the visual-goal setting)
This is a good way to remind yourself of your goals daily – but is also a good way to keep an idea of what you want your life to be like without having a solid goal. Basically you are seeing what you are attracted to and can consciously find experiences that match what your ‘ideal life’ looks like. I use this as a yearly thing with my vision-board or inspiration board in my bedroom, but also monthly with a collage in my journal of pictures I like and then putting them together. But if that’s not your style you can also pin pictures on a board in p-interest or use canva/picmonkey to create your own vision-board background so you see it every-time you log on. However, from a psychological point of view remember to take action on your vision boards in some way – such as exploring or trying out some of the things on the board for it to be effective for goal setting. Do some art around your board or journal why you like certain things.
“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.” – Joel Barker
Remember that everyone is an individual so there are many ways to set goals or do reviews. These are just suggestions. What you need to do is find your way and find your right time of reflecting on your past, staying in the present and looking at the future. Your way is the right way for you, I would suggest giving a few different ways to create goals a try and seeing what fits best in your life.
*I have created a free Yearly Reflection and Goal Setting Journal (or workbook) for you to complete with questions to ask to review your year and create 2018 priority areas and goals. I have also created a separate 101 things to do in 2018 printable for you. Please sign up to Amanda Jessie Studios to get these and the other freebies available.