The end of the year. A time for celebration, holiday, reflection. The end of the year naturally gives way to the start of a new one, and with that a whole host of expectations. One of the biggest expectations is that we will do more next year, and that we will plan, vigorously, to make that happen. We will write resolutions and renew our thirst for betterment. We will push ourselves harder, move farther, and attain more.
We must see the destructiveness of this.
Especially as artists, as creative people wanting to pursue creative things, this isn’t always the way forward. I’m wary of New Year’s resolutions and lofty blog posts recounting achievements. I’ve written them. I’ve believed in this practice. But this year, everything feels different. And that is 100% due to where I am as an artist.
It is easy to forget that the reason why we create should be the catalyst for forward movement – not the latest trends, not comparison against others, and not simply to do more for the sake of doing more.
I’ve spent much of 2017 creating, but not creating works that were reflective of where my art is going. I created because it was fun, and because I wanted to challenge myself, and because, gosh darn it, that is what makes me happy. My creativity needed an incubation period to digest and understand where I am meant to go. That begins now.
And it doesn’t have a timeline.
It doesn’t have expectation attached to it.
I won’t push my new series forward, it will push me.
That is a very important distinction to make. If you let your expectation of yourself as an artist dictate when/how/why you create, it is unlikely you will create your most meaningful work. And sometimes, that’s okay. I spent years going easy on myself, and letting my expectation guide me. It was valuable time spent. But I’m awakened to a new way of creating, a new way of expecting.
I expect honesty.
I expect rawness.
I expect pain.
I expect joy.
I expect failure.
I do not anticipate success, nor do I search for it.
I do not anticipate accolades, nor do I search for it.
Let’s create a new wave of expectation this year, one that doesn’t look down on yourself for being different, feeling different, or acting on different motivations.
If questions of your future come up, answer them with raw honesty.
Let yourself write down, say out loud, how you want your life to take form without any comparison, without any expectation, without any lies. That is much, much harder to do than we think. Our lives are imbued with the expectations of others and of ourselves. We are taught that our decisions must bring us forward in a way that society thinks is forward, not realizing that someone’s up is another person’s down. Answer your questions with honesty.
You are an Artist! Feel your feelings.
I’m not sure why we label certain feelings as bad and others as good. I’m not sure why we so vehemently celebrate one over the other, when both make up the human experience. Both sides of the emotional coin shape our lives, our outlooks, and our best art. If you aren’t feeling your best, then don’t feel your best. But recognize that emotion, and learn from it. We don’t grow from changing our personalities out of fear, we grow being present with our emotions and learning from them.
Recognize life as a timeline, not a single moment.
It is so easy to get caught up in the NOW, or the feeling that if we don’t achieve our life’s goal right now, we are failures. Time is a gift, and it makes success sweeter. It makes the journey better. It cradles our dreams until we reach them. Not to mention, life is ever-changing. As time moves on, we move on. We grow and change and morph as people. We want different things. We should want different things. Let yourself. Let yourself chase what you want even if it isn’t in line with where you thought you’d end up. That takes ultimate bravery.
Let your art move you.
Let yourself create because your passion calls you to act.
Let yourself create because your truth is hidden in your art.
Let yourself create because you must, not because you think you have to.
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If you have any motivation-related ideas, please leave them below.