Setting the Tone
Beginning a new year, lots of people want to take steps toward their ideal selves. I am no different, and it is hard not to view the turning of the calendar as an opportunity to start fresh. But this year, I’m trying something a little different. I want to pick one single thing to rally around this year, one single goal that the rest of my goals hinge upon. Like a campaign slogan, I want it to be my battle cry as I take on 2017. Some people choose only a word, but I’ve selected a short phrase instead: Done Not Perfect.
Perfectionism Is A Sickness
All my life, I’ve been pretty good at whatever I’ve tried. I’m not saying this to pat myself on the back. In fact, it’s been something of an obstacle in my adult years. For the longest time, I didn’t know how to fail. As a kid, I never struggled with art, social relationships, and most classes came easy to me (math & science were the exception).
As a young adult, I had to deal with the reality that my childhood was spent as a big fish in a little pond. Growing up in a small town in Oklahoma gave me a rather narrow representation of the world and my place in it. When I moved to a larger city and became a responsible adult, I felt an immense pressure to perform and be better than everyone else. This led to a subtle anxiety that still affects me to this day.
The anxiety I speak of is the main cause of my worst enemy: procrastination. I devote a whole chapter of my eBook Capture Your Creativity to the root causes of procrastination, but essentially it boils down to fear. Fear of not being good enough, being laughed at, or – worst of all – ignored. For years I disguised this fear as perfectionism. I would avoid doing anything at all unless I knew I’d be good at it. Naturally, this meant I didn’t try many new things. If I did venture out into new territory, I would rarely tell anyone. I would labor in secret until I felt I had reached something superb.
While this problem pervaded through many areas of my life, my art took the biggest hit. In school, I always had a teacher telling me what to draw or paint. As an adult and no instructions, I collapsed under the pressure. I certainly had enough skills to create art, but I had no direction and I didn’t know where to begin. What if it’s awful? What if I can’t compete? My art hobby came to a screeching halt and stayed that way for several years.
Done Not Perfect
I originally got the idea of Done Not Perfect from artist Jake Parker. I casually watched his video about “Finished Not Perfect” in the art world. At the time, I didn’t much of it. Little did I know that the video planted a seed in my mind that took several months to take root. I didn’t really start to think of the concept until about two months ago, and it whispered to me like a voice in the back of my head.
After a while, I started actively telling myself this phrase. I would feel anxious about drawing out a new month in my bullet journal, or hesitant about presenting in front of an audience. Then I would say it out loud to myself and press onward. Done Not Perfect.
As we begin 2017, I want to formally announce that Done Not Perfect and I are in a serious relationship. I want to incorporate it into everything I do. Every time I feel fearful about looking foolish or being inadequate, I want to close my eyes and see these three words etched onto the back of my eyelids.
This little phrase has helped me tackle some major insecurities already. Besides helping me mar the first page of a brand new Leuchtturm (a prospect that used to strike fear into my heart), I also have begun drawing more. No major paintings have been created thus far, but I have been playing around in my sketchbook with no specific purpose. I’ve been allowing myself to make mistakes and not erase them. Isn’t that crazy? In fact, I started a brand new Instagram account @theoceanandthewoods so I can share my work (if you follow my art account I will love you forever).
I even managed to hit a huge milestone and lay down paint in a handmade watercolor sketchbook. I’ve held onto this beauty for more than six years, terrified of making it imperfect. Now I’ve ruined the first page with paint tests and samples, and I feel like I’m walking on air.
Find Your Inspiration
No matter where you find yourself in the calendar, find something that inspires you and hold onto it. It can be a word, phrase, or something more lengthy. Whatever you use, make sure that it’s simple, memorable, and that it resonates deep within you. Pop over to my 2017 Master Plan to see how I analyze my big lifelong desires and goals. That type of fun exercise might be exactly what you need to figure out what direction you want to go and what attitude can help you get there. And go check out my 2017 Planner Printable Kit to get a head start on organization this year so you can focus on more important things.
Once you have your word or phrase selected, make sure you put it somewhere you can see it! When I get home from my trip, I’m going to brush letter this phrase and slap it over my desk. That way it can stare me down when I’m feeling procrastination creeping over me.
If you don’t set new year’s resolutions, that’s totally fine! Resolutions aren’t necessary to having a great year full of growth. But you should still set goals and strive to be better each and every day. There’s always something to do, learn, or lose in the quest of becoming your ideal self. I’m confident that 2017 is going to be the year of getting stuff done – perfection be damned.
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