New Year’s Resolutions Every Creative Professional Should Make

Yesterday, we talked about Why (Most) New Year’s Resolutions Are Useless, and some guidelines for making your resolutions and goals more effective by using the principles of goal setting theory.  By setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound (SMART), you can drastically improve your chances of setting challenging goals that make you grow as a person, while still being possible to achieve, leading to an ultimate feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.

In this post, we’ll discuss some New Year’s Resolutions that every creative professional should make, to lead to a more productive career and a balanced life between work and leisure.  Please note that these resolutions will be fairly generic, and will not be specific enough to be SMART goals (though examples are included), but can easily be modified based on your own interests, time-frame and skills.

If you have any resolutions that you’re making, or that you think should be on this list, let us know in the comments!

1.  Learn a New Skill

Example SMART goal: “To learn essential jQuery techniques so that I can code a jQuery slider from scratch by March 21st.”

Learning a new skill is one of the most important things any creative professional can do.  If you’re a web designer, try learning some web development to bolster your skills.  You’ll find that not only do you increase your possible client range, you also will become a better web designer by understanding how your designs are implemented in markup.  If you’re a digital painter, try learning some 3D or photography, and then consider blending it into matte painting, which will push your artistic boundaries farther than ever before.  It’s important to continue learning and growing as a creative mind, and learning new skills is a great way to do this.  Be careful to not over commit and attempt to learn dozens of new skills at once, instead, focus on a specific new skill and master it.

2.  Generate Alternate Income

Example SMART goal: “To generate $500 amonth in extra income by June 1st by selling web templates on ThemeForest.”

I am a huge fan of passive income techniques that come from selling stock images, web templates, graphic design elements, or audio loops.  Creative jobs tend to be a lot more variable in terms of earnings, especially for freelancers.  During the global recession, many creative professionals noticed their clients leaving for cheaper priced options.  While you can combat this by making sure you deliver a quality product, helpful and friendly support, and a unique artistic perspective, the fact is that money is a powerful motivator for potential clients.  So, to avoid running into financial difficulties, setting up a passive income stream can really help even out your bumpy income.

If you’re not a fan of passive income techniques, you can still generate alternate income through financial investments, taking on a partner to complement your skills (if you’re a web designer, team up with a developer), or by using your existing equipment and skills to open up a new avenue for potential clients.  For example, if you’re a digital landscape photographer, consider trying portrait photography.

3.  Get More Exercise

Example SMART goal: “To use my elliptical for 30 minutes a day on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays every week of the year.”

The reason for this resolution is two-fold.  First, creative professionals tend to spend a significant portion of their day sitting in front of a computer, drawing tablet or mixing board, and getting a little extra exercise can be a great boost to your health, as well as improving your endurance over time and giving you a bit of extra energy.

The other reason is that exercise often helps spark creativity later, whether it’s due to just a break from a long period of creativity, or by stimulating creative processes in the mind.  Many people report that they get creative block, where they are unable to create for some reason.  Exercise can help give your mind a rest (while exerting your body), and can help creativity later on.

4.  Save More Money

Example SMART goal: “To increase my savings account to $10,000 by December 1st”.

When combined with resolution #2, this can be a great resolution for creative professionals to make.  Generally speaking, there is no such thing as having too much money saved, particularly when freelancing or in an unstable economy.  By generating some streams of alternative income, you can then pledge to save that money and increase your savings.

Money tends to be a distraction and a source of worry for many of us, and by ensuring that you have proper savings in your accounts, you can reduce the worry about debts, bills and instead focus on the creative process.

If you have debts or bills, always pay them off first before saving money, as the interest and fees associated with bills will add up quickly.

5.  Meet a New Person

Example SMART goal: “Develop 10 new professional contacts in the graphic design industry by May 1st.”

Networking is arguably the most important thing for any creative professional.  It can open up doors for new jobs, new clients, potential business partners, inspirational creative people to draw ideas from, or just a new friend who you can talk to.  There are networking events in nearly every city for creative professionals, and there are organizations around the internet as well that are full of people to meet.

Aside from getting involved in networking events, social media is a powerful tool for meeting new people without an obligation.  My personal favorite site is StumbleUpon, where people can share sites with each other that are interesting.

Blogging is another technique that can help you meet new people, whether running a large network or just a personal, thought-filled blog.

So, there you have it, some New Year’s resolutions that you (yes, you) should be making.

Any thoughts?  Do you agree, or disagree, or have any additions that you’d like to add?  Also, what are your New Year’s Resolutions this year?

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  1. Dzinepress December 30, 2010
  2. Final Cut Studio December 30, 2010

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