2016, the One-Month Checkup
Just over one month into “Twenty Fixteen,” I thought I’d reflect on my progress. I didn’t consciously set out to change my life this year, but early on I can tell that’s what’s happening.
This started in late 2015—maybe in October or November. I was reading and watching some of the content Chase Jarvis was putting online and it really hit home with me. Initially, I was hoping to get some photography insight, but ended up getting more life advice than anything else. In implementing a lot of the things he discussed—which I’ll get into below—I’ve not only begun to take what I consider to be much better photographs, but I’ve also started living better. And I kind of adopted several long-distance, one-sided mentors, too.
(I should also note here that some very long, late-night conversations with one of my closest friends—who happens to be a life coach—around Christmas were integral in this, too.)
In Chase Jarvis Raw 2.0, a really fun and informative new YouTube venture, the photographer gives a lot of lists and organizational tips—things I wasn’t necessarily open to before recently. But I decided to try some of them, starting with his morning routine from Episode 7. I’ve adopted it almost identically, and I think it’s the biggest key to how much better I’m feeling in my life these days (Another guy I’ve been listening to a lot lately, adventurer and entrepreneur, Tim Ferriss, discusses the importance of an airtight morning routine on his podcast, too). All of the elements, which include hydrating, exercising, eating the right things, and gratitude/visualization, have made a huge difference. But the game changer for me was twenty minutes of meditation.
I started doing Transcendental Meditaion twice each day, including as soon as I wake up, and I can’t believe just how much clearer my head is, how much more open and outgoing I am, and how focused I’ve become. It’s truly fascinating to watch unfold. I think that in the entire month of January, I’ve missed two twenty-minute sessions. The most important thing, I think, is to keep at it—like almost everything I’m talking about here—and it’s benefits will grow even greater. In addition to the jolt of energy TM gives me in the morning (I’ve cut my coffee intake down by about 75%), it also helps me to recharge my batteries and relax a bit in the late afternoon and really get me into the headspace of doing something creative for myself.
Everything else in this morning routine is just as important. But the meditation has shown me the most lasting results so far.
In addition to the morning routine, I’ve also started to become super organized. With apps like Evernote and Habit List, I can keep track of things or jot down notes, and have my phone remind me when I need to do get something done. I’ve always been a fairly routine person, not veering too much to the left or right during my day. But I never really got organized inside of that time. These apps have helped me to do that and I’ve been able to increase my productivity—especially with creative projects—significantly.
Speaking of creative projects, I’ve committed to doing them everyday, and so far, so good. I’ve managed to make at least one photograph for each day of the month in January, and in February I’m involved in #28toMake, which is an amazing motivational program from Jarvis’s CreativeLive online educational platform. The goal is to get you into the habit of creating everyday by having artists assign you daily projects. I’m documenting my progress here. For the first week of the month the tasks were given by Kate Bingaman Burt, who inspired me greatly with her drawings. It actually rekindled a passion in me that I’d put aside, and now I’m also committed to creating an illustration everyday as well. I’ve even started an Instagram account called Daily Illo, where I’ll be posting a drawing everyday starting in March, once #28toMake is through. In the meantime, I’m still trying to post a photo to my personal Instagram account everyday (As well as here on the blog), and I’ve been posting daily shots of my cat to the @PinkyPolydactyl account everyday for about a year now. So, much of my creativity in 2016 revolves around sharing on social media (something Austin Kleon suggests in his book, Show Your Work, which I’m reading right now).
SIDEBAR: I’m hoping to do a little write-up on Show Your Work on the blog shortly. One of my resolutions at the beginning of the year was to read one book per month. I failed at that in January, having made it only about halfway through Tracy Stewart’s Do Unto Animals before getting sidetracked and then picking up this Kleon title. But I’m definitely finishing that one out next.
Sharing my work and myself is something I didn’t feel very comfortable doing for the longest time. But I’m finding that it’s a lot easier so far this year because I simply decided I didn’t want to shelter myself anymore. I’m a little more confident in myself and my abilities, and I’ve come to realize that the fears of judgement and rejection were crippling me for a long time. Now that I feel more focused on myself and my goals, I no longer have to worry about those things; I just worry about getting shit done. It’s pretty great and seems like a new world has opened up for me—one that I’m good enough to be a part of. This episode of Chase Jarvis LIVE with inspirational figure, Brené Brown, entitled “Daring Greatly to Unlock Your Creativity, really helped with that.
I think that’s about it. So far 2016 has been about self-improvement and creating. My plan is to keep at it and hopefully get some paying work somewhere along the way. But either way, this year has already been a success. And I haven’t even had my wedding or road trip through the southwest yet! So, as great as January’s been, I think the rest of the year is going to be even better. I’ll continue updating as it all unfolds.
Do you have any resolutions for 2016? Any projects you’re working on? I’d love to hear about them. Comment with what you’re doing!