I’m not big on resolutions. However, here’s my personal cheat sheet for 2013. Feel free to chime in with your own.
1. Have a Ritual.
This one’s especially important if you are a freelancer or work from home in any capacity. However, it’s good practice even if you have a regular 9-5 to take some time every morning and get your mind right. My ritual consists of the following:
A bad habit of mine is to pick up my iPad, iPhone, or computer first thing. So I make a concerted effort to have a device free cup of tea with the dogs every morning.
2. Spend Time With Dogs.
“Dogs remind us that life has no purpose – other than to take care of others.”
– Errol Morris
As I mentioned, I make it a point to spend time with my dogs on the couch every morning. I’ve found this to be a great way to start my day.
3. Go Outside.
My favorite days are the one’s spent completely outdoors. Whether I’m riding my bike, skiing, exploring in the woods, or watching the world go by on the porch, the outdoors is where I seek refuge and clear my head. It’s why I live where I do and couldn’t imagine residing someplace that didn’t offer an escape from the indoors.
4. Put Pen on Paper.
The most creative people in the world all have one thing in common. They are constantly collecting their thoughts on paper. Computers are amazingly powerful tools, however they cannot replicate the effect that drawing, writing, and working with your hands has on your brain. There really is no substitute for a well-used sketchbook or journal.
5. Don’t Wear Short Sleeve Button-Ups.
You’ll come out looking like a tire salesman or a mormon missionary. In all seriousness though, dress like you know what you’re talking about, and people will listen to what you have to say.
6. Do Things That are Hard.
Yea it’s a bit trite, but it’s true. A smooth sea never made for a skilled sailor.
7. Talk Money, Make Money.
Like eating and sleeping, money is a necessity of life. And one thing I’ve learned, is that if you can’t talk about money, no one is ever going to give you any. While I’m not advocating that you live your life in the pursuit of the all mighty dollar, I do think it’s important to be fairly compensated and valued financially for your skills. Learn how to market yourself and capitalize on your abilities.
Do What You Love. Love What You Do.
This one was inspired by Ben Chestnut’s Creative Mornings Talk. Ben is one of the founders of MailChimp. He never set out to build an email marketing empire, yet instead built MailChimp out of an existing need for his clients. Today it’s wildly successful, and while most would consider email marketing pretty lame, Ben has managed to build one of the top creative cultures around all by not doing what he loved, but by loving what he did. I highly suggest watching the full video.
9. Savor Your Meals.
“I only have a finite number of meals left and they’re all going to be good. They just are.” – The late Nora Ephron
Life it too short to eat at Olive Garden and TGI Chillibees. Make every meal count, and when possible, eat in the company of others, not in front of a screen.
10. Live Simply.
Don’t live beyond your means. Keeping a low overhead allows you to be more selective with your time, something you’ll never get back no matter how much money you spend or make. Don’t waste money on things that aren’t in-line with what you want to accomplish in life.
11. Have a Work/Sleep Buffer.
I once read that late nights are the product of a poor process. And while I believe this to be true, sometimes burning the midnight oil is a necessity and part of life. Having a buffer between work and sleep is critical in making what little shut-eye you can manage count. For me, 30 minutes or so of reading before bed usually lets my mind relax enough to disengage from problem-solving mode.
12. Keep Making Stuff.
We only get better by doing and maintaining an extensive volume of work. Just like chain smokers light the next cigarette with the last, the key to producing lots of work is to never stop. Use the by-products and leftovers from your last projects to create something new.
13. Get Cosmic.
I’m stealing this one from Draplin. Getting cosmic means simply keeping perspective in life. For myself, spending time creating, exploring, or being in the mountains keeps me grounded. There’s a lot of stuff in this world that doesn’t mean shit. Figure out what’s important to you and spend your life pursuing it, but at the end of the day, remember that we’re all just specs of dirt floating in space.