Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Six Reasons to Start a 365 Project This Year!

Wow!  Another year is quickly coming to an end.  I am really excited about starting 2013 off right and I’m looking forward to the changes it will bring. 

Are you thinking about making resolutions for the New Year? I know a lot of you who do, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve even made a few of my own over the years.  But how often do we really stick to them? 

Sometimes people’s resolutions sound more like a laundry list of expectations than an actual resolve to do anything.  Resolutions are about making a change, but many times we focus on the object of that change rather than the steps required to change it.  When we do that, the resolution doesn’t work.  By focusing on the changes instead, you can make progress towards your goals. 

One great way to do that is with a 365 Project geared towards a goal.  Year-long projects are a great way to break up a bigger project, tackle a lifestyle change, or even just exercise your skills.  If you are thinking about making a New Year’s resolution, here are 5 reasons why you should start a 365 Project this year instead:

  1.  It boosts your power.  It’s a fact – the more you create, the more powerfully creative you become.  The brain is a lot like a muscle.  You have to exercise it to keep it fit.  Doing something creative every day is like lifting weights.  The more often you lift, the easier the lifting gets because you are building up the strength of the muscles.  But just like those muscles, your brain has to do some heavy creative lifting every day or it will start to go soft.  
  2. It boosts your speed.  If doing something creative every day is the brain’s equivalent of a daily workout, then doing something creative and challenging every day is like training to run a race.  By forcing your brain to be creative on command, you are putting some speed behind the thought process. There is nothing quite like sitting down with your project an hour before the midnight deadline to force some critical quick-thinking.  If you do it often enough, your brain becomes trained to provide quick and creative solutions to the task at hand.
  3.  It builds your skills.  Have you ever heard the phrase, “Practice makes perfect?”  It’s something musicians learn early on (or at least the good ones anyway).  I have long said that creativity is more about having an understanding of how to use the tools than it is about having some artistic gene in your DNA.  The most creative musician is nothing if he can’t get the sound of the music out of his head and onto paper or a recording where others can hear it, too.  Not every musician is a great songwriter.  Some musicians are wonderfully talented but just can’t compose.  But good songwriters all have at least one thing in common – they can play a musical instrument.  They understand the nuances of that instrument, the technical possibilities, and have a pretty good idea of its limitations.  Mastering your skill, whatever it may be, will make you more creative.  So to that end, practice, practice, practice!
  4.  It develops self-discipline.  Ray Bradbury once said, “You must write every single day of your life....”  In fact, he said it a lot, in a lot of different ways. He had a good point.  Even if most of what you create is drivel, it’s better than nothing.  Something is always better than nothing.  We are all guilty of waiting until we are inspired but sometimes it’s actually the starting that inspires us!  So just start already!  Teach yourself to create even when you don’t feel creative. If it’s mediocre (or even bad!), it can always be improved, but nothing is just that…nothing.  In the mean time, if you’ve been doing it every day (or at least most days), you’ve built a habit.  You’ve been productive.  And who knows, your next uninspired project might just turn out to be some of your best work.
  5. It grounds you in the here and now.  Why are you holding on to all those old page kits, paper packs, oddball embellishments, and other supplies that are just taking up space in your craft storage?  We tell ourselves that we are saving them for that just-so project, but often that project never comes along.  Or maybe it does.  Maybe we’re just afraid to use it because we might have regrets later on down the line.  Which is worse, using it and wishing you hadn’t or not using it and having it go to waste?  Ditch the regrets.  Live in the now.  Doing a 365 project will help you learn to make do with the supplies you have, grounds you in the reality of the here and now, and helps deplete those massive stores of product you’ve been hoarding.  After all, if it’s 11:00 pm, you can’t exactly drive to Michaels to get that embellishment that you only think you need, right?  Make the deadline by making do with what you already have.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.
  6. It teaches you truths about yourself.  I can’t tell you how much I learned about myself from my first Layout-a-Day challenge.  It really surprised me.  The prompts offered for the challenge had me really thinking hard and digging deep into my own psyche to develop pages that stayed on theme, and they touched on some very personal subjects as well.  On top of that, I noticed some patterns in my scrapbooking style and habits that I hadn’t ever noticed before.  Like how often I use the color green (even though I try not to), how I have a hard time using bold complimentary colors, how I over-think every page, and how I have a hard time saying “enough” and just letting the page be.  Learning those truths helped me watch out for my common pitfalls (like over-thinking a page) and just go with the flow.  It helped me get out of my creative ruts.  It’s made me faster, happier with the end results, and ultimately, more creative.
Now, go back and take a good hard look at those resolutions you were thinking about making.  Do those six points apply to your resolution?  Then why not turn your resolution into a 365 Project instead?!

Come back tomorrow when I’ll share some information about a 365 Project I will be starting this year!  Maybe it will give you some ideas on how to do a project of your own and how that project can apply not just to creative resolutions, but also lifestyle and spiritual resolutions as well.

Until then, go do something crafty!

P.S. The cute little magnetic calendar pictured at the top of this post will be featured in another post later this week!

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