Welcome to 2022. The past 1 or 2 years have been very interesting and disruptive for a lot of us. Most creatives changed jobs or quit to start their businesses. If you took any of these paths, congratulations! Took a ‘partial sabbatical’ from social media and blogging but this year, I plan on getting back to this. Hopefully, I’ll be hosting a couple of workshops as well so be on the lookout. Now let’s dig into this post! I will be sharing a few things I have learned about planning your year as a creative. A few of them are things I practice and others are from top creatives I know.
Take stock of the number of projects you did and categorize based on skillset
Before you can plan for the new year, take a look at the old. Identify the number of projects you did in 2021. If you’re a graphic designer, how many logo projects, posters, illustrations, etc did you do? If you’re a filmmaker, how many documentaries or event videos did you produce? If you have the time, group them into paid, pro bono, and personal projects as well. This gives you a very good sense of the volume of work you did and helps you know how much you earned from each.
Set new goals
In setting new goals, write down what the end of 2022 looks like for you. For example, at the end of 2022, I should have GHC100,000 in my account, I should have increased my expertise in Adobe Illustrator by 50%, I should have worked with 50 clients (here, you have to specify what kind of skillsets for each. You can choose to do 30 logo projects, 20 editorial projects, etc.). Because you know what you did last year, it gives you a good sense of what to do this year. After painting the picture of what the end of 2022 looks like for you, break it down into months and write down monthly actions you can take to reach these goals. It is not compulsory that your personal year should start from January. I like to start my year in February so I love planning in January. Yours can start even in March. I always advise that it’s in the first 3 months of the new year. This means your year will end the same month the following year.
Identify what new skills you want to acquire. It could be as simple as e-mail or phone call etiquette
It is important that as a creative, you learn some new skills every year. When I mention skills, I’m not just talking about skills that are directly related to software or even creative skills. Skills like project management, client communication, e-mail etiquette, effective timeline management and many others are skills that go a long way to help you as a creative. Identify the ones you think can help you or make you a better creative this year. Speak to a friend or mentor to help you understand what some of these skills could be. You can even spend time re-learning some of the tools you already use especially because there are always new updates.
Create a not-to-do list
You have already set your goals and action plans so it’s time to have a ‘not-to-do’ list. This list should outline the things you don’t want to do or you’re trying to stay away from. This is an integral part of your planning process because it helps you identify things that waste your time or draw you away from achieving your goals. It is important to put down actions that will help you to stop doing the things on your list. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding alternative activities to replace them. Track your progress by reviewing your ‘not-to-do’ list every month.
Find routine in your chaos
It is always said that it’s important to find a routine. Routines can be very difficult for a lot of creatives because sometimes you’re just not in the mood (another topic for another day lol). Maybe you never plan your day or maybe it’s extremely difficult to even pick a sleeping time and a ‘wake up’ time but it’s important to outline the key things that form part of your day and write them in an orderly structure. You may not add times to it but you know that no matter what time you sleep or wake up, there’s something you’re going to do first and something you’re going to do last. Be guided by that flow. Find productivity tools like Notion, Evernote, Walling and even your reminder app on your phone to help you with how you schedule your tasks. Make good use of your calendar app too.
I can’t state this enough. The highlight of my year 2021 was taking a DISC Test. A DISC is a personal assessment tool used to improve work productivity, teamwork, leadership, sales and communication skills. It measures your personality and behavioral style. It does not measure intelligence, aptitude, mental health or values. It describes human behavior in various situations, for example how you respond to challenges, how you influence others, your preferred pace, and how you respond to rules and procedures. It really helped me understand who I am. This influenced a lot of the decisions I made last year. I had to make some very tough decisions but it made me more successful in achieving my goals for the year. Understanding how you behave and how you react in situations will go a long way to help you know what makes you uncomfortable and what you’re willing to change about yourself. You can take a test like that here. Some of the packages come with a coaching session where the coach helps you understand and interpret the results.
Find good circles and a good accountability partner
The kind of people you walk with will make or break you as a creative. Don’t be an island. Surround yourself with people whose vision and beliefs align with yours and people who won’t lie to you. Sit down with them and share your plans for the year with them so that from time to time, they can hold you accountable. This year, one of my goals will be at least 1 post per week. That’s at least 52 posts for the year. So you’re all my accountability partners. Let’s do this!
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