2018 lessons for a creative life

I like to spend a little time at the end of the year to look back, and the goal is not to focus on successes or failures. Those really mean so little because anything can be defined as a success or failure depending what you are measuring.

Instead, I like to look at the lessons learned. These are my true accomplishment. They are what I carry with me into the new year, into new starts, and into taking up where I left off on old projects.

I rely on them to guide me forward to new goals and dreams, and to help me in challenging moments when uncertainty and doubt close in.

So here are my most important lessons for having a creative life.

Having a creative life is a daily effort.

It isn’t a now and then thing, we can use it every day and expand it. And there are many ways to be creative beyond the usual artistic expression – in our relationships, in our work, in our routines, in how we feel. There is so much room everywhere for creativity that can expand our experience.

Admit your fears and try anyway.

Putting your fears to words is a powerful way to express them and to see them for what they are.

They are bits of craziness we create to hold ourselves back. Excuses we use either to be lazy or to not make an effort. If you see them written out, they become much smaller than when they are these gigantic shadows lurking in your mind.

Make the art that feels good

Whatever your style is, pursue it with passion and pride and all the love you have.

It doesn’t matter if it’s highly stylized, hyper realistic or something in between. If it feels like what you want to express, then go for it. Feel good about your creations.

Push yourself and keep an expansive mindset.

Sometimes, I have stayed with what is safe and reliable, easy for me to do.

I know we all do it, but sometimes, you must push beyond safety or else you never learn what you are capable of. I have found it can be very helpful to envision myself as an ever-expanding being. Steadily I push boundaries here and there in different places and different ways and I expand in many other ways when I take this approach.

It’s up to me to add the fun

I always thought fun comes and goes as it will… like a cloud or or a gust of wind, or maybe someone else has to bring it for me. Whichever the case, it is pushed out by an outside force.

That’s not really true. I’m responsible for the fun. I can add it to my life and my art whenever I want and that is liberating and empowering.

You can do more than you realize

I believe in many cases it’s our own selves that hold us back with our beliefs and ideas about what we are able to accomplish.

If we set those aside, we can expand far more than we ever thought possible. It just requires a willingness to believe we have all sorts of hidden abilities waiting to be developed. So believe! Believe in yourself and your ability to learn and grow! You have so much inside you.

Asking questions is a skill to build creativity

I wrote an article not that long ago about keeping a question journal. I believe in them strongly.

If we can ask ourselves really great questions, we give ourselves the chance to come up with so many possibilities that we never realized we had in us. Making this a daily practice can really build our creativity.

Don’t wait for inspiration, make a decision to feel creative.

I know you probably have heard it before, and I have many times that if you wait for inspiration you will be waiting a very long time.

It’s random stuff.

Well, quit waiting. We can choose to make ourselves feel creative whenever we like. It’s a feeling that is within our control and we can train ourselves to access it at will if we want, as well as all the related feelings of wonder, curiosity, playfulness and passion. They are all inside you whenever you are ready to call them up and put them to work for you.

Take responsibility for creativity

Taking personal responsibility is one of my major themes for this past year and it will continue to be so indefinitely.

Whatever it is that I want to create and feel and make happen in my life is up to me. I can’t get too far blaming events or other people. In the end, I am responsible for how I use my time and other resources, and if I value creativity highly, then I need to make it a priority in my life.

Our lives are our greatest creative effort

I have really thought about this quite a bit this year. Our lives, guided by our feelings, our accomplishments, our energy, is truly our biggest creative effort.

We often live our lives on on auto pilot, not really paying much attention to what we are doing and how we or feeling or living. We lose a lot when we allow this to happen.

Our lives are worth our creativity. It means finding goals and dreams and being resourceful in how we bring them into reality and our creativity is one of our greatest resources. Be sure to make use of it daily and let it grow and expand.

What lessons about living a creative life have you learned this year? Which are your favorite and which will you rely on next year?

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