Setting Goals to Learn Skills: Creative Goals

watercolor painting with my girls
watercolor painting with my girls

It’s been 2016 for 3 weeks and now that I feel like I have a good foothold into the year I have set my creative goals. I’m not big on resolutions: they always seem to be unattainable and are easily forgotten/broken. But giving myself a list of goals always keeps me excited to continue learning and growing, and always gives me a place to start from when I feel like I am unproductively spinning in a circle.

I can’t say enough about how important creative projects are to me. They have not enhanced my life: they have saved my life. They gave me a place to focus nervous energy and stress after a day at work, and eventually gave me a place to focus my sadness and anxiety when these emotions overcame me and left me unemployed. They allowed me to turn negative emotions into something beautiful and tangible, and much to my surprise, that others wanted to share in as well. Not every day was motivating, but with some perseverance creating made me feel that my existence was just as important as everyone else. It was a way to express myself when words could not properly articulate my feelings. I believe that in our hectic world of work and schedules (even the “fun” stuff is scheduled!) we all need creative balance; creative voice; creative outlet.

Whether you are looking to advance your skill level or add a creative project to your life a simple list is all that is needed to get started and get motivated. You need not make a fancy vision board – unless you want to. Pinterest is a great way to visually plan your projects and it can always be with you via your smart phone. Let’s face it, they are handy little gadgets – they need not consume your everyday life – use them to your advantage. You will not find me spending much time on social networks. But you will catch me checking my phone often as I work on a new knitting pattern I downloaded or do a web search for some creative inspiration.

My finger after teaching myself how to needle felt: whoops!
My finger after teaching myself how to needle felt: whoops!

Getting Started

Like most things, getting started is the hardest part. I started creating because a therapist told me to 16 years ago. So I just started exploring. In my school days I loved to write. So I bought a nice book and starting writing poems, and did a bit of journaling. But I found this to be a bit intense for me, so I turned to making goods instead. First it was making books that I could write my thoughts in. We’re not talking anything complicated here. A hole punch, some ribbon, and some pretty paper. Eventually this lead to playing around with clay, to making beads with clay, to jewelry making. I forced myself to set some time aside at least once a week to explore what I enjoyed doing.

Jewelry making: my longest - and most successful - hobby
Jewelry making: my longest – and most successful – hobby, enjoyed even outdoors

You don’t have to spend too much money

One of the common excuses we tell ourselves as that we don’t have the extra income to purchase supplies necessary to be creative. We walk into a craft store and are overwhelmed by all the options available. The price tag can climb high if we are not careful, but it doesn’t have to. Thrift stores are great places to find skeins of yarn for only a dollar or two. I am constantly finding unused skeins at my local second hand store. Costume jewelry from thrift stores or rummage sales can be dismantled for jewelry components. I have picked up some great beads for as little as a quarter by buying costume jewelry at a flea market. I’ve also expressed to family & friends creative items I would like to have for my birthday: a coloring book, a how to book, a nice set of pencils or markers, a tool…

Thrift store find: all this for under $50
Thrift store find: all this for under $50

Building on a skill

If you already have a creative skill under your belt but want to expand on your knowledge, You Tube is a great place to start. This is where I am now. At the tail end of last year I taught myself how to magic loop knit by watching You Tube videos. This gave me the confidence to say that this is the year that I would teach myself how to knit cables.

St. Blaise combs one of my favorite tools
St. Blaise combs: one of my favorite tools

Don’t be hard on yourself

If you don’t do every goal on your list, or you feel unsuccessful, be proud that you took the time to attempt it. You made some time for you, and that is what matters. Tomorrow is a new day. If you decide a particular hobby is just not for you, swap your items with a friend for a project they have not had the chance to do. It’s okay to change your mind. Just be open to change, and be open to exploring the untapped talents we all possess.