My Advice: Tips for the New Year

By Lizzie Stafford Photo by Karina Sharpe

Two weeks in to the start of January this year I signed a lease on a new shop. The year before was a bit of a ‘nothing’ year, and when I got to the start of January it was one of those moments when you think ‘Right, what is actually going on here.’ I sat at the kitchen table with coloured pens and a sheet of poster board and decided it was time to get real. I wrote down my ‘resolutions’. They had to be possible, but still challenging, and about doing ‘good’ rather than ‘lose 5 kgs’ or ‘get better hair’. Then I just wrote things I really, really wanted to do in large capital letters, like OPEN A SHOP, and I kept the poster visible so it was staring me in the face whenever I went near my desk. For the first time ever, I actually managed to come through with my resolutions. (Okay, most of them, anyway. Nobody’s perfect).

Normally I wait until the end of January to start to do anything, because everyone is on holidays, or it’s too hot, or I have the rest of the year to do it. And then before I know it it’s December and I’m adding it to next year’s resolutions. But I found getting motivated from the very start, and ticking off as much as I could in the first month, gave me the momentum I needed to keep me going for the rest of the year.

Of course, everyone’s different, and there is nothing wrong with taking time out in January to reflect and recharge. That’s the advice of one of the creative women when I asked about what she does to get motivated in the new year, and a trip to Europe sounds pretty darn inspiring to me.

Nick off overseas!

Elizabeth Bull, photographer and owner of One Fine Print

My first knee-jerk-reaction response when asked about tips for the new year, about getting motivated and making the most of new beginnings was: nick off overseas! As that's what I am doing on the 1st of January next year. It's a completely self-indulgent trip I've decided to take right in what historically has been quite a busy time for me! It was also what I did last January. So I thought, really am I the best to comment on this?

But then I thought about it and considered how time away from the business is actually what I've always done to prepare myself for the new year. Very early on in my business I did something that has now become my end of year activity that sets me up for the year ahead and something I look forward to and feel keeps me grounded for the busy year ahead. I go down to the beach for a few days, I sit around in a deck chair and do nothing much. It feels like a great relief after a busy December and year gone by. It really gives me the ability to just sit and think, and to discuss and play with ideas that have been swimming around in my head.

Now don't get me wrong; I travel and take breaks all the time. But rarely do I do the relaxing, sit around holiday. But when I do the “sitting around and relaxing” thing in December, I come back in January refreshed and ready to go. Over that period I think about my goals and what I've achieved in the previous year. I re-evaluate and think about what I really want out of the next year. Not in a New Year’s resolution type of way; more like a to-do list of what I'd like to achieve and how I could go about doing it.

A couple of things I've found help me clarify my thoughts during this time:

1) We completely shut down. It's the only time we do. No email correspondence; just a nice “see you in the New Year” auto responder. This time away from the computer helps me think and have real clarity without any distractions. (I don't even like cats, why am I looking at this cat video!). I guess it works for me the same way as why the best ideas always come to you in the shower.

2) Don't put pressure on yourself to "figure stuff out". Sit back and relax, and the good stuff will come to you. Surrounding yourself with people who you feel inspire and challenge you helps as well because you can bounce those thoughts around and talk them out.

3) Put your thoughts and goals into a to-do list that is achievable and manageable. Break down your ideas into small tasks so that when you are back at your desk in January you don’t become overwhelmed and disheartened.

Set the intent but leave the specifics of it open-ended.

Karina Sharpe, conceptual artist and product photographer

At this time last year I was in the process of a big decision. I had been working at my jewellery design business Karina Jean, part-time amongst motherhood, for a number of years and had just had my biggest success with a design called The Pencil Necklace. Yet in the midst of filling all the beautiful Christmas orders, I was feeling a calling to switch paths. It wasn’t an entirely new calling or an entirely new path as I had been making imagery of one kind or another, alongside the jewellery, for some time and had spent much of the previous 12 months feeling torn between the two endeavours.  I knew at my core that I couldn’t actually do both with any noteworthy success. I realise now that sometimes it takes success in something to really test your love of it, and I found my love lay elsewhere. So in January this year I began to make changes from a product-based selling business to an image-based service business / artistic practise. And much of the rest of this year has been about putting things into place and finding my niche.

For me, 2015 feels like a time for cultivation and creative exploration. In January I will make some plans for the New Year. I don’t really do New Year's resolutions in the traditional sense. I don’t go “I’m going to get fit and join the gym”, “I’m going exhibit my art” or “I’m going to make more money”. I choose to phrase things in a way that is based more on the concept or the feeling of the things I want more of in my life, rather than them being fixed goals. So instead I will say things like “I’m going to feel happier in my body”, “I’m going to make beautiful progress with my art” and “I’m going to feel richer in all areas of my life”.

I like to set the intent but leave the specifics of it open-ended. That is because I believe if it is up to me personally to set the specifics of the outcomes, I can really only set them based on how big I can imagine them to be and that can really only be based on a reasonable extrapolation of what I have already experienced. If I leave things open-ended for the Universe to deliver in its own way then the outcome can be beyond what I could have imagined for myself and things seem show up in amazing, random, and wonderful ways.

Use charts and lists and schedules, broken down into three simple questions.

Amalie Wright, director Landscapology

Charts and lists and schedules come pretty easy to me, but to know what needs to go on all those charts and lists and schedules for 2015 I’ll be taking time to answer three deceptively simple questions:

1) What is the big aim for this year? This sets the broad parameters for all other decision-making on a yearly, monthly and daily basis.

2) Who were the most inspiring, engaging, talented and fun people I worked with last year, and how do I get to do more work with them, or people like them, this year?

3) What are the things I need to do less of this year, in order to achieve numbers 1 and 2?

Lizzie Stafford is a lifestyle and entertainment writer and owns and runs Künstler, a magazine and bookstore in Winn Lane, Brisbane.