Getting Creative: A Step in the Right Direction

I have big news, my friends…

I painted! And not just once, but twice!

Rewind with me for a minute: In January 2017, I adopted the of integrating “healthy habits” into my daily routine, activities like meditation, cooking, and yoga, which I feel are good for me and my self-care. Things were going really well, engaging in two habits every day (well, not every day, but most days!), and then…summer happened. The transition from graduate student to adulthood was exciting, scary, and also extremely busy! My focus shifted from self-care to employment, and I wound up leaving very little time for myself and my healthy habits.

Getting back into the swing of things was a must once life settled down in September. I also realized I needed to revamp my system. I still needed structure while loosening the reins a bit, understanding that my new schedule might not allow me to do what I was used to doing.

Life lesson: it’s okay to be flexible. Getting into healthy routines is fantastic, sticking with those routines long-term is admirable, but it’s also important to recognize when adjustments need to be made. Adapting to changes in our lives can make our goals more attainable, instead of setting ourselves up for failure!

For me and my new schedule, I knew that there were going to be days where two healthy habits just weren’t going to get done. Holding onto my original system would’ve, in essence, resulted in my failing over and over again on those days that got away from me. Nobody wants to feel like they’re failing! I mixed things up instead, deciding on monthly goals that I felt were attainable and didn’t stray too far from where I had started.

Here’s where painting comes back into the picture: For months I would look at my self-care options and bypass painting, knowing in my gut that it wasn’t going to happen. I viewed it as a chore, which actually wound up making me feel terrible. My roots from the past and my goals for the future are grounded in art, yet I have this unusual aversion to picking up a paintbrush. It makes no sense and is frankly really frustrating. Soul-searching and being patient with myself had gotten me nowhere, so I decided to stop giving myself the opportunity to bypass it.

Fast forward to October, my list of goals included the following:

  1. Do one healthy habit a day for 20 days,
  2. Throw away one thing every day for 20 days,
  3. Try 2 new recipes, and
  4. Paint twice.

I built painting into a monthly goal rather than allowing myself to pass up the option day after day, while also understanding that this needed a gradual reintroduction. Twice in 31 days seemed pretty reasonable, and allowed me to choose when I’d do it, rather than if I’d do it.

I think a lot of us tend to jump into healthy habits really quickly, going from zero to sixty once the calendar changes to a new month or new year. We spend time garnering the motivation to “start fresh,” and often dive in head first with goals that require a huge adjustment to our everyday lives.

How many of you have made a New Years resolution to “go to the gym every day,” or “cut out all junk food from my diet”? How many of you have lost momentum several weeks or months into starting that resolution? I’m certainly not a health and lifestyle guru, but what I do know is that there’s something to be said about taking baby steps. If we learn to integrate things that we want or need in a gradual way, we stand a much better chance of succeeding at accomplishing our goals: they become part of our routine.

I can’t say that I’ve broken the painting curse; two days of painting hasn’t changed my mindset completely, but it’s a start. I accomplished a goal and took a step in the right direction in trying to get back to my artistic roots. And you know what? It felt pretty dang good. I got a glimmer of that feeling I used to feel in college, that freedom to create what I want, experiment, completely mess things up (potentially, at least) and then figure out how to put it all back together again.

It’s actually pretty similar to life, now that I’ve phrased it that way. We make choices, see them through for better or for worse, and then have to figure out how to proceed and move forward. Maybe that’s why I was so hesitant to paint. With all of the real-deal life decisions that I’ve been confronted with over the last several months, maybe having to figure out how to put a painting back together felt like too much. Maybe that’s why it felt like a chore. What an interesting idea… (mark my words I’ll be mulling that idea over for quite a while!)

My painting goals are the same for November. For right now, consistency is more important than acceleration, and I know I’ll feel pretty amazing when I add another two days of painting to my list of accomplishments. See what I did there? When,” not “if.

I know I’m going to do it, and I know I’ll be disappointed if I don’t. It’s a concrete goal now, there’s no way to get around it. It’s either do or don’t.

Amazing what a little adjustment can do to help us accomplish our goals.

Challenge: Adjust one goal you’ve been struggling to reach lately to make it more achievable.
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