Starting off the new year right as a creative

January 2, 2020

The turn of the year is traditionally a great time to reflect on the past twelve months and to look ahead at the next year. For many corners of the creative world, the holidays are a slower time for work and you may have extra time to be thinking about your business. I’ve been wrapping up some smaller projects and been working on plans and steps to better my work and personal life in 2020. Here are some of my tips to start your 2020 off the right way:

Reflect on this past year

Look back at the past twelve months. You might feel proud and excited about the things that happened this year - or you might be disappointed and looking to do something different. Either way, you should take the time to reflect.

  • What went well this year?
  • What could have gone better?
  • What were my biggest wins with my business this year?
  • What do I need to do to reach my goals this next year?

Set Actionable Goals for the new year

Once you’ve taken some time to reflect on your business and life this past year, you can look ahead. Setting goals is a traditional thing to do in the new year, but the biggest pitfall in goal-setting is making generic ones that you can’t measure success with. If you don't know exactly what your goal is, how will you know when you attain it? Also, your goals may need to include “anti-goals” - the things you’re not going to do this year. 

Your goals should be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-framed

Once you have your goals, write them down and review them weekly to see what steps you need to take to achieve those goals. It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day work of keeping up with clients and deliverables, but don’t forget to carve out time to work towards your actual goals.

Get organized with project management tools like a big business

Big projects and goals require project management of some kind. When you’re working on growing your business and you have a lot of moving pieces between projects, it can be helpful to use a dedicated tool to manage tasks, clients, and deadlines.

For my business, I use Basecamp to manage our projects and to collaborate with contractors and clients.

Some other notable tools:

  • Trello - Trello is great for organizing pretty much anything. Got ideas or stages for tasks? You can organize it!
  • Google Docs - Google Docs is one of the easiest tools to collaborate with all of the “office” type softwares. Also check out G-Suite which is a full suite of email and software for your business.
  • Honeybook - If you’re a photographer or run a client-driven business, HoneyBook is an amazing tool to run all your CRM, booking, and contract management needs.

Take proactive steps to grow your business

If you run a client-based business, one of the best things that you can do is to reach out to your previous clients often to see how you can serve them. It’s far more time and cost-efficient when you can get work from existing relationships. Take an hour to make a list of all your past clients and connect with them to see if they have any project needs.

Focus on your health

While it may be one of the most standard new-years resolutions, take proactive steps towards being a healthier you. I struggle to prioritize working out, but when I commit to working out, I feel better and have better clarity working through projects. Staying healthy as a creative plays a critical role in helping you to have a better lifestyle, be more creative, and a more reliable creator. 

Also, you may find yourself in a season of creative burnout. Take the time to find what you're passionate about and focus on your attainable goals. (See more on this at 9 Ways to Beat and Avoid Creative Burnout)


What are some of your goals this year? Share in the comments below!

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