Everyone’s vision of success is different, but what makes everyone similar is the want to achieve. Achieving something makes us feel accomplished. And with that feeling of accomplishment comes the belief we are able to do anything. Our brains are hardwired to think that way. It isn’t wrong, but there are pros and cons.
Here are 10 habits you can start building throughout your creative life.
Know that design is subjective
It’s important to understand that there are things you like, and things you dislike. It’s also equally important to grasp the fact that there are stuff others will like, and stuff others won’t, too. This is human nature, and it’s what makes each and every one of us unique individuals on this green Earth. No one is going to like the exact same number of things that you do. (If they say they do, they’re probably lying.) So if a client says they don’t like your design, your music track, (or that DIY t-shirt you made whilst possessed with the creative spirit) accept that their tastes aren’t the same as yours and move on. If you’re working for corporate, stay cool. Your colleagues would have his or her own tastes, too. Swallow that chill pill, don’t fight the flow, and get on with your creative life.
Learn to accept criticism
This ties into the first point above. You might think you know everything, but the truth is, you don’t. And neither does your immediate superior, your superior’s superior, and your superior’s superior’s superior. (We’ll stop there, but you know what we mean.) Your grandad doesn’t know everything, either, even though you’ve been sitting on his lap as a child listening to his stories dating back to World War II. Seek criticism. Embrace rejection. Bite down on that bullet and shrug it off. So what if Chris says he loathes that new website you just coded? Hugh’s eyes bugged out when you showed it to him. He called it a work of art. They’ve both given you different perspectives of their own. Stay friends with both of them.
But also learn when to say no
Sometimes, people can be well, people, and make requests that involve going to the moon and back. We’ve definitely encountered clients like these – and if you haven’t, well, you will eventually. Others might leave everything up to your creativity, which can be great until it comes to the feedback session. Some love micromanaging, while others get straight to the point. In the journey of your creative life, there’s always a balance to be struck between the two. When your gut tells you to put a stop to a certain situation, listen to it. Stay polite but firm, and stick to your principles.
Keep on learning
Did you know that our brains make up about 2% of our body weight? One brain contains roughly 86 billion neurons and billions of nerve fibers. Don’t let all of that go to waste by allowing your mind to stay stagnant. Give both hemispheres of your brain a workout. It doesn’t matter what you choose, there is always something new for that big sponge in that noggin of yours to absorb. A new program, language or life skill – all of these can help land you in a different industry and broaden your work horizons. Even if it’s just a new hobby you’re picking up, it can effectively expand the number of roads linked to your passions. Online courses are always readily available, but your time and dedication is definitely a strong factor in this learning process.
Thrust yourself into new experiences
Trust in your own abilities to be able to handle anything thrown in your direction. Your instincts will always be there to get you out of situations, or into lucky situations if you look at it that way. Think about all the things you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the guts to try. When you’re in your comfort zone, you’ll never want to leave. Here’s how to get right out of your comfort zone and explore new things. One of the reasons is that you’ll get more creative when it comes to solving problems. Experiencing something new and foreign introduces a form of exercise to your brain, which is a good thing. Another reason would be having improved reflexes in everyday life situations. When your mind is sharp and you’re used to having different scenarios thrown at you, you’ll find it easier to adapt.
Perfect your balancing act
As a teenager, there are a plethora of things that crowd your mind. School brings you assignments, embarrassing acne, crushes, and deciding whether you like where you stand on the popularity spectrum. When you’re released into the Amazon of the Working World as an adult, your time is divided into a lot more things. For example, you have work, dealing with colleagues, play, friends, your hobbies, your pet(s). Also, maybe Netflix. 60% of your day is spent at work, and most likely 85% if you work in an Asian country. Time is always there, but it always needs to be managed. Get yourself a handy app like Evernote and get reminded of things you should be doing or should have done, but most probably forgot. Things like paying your rent regularly should be on the top of your priority list so you don’t spend on miscellaneous stuff. This means that even if you have to eat cup noodles for a month, you’d still have a roof over your head. Remember that adulting is never easy, but you’re a lot more credible if you pay your bills on time.
Don’t fall for the glowing lure of your digital devices
Social media is addictive. We get it, though, humans are pretty social creatures. Some use social media to run away from their life problems. Some continuously update their social media to receive approval through likes or comments. Others feel a fear in constantly checking for updates so that they don’t miss out on anything. However, dealing with people on the Internet, contracting the dreaded disease of social media envy… Everyone is susceptible to this. There are a ton of factors that can and will affect you both mentally and physically.
People sink into the habit of posting only things they want others to see. Social media was designed for people to feed off people. It has a way of gaslighting us into comparing our own lifestyles to others. Getting married, for example, or having perfect kids, or having a shopping spree in Paris. Everyone has different life goals, and you don’t need to match up with them. The moment you quit checking off the things in your life based on your friends’ lives, you’re on the path to your own success. Put that phone or tablet down, and start taking in the world around you. Slide yourself into more face-to-face time with other human beings. There’s life waiting to be experienced around every corner. It just depends on whether you’re ready to jump on board or not.
Keep those eyeballs peeled for opportunities
How did opportunists become opportunists in the first place? They obviously signed up to a lifetime’s subscription of Possibilities With Potential To Change Lives. Yeah, nah, here’s what really went down. These guys saw problems others were facing and dove right in to offer their assistance and skills. They did it without caring about whether they would benefit from it or not – their end goal was to genuinely help improve something. These are definitely the sort of people you’ll want to surround yourself with. Referring to habit #4, where you’ve possibly begun to expand your horizons. When you’ve added new things to your skill set, you’d be a hundred times more ready to jump at the next opportunity! This can catapult you into a better, more satisfying creative life.
Shut up and listen
You know that one friend you meet with every few months to talk about life over dinner and maybe a drink? You’re surprised you know everything about them, from their relationship, their work problems, their family issues, their embarrassing health stories, their dog’s insanity, and maybe even the state of their bank account. Aside from your birthday and maybe your favorite drink, they know next to nothing about you. Don’t morph into that friend. That’s the last thing you want to be. Understand that you both took time off your daily grind to spend time with each other. When your friend needs to speak, listen. Vice versa, you can expect that your friend should be listening to you when you need him or her to. And if they don’t, well, you’re basically in need of a new buddy. Likewise, in a work environment, keeping those lips zipped and ears peeled can go a long way in your creative life.
Understand that work is never just work
A bored employee is not a productive employee. At some point, we all eventually reach a point where we’ve peaked in our current position or in our creative life. It’s completely normal, and that means you’re ready to advance into new, different tasks. Do yourself a favor and reach out to your company’s HR. Tell them you’ve outgrown your current field, and want to do something that you can fully engage your heart and soul in. It doesn’t matter if you’re working in a small studio or a big booming agency. When it comes to an employee’s personal growth, no company is going to say no to advancement that can benefit both sides of the coin. Let’s say you do find them digging in their heels and saying no… you’re probably better off elsewhere and you know it.
If you do try and succeed at developing even just one of these habits, your future self will thank you, big time. For more inspiration, check out our 7 foolproof ways to stay productive! Or if you’re feeling adventurous, explore more on why your creative inspiration is just a bite away.