I’m a firm believer in the fact that every year coming up is going to be better than the one that just passed. As I reflect on the relationships, the opportunities, the failures, the people and events that made 2011, I feel fortunate to experience what I have.
If you haven’t had the greatest year, it’s easy to get bummed out. Stay positive and work had to make the next day, week, month and year better. Here are a couple of things that you can do in 2012 to keep you happy and get those creative juices flowing:
1. Read more.
Put down the TV remote and open a book. Read. Read the classics. Read books that inspire you. Read books on entrepreneurship. Read about history. Read about interior design. Read about interesting people. Just read more.
2. Sweat more.
About a year ago, I was feeling pretty shitty about life. I was in a new city with a new job and it was tougher that I thought it would be to adjust to a new social setting. And I got saw less than 30 minutes of sunlight a day, which is depressing unto itself. And then I joined a gym and started going every day. Running, biking, lifting, playing basketball. It feels awesome to sweat.
3. Smile more.
Smile. Smile a lot. Even if you’re not happy. Two things will happen. (1) The act of smiling will make you happy. Fake smiles lead to real smiles. Trust me. It’s science. (2) People will reflect happiness back at you. When you smile on your commute, at the mall, in the hallways, people smile back. And that definitely makes you feel good. Plus, the world could use more smiles.
4. Write more stuff down.
We all have ideas, but they tend to come to us at the most inopportune times. Like on the toilet. Or when you’re sleeping. Or when you’re watching a movie. But then we forget them. Inspiration is fleeting and can come at any moment. Get into the habit of writing stuff down. Whether it’s a “to do” list, a random collection of inspirational articles to read, business ideas … it doesn’t matter. Write it down. It’ll make your life less stressful.
5. Dance more.
Dancing is fucking awesome. The world needs more dancing. Dance in the morning. Dance into the night. Dance by yourself. Dance with a partner. Dance with your friends. Do a fist pump (I won’t judge). Do the white man shuffle. Do the Carlton. Be suave. Be stupid. Be sexy. Just have fun and dance. I’ll be honest. I’ve had a couple of one-man dance parties in 2011 and they definitely got me to a happy place.
Remember, if you’re reading this, you’re on a computer that’s connected to the internet. You have a roof over your head. You can afford to connect with people. You also have the gift of creativity. Don’t be afraid to use that gift to make stuff. Let’s make 2012 an awesome year!
A desk jockey sits and waits for opportunities. They don’t see opportunities. They see instructions. They’ll happily progress through their day doing exactly what was defined in the confines of their job description. They sit around waiting for their sergeant to tell them what to do. How to do it. When to do it by. They’re looking for orders. When they deliver on those orders, they know that their job is done.
Entrepreneurs write their own briefs. They don’t sit around waiting for someone to give them permission to start a project. They just do it. Entrepreneurs recognize and create opportunities for themselves, regardless of process, budgets or expectations. Entrepreneurs fuck shit up. They do whatever is necessary to take their project from an idea on a napkin to a product in the real world.
So, my question to you is this: on your down time, are you an entrepreneur or a desk jockey?
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re willing to take risks. You’re passionate. You’re exited to push a tough project through. You’re willing to risk failure.
Or maybe you’d rather be a desk jockey. You value stability. With free moments, you organize your emails. You clean your desk. You gossip at the water cooler.
Here’s the thing – you make great work by chasing opportunities and turning ideas into products. You don’t make work by having the cleanest desk. It doesn’t matter where you are in the organization. You could be the CEO. The receptionist. A cog in the machine. The guy in the mail room. Use your free time to THINK. To innovate. To inspire greatness. To take risks. Come up with ideas, pitch them and try to get them made.
I understand that it’s intimidating. There is a fear of failure. What if you come up with a stupid idea that flops? Let me help you out with that one – it’s going to happen. You will fail. And then fail again. And then you’ll learn bit by bit from your failures and you’ll start succeeding. Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be hard. You’ll be going up against roadblocks. You have to put in effort. You have to sweat. You have to chase people. You have to bully your way through. But it will be worth it.
Staying within your box is definitely the easy way. Just hide behind your job description. You won’t get fired. You’ll maintain your current reputation. You’ll be a good employee. You won’t rock the boat. You’ll be safe. But then remember this – well behaved bitches seldom make history. So write get out there and your own briefs. It’s when you stop playing it safe that you start to have fun.
Thanks to all of the people who make the free shit. To the artists that write, draw, compose, publish or just plain make great stuff. Thanks to those who do amazing work and then release it on the internet for free.
Free art is an interesting concept. Just because it’s free, doesn’t mean it’s good. In fact, to many people, it could mean the opposite But free makes things accessible. It’s a low barrier that allows for people to have an introduction to you and what you do. If it’s good, we pay attention. If it’s not, we won’t remember you in five minutes.
But thank you. Thank you for putting yourself out there. For trying to create something.
And artists like to create art that’s free as well. In the words of Bill Cunningham, “If you never take money, they can’t tell you what to do. That’s the key to the whole thing.” By shipping art for free, you retain control. You can experiment. You can try new styles, new rhymes, new hooks. You can walk the grey line of stealing stuff that would normally get sued for if you were making money off of it.
Like the mixtape scene in hip hop. Artists – big or small – drop free albums for their fans to download. If you’re small, you have the potential to blow up. Kid Cudi and Mike Posner both broke out into the mainstream through the success of their mixtapes. If you’re already big, like Eminem or Ludacris, it gives you a creative outlet to try new material. To continue to create art. To keep your shit sharp.
You don’t stay creative by keeping all of your good ideas inside. You get creative by letting them all out. By releasing all of them into the world, so that you have to come up with more. You develop your creativity by producing.