Improving yourself, no matter what aspect of your life, is the key to growing and maturing as an individual. No matter what area you aim to improve in your life, be it more time with your family or loved ones, developing new skills and abilities, travelling and seeing new places, meeting new people. These are things that either make your happier, or make you better at something. Both of which are a benefit and have a positive knock-on effect to the other aspects of your life, in turn, motivating and driving your other goals.
When one area of your life is going well, it can passively or actively benefit the other areas.
On the other hand, if you aren’t actively improving, or are seeking to improve, your skills can stagnate, causing you to slowdown and forget certain skills that you’re not practicing. This stagnation feels like your not going anywhere, that your stuck in the same place with the same skills, being left behind as the world evolves. Which can cause anxiety and for you to feel down upon yourself for not trying to improve. This can be a motivator in itself, or worse, it can cause you to give up completely.
You slowly begin to lose what you don’t practice or maintain.
As creatives, one of our strongest attributes, is our ability to change. There is so much to adopt to now, new mediums, new devices, new software, new hardware and tools. We learn these skills in our spare time, to enable us to grow and remain relevant in our industry. Although, knowing which one will benefit you the most at this very time is also important. You need to know which skill or piece of software is the most important for you to invest your time and money in.
The problem with ‘listicles’ on self-help and improvement is that they state what you should change or improve, but without telling you how, or what way you can begin to change. The following are ways you can tangibly improve your skills and experiences;
- Find your role models – Having people you look up to and emulating their views and values is a great way to improve your life and mindset. You look up to these people for a reason (hopefully the right reasons). Being influenced by people is normally a bad thing, but being influenced by only the right people is a good thing. If you can’t be around the right types of people in real life, then follow them online, reach out to them, ask them questions, tell them your problems. Depending on the person your trying to reach, they may or may not get back to you straight away, be patient, you don’t know their situation, send them positive feedback and tell them what their material and their work means to you and how it affects you.If they are people in real life, then try spend more time with them. They say “never meet your heroes”, that you will be disappointed as they won’t appear as they did when you held them on a pedestal in your predetermined view of them. But if they are the right type of person, if they are truly a role model, this wont be true.
- Practice secondary passions – We all have multiple things we are good at. But if you’re curating your primary passion, whatever that may be, practice these skills in your down time when you’re taking a break from your primary passion. Allow yourself the time you need to practice other passions in a healthy way. This will keep you from becoming burnt-out from your passion and will provide an enjoyable escape from your other passion and pursuits.This should keep you motivated, as it’s something you enjoy, but also improves a different set of skills. You may end up finding out that you prefer this passion over your current primary focus. Remember, you don’t have to share everything you do or create with the online world. As hard as that is now, with tools and apps that make it easier than ever to share your experiences with the world and across multiple platforms at a time. If you’re trying to curate your work to show just one of your skills (your primary skill and passion) to grow an audience of your own, people are going to put you in a box. You need to actively shape the box people put you in.
- Be around the right people – Similar to finding your role models and consuming their material and sharing their values and drive. Being around people of a similar nature in a physical space is just as important. Drive is infectious, particularly if the other person is in the same industry as you. You feel compelled to help them, but also keep up with them, since they are the right type of person you want to be around for your circumstance, they act as an accountability partner either actively, or passively. Their drive, ambitions and professionalism brush off onto you.This is why, in the beginning, finding the correct day job is key to growing yourself. Being around the right people for 8/9 hours of your day is crucial. If you are still working a day job, ask yourself, who are you hanging around with? The same goes for your close circle of friends. Are these the right types of people who are going to foster a creative and ambitious mindset? What type of values and qualities in people do you want to be around?
- Take up a new skill and set a goal for it – Separate from just practicing your secondary passions. There are a myriad of skills/hobbies you can take up to improve yourself. You could choose something that compliments your primary passion. You will know what skills and hobbies these are for your own circumstance, for an example, you may be a designer who uses Illustrator and Photoshop, but you may wish to learn After Effects so you can animate your designs. These skills go hand in hand and directly benefit each other, depending on your knowledge and skill in the same creative industry. Take up something brand new, learn the problems and skills required to overcome them. It could be a sport or activity. Something that gets you active and participating with other people, new people. It could be voluntary work, allowing you to feel fulfilled in helping others with their struggles. By helping others, you are also helping yourself. It’s immensely satisfying to help others.By developing new skills by setting goals for them, you’re aiming to achieve more than you normally would. It keeps you accountable for your actions, particularly if you iterate in public. Goals take you out of your comfort zone, forcing you to learn and grow as you overcome obstacles to get closer to the goal. Work towards the goal every day. Some small effort you put in now, overtime surmounts to a large sum of work. What could you be doing with your time that is more important? What small task could you do today that gets you closer to your goal? What’s the one thing that will make the biggest difference at this moment in time?
- Be open to feedback and change – As I mentioned above, I feel as though it’s in a creatives’ nature to be open to their ever-changing environment and to be constantly seeking new information, data, resources, apps, software, and other tools in their industry in a bid to improve their work. Consuming this type of information is a hobby in itself. Being aware of your changing environment is key to improving your skills and remaining relevant in your industry. If you are not open to change or being aware of trends, you may find yourself left behind in an ever evolving industry, while your skills stagnate. More than likely, there is some skill you learned 5 years ago, that you either don’t use today, or is no longer relevant. You can’t be stubborn in any industry and expect to succeed. If you’re stubborn and not open to critical thought, your work will not grow beyond your own scope. That being said, feedback should be sought by you, and not given to you without you seeking it. It has to be from trusted sources, someone who understands you, your values, and your circumstances. Feedback allows you to be aware of others thought process and may bring to light, something you originally overlooked. An outsiders view can give you an entirely new perspective.
Of course, we don’t have time to pursue everything we want to, we need balance in our lives, we
can’t hone all of our skills and improve every aspect at the same time. Pick something that will make the most impact at this moment in time.
Evaluate and assess which one thing will make the biggest impact to your life, your work, and your loved ones.