How to Keep the Momentum Going When Your Creative Resolutions Start Going Down the Toilet

by Gina Clark

It’s easier than you think.

woman sitting on a chair in front of a living window wondering how to keep the momentum going

Wondering how to keep the momentum going?

New Year’s has come and gone, and we’re inching towards the second month of 2021. If you’re like most people, those shiny creative resolutions you made on Jan. 1 are starting to lose their lustre.

No wonder. Resolutions set you up for failure. There’s too much pressure and expectation to start, followed soon after by too much shame and guilt.

So, how do you salvage the intentions behind those resolutions and keep the momentum going? You scale your expectations way back and then take tiny steps in your desired direction.

Big aspirations that fizzle out

First, ask yourself if this has ever happened to you before. Do you tend to dream big but then get overwhelmed by the (probably unrealistic) expectations you’ve put upon yourself?

Does this sound familiar: I’m going to draw [or, insert other creative aspiration here] every day!

Let’s guess what happens. You start with wild enthusiasm, which tapers off into the abyss of never drawing within the first month.

Or, how about: I’m going to write my historical fiction saga set in the royal court of medieval Spain by July!

Maybe you begin gangbusters, but the monumentality of the task you’ve set for yourself will soon sink in, leaving you to lose enthusiasm or even abandon your project forever.

Know that this is normal and common. So, what can we do to counteract our good intentions?

If this has happened to you before, ask yourself if anything worked to get your momentum and enthusiasm back. If not, take a moment and think about what could work.

What’s a tiny step you could take to move forward using your intuition as a guide?

Taking tiny steps can propel you forward and make creativity part of your daily life.

Why tiny steps? That might seem counter-intuitive, but the magic of small steps is they disarm the brain’s natural fear response and reduce the chances of overwhelm taking over, meaning you can move forward faster.

As creatives, we can have a million ideas and projects we want to try. Or ideas for stories, paintings, or poems. And, if you’re a multi-passionate creative (as I am), your idea machine might be in overdrive, cranking out one idea after another.

Post-it notes stuck all over a bulletin board with push-pins keep the momentum going

It’s okay to have lots of ideas and those bigger aspirations back of mind. But to move forward, we need to focus on what’s in front of us right now. We need to be open to creative detours along the way that might change our original route and make the result even better than we could have imagined.

Instead of saying, “I’m going to write every day,” commit to opening your journal, taking out your pen, and writing for 3 minutes if you feel like it. If you don’t write anything, that’s okay! Continue to show up and see what happens.

What you’re trying to do is slowly and with kindness, develop a habit and lessen the resistance you might have if you, say, told yourself you had to write 500 words a day from the start.

Do whatever helps you make gradual daily-ish, weekly-ish, even monthly-ish changes, and over time you will begin to embody what you want more of in your life.

This is a reliable path to creative success, whatever that means for you.

Suddenly, you’ll find that creativity has become a habit, part of your daily life, that you can’t live without.

Happy Creating!

Originally published in Medium | Curiously Creative.

For more on learning new creative habits please check out:

The Importance of Beginner’s Mind in Life and Art

How to Approach Creativity Like a Scientist.

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