As a New Year begins, we all tend to focus on our goals for the year. Goals are always a good way to measure your progress in any endeavor, especially as creatives. When we have a fixed goal of starting or creating a project, we can measure it regarding success or failure. We can answer questions such as did I complete my manuscript on time, did I submit X number of artwork for the call for artists announcement, etc.
What often gets excluded in our journey toward creative recovery is the concept of setting intentions. I like the way that Marla Takaba defined in an Inc. article about intentions: "intentions allows you to focus on who you are in the moment, to recognize and live your values, and to raise your emotional energy, which in turn raises your physical energy." The fundamental difference between setting goals versus intentions is time and the focus on completion of a task. Goals are set for completion of a task for the future, with steps that help us get there. Intention is based on the present.... for creatives it helps defines how our values help us go about creating and sharing our creativity. Setting daily or weekly positive intentions for our art can help us reach our goals, but also helps us to be mindful and aware of how our thoughts may affect our daily actions toward our goals.
Using affirmations that reflect our creative goals can to help us focus on our immediate intentions on a daily or weekly basis. Here's some examples:
Affirmation: My creative gifts contribute to the healing of the world.
Intention: My intention today is to be open to all sources of inspiration and guidance to that will help me create something meaningful to help others.
Affirmation: My creative time is a priority in my life.
Intention: Today, it is my intention to utilize as much free time as possible, whether it is 30 minutes or 2 hours, toward writing the current chapter in my book.
Affirmation: I honor my creative process.
Intention: This week, my intention is to experiment with any method or idea that comes to mind without judgement or concern with the perfect outcome.
The wonderful thing about intentions, according to Takaba is that they are expansive (beyond goals), embraces mindfulness, moves us past thoughts of limitations, and helps us to produce more effective results.
What kind of intentions have you set for your creativity this year? Can affirmations help you set daily intentions? What has your experience been with setting intentions in the past and how has that affected your creative practice?