10 Creative Resolutions for the New Year

10 Creative Resolutions for the New Year
By Shannon Stull Currus

As I usher in this New Year with knowledge gained from 2012, and holiday cookies, it’s got me reflecting. Here are some resolutions I think will help me create better work, reduce my stress, and make me more creatively fulfilled. I think these apply to creatives of all stripes, so I’d like to share them with you.

I will learn a new skill.
Last year, I made it my mission to learn SEO. That turned out to be a great opportunity to increase visibility for my company as well as gain new business. This year I’m throwing it out there: I will learn effective PPC.

In my opinion, creatives of all levels should always keep learning in order to keep their brains sharp and stay competitive in the market. What are some things you want to learn this year?

I will elevate my brand.
My advertising agency gets the majority of our business through referrals. However, just because the clients find us already, doesn’t mean that we can’t be more assertive in finding and appealing to them. Thus, in order to elevate our brand, we will redesign our site.

For in-house folks, this is a good resolution to make for your employer. Maybe elevating the brand means a new look/feel for the company, or could be as simple as getting things printed on higher quality stock. Find the little things you do day-to-day and make them better.

I will go to one networking event a month.
Though I am a social person, I’m generally pretty bad about this. I resolve to become more active in my local AAF, AIGAandSocial Media Club chapters. I will meet new people, and find new contractors and clients. If you do the same, maybe we’ll run in to each other.

I will enter three awards shows this year.
We created some pretty badass stuff last year. I like a pat on the back as much as every other creative in the universe. So, I’m going to put those logos, websites, and motion graphics out there. Worst-case scenario, nothing comes of it. Best-case scenario, I get some cool awards and press coverage. Let’s do this!

I will take on an impossible project (and be happy about it).
Recently, a client came to me with a video project that was on a shoestring budget. I have managed many shoots in my day but I’m used to working with a full crew: a director of photography, a gaffer, a director, a producer and an audio engineer (at minimum). There would be none of this added support the client explained and I would have to film and produce it all myself.

At first, the thought of producing a decent video without my usual support seemed impossible. After dusting off my Canon 7D and ordering a reasonably priced DSLR slider, I feel fairly confident this could work. Sure, I will not be producing a cinematic masterpiece but I will create something that is compelling and exceeds the client’s expectations (which are thankfully pretty low). Challenge: accepted.

I will not take criticism personally.
It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that my work is tied to my identity probably a little more than it should. When a client bashes a design that I love, it can really sting! Therefore if and when this happens this year, I resolve to take a step back and remind myself that the work is for them, not for me. And I will start again and give them what they want. But better. Can you do the same?

I will have a Plan B.
I love working for myself and plan to continue doing so. However, keeping my network alive and checking to see what interesting jobs open up here and there is never a bad idea. I think having an exit strategy—should we fall on hard times—is a good idea in order to mitigate some of the pressure of running my own company.

For in-house people, I think having options open is always a good idea. Layoffs happen, bad creative happens, bureaucracy happens and sometimes it just helps knowing you have a way out if you become truly miserable.

I will motivate my co-workers.
Sometimes it helps relieve stress by blowing off steam with co-workers and venting about your projects, boss, or whatever it is that sucks at the time. This is ok once in awhile, but I’ve noticed that over time this energy feeds resentment and eventually makes things worse for morale.

I resolve to take a step back and look at the things in my job for which I am grateful. I will share those things with others. I will also compliment my co-workers, instead of cutting to the critique first. I hope you choose to do the same.

I will cheat on my company.
I resolve to engage in another creative outlet besides my agency. This year, I have started a time-tracking software company for the staffing industry. This is an opportunity to expand into a new business and learn from my other partners, who have a totally different skill set than I do. This is an outlet that allows me to exercise my marketing expertise, but “cheat” on my agency and regular clients. It’s something that is purely a passion project.

Maybe you can start a company this year, do more freelance on the side or create art for art’s sake. The point is to engage in an outlet besides your job. Find a pure one that allows you to do the things you can’t always do at work. How will you cheat?

I will share my knowledge.
Everyone from junior level designers to C-level managers have valuable knowledge to impart. I think sharing this knowledge is essential for professional growth.

This year, I will continue to share my knowledge through this InHOWse Design Blog. I will also attend and participate in at least one student portfolio critique. Perhaps you will also join a critique or give a presentation at your company or the local community college. People are hungry for advertising, marketing and design knowledge. Go feed them!

I’d love to read your thoughts on these in our comments section, and would also like to know what your creative resolutions are. What are some recommendations you will be adopting in 2013?

Shannon Stull Currus is a principal and Creative Director at WHOISCARRUS, a full-service Orlando advertising agency. She has experience on both agency and in-house teams in various roles, including; copywriting, art direction, and creative direction.