Every year it happens: the New Year resolutions–goals or affirmations that so many people choose as they prep for the year ahead. We are bombarded with so many “self-help” ways to get our minds focused on what’s ahead, but most of the advice is about moving past the drain of holiday parties, reunions, and stress. But we rarely hear advice for handling the tough emotional moments that the holidays can bring up for many of us and how we can regain focus, something that’s crucial for those of us who depend on our creativity to get the job done.
If you’re a creative entrepreneur like I am, have you ever noticed that doing the daily tasks and taking care of the admin parts of the business can be easier to accomplish during emotional and trying times than the creative work? That’s true for me, and while it’s great to be able to take care of the day-to-day business during stressful times, those aren’t the parts of the job I love the most. They aren’t why I went into business, nor are they why I stay in business.
To get creative again and start sketching a new collection takes a lot of personal and emotional creativeness, and for me, the holiday season and New Year are a difficult time for me. This past Christmas was the fifth I’ve spent without my sister, who our family lost to cancer in 2013. While it is getting easier year by year (this was the first Christmas I’ve felt excited to decorate since then), it’s still a difficult and emotional time. Right after the holidays, my nephew and I have birthdays, so my sister’s absence is something that weighs especially heavy on us at this time of year.
Going through this experience over the last five years has led me to find ways refocus and get back to being creative again so I can move forward with my year and my work. I wanted to share these in case they can help you head into February with more focus and space for creativity in your work and life.
How to Re-focus on Productivity After an Emotional and Trying Time
- Choose the timing that’s right for you. You don’t have to start on the first of January to set yourself up for a productive year. It’s up to you to decide when you are ready. When the time is right, get started.
- Journal to let it all out. This is a new habit I am building. It helps so much to just sit quietly for 10, 30 or even 5 minutes and just write out whatever crosses your mind. Here are 3 ideas you can use as prompts:
- Write a “braindump” and just jot down everything that comes to mind during a set period of time
- Pick a situation that’s bothering you and write out why you think it’s something on your mind
- Choose something you know you need to make progress on, such as deciding the next step to take in your life or job, and list out all the small steps you need to take to move forward
- Find a physical stress-reliever. Stress and pent-up energy from emotional overload will catch up with you. It is unhealthy to keep all the ugly energy inside. We all need to find a way to release it. Find a physical activity that suits you best. A few of my favorites are walking, jogging, yoga, playing with a pet, or calling up a girlfriend and making time for a catch-up chat.
- End your day by focusing on the positive. I’ve been closing out my day with three things I loved. This can be as simple as telling yourself how amazing you are. It’s such a great feeling and we honestly don’t do it enough. We can go through days, weeks, months that are so busy that we forget about all the great things we are accomplishing or all the people we are directly or indirectly helping. Take some time at the end of the day to sit with yourself and think of three uplifting things you experienced during your day, no matter how big or small. They could be special moments in your day, positive comments sent your way, or daily hurdles you achieved (yes, this can include “I got the kids to school on time.”) Inviting positivity into our lives may be one of the biggest boons to our productivity (research shows that positivity may make people up to 12% more productive!).
If there is anything we all need to remember about life, it is this: we can’t be too hard on ourselves and let days go by and not enjoy them. Sometimes trying times can overwhelm our emotions, and that’s okay. We pick ourselves back up and get back to the things we need to do and the things we love to do.
What are techniques you use to re-focus your creative energy to be productive?
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