We all have that idea, or version of ourselves that we fantasize about being. The idea that floats around in our mind that we wish we were, wish we could be, or want to be in the “future.” However, that doesn’t become a reality until we decide to embrace that idea as our own identity and begin actively doing the activities that are involved with that identity. In order to make that transformation from our current self to our desired identity, we must pursue those actions that are tied with being that person, consistently on a daily basis. That’s easy to say, but harder to execute, and it’s where most people fail after starting something new. After successfully creating lettering every day for 6 months straight, I will share what has made this possible for me and how it can be used for any other new pursuit.
First and foremost, you have to know exactly what you want to do, for how long and why you want to do it. Before I started my Project 365, I knew I wanted to become a better graphic designer, but I focused on hand-lettering specifically; the more specific you are with your goal, the easier it is to manage. I also knew I wanted to do it every day for one year, and I wanted to better my drawing skills and typographic knowledge. It also helps if you add some emotional reasons for your answer to why. For me, I’m going to a school with an impacted graphic design program, so I must be in the top-40 student portfolio submissions at the end of the year in order to be admitted into the program. This has been a huge emotional motivation for me, and a huge reason why I haven’t quit during those hard times. These three questions need to be answered completely before you start. These questions are what you will be asking yourself in those times you want to quit and need a quick reminder of what you’re striving for. Not having these questions answered completely makes it exponentially easier to quit during those tough times.
Once you know those things about yourself, you need to make a plan, write it down, and tell somebody to keep you accountable. Accountability is probably the single most important part that will keep you honest and on track with reaching your goal. I made a public announcement on my Instagram account to about 450 followers at the time. If you take a look at it, it lays out all the details of my plan and what I will do. You don’t need to make it public, but you need someone besides yourself that knows your goals and will keep you on track with reaching them. If you feel comfortable, making a public announcement will help even more. After I made my announcement, I felt like I made a promise to 450 people to do lettering every day, which sounds like a scary promise initially. However, it actually helps positively, because I felt as if 450 people were waiting to see what I will make that day, and it’s an opportunity to surprise and delight them.
There are two more things you must think through before you start. First, you have to know what you will do when something tries to stop you from your goal. Notice I said “when,” not “if.” Something will try to stop you, whether it’s people, things, or opportunities. You just need to know that it will happen and what your plan will be to protect your goal. Second, be prepared to say no. Be prepared to turn down friends, significant others, and the fun opportunities that they bring that you know will interfere with your commitment. For example, your goal is to work out every day. If you work all day and you’re supposed to go to the movies in the evening with a friend, you need to be aware that you must work out in the morning before work. Also, if you didn’t work out in the morning and have work all day, be ready to say no to your friend if they want to hang out in the evening.
Using these things that have successfully helped me begin my lettering pursuit, I recently had the idea of starting a gluten-free diet. Just like everything we think about, it starts as an idea and have to decide to pursue it. I’ve thought about it and the things I would do if I was put in a situation with no gluten-free options for food. I know I want to do it for 2 weeks initially and then reevaluate if I want to continue with it. My reason for it is because I want to see if it makes me feel better. With that, I have my reasons in my mind, written down, and have sort of publicly announced it to you in this blog post, as well have told a friend to keep me accountable.
Only once you have laid out all the preliminary items in your planning, you can begin. It seems like a lot of planning, but it’s the most important and most overlooked part of starting a new pursuit. That is also why starting a new pursuit is so difficult for so many people – people lack the infrastructure needed to make it through the difficult parts of a new pursuit. Once you’re started, make your goal part of your daily life. I like to think of things that matter to you should be pursued like eating: you need to eat every day and you find time to do it; the same should go for your pursuit. Feed your pursuit every day with your time and attention and overcome inertia – a body at rest tends to stay at rest; a body in motion tends to stay in motion.
Send me an email in my contact section under “Blog Feedback” if you have any questions about starting a new pursuit and sticking with it, I’d love to hear from you!