late bloomer: set your creative intention for the new year

A guest post by Stacy Kathryn Holst.

painting by guest blogger stacy kathryn holst

I apply my brush to paint, and paint to the canvas. I step back, admire my work. Inside my studio, time stands still. I have solitude and peace. But outside my window, 2010 flew past me like an express commuter train, all noise and shrieking chaos, clattering by so fast, hitting me with a final blast of warm air and dust in its wake.

So much happened this year!

I’ve stayed busy with projects, trying to keep a positive attitude in my own little world, amidst the headlines, the endless scrolling tickers of the news networks. Floods, fires, blizzards, riots, oil spills, job loss, foreclosures. Hopes and dreams dashed as the failing economy grinds away at the last of the working class resolve.

When I was a little girl, my parents, like most, told me I could be whatever I want to be when I grew up. The decision was mine to make. Astronaut, marine biologist, veterinarian. None of that appealed to me though. I liked to paint, to draw, to create. I wanted to be an artist.

Fast-forward through my teenage years, through three colleges, two degrees, technical certificates, certifications and I’m a newly minted, mature adult ready to take on the world – or at least the Chicago area – with my refined talents.

I had studied hard, worked hard, and now I was ready to find a career that would make me happy. Only that’s not what I found. What I found was a series of unrewarding office jobs. Soulless corporate environments, my waking hours spent in cubicles under stark fluorescent glare, creating documents and web pages with words like ‘synergy’ and ‘leverage’ and ‘groupthink’ (is ‘groupthink’ even a word?) And it paid the bills, but I felt myself falling into a rut, where this workaday routine would become my destiny, and one day I’d glance up at my desk and see a framed certificate proclaiming 35 years of service to the company.

A scream formed in my throat but emerged a heavy sigh. There was probably a corporate policy against screaming, anyway.

So I’ve been doing freelance work now, and like too many people my age, relying heavily on my parents, empty-nesters in waiting. My parents aren’t especially thrilled with my timing, as my decision to freelance accidentally coincided with the ‘minor’ economic downturn we’re in.

They are pragmatic baby boomers with the world-wary frugality of depression era folks. They are rightfully concerned about my financial security rather than creative differences with my employer. My dad stares over his reading glasses at me and asks what I’ll do for health insurance. I don’t know. My mom asks if I’m going to roll my 401(k) into a Roth IRA. A Roth what?

In the midst of all these transitions over the past few years, I started a tradition of writing a letter to the year that was passing, and in it I would write what I had accomplished and what I hoped to accomplish in the coming year. Something in writing to reaffirm my commitment to this creative lifestyle and working towards my dream.

One thing I’ve noticed about these letters is that almost all of my intentions for the new year come to pass, and a very surprising outcome has been that I always include one big, far out dream goal, and two of the past three years I’ve achieved it. Having them exist in writing, instead of just in my head, is what I believe makes it so successful.

So, I’ll continue to search for my place, my niche, and creating things still makes me happy; it always will. I assure my concerned parents that I will get my ledger back in the black and my career back on track. I’m excited about the new year quickly approaching and its inherent hope. I’ve got great ideas, plans and goals for 2011 that I’m eager to share. And I refuse to let go of my dreams, no matter how long it takes.

What was your 2010 like? What are your dreams and goals for 2011?

Getting it in writing is a great way to put those intentions in black and white and bring them into existence. It is also a great way to look back and see what you’ve accomplished this past year. I bet it was a lot more than you think! I’d love it if you shared your letter by posting a link in the comments, or head over to my blog on New Year’s Eve to read my letter and post yours there too.

I can’t wait to see all the amazing goals and intentions for 2011 floating out into the universe, ready to become real live dreams come true!

Stacy Kathryn Holst is an illustrator, artist and graphic designer living in a suburb of Chicago; you can see the skyline from her backyard on clear days. Her illustrations are a blend of the traditional with digital media, she uses everything from pen, ink and paint to found objects, scanned textures, and more.

9 thoughts on “late bloomer: set your creative intention for the new year

  1. Boy, can I ever relate to the soulless job scenario! Yet, that money does come in handy. However, I know my dreams will not be unrequited. I believe this year many of them will come true. It is my job to see to that, and believe it or not, I actually have a plan and am looking forward to watching it unfold.

  2. I think many of us have been in soulless jobs. It’s an unfortunate condition of employment in these times. And while Mary Ellen has a valid point that the money comes in handy; I have found that that is only true to a certain extent. When I am happy and engaged, I seem to be able to live on less money. When I’m working in a soulless job, no amount of money I earn takes away the emptyness.

  3. Writing things down always helps me stay organized and feel motivated. Gahh reading this was like peering into my own life… errily so. From the tech degree to the hard-working parents to the days of corporate frustration to the freelancing and being creative. Big goals and dreams for the future, and optimism for 2011. This is just what I needed and it’s nice to know other people out there are like creativity twins coming from very similar backgrounds but finding a way to make it work. Thanks!

  4. 2010 was all about new beginnings – I started my own business and learned a lot of mistakes. 2011 will be all about taking those mistakes, finding the lessons and applying them to build my business and grow.

    I’m about to start working on a plan for 2011 – one that has reasonable goals and completely out-there ones, too. Timidity and fear have to move out of the way for positive thinking and boldness. Thanks for this post :)

  5. 2010 was a great year – business and personal wise.

    But I know I had a few too many fires going, and some important things got lost. 2011 will be about sustainable growth. Trying to stick to what I can reasonably take on, and admit to what I need to let go of… (that last bit is the hardest…).

  6. Thanks for the post – inspirational and thoughtful.

    I am a huge believer in setting out and writing down what you want to accomplish – however ‘out there’ or mundane your goals may be. You have to put it out there and accept it yourself if you want it to become a reality.

    This past year in line with my birthday I wrote 35 things that I want to accomplish when I am 35 and started a blog to track my progress be more accountable to what I said: I am loving the process of being very intentional about my time and choices – and I know that when my next birthday comes I’ll be able to look at the last year and have it be more than just a blur.

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