In honor of my birthday (this past Monday, June 15), I decided to make and share a list of valuable things I've learned this year that can also be applied to hand lettering.
27. Choose happiness and joy. Though things may not go well or as planned each and everyday choose to be happy and choose joy over sadness. Life's too short.
26. Get organized. Being organized is a skill, one that many people don't have. When you learn to be organized you can create systems that will help you get through your activities.
25. Surround yourself around the people you want to influence you. Want to get in shape? Find some fitness friends. Want to be a better hand letterer? Subscribe to those artists and connect with them, find someone in your local area. You are influenced by your top five friends.
24. Make genuine connections. The term "network" has been over used and beaten to the ground, and with social media like Linkedin saying, " Please add me to your network" it just screams I'm looking to connect so I can get something in return - though I may not really know you. Genuine connections will take you farther and you'll build lasting relationships with people around the world.
23. Get out the house. Find some local meetups and see what people are doing. Go to a conference and listen to a speaker, in the same or different field. It will influence you, and you'll learn something new.
22. Read more. When I was younger I used to compete with a classmate to see how many books we could read in a week. We were in fifth or sixth grade, and each week we would check in to see how many books the other person read. Some how she managed to increase her reading speed. When I think about it now she probably learned how to skim/scan the pages of a book really quickly at a young age, it now comes in handy and I can skim pages and articles quicker.
21. Find an accountability partner or group. I have a few of them. One for financial, one for fitness and one for getting up early to write. It's so much easier to disappoint ourselves but when you have someone else in your corner cheering you on and motivating you to keep going, you'll more than likely try even harder not to disappoint them.
20. Write, Everyday. One of the accountability groups is based on EWDW. #6amclub (really the #5amclub on the east coast) but we've created a group to get everyone on board and everyone just messages in - feet on the floor. Which means, " I've gotten out of bed, I am ready to write". I use my writings for blog posts, reflection and relief.
19. Reserve time for the things you enjoy. Family, fitness, fun, your passion! Everyone has 24 hours in a day and we all choose how to spend them differently. Set aside time to practice your hand lettering put it in the calendar so that you don't derail from it.
18. Be a professional and learn more about professionalism. Everything from the way you talk, walk present and the way you write - choose to be a professional. It will give you greater return in so many ways.
17. Get focused. Remove the distractions, put your phone on airplane mode, turn your wifi off and take some time for yourself. Thinking, reading, gaining knowledge, understanding your purpose or the reason you are choosing to do something - like lettering, will help you get focused on the steps to reaching your goals. Besides, unless you have stock in Facebook or work for them, why are you spending so much time on there?
16. Rest. overworking yourself will only increase your stress and anxiety. Work hard and rest harder.
15. Research. I've been learning so much about marketing, ways to improve my writing, communication and simply putting myself out there. I am sure there is another artist of African American descent that can relate to me and my struggles. Perhaps I can learn from someone else or someone can learn from me.
14. Learn the rules. Rules aren't everything and many people don't like them. Some people like to break them and others are ignorant of them. Rules exist and you need to know them - especially to avoid trouble.
13. Listen to your intuition. Anytime I've had a gut feeling and not listen to it, I always regret it later. I sometimes say to myself, '" if you listened to that feeling in your gut you wouldn't be here," or " you know you saw that one coming". That inner voice we have can save us from so many problems. I am so happy when I do listen to that intuition. You might be surprised what you'll gain if you listen to that inner voice sometime.
12. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Humility is a great character to have and asking for help can be a very humbling experience. Though at times we can do it all on our own, we can save time, money and resources by simply asking for help.
11. Know Why. "Because I felt like it," is such a cowardly answer to give. Dig deeper and know the reasons you believe in something. Learn to form your own opinions and be sure you are confident, firm, in your beliefs. Though your reasons, and or theory might change - at least have something more than, "because I felt like it," to back it up.
10. Be Confident. I know you don't just wake up and decide to be confident, but I do believe there are steps you can take to get you to that place of being confident.
9. Curiosity is one of the best ways to learn. You have a keen interest in learning something and you'll better retain the information. Stay curious and you'll learn more outside the classroom.
8. Gratitude. Showing others how thankful you are, that you appreciate them can make their day. Be grateful and show gratitude.
7. Learn how to Learn. This is deep. When learning something new we are excited and want to jump through the steps. But when learning to learn, we should take our time to absorb the information.
6. Critics exist. They're either saying good things about you or they are saying ba thing about you. Either way, they exist.
5. Sharing is caring. (Just not germs). When sharing your work, you put yourself up for criticism. Learn to not take things personally, learn to be objective, sharing your experiences will help someone else in the long run.
4. Practice. Practice, practice. Practice makes perfect. Though we still try to achieve perfection, practice will build any and every skill and can surpass talent if one is willing.
3. Curate. Choose one thing and focus on that. Get really good at it, then you can find other ways to be creative. Just be sure to curate, then branch out from there.
2. Knowledge is powerful. Share what you know, and people will thank you for it.
1. Start before you're ready. Even though when you start things may - and more likely not be perfect, you will still have some place to look back at how far you've come.