As a new year begins, many people make resolutions to better themselves. Animators are no different. Often we’ll take on new artistic goals and opportunities in order to refocus our creative efforts for a new calendar year. But while you’re writing your to-do list for 2013, there’s a very big pitfall that you’re going to want to avoid!
That pitfall is finishing. Some studies find that 88% of New Years Resolutions end up faltering well before the next New Years Day rolls around. That’s understandable, we’re only human. But there are some things you can do to make sure you cross that finish line and ACHIEVE what you’ve resolved to do.
1) Create a goal that has a definitive end. If you keep things too open ended, you actually CAN’T keep your resolution. For example “Get better at animating” sounds like a very noble endeavor to tackle in 2013. But how do you measure that? What if you do great work for a month, but then lousy stuff the other 11 months? Instead consider giving it an end point. Perhaps instead in our example you use “Revisit one specific animated clip each month and find a way to improve each new version of it.” Then each month you have something to cross off your checklist!
2) Create goals that are specific! Much like the goal-with-no-end, generic goals sound great until you attempt to accomplish them. I know a lot of people (myself in past years included) that resolved to “Get healthier” or “Get in shape” as a New Years Resolution. The issue becomes that idea is so non-specific that it’s almost impossible to achieve. A better choice might be “Go to the gym once per week for at least 45 minutes.” By defining it in detail, you can be certain that each step is laid out for you and you know what you’re trying to achieve. Look at your animation goals and be specific about what you want to do. The more specific, the more likely you are to be able to achieve it.
3) Do not shoot for the moon. Now first of all, I personally believe you should always be shooting for the moon. Why try to be average? In this case, though, you want to make sure your goals are REASONABLE. I would like to one day make 2D feature films to be released in theaters worldwide. If I set my goal for 2013 to be “Release first 2D feature film in theater’s worldwide” I am essentially setting myself up for failure. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with long-term goals, but one mistake we artists often make is underestimating just how long art takes. A 2D feature film is a terrific goal, but it needs enough time to be accomplished. (It also needs a lot of hard working animators and funding, adding to the list of reasons why it doesn’t make for a great single-year goal for me right now!) You need to find the right balance where you’re challenging yourself, but not attempting so much that it’s 99.9% likely that you’re never going to manage it. However that leads to another related aspect of your goals to think about:
3.5) Don’t be afraid to fail. When the clock strikes midnight on December 31st 2013, you may or may not have crossed every goal off your resolution list. That’s okay. The key is to try! We will always fail some of the time, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re looking back at 2012 and see all sorts of things you didn’t quite achieve. Today is a new day to revisit those agenda items and give it another shot. Analyze what went wrong, learn from it, and move on. Always revisit what you planned to do last year so you have a good idea how to plan the next 365 days!
Remember also: Have some fun. All work and no play makes everyone dull. Again the key is balance.
Have a happy, healthy, and blessed 2013! And be sure to stop by next week for more animation wisdom!