Discover More Time, Joy and Creativity in 12 Steps

We all wish we could have the perfect job without having to commute to an office, the perfect body without having to workout and plenty of time and only joy. Well, that is a fantasy but there are some steps you can take to bump up your happy time by creating. You may be thinking, oh another 12-step program, but they do work. I know, I have followed one for 28 years. So here you go.

1. Take time to appreciate your accomplishments

It may not look like you have accomplished a lot when you are only looking at a slice, but when you review the past year you get a much broader picture. Write down places you have been, experiences you had, lessons learned, friends made and creative accomplishments. You will amaze yourself. Trust me, this really works.

2. Make a list and check it twice

See above, accomplishments pile up quickly. I am a big proponent of list making. I grew up in a list making household. Every day Mom had a list of things that needed to be done. I got a charge out of crossing things off the list because it meant I could go play. It is pretty much the same today. I live by the list. I have a must-do today list, a weekly to-do and a get to it when I can list. I still get a little dopamine jolt when I cross a task off my list, and the things that didn’t get done are moved over to the next day.

3. Reward yourself once a week with time

Make sure you build in rewards to your lists. My daily list includes at least one fun thing like read your novel for an hour or take a walk, soak in the tub, add an extra 20 minutes to your time to create.

4. 20 minutes a day is all you need

You can find 20 minutes almost anywhere. When I quit smoking decades ago (yes, I was the rebel child...), I would use time as a reward. Not the kind that said you will add years to your life by quitting, but I would have an extra 10 minutes for every cig not smoked. I was amazed at how much time I found! I challenge you to come up with at least 20 minutes a day. You can create, declutter, clean, move your body, catch-up, only 20 minutes a day. If you are like most of us you can just put down your phone and find this time.

5. 1X a week, practice a random act of anonymous kindness.

It may be as simple as letting someone go ahead of you in line or traffic or here’s my favorite, leave little art creations (can be as simple as an inspirational quote on a decorative card) left in a book for someone to discover. Do be conscious of the environment where you leave your gifts.

Here are a few more ideas:

- Pay for the person behind you in the drive thru

- Pay for an expired parking meter

- Pick up a piece of trash on the ground

- In a public bathroom, wipe dry the sink area after you wash your hands

You will probably find yourself practicing these acts of kindness more than once a week; it is easy to get hooked on giving.

6. Gratitude Tree or Inspirational Jar

I keep a bowl of cards filled with inspirational words. You can make your own by writing or printing out words like Play, Serenity, Forgiveness, Joy or whatever inspires you. The gratitude tree is a project I did in my Awakening Your Creative Soul book. I decorated a tree branch with cards I made that had things I was grateful for written on them. Every day I would add a new card to the tree. Whichever way you go, practice gratitude. It will provide unlimited rewards.

7. Excuse jar

Whenever you find yourself making an excuse for something put a dollar into the jar. If you are late for a meeting and you make an excuse, even if there really was one, put the dollar into the jar. If you have an excuse for not returning a call or email, put a dollar into the jar. You meant to pull out your sketchbook but got caught up in Pinterest, you got it, put a buck in the jar. This exercise will encourage you to look at your behaviors. Rather than giving away your power to an excuse, claim your actions. Just do it. At the end of the month you will have some money and, on the way, to changing a habit. You could treat yourself to something or donate it to a favorite cause.

8. Sleep

Here is my best habit that I developed. Go to bed early, get enough sleep and wake up at the same time consistently. You will have more energy and focus.

Try going to bed at the same time every night.

Put away devices an hour before bed.

Keep electronics out of the bedroom.

Sleep in a cool, dark room when possible.

Wake up at the same time.

Relish in your newfound energy, inspiration and joy.

9. Try something new

Go to a concert for a genre of music you are not familiar with.

Try a new restaurant.

Try mixing some new colors you rarely use. This is an exercise in one of my online classes.

Try a new creative project just to stretch your muscles. If you are a painter try your hand at jewelry. If you are a musician, try painting. This is like cross-training, your daily creative practice will benefit from the switch-up.

10. Create a sharing ritual

Hold a swap event with your friends, or here is a birthday tradition. Rather than buying a gift of something, swap ideas, recipes (these could be paint recipes too), bring a favorite item to exchange with others during the swap.

Hold a swap of your underused art supplies.

Have a themed swap.

11. Focus

Get clear and focus on something you really want. Get specific. Make a vision board and look at it every day. It works.

12. Discover your own neighborhood or town

Walk somewhere where you usually drive.

Take a bus or other method of transport.

Go into a business you have never been to.

Find a trail, go to a park, explore the local library.

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