For an artist, or for any human, being self-aware is important. My art is informed by my aesthetic, and my aesthetic is informed by my identity. The same could be said for your life, if the world is your canvas. Soul searching is healthy for everyone to do from time to time. It is something that should be done over and over again throughout our lives. Especially during times of transition. As I said in my last post, we flow. We are fluid. We change. And sometimes we change without even realizing it.
I assess my current goals and intentions at the beginning of each month. It helps me to stay on track. It also helps me to realize if I have gone through a lot of changes over the past month. I might find that I’ve met some of my goals for the previous month. Or they don’t mean as much to me anymore. Or they need to be revised. Then I know it’s time to think about completing some of these exercises again or spend some time journaling. I have a page in my planner that prompts me to do this kind of check-in each month. If you don’t use a paper planner, you could set an alarm on your phone and/or calendar. Or make it a habit to assess your goals each time you flip the page on your wall calendar.
You could also refer to these identity check-ins as personal branding. That is how I refer to these resources in our Social Media and Marketing workshop for artists. Aside from personal well-being, these exercises are good to complete when: starting new projects, naming websites (or blogs), starting a business, revamping social media, or updating your materials for applying to jobs, exhibitions, or other opportunities. They’re even a great foundation for preparing for an interview.
So, to help us stay self-aware, I’m going to share some of my favorite resources for when it’s time to do a little soul searching. They’re a bit much to try and complete all at once. So I recommend doing them one at a time starting with what appeals to you the most. You’ll naturally invest more into the ones you’re most interested in. If you’re comfortable, please feel free to share your results from any of these exercises with me. I may share some of my own in the future.
1. Pinterest: If you’re anything like me, you pay a visit to Pinterest to find inspiration and make a plan before you redecorate a room or go shopping for new clothes . You can do this same sort of thing for yourself! A few of the exercises below will ask you to create mood boards or vision boards, and Pinterest is a great place to do that. Save pictures of fashion and decorating that you love, but also color schemes, quotes, or anything that has a feeling to it that you identify with.
2. Questions for Self-Discovery: While you’re on Pinterest, you can look up lists of self-discovery questions or journal prompts. Sometimes I look at the blank pages of my journal and have no clue what to write. Especially when I am in a state of transition or feeling a little ungrounded. Which is when I need to journal the most. These lists and prompts will help get you going, and maybe help you learn some new things about yourself. This one from Misty Sansom.com is one of my favorites.
3. Leave your Mark by Aliza Licht: This book has a lot of advice for the start of your career. I recommend it for young women entering into the workforce or world of internships. Or for women making a career change or hoping to advance from their current positions. But the personal branding section is my favorite part. As I said above, I think personal branding and soul searching are the same thing. So these exercises are good to do even if you aren’t worried about your personal brand. You begin by writing a biography. No one has to read this but you, so feel free to get real personal. You can then use the bio to make a word cloud. Then you use your word cloud to make a mood board! Try to use as few words/quotes as possible. Your mood board is less about words, and more about what your insides look like. If it helps you can find a corresponding image to go with each word in your cloud.
4. The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte: This is the kind of planner I purchased for 2018, and I am loving it. I mentioned the monthly check-ins towards the beginning of the post. Those are great, but before you can do the check-ins each month you need to set your goals and intentions for the year. Danielle LaPorte believes we should set our goals based on how we want to feel. There is a section at the beginning of the planner to list your core feelings and goals. This part is easier to complete if you read the book and complete the workbook first. You’ll identify your core desired feelings and then set some goals based on them. My favorite part of the process is Rapid-Fire Starting in the Soul Limber section. It’s a creative way to get started, and I was very intrigued by some of my answers.
I completed these exercises at the beginning of 2018 and have already had to change some of my words. I made some lifestyle changes and found that my core desired feelings were not the same anymore. So, as I said, and as many of these resources will say, this is an ongoing process you’ll need to revisit as you change and evolve.
5. Day Designer – Intentional Living Worksheet: This free worksheet inspired some big changes for me recently. I am used to setting goals, but I had not thought about my goals as intentional living in a long time. And something about that clicked with me when a friend shared this worksheet with me. It’s not about aiming for a goal or outcome. It’s about taking control over how you decide to live your life. Looking at it this way left out space for excuses in my mind. I can look at a goal and say, well this just isn’t a good time to achieve that right now. But when it comes to my intentions for my life – if not now, then when? If I know I want to live a certain way, what am I waiting for? Whether that clicks with you or not, this worksheet is a great way to reflect on how you want to live and make a plan. The Day Designer website is another great planner, and their website has tons of other free printable worksheets for all areas of your life.
6. Find Your North Star: How to Create a Personal Mission Statement: This episode from Tonya Dalton’s podcast Productivity Paradox will guide you through creating a personal mission statement. This could look like a paragraph form of your core desired feelings from The Desire Map. This worksheet is great for anyone. But it’s especially great for those who are business-minded. Or if the Desire Map didn’t mesh with you, this is likely a better route. Just as a business or organization would have a mission statement, we should have one for ourselves and/or our households. It can help us make decisions and keeps us on track with what we hope to accomplish. You can read more about my process of writing my own personal mission statement in this post.
7. Classic Style by Kate Schelter: This is a beautifully written and illustrated book about how important personal style and the things we own can be. It is a perfect minimalist fashion book because it is all about keeping only what we truly love. And valuing quality over quantity. Not only do we get a clear sense of Schelter’s own personal style, but we see example style profiles of other artists and designers as well. It is great inspiration and motivation for discovering your own personal style. This book is the perfect place to begin or the perfect place to conclude your soul searching journey. It is also one of my favorites so I’ll likely be posting about it again at some point.
Happy Soul Searching!