This past weekend, I turned 28. It was a great birthday, with chocolate cake and sunshine. But I still have a wishlist, and it's not the regular one. It's a wishlist for what I want for this 28th year of my life. And the only one who can make my wishes come true - is me.
So here's what I wish for - and what I'm generously giving myself.
Dear Myself, this is what I want for my birthday.
These are the longings of my heart, Elin. Will I make them happen this year?
1. I want to take photos that tell the story of living a creative life
I've casually played around with photography for over ten years. It's a form of creative expression I enjoy immensely, finding it to be a slow and reflective study of the world, one of experimentation and constant small changes.
The time has come for my next step. I want to take photos that tell my story, or actually, not only mine but all of our stories. I want to picture the creative life. I want to inspire, to rouse feelings, to say something about life.
2. I want to help others make meaningful things happen in their creative lives
I know the earthshattering difference good mindsets and healthy strategies can make. It turned my way of creating to the unrecognizable.
I want that for others too. Most of all, I want all creatives to find joy and meaning in their creativity, as I know we all can. I don't want anyone held back by the fear of not being good enough, of not belonging, of failing.
3. I want to deeply understand creativity and the psychology around it
My relationship with creativity has grown from secret love, to infatuation to a meaningful partnership. Not only do I want to create and help others create, I want to understand what creativity really is. How it works, how we nurture it, what kind of cookie it likes with its tea.
I want to get into our brains and hearts and further explore what affects creativity and how it affects us.
4. I want to write a third draft of my novel that touches hearts
I think I'm writing a novel with the potential to stirr hearts, but it's not quite there yet. It's a story that could have an impact on the right reader, a story about setting yourself free. I want to make this novel justice and bring out what I haven't been able to bring out yet.
I hope the third draft can take the novel that important step forward.
5. I want my website to be easily found by creatives and my art to fly around the world
I want every creative that wants and needs the help that I can offer to be able to find me. I want to reach out my hand and those searching for it to be able to find it. How else can I be of service?
My art is a playful expression, but I make it also to delight and encourage. I want it to do just that in the homes of creatives, to instill courage and remind of balance.
Dear Myself, this is what I get for my birthday
My wishes are grand, as wishes should be. Here's what I give myself in hope that it shall make my dreams come true.
1. A summer photography project to hone my craft
I give myself a summer to geek out over photography tips on Youtube, go on adventures just to take pictures, shoot the same things in a hundred different ways and push myself to make every photo a story.
Photography takes time and effort to get good at, like any craft. If I really wish to take better photos, I need to challenge and push myself on and on to the next step. That is my first gift to myself.
2. Time to make my first courses and to learn from my fellow creatives
There are many ways we can be of help for each other. I've chosen to start in two ways - with one-on-one talks and courses. The talks will probably be more helpful for me in the beginning, as I learn how other creatives think and work. This understanding will be absolutely essential to be able to then make good courses.
I give myself the permission to obsess over how to best outline my courses, to immerse myself in books on teaching or coaching, to explore different angles of my subject. The second gift to myself is the time to craft my first courses with care and intention.
3. A stack of books about creativity and the creative life
I've already given myself the time to talk to creatives, so for this wish I give myself the resources to really dig into the science, experiences and theories the world holds about creativity. I'm no means the first to be fascinated by this subject, so I'll use that to my advantage.
Since reading is my default answer to both my curiosity and my problems, I shall like this third gift a lot.
4. Courage and knowledge to take my story further
At the stage of the third draft, it would be easy to decide not to change too much more, even though I know there is more to this story than I have managed to unveil. It would be if not easy so at least tempting to scrap it all and start over. I will do neither.
I will dig further into the storytelling guides I've already encountered and use them to my best ability. My fourth gift to myself is the courage to trust that I can in fact make this novel better, and the knowledge and grit that will get me there.
5. The effort I need to widen the reach of my creativity
It's all too easy to wish you could reach as many as you'd like with your creativity. In the real world though, unless you have influential friends or lots of luck, spreading your art takes a hell of a lot of work.
So I'm giving myself that work. Learning SEO and algorithms may be boring and pitching myself for guest posts or podcast interviews may be scary, but I'm gonna do it anyway. The fifth gift is a gift that I'm probably not gonna enjoy as much as the others, but it's a gift I need if I'll make that wish true.
Only you can make your wishes come true
All of us have wishes and hopes for the future. Some modest, others ridiculously grand. But to make those wishes come true, we need to give them a chance of doing just that. Few fairy godmothers exist in this world and most dreams are made reality by working strategically and hard. It's often not sexier than that. Democratic, one could say, but maybe not so very exciting.
So do you value your wishes, your hopes and dreams? If you do, give yourself that gift of working to make the happen. It probably won't be easy but that's not the nature of our wishes. Put in the effort, learn how it works, and slowly push yourself a little bit closer to that dream.
Because making your wishes come true, my friend, is the best gift you can ever give yourself.