Bettering Yourself in Minor Ways
The New Year is all about setting goals to be better. Some folks set up really difficult goals, while others have more simplistic, realistic goals. Neither are wrong, and shouldn't be judged based on difficulty. What you should be aiming for is getting better slowly or by making realistic changes rather than throwing out your entire personality and starting from scratch.
For example, "I want to create a full armor cosplay," can be met by either diving right in and creating a whole suit of armor, or it can be broken down into pieces. Maybe you're not great at cutting out the foam. Practice with smaller, more simplistic designs before making an entire Dark Magician helmet. That way, if and when you mess up, you're not wasting a lot of materials that could have gone towards this build. Researching on how to make foam armor is especially critical, if you're just starting out. Personally, I've learned a lot from Kamuicosplay, SKS Props, and AK Wirru. These folks are world class cosplayers and I love seeing their new tutorials and books.
The whole point of planning and practicing is not to be immediately the best. The point is to get better gradually. I didn't wake up one morning to be the best kigu seamster. I'm still not the best. I've spent the better part of 5 years working every day to get better. I have folks that think I'm the best and it honestly blows me away. There's so many issues I see in my work and how much I need to improve. There will always be someone better than me, and that's okay. I don't want to be the best, I want to be great. And the only thing that's going to make me better is practice, research, and being a better person than I am today.
A lot of folks goals for the new year include losing weight/working out. That's a great goal to have! It's important to look after yourself and push yourself to be better. One common issue I find with these resolutions, is that folks put numbers on their weight loss goals, then get discouraged when they don't meet them. Journeys are never straightforward paths. They are windy roads that may take a while to hit a marker or make the goal. We have to remember that or we get discouraged and stop or see ourselves as failures. Healthier ways of thinking need to be applied to these situations because we want to keep improving. Instead of saying, "I want to lose 30 pounds this month," you could try saying, "I'd like to go to the gym 3 times a week." If you're going the set amount of times you place for yourself, you're more likely to hit your ultimate goal.
Breaking down bigger goals into more manageable, smaller goals is ideal because you don't have to focus on the daunting task of whatever you set your mind to. You only have to worry about steps 1 and 2 of this journey until those are completed, then you can focus on step 3. If it's a 10 step goal, before you know it, you've done the thing! I'm especially bad at situations like this because when I get overwhelmed, I don't do the thing at all. I have a Tiana dress I want to make for myself that I haven't even started yet because I have so many parts and not enough time to do it. I need to sit down and break the dress up into parts, and those parts into smaller steps that I can focus on more easily.
I'm also known to be scatter-brained for a lot of things, since ADHD makes it impossible to focus. I have found that honestly, keeping a journal is a really good way to keep me focused, even if I have to keep referring to it. I start my entries with what I accomplished the day before, what I'd like to get done that day, and even some extra goals that if I don't get them done, it's okay, those are extracurricular. I also write about how I'm feeling and how I'd like to address that. "I'm mad because I wasn't able to get this item made," "I'm sad because I feel like I'm not getting enough done," "I'd like to spend more time working with this," are common in my journal and I try to take time to reflect on why I'm feeling that way and how I can fix it so that I do have enough time in the day to spend time with my partner, run my business, and do things I enjoy.
On the extra days I take off (anything that isn't a Tuesday or holiday) I do feel bad, but I also know that those days I take off, my body is telling me I need that time to either recover or spend more time to work on myself. Most of the time, it's the former, as I deal with chronic migraines, and I try to take time to applaud myself for being able to push through those. It's okay to take time to recover. Your mental health is more important than hitting these goals all the time. It's why, when you make goals, that you should be realistic in achieving them. While some simpler goals are able to be achieved in a shorter time, you can't necessarily expect that you're going to be an expert in a given field in a month's time. While I would love to be fluent in Russian, I've spent the better part of 3 years learning, and I still sound like a German (my second language) trying to speak Russian. Maybe sometime I'll upload a video of it, because it's pretty funny.
Good things take time, and hard work. You've got this, you just have to take the time and have patience. Changing little things in everyday routine helps because it doesn't take much to change that thing. "I'd like to get better at drawing." Okay, then sit down for 5 minutes every day and sketch out a thing. Work on eyes one day, watch a YouTube video about drawing hands, ask your friends for reference photos! Take 5 minutes to practice every day. I know a lot of my friends feel better when they are encouraged while doing the thing. Set up a twitch and go live once or twice a week. It's great to be told your work is awesome. I know that I feel so much better about something I'm not confident at when I show it to someone and they freak out about how great it is. Is it really that awesome? Maybe? But your friends should be support systems that help you get better. Ask for constructive criticism. If the person is a little too critical, maybe ask someone else, though. I've had folks only tell me negative things about my work and that stopped me from doing that thing entirely. That's not right. Friends are supposed to build each other up. The same goes for if a friend asks you for constructive criticism.
My partner tells me all the time that if you're going to critique someone, put it in a sandwich. Start off with a compliment: "I love the color pallet you used for this!/This wig must have taken some time/this story has real depth/etc", then go into the constructive criticism: "The hand looks a little small for the character, maybe we can resize it?/You have some stray hairs here/there's a run-on sentence here" and then hit with another compliment. If someone is asking you to critique their work, they might not be thinking that there's anything right with it. You need to change their mind and let them know you appreciate and see their hard work. Let them know that they are seen.
Being better at a thing doesn't just mean physically. You need to be emotionally better and thinking better mentally to achieve these goals. Look at your own successes, even if they are small. You're tired after a long day of work/school/etc, but you still want to hit the gym? Go for 15 minutes, walk on the treadmill and then go home. You still did amazing and went! That's a great achievement. Maybe you're feeling better the next time you want to go? Stay just a little longer. You not only did your main workout you wanted, but you also stayed an extra 15 minutes and tried a new machine. That's incredible and you're a champ for sticking it out! Go you!
I really hoped this help put a new perspective on going about your goals this new year and helps you know that you're not alone. I'm not perfect, nor will I ever be. I just want to be a better person than I was yesterday. I believe in you and your goals and hope that even if your only goal is to get up in the morning, I'm proud of you. You're doing great and we'll make it through this together, even if I don't know you. You've got this.