There’s a weird trend this year on social media I’m noticing for the first time.
My feed seems to be full of people posting collages of photos from their feed this past year that got the most likes or were the most ‘popular’ with captions saying, “I got # of likes this past year, Wow! Thanks everyone for all the likes this past year!”
The music equivalent seems to be posting pictures of their Spotify 2018 recap showing their total # of downloads and streams.
Now, hear me out: If this was you, I’m not trying to call you out for this. I’m not saying numbers aren’t important to making a career as an artist, we do need them for sustainability and knowing where the location and demographics of your audience can be valuable.
I’m also not saying we shouldn’t look back on a year and thank the people and fans that showed us their support and made it all happen. (there’s nothing more gross than an artist who doesn’t approach their fans with anything less than massive amounts of gratitude, but let’s be real, we don’t actually post numbers like that to show genuine gratitude as if showing people how many listeners we have will make others feel some sort of solidarity as if they’re apart of some community or something. At least, that’s not why I’ve done stuff like that in the past. ;) I’m not saying it’s gross or egotistical either, I usually translate that as someone saying, “Hey, I’m pumped about these numbers! I’d love you to enter into my excitement and celebrate with me!” I’m all about it!)
What I am saying is: a New Year is a helpful reminder to take a breath and look back over our past year to assess the positives and negatives and to then step intentionally into the future.
The danger, however, is the temptation to take the cheap and easy way out by defining a ‘successful’ year by numbers.
We’re living in an unprecedented age of online content consumption. Likes and streams cost someone nothing and are a poor representation of the true depth of impact your art or work has made on the world around you. The fact is, you may never know how your work is impacting others on a nuclear level or how something you crated this past year has changed the way someone looks at the world around them.
If you’re reading this, as a part of the small community on the web that I’ve had the privilege of getting to connect with and I’ve gotten to be inspired by this past year…
KEEP ASKING MORE QUESTIONS!
KEEP LOOKING FOR WAYS YOUR ART AND CREATIVITY CAN ADD VALUE TO THOSE AROUND YOU!
If your numbers are smaller than what you had hoped for, remember: NUMBERS DON’T QUANTIFY A SUCCESSFUL YEAR! KEEP CREATING!
If your numbers are more than what you could have ever imagined… CELEBRATE in honest gratitude but remember: NUMBERS DON’T QUANTIFY A SUCCESSFUL YEAR! KEEP CREATING!
The most important (and sometimes painful) journey we can take is to shift from finding our creative drive and validation externally, to it being found completely internally within ourselves.
So, at the end of this year, may we look back in gratitude, look forward in curiosity, and look deep within to find more grit and strength than we could have ever imagined.
Post Scriptum: If anyone’s looking for inspiration on how to conduct a “past year review” here’s something I’ve found extremely valuable from Tim Ferriss: https://tim.blog/2018/12/28/past-year-review/