New years are often bogged down by overly-ambitious resolutions, most of which are lucky to last out the month.
What the past year has taught us, living in the midst of a pandemic, is that if we just pause a little and regear, then we are more likely to find that illusive balance. It is not about a fad diet or gym regime.
This is a simple list of things to embrace to stay buoyed.
10 THINGS TO EMBRACE IN 2022
1. Putting our people first
As the arts sector emerges from lockdowns – but still faces fear and restrictions – psychologist, broadcaster and performing artist, Greta Bradman has urged arts leaders to ensure they prioritise the wellbeing of their staff above all other concerns.
‘Irrespective of the pressures that we feel to reopen for the sake of the sector, we have to put our people first,’ she said. ‘And frankly, we have to get better at putting our people first, and cultivating a culture that really is “our people first”. Other things, the show and so forth, sit behind that, because otherwise we won’t have a sector.’
The anti-resolution: backseat ambition for greater care.
2. Killing ‘I should’
The two simple words ‘I should’ can have a huge impact on how we feel and on our wellbeing. Rather, we need to regear towards ‘what I can do.’
Bradman explains: ‘They can underpin a decline of self-confidence, of not feeling fit enough, smart enough, likeable enough, fast enough, capable enough with our instrument, if we play an instrument; or our tech, if we’re a tech person.’
Bradman stressed the importance of being able to separate ‘I should’ from ‘I need’ and ‘I want’, and rather focus on more helpful thoughts.
The anti-resolution: just be content with guilt-free doing.
3. Regear for passion
The pandemic has taught us that we can all embrace new things – be it baking sourdough bread, selling art via an online store, or taking a dance workshop via zoom. It is never too late to regear – and surprisingly, it is not as scary as we might think.
Limited contact means more time for you. So make 2022 the year that you better balance the work with the passion stuff. Make it a habit, and devote a lot time to it. It is the mental health gift to yourself to help arm you to get through another tough year.
The anti-resolution: being passionate doesn’t mean you have to be good at it; just love doing it.
4. Shelving hesitation
While there has been much talk of the wins during the pandemic through digital pivots, flexible work arrangements, and better transparency around wellbeing and mental health, one downside is a rise in hesitation culture – that is putting things off for fear of contact or allowing complacency to dominate.
Many of us have become so relaxed at donning the ‘uggs and trackies’ while working from home, that the motivation to step over the threshold and re-engage with the wider world has been dampened. Hesitation is not only about safety; hesitation is about your state of mind.
The past two years have demonstrated that we can still perform, still write, still create and make beyond the oppression of bad times.
First work out what you feel comfortable with, and then plan how you can overcome the blocks, so that your 2022 is a year that is no longer about waiting to engage with the arts.
The anti-resolution: find your own level of engagement that you’re comfortable with.
5. Replace burnout with care
Liz Nowell, Director, Institute of Modern Art (IMA), Brisbane (QLD) believes that we need to chill a bit.
‘We have been caught up in growth, outputs and productivity for so long. It’s time to look towards the horizon and imagine new futures – futures that resist the demands placed on us, as a sector, and instead prioritise care, process and community,’ Nowell told ArtsHub.
The anti-resolution: put what is important to you first to shape your new normal.
6. Think and act sustainably
One of the recurring themes across the arts in 2021 was climate change and our environment. With January kicking off with Cyclone Seth across Australia, seven states in Malaysia reporting floods, devastating wild fires in Colorado, and record-breaking snowfall in California (and it’s just the 5 January), 2022 promises to drill the need for action.
Curator Sabrina Roesner told ArtsHub that there are many things we can do right now in order to make our daily habits more environmentally aware in the arts sector, particularly in galleries and museums.
‘There are various opportunities that galleries can take to reduce their eco-footprint, and while some of them rely on the resources they have available, there is something that everyone can adopt right away,’ explained Roesner.
She said the best way to start is by setting a target. ‘That target is unique to each organisation: what is achievable and measurable? You have to start thinking, “what can we do?”’ So make your key resolution for 2022 count.
The anti-resolution: don’t get caught up in big policy, find your own path for change.
8. Keep looking forward
Artistic Director, Ensemble Theatre, Sydney (NSW), Mark Kilmurry knows that in the arts we are always striving to deliver the best we can. But another year of knockbacks makes it hard to keep forecasting forward.
He told ArtsHub: ‘My hope is we survive, look forward rather than back, and do our best work with the best of our abilities.
‘The world changes and we adapt, but we also need to maintain that creative normalcy for those who want to experience a live art form. A theatre is about people, the audience, the actors, the day-to-day team, and I feel now more than ever, we need connection – which for us is telling stories through drama.’
The anti-resolution: optimism is sexy – go for it.
Embrace acceptance in 2022: acceptance that things will go wrong; that things will be cancelled; that you will feel the pressures on your team; that you are not as perky and gung-ho; that you can’t see all the exhibitions and shows you might normally do; that you will miss many things … acceptance that we continue to live in pandemic times.
The anti-resolution: it’s Ok to feel mediocre (hey, you’re not alone!).
10. Doing smarter
ArtsHub’s George Dunford says he wants to leave behind the phrase ‘unprecedented times’.
‘We’ve got precedents now and I think we have all proven we can change and adapt with new things. So in 2022 I’d like to be able to say we can look back on precedents and adapt to them to be smarter.’
Working smarter is also about fielding the exhaustion that comes with constant change and setback. It is also about being realistic about what you say yes to and what you say no to, from the outset.
The anti-resolution: saying no can feel bloody good and empowering.