2015: The year of taking charge


I had taken two weeks off from everything: teaching, family, this blog, everything.

And what did I do? What did I spend my 14 days doing prior to ringing in the new year? Was it something productive like sorting out my receipts and re-arranging the mess of a corner that I call my workstation (I work just fine, thankyouverymuch, and things are where they’re meant to be.)


Here’s what I did instead: I was binge-watching The Mindy Project because I had just discovered the show, oh only after it ran for 3 seasons. I was laughing and giggling over the chemistry between Dr Mindy Lahiri and her colleague Dr Danny Castellano while nodding my head whenever she was talking about how other things can wait when it comes to food. Or that you’re crazy not to have seconds of anything. Oh yes. That’s what I watched. For some her voice might be grating enough to turn them off, but for me, I had to control myself from snorting out food through my nose whenever the punchline kicked in (did I also mention I didn’t stop watching even when it was lunchtime?)

So yes I binged watched for the entire 2 weeks while I was off. And I’m not embarrassed to say that I enjoyed it. That and oh, chocolates.

I deserved it.

That, for me, was the act of taking charge of my time.

And I want to do more of that in 2015. Not the binge-watching TV show bit, but the taking control bit.

But wait, doesn’t taking charge mean doing something proactive? Something useful? Yes, it can be that too. But that’s not the point. The whole point of taking control is to be able to exercise your choice – irregardless of what other people might think. You need to know what you’re doing and what you’re doing has to be purposeful. And that is totally different from merely slacking off.

I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt while I was reclining on my sofa, cradling my laptop to the tune of crazy nurse Morgan as he deadpans about his dogs. I emptied my mind and let myself do nothing for a change. And while I do watch my favourite TV shows from time to time – having 2 weeks of pure uninterrupted bliss time to call my own is just what I needed to recharge my exhausted batteries. Your methods may vary, and so will your mileage.

Because society and life in general puts too much pressure on people to do things all the time. Sure, there are times when you can’t afford to take a break. Or maybe you’re not into The Mindy Project like I am. The point isn’t about reclining on sofas and watching comedies while popping Picnic bars. It’s about taking charge of what you want, and ultimately what you need to do to move forward.

I knew that I had been through a bit of an emotional roller coaster in 2014. One of my first dogs ever died. I ran another fun, successful second session of Work/Art/Play. There was also the 2014 Artists and Illustrator survey. I did a redesign of my blog. I participated in a local zine fair where I peddled my zines and gave a talk among other great designers. I took on a part-time stint as an art director at a regional PR firm. I was at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content as a moderator for several keynotes and a one-day workshop. And a few other wins and losses that I can’t seem to remember right now, but that’s okay.

2014 was a relatively slow year, truth be told. And I didn’t mind it one bit. There are times when we surge and forge ahead, and there are times where we back down a little – not out of defeat, but to prepare for whatever life throws at us next. We lick our wounds and treat our pain – physical or emotional – and get ourself ready for what’s to come.

And 2015 is going to be one exciting year, I can guarantee you that.

Just make sure you get off the sofa like I did.

So here’s my question for you:

What will you take charge of this year?

Maybe it’s taking charge of your time so that you can finally spend that time on learning that new technique you’ve been meaning to try out; or it means taking charge of your art and business so you can do what you love and be rewarded for it.

I’d love it if you would share with me (and I read every comment):

  1. What does taking charge mean to you?
  2. What’s your focus for 2015? What do you want to change?
[Illustration by Tyler Feder of Mindy Kaling on The Mindy Project. Available as a print in her Etsy shop.]

14 Replies to “2015: The year of taking charge”

  1. Penelope says:

    Thank you for such a thought-provoking post!
    As for me: taking charge means finding the nerve to turn down projects which no longer align with my aims. And this year’s focus is to expand on my dolls – add new outlets, develop an art style which echoes them – and take more time off specifically to do things with my sons. In an ideal world, I’ll get my workroom organised, too!

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  3. Jasmin says:

    Hi Amy,
    thank you so much for sharing your thoughts –
    same thoughts that I have about my life and my work and the upcoming year ❤ 🙂
    Taking charge means for me to decide on myself what I like to do and when I’d like it to do. For 2015 my focus is finding out -step by step- what I really love to draw and how to share it with the world.
    It runs hand-in-hand with focusing on developing my handmade business and to make a living from it.

    Lotta hugs,
    xxx Jasmin xxx

  4. Liza says:

    As a mum, wife, foster carer and even dog owner I sometimes feel like my role in life is servant! So for me taking charge means carving out time to develop my career at last. Because I have declared 2015 the year of money! It has always been my dream to support myself with my art and this year, at the age of 47 is when I will start to do it! Good luck to everyone for 2015 xx

  5. Lorrie says:

    Hi there Amy

    Happy new year…

    Firstly, I too LOVE the Mindy Project, and have watched it avidly since the first episode. As we are always behind here in the UK, I watch the new episodes on You Tube. Mindy Project is one of only FEW occasions I ever wish I was ‘young’ again. In that I mean, under 35.

    In terms of taking control. Well, I sort of wrote a blog post about it. Last year was the most unproductive for me in terms of creativity. I worried about it until I just got to the point, where I didn’t. I came to the conclusion that it just doesn’t matter. The fact is, I am just a bit tired. I have been running all my life, my girl is ten years old this year, I will turn 53 and I just got a bit worn out. So, instead of drawing and writing, I read a lot.

    This year my plan is again to not fret if I am not drawing and creating. I upgraded my camera (Canon 7d) and plan to get out and about a LOT more, and spend less time indoors. I plan to NOT read the news as much, or my Facebook and Twitter feed and thus lower my anxiety levels, as one can only take so much horror and tragedy. I will remind myself more often that the world is indeed a wonderful place with wonderful people in it.

    So. That’s me…

    Lastly, sorry to hear about your pooch passing away, big hugs.

    Lorrie x

  6. Hi Amy… happy new year…

    Taking charge for me is taking actions. I had a slow 2014 too and I want to make it different this year. I want to focus and be committed to my goals and above all I’m taking control of being happy.

    My goal is to be excited everyday on what everything that will come my way…

    I hope everyone is feeling recharge to make a difference this year too…

  7. Marie Coons says:

    Hi Amy,
    I always enjoy your newsletter posts. The Mindy Project is one of the few sitcoms on TV that can make me and my husband laugh.

    I had to pause for a few moments to answer your questions – here goes:
    Taking charge means taking chances for me. When I want to answer an ad in the aiga job listings but don’t because I think “whats the use?” or “i’m not qualified” the smaller part of me needs to just say “wtf – just do it.” I think the act of going for it more often would make me feel in charge.

    i can’t answer the next question yet but am thinking about it… ; )

  8. Melissa says:

    Hi Amy! Yes, recharging guilt-free is so important, but so hard to do. This year I plan to take charge of organizing/structuring my time better, as well as reflecting on last yerar – my first year out on my own – to figure out what’s working, and what’s not. My big goal is to find an agent this year so that I can spend less time with my marketing hat on and more time in the studio!!

  9. Shirley says:

    Amy, Happy New Year..what a way to kick off 2015!

    First of all, I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of your pup!
    Congratulations on your quest to take charge!
    What “taking charge” means to me is basically knowing that each day has only 24 hours, and of that time, I’m going to commit to taking an allotted amount of hours to just “me-time”. I remember reading somewhere that women like to chat/browse the internet/shop, etc, and that we beat ourselves up for that. It was then said that doing those things were good for the mind and were the “downtime” that we clearly need from all of the hats and busy-ness that we tend to fill up by nature. I am that way, so to be able to mindfully focus on taking charge of that time is something I hope to successfully achieve. I have been trying to do this for most of the last part of 2014, and I’m hoping to do this for 2015 and beyond! 🙂 This year’s focus will be on book illustration and book projects, and transitioning from design to illustration projects. Amy, thanks for being such a bright and positive place to share and to learn from..I’m wishing you a fabulous new year ahead! Here’s to more time to enjoy TMP for you and all of us!

  10. It’s sometimes difficult for me to take it easy, so I’m inspired by your intentional approach to down-time.

    To me, taking charge of my time means figuring out some larger goals and making sure I’m always moving toward them, even by taking rest. I guess in 2015, I’d like to manage my procrastination so that I can have more fun and let that inform my work.

    It’s an ever-evolving process! Thanks for your words of guidance!

  11. Taking charge means boldly following my own path with determination and conviction. Saying ‘no’ to the opportunities that don’t align with my goals (without feeling guilty) & not listening to the doubters. And as Amy spoke about, taking breaks- resting up is essential to a healthy creative life!

  12. This year, I want to take better care of my emotional health and work on a children’s book I have in the works. I also want to build my own business as an illustrator. I also want to be less scared of things i find scary.

  13. anastasia says:

    2014 felt very ‘relaxed’ but it was welcomed and encouraged by me…
    this year I hope to push a little harder with my dreams and goals and I want to get back to drawing and illustrating…its been so long!
    I miss taking time out to be creative!

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