Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Year Goals (or Oh How Life has Changed)- Part One

I have been using keeping my Queensland Flood Quilt Auction at the top of my blog as an excuse for not posting recently. But really it was because I wanted to do a New Years post and got stuck in a debate in my head : ( put the kettle on at this point- you might need it).

To go out of order, part of the debate ended up being did I want to post my nineteen days worth of musings for the world to read at all? Not that they are particularly secret or personal but because I fear thaye are boring. But I  decided I did  want to, because I have gained so much inspiration from other people's musings I thought there was the odd chance that it would help someone else.  And hey, if I am boring you, go do something better. No offense taken I promise you. As long as you come back another day to see if I am being more interesting.

I have long had a New Years habit of getting out my journals from previous years and looking at my New Years entries to give me a sense of what I was concerned about then, how life has changed, what I wanted to achieve and what I actually have achieved. I then write a new journal entry for the next year. This included personal goals and tasks but also lots of professional ones. Indeed, back when I was a self-employed barrister life was all about goals and self-set targets. It was up to me to find much of my lecturing and writing work and my executive looking leather filofax bulged with plans, targets and to do lists. I needed a system to keep track of multiple clients, deadlines, up to four different sets of travel bookings a week, tax and VAT records and personal tasks. I have to say, I was pretty efficient at it.

And pretty done in by it.
If you look at my journals for 2005 - which of course I am not going to actually let you do :) - it is all desperate scribbles about finding balance and debating whether financially I could afford to only take bookings four days a week and keep one for admin. Eventually I did this and, whilst the filofax stayed the same, the journals became less frantic. With the caveat of keeping balance then, I'd say that the lifeplanning standard advice to set short and longterm life goals and keep then under review probably played a very large part in me being where I am now in my professional life and a vital part in my never finding myself in Cardiff when I should be in Leeds. ( I am aware that any lifestyle in which that is real and ever present danger is probably not all that normal).

Then, in November 2009 I left work, set off to travel the world for three months, took another month off at home and started an employed job. The job itself is demanding but in an entirely different way. My work lists are presented to me. I have hardly any tax records to do. My travel arrangements now consist not of booking multiple trains, flights and hotels a week, but of remembering to fill the car with petrol now and again.(And thats not hard because the sweets I keep in the armrest usually need replenishing at about the same time). The filofax was replaced by a hardly used diary with pictures of Aboriginal art for 2010 which so far has not been replaced at all. So lots more time for quilting, making setting art making goals easy. One would think.....

In fact, when I looked for last years Goals, there were none. There was a vague New Years entry in my travel journals but none of the life planning of prevous years. There was a picture of the secluded  beach in Tasmania where I stood on the sand on New Years Day and realised that for the first time in many many months it was not going to matter today if I dropped a ball because there were none I had to keep in the air that day. So I kind of had a clean start to start again setting different kinds of goals and plans. I feel no compulsion or need to do that at all for my professional life this year but I do see my 'arriving' in that area as the opportunity to fully develop my artistic life.

In December I discovered Lisa Call's various posts on goals and the debates between not setting goals at all, and the merits of having targets and aims. (She started with the latter, flirted with the former and reverted to the original goal setting.)  I was particularly interested in how she chose words for each year to live by. So, on New Years Day I pulled out my pile of journals, put on the Viennese concert and start to write. Or started to think about writing becuase suddenly - not so interested in goals. Did I need them? Was this the stage in my life where finally I could cast all that off and just be?

I decided to just live with that debate for a few days and see what feelings arose. (How very Zen of me!). I noticed that I felt resentful if I thought about scheduling tasks in the studio but quite interested if I thought about words such as 'focus' and 'choices'. I felt very reluctant to make to-do lists (which then created a kind of self-set obligation) or 'goals' which seemed to set up the pressure not to fail. But I felt rather lost without any plan. I like not being stressed. I like having time to relax. I like beeing free to potter.  I don't like aimlessness and lack of direction.

So this year I am not making Resolutions. I am not setting goals or targets. But I am going to make some good choices. Choices that are about filtering out what I do not have time to do despite me really liking the idea of them. Choices that keep me relaxed and chilled but also enthused and enriched. I am going to focus on studio tasks that givem me real not part statisfaction.

And what are those choices you ask?
Ah, well, I shall tell you, but I think that's for another post don't you?


Kristin L said...

Oooh, I'm waiting with baited breath (not sure I've spelled that correctly). I have similar issues with goals and tasks versus aimlessness. I'm liking this idea of choices. I look forward to seeing how you interpret this.

Christine said...

Well, firstly, your blog isn't boring. Do you not notice me dropping in every day to see whether you have posted again? Bet I'm not the only one. I'm too lazy for the commitment of a blog myself, not to mention the photo-ing and uploading, so really admire those who do it (and have something interesting to say and share).
I've been through similar process to yours and discovered that (for me at least) creativity and goals are fairly incompatible. Same way as I can't plan a month's menus ahead - how do I know I'll be in the mood for lasagne by the time it gets round to the Friday after next?
Looking forward to reading about your choices.

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