Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lessons from 2009

Twigs against the sky, taken at Enchanted Rock state park, Texas

I have set goals and reviewed my year the last couple of years and I find it a big help. Partly to acknowledge what I DID achieve, but it also helps me fine-tune my goals for the following year. Last year I posted some goals for the year on this blog for accountability, let's see how that went:
  • Get a schedule and routines in place so the little things in life don't disturb my studio time. And by 'little things' I do not mean the kids. - I didn't define this one properly - what did I mean by a schedule and routine? How detailed? I knew what I meant at the time I'm sure, but this shows me I need to be a lot more specific when I make my goals.
  • Get a solid body of work together. - And that would mean what exactly?
  • Write and post at least two blog entries a week. - Er, no. I posted around once a week last year.
  • Go to at least two exhibitions or galleries a month. - I probably did go to a museum or exhibition 24 times last year.
  • Read 50 books, keeping a simple list of them. Preferably books I already own. - My list fell behind a bit, but I read at least 30 books in 2009.
  • Reread I'd Rather Be in the Studio and get art business organized. - Yep, did this one! Also took Alyson's Blast Off! class and Go, get organized classes. Both excellent.
  • Talk to my local independent coffee shop about an exhibition. - Not only talked to them but also had an exhibition there last March. Yay!
  • Host an Open Studio. - No, didn't do this. I feel that I should have 'more' or 'better' work to show before I do this. It would mean inviting friends and neighbors to my studio and I feel like that has to be more... what? more impressive? I'm being perfectionist about it. Maybe I should just start out small with a few invited people, most of whom I am very comfortable with.
  • Devise (and then follow) a study plan to hone my painting and drawing skills. Perhaps a skill a month? - I love to plan and then ignore my plans! I learnt that I need to work on whatever is needed for the current or the next piece of work. Planning it all out ahead of time is restrictive and totally unnecessary, I am not a beginner any more and I need to leave that comfort blanket behind.
  • Get to the gym or go running at least three times a week. - Didn't do so great on this until I revised it to "some form of exercise three times a week". That worked and then I joined the gym at my husband's workplace which comes with free training schedules and that was even better. I learnt not to use "at least" in my goals - it means I can never, ever be done! If I say "three times" and I go four times, well I get a bonus!
Achievements/What worked
  • Working on the Fall Market was fun and informative, particularly as my main co-worker was so committed and professional in her approach.
  • I started recording the hours I spend in the studio this Fall and that has helped me focus on getting in there. I do not set a goal, the simple record is motivation enough. Once I'm in there I work.
  • Making my exercise goal more specific made a big difference. Sure, it would be great if I exercised more than three times a week, but I need to set goals that I can actually achieve!
  • Exhibiting my work at the coffee shop taught me a lot through working with the owners and I would like to do that again. I showed and talked about my work to people outside of school and friends for the first time and sold several pieces.
What didn't work
  • I volunteered for too many itty, bitty jobs at school in September and now I am suffering for that. Not because they take up a lot of time but because that's a lot of little stuff to keep track of.
  • I let myself be persuaded into something I wasn't entirely sure about with someone who turns out to be known to over-commit and under-perform. I can say "NO" and I can choose who I work with.
I learnt a lot from reviewing this list and the year in general:
  1. The more specific the goal the more likely it is I will do it and know it is done. Clearly I was out of the room when the SMART goals were discussed at work many years ago! Just goes to show that you can know the theory, but putting it into practice is something else entirely.
  2. Recording my studio hours was very successful and I need to keep doing that. Recording what I achieved turned out to be more motivating to me than setting a time goal.
  3. Planning our weekends in the Fall was successful in getting us out on our bikes and into the fabulous state parks around us. We need to plan at least one weekend a month, especially outside of baseball season.
  4. Visiting Manchester over the summer made me aware that I do not always take advantage of the events and opportunities around me. I should look at everything that is available to me in Houston and try to take it all in. Who knows how long we will be here?
  5. I will plan what tasks I will volunteer for ahead of time and sign up for those and those ONLY.
  6. I will not work with people who are not committed to the task and to doing their absolute best under the circumstances. I volunteer for most of the tasks I can take on, I can choose who I will work with.
  7. I will not work with someone else without a clear demarcation of responsibilities and an initial planning meeting.
  8. When I see warning signs of an issue I should march straight towards it and challenge it. Calming down a little first and looking at what I want to get out of the challenge would probably be helpful too. Ignoring warning signs is stupid, these issues do not go away.
  9. For the first time ever I asked someone why they were mad at me after a week or so of being growled at. Normally I would wait until it all 'went away'. Turned out they weren't mad at me, it was a whole other issue and we had a conversation that has affected me deeply.
  10. Questioning why I avoid something - a person, an issue, a task - really helps me figure out what my fears are about it and what I really, truly want from it. Then the stress and procrastination is reduced. But not eliminated, sadly.
Goals for 2010 coming up on Friday!


  1. Great post, Caroline! Loved your comment about loving to make plans and then ignoring them! Only too well do I know what that looks like!

    I also like how you broke down your progress and process with what worked and what didn't. This has helped me greatly.

    I seem to be a crossroad with my goals or more directly, goal setting, and your post has helped tremendously!

  2. Caroline: I found your post enlightening. It made me stop and think about my goals and roadblocks for 2009. And to think seriously about the year ahead and where I want to be this time in 2011 Thanks for posting this!

  3. Very impressed you have goals. Think I might need to set some for myself now BP finally taken me off their books, otherwise can see year disappearing without much acheived.