Wednesday, December 31, 2014

deconstructing 2014, one goal at a time


You get whatever accomplishment you are willing to declare. – Georgia O’Keefe

My absolute favourite time of year is here! I know there are some people out there who think new year resolutions are silly things, but I love them. In fact, they're pretty much all I think about these days. But before I make new goals, I always revisit my old ones to see if there's anything to be learned from them. This year, I've decided to do that "out loud". So here they are, my old 2014 goals:

#1 Decrease My Internet Usage

This is pretty much as vague as goals get. Sure, it's a good idea. But it's not a good goal. And I'll tell you straight up: I did not achieve it. At least, not in any concrete, measurable way. What I should have done is broken this goal down into smaller chunks using questions like: When can I use the internet? When can I not? Which forms of internet use are acceptable and which are not? (Email, for example, is obviously more important than Facebook.) So. I'll need to revamp this goal for 2015.

#2 Enrol in an Art Class

A decent goal, and one that I achieved because it's easy and because I was taking it with a friend which made me extra accountable to it.

#3 Apply to HSTA's 15 Week Intensive Ceramics Program

Another easy goal with the added bonus of being pretty specific. There weren't a lot of steps involved in this one. I simply went on the OCAS website, applied, paid, and got accepted. The harder part was moving up north (away from friends, work, family, Joe and Yonder, my favourite restaurants and cafes, everything I love, basically) and working my ass off in a studio in the middle of the woods for 15 weeks. That in itself was a huge accomplishment, and I learned a lot. I think my biggest lesson was that Kitchener-Waterloo has become my home, whether I like it or not, and instead of dreaming of other places I want to try living in, I should focus on "blooming where I'm planted".

#4 Design a Line of Functional Pottery

This is not a very good goal only because I didn't break it down into smaller tasks. I did have some specifications (I wanted this line to be loosely connected to a novel I've been working on) but I had no action plan. In spite of this, I did achieve it and you can see the results here.

#5 Apply to Shows With My Pots

This is a vague (and therefore unhelpful) goal. I think you can see it's unhelpfulness in the result: I only applied to one show and got invited to two others. They were all very "comfortable" shows - shows I've done before or shows where I had a guaranteed in. So I'm revising this goal for 2015 to make it more challenging.

#6 Buy a Pretty Bike and Ride it EVERYWHERE

This is totally a shallow goal. You can see it in the wording. I'm clearly way more interested in the look of a bike (and the look of riding a bike) than I am in the actual work and commitment involved in being a cyclist. However, it was a big deal for me. Bicycles and I have a complicated past and I wanted to get over my feelings of "not being enough" that I associated with them. So. I did buy a (very pretty) bike and I did ride it. But I did not ride it everywhere. A better goal would have been "Buy a Pretty Bike and Ride It to Work" or "Buy a Pretty Bike and Ride it Four Times a Week". Something specific.

#7 Sell Novel "X"

This is a terrible goal. It's terrible because selling novels is not something I can control. All I can control is the writing and revising and putting myself out there. The infuriating thing is, I know this is a terrible goal and yet I insist on putting it on my list of resolutions every year. So. I resolve to not put it on my list for 2015 even though I want to.

#8 Revise Novel "Y"

This is not as terrible as the last goal, but not a great goal either. Mostly because it's vague. However, it is completely within my control (unlike #7) and I knew I would be revising this novel within the confines of a mentorship, which meant someone else would be keeping me accountable to it. And I did achieve it - twice in fact. (And in the midst of revising Y twice, I also substantially revised X twice, so really, I accomplished a ton of writing in 2014, which is something I'm happy about.)

#9 Draft a New Novel

Not a great goal. Did you guess that? Obviously it's not great because it's vague. I did have a specific novel in mind, one that I keep having to put on the back-burner due to revisions on X and Y, but I made no concrete plans to tackle it. However, in the midst of revising two other novels (and undergoing a very intensive ceramics program) I did manage to write a lengthy short story that I'm pretty proud of.

#10 Save Money to Pay for HSTA

Yet another vague goal with no action plan thought out. It sort of happened anyway, but only in a roundabout way. The reason that I'll be able to pay off my student loan is because of the money I made from the shows I did while I was in school. So in a way, the completion of one (albeit vague) goal (#5) aided in the completion of another (also vague) goal (#10). So I will take it.

In Conclusion...

Obviously I still accomplished a lot of my goals in 2014, despite their lack of specificity. I think that's partially because I wrote them down and revisited them throughout the year, and partially because they weren't particularly challenging. With that said, there are a lot of things on this list where if I hadn't of written them down, I'm not sure I would have accomplished them. So I still think my list (as vague and easy as it was) kept me accountable. This next year, though, I resolve to make more specific, more challenging goals! I'll write about those in my next post.

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