Thursday Thoughts -- A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish

Although people generally start their New Years Resolutions on January 1, that's one of the worst days for me to begin new challenges and goals. At that time, I'm still inside the holiday whirlwind of activity. It's not until at least a week later that I'm able to begin tuning back into my regularly scheduled life.

That's one of the reasons why a couple of weeks ago, I shared my quote for this year,  "A year from now, you'll wish you had begun today." It's all about renewal on a daily/weekly/monthy/quarterly as well as annual basis. It doesn't have to happen only on January 1.

Starting a challenge or a new personal goal takes more than just thinking about it and coming up with
an idea though; it takes a well thought out plan to implement it. Failing to plan is planning to fail. So, my quote for this new year has this companion quote:

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

A goal needs to be broken down into actionable tasks to create a plan. Last winter, while I was doing Project Megasketch (600 page goal), I found that in order to reach my daily sketching quota,  I had to
plan things out the evening/day before; otherwise I'd lose a half hour between sketches deciding what to sketch next, or arranging a still life subject. An hour could pass searching for the pencils I wanted to draw with and getting them perfectly sharpened with a razor, or putting away one medium and getting out another. I'd watch my goal slipping through my fingers, due to a failure to plan. It was a very frustrating experience until I forced myself to prepare and plan in the evening for the next day's sketches. With that preparation done, I'd wake up in the morning with references and materials ready to go. What an inspiring way to start the day! Having a plan in place made the process smoother, faster, and more cohesive.

The evening preparation also forced me to reflect on what I'd accomplished during the day, what needed more work, and what I was becoming bored with.  It made me ask questions:
  • How's the plan going? 
  • Are you getting what you want from it? 
  • How can you tweak the plan to better reach your goal? 
  • Do you need to lengthen/shorten the time frame? 
  • Do you need to give something up in another area to achieve this goal, or make up for a slower day? 
Life happens, and we have to be sure our plans evolve along with it.

Fear of not reaching our goals can make us reluctant to set them, but those who set goals accomplish more than those who don't. Even if we're late in accomplishing our mission, or can't quite get to the finish line, we get more done if we challenge ourselves. If your mission is to sketch 600 pages and you only sketch 300, you've still got 300 pages of sketches under your belt, rather than none.

Reassessments along the way may indicate that you get more out of doing fewer pages and spending more time on each, or doubling down on your efforts. Perhaps those 300 pages of sketches teach you that you'd be better off spending the time painting. This process of progress and development sometimes leads us to unexpected places. We can use the knowledge gained along our individual paths to make decisions about the next steps, rather than setting those goals in stone without room to maneuver, change, and grow. Building regular reassessments into our plans yields opportunities and creativity.

It might be January 9, but it's never too late to begin something new, tackle something old, or reassess a path you are already pursuing.

Make a wish. Set a goal. Write a plan. Reevaluate.

  • If improved drawing skill is one of your goals, you might want to tackle something like Project Megasketch.
  • If you're wondering if your materials are lightfast, now would be a great time to make swatches and get them into a window. By next year, you'll have some data.
  • Whatever your art goals or personal goals are, any day is a good day to start or restart. Even right now!

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