“It Takes Forever If You Go By Inertia”
I am the type of person who picks a theme word in January to help keep focused and on task for the year.
Most years the theme is obvious to me and the word comes easy. Not this year. This year I struggled. I think it’s because I’m anticipating a milestone year ahead and I assigned a great weight to the outcome of my word choice. I was feeling so much pressure to choose the “right” word that I paralyzed myself – I couldn’t’ choose any theme at all.
I convinced myself to stop trying to force it, and, in the paradoxical way of the universe, once I stopped looking for it my theme word came to find me.
As I’ve been planning the year ahead I realized that the success of many of my goals is contingent upon completing specific tasks – tasks that I am continually deferring.
Example: I haven’t updated my website because I couldn’t document my recent work. I couldn’t document my recent work because the pieces weren’t totally finished. The pieces weren’t totally finished because I was missing certain supplies to get the work framed properly. I didn’t have these supplies in my possession because sourcing them proved to be brain-melting. Once I did source them the materials sat around my studio for three months because reframing all the work to swap out the glass for Plexi is an onerous, time-consuming job.
[You can see why my portfolio hasn’t been updated in years – it was much easier to start in on a new piece and/or new series then to wrap my brain around the long list of tasks necessary in order to be able to take a picture.]
I took stock of how many outstanding series/projects I have in my studio. Let’s just say it’s more than I’m comfortable listing. Many of the works in progress go back as far as 10 years. I feel like I should open up a savings account so I’m prepared when they become college age.
I avoid completion. Consistently.
And this dysfunctional cycle doesn’t stop at my studio threshold. At home I recently found a bag that contained an incomplete knitting project, a pair of socks that I haven’t touched for five years.
I spent some serious time mulling over all of this unfinished business of mine. And then my theme hit me upside the head. 2017 is going to be about COMPLETION.
I started with the half-knit sock, committing to knitting just a few rows each evening. Trusting that even barely perceptible, consistent progress would equal a finished sock in a month or two.
Now it is time to apply this method to the rest of my incomplete goals: get that website update finished, build the online store, and make some hard-nosed decisions in the studio about which series-in-progress stay and which pieces get sold in an upcoming studio blow-out sale.
I’m super-stoked about wrapping up these outstanding goals.
I am also super-overwhelmed at the scope of work necessary to complete these goals.
In order to stop myself from running into the comforting arms of procrastination I picked one goal and gave myself a firm deadline; I committed to getting all my new work up onto the website before the end of March (no small feat – I’ve made a lot of work in the past 3 years). To reach this goal I had start at the bottom of a very long, very scary to-do list.
I broke down the tasks into manageable steps (rows) that can be accomplished each day. As with the outstanding knitting project, if I can cross off even a couple rows on my to-do list per day I will eventually complete my goal.
What’s that you ask?
Oh. Yes. There was is a hefty dose of daily RESISTANCE.
Regardless I have been diligently chipping away at the to-do list and I’m happy to say I’m on track to reach my goal of an updated portfolio by mid-March.
In addition I’ve booked my excellent web designer to build me an online store this spring, and I’ve started to dip my toes back into a commercial project that I began in 2015 (so I’ll have some fun things to offer in that store when it launches).
Do you have unfinished business you’re ready to take care of?
I recommend focusing on one goal and taking one wee step at a time. Don’t be discouraged by the gigantic pile of semi-finished goals on the horizon. Look straight ahead and trust that if you start the journey, and keep moving forward slowly, you will reach your destination – maybe even sooner than you thought possible.
“It takes forever if you go by inertia” – Jane Siberry (The Very Large Hat).