Goals, Resolutions? How about Being Present?

December 31, 2010

The post is my attitude on goals and resolutions.

PlateFlat Left: Glass plate I made a couple of years ago, about 12 x 12 inches square. A friend and I went to investigate an open studio situation where you could be trained on the equipment and then rent space and kiln time. I loved my plate, and I loved the process, but neither have any room in my life at the moment. I'm one of those people who doesn't like to dust, so I don't like to have lots of things around to dust (something I'm always working at because there are always books to dust and well—stuff—it's a process). This year I called up a friend who has a lot of glass pieces in her home and asked her if she would give my plate a home. To her credit she accepted it over the phone unseen. I know she'll give it a fine home where it will be filled with decorative bits as appropriate to the season, and even dusted. But most important, this thing I made makes her a little happy, and it wasn't making me happy at all because I had to dust it and move it out of the way so it wouldn't get broken when I was making other stuff—things are always under construction here, and I don't mean the breakfast nook! And it also always drew me away from what I really needed to be doing, and by that I mean it was always calling me to make more glass plates—but I know however fun that might be that isn't what my life is about. Photo by Tom Nelson.

It's the end of another year. If you wonder how I'll be spending my New Year's Day you can read Happy 2009 (One Day Early).

I'm pretty much a creature of habit—it helps me get a lot done.

Despite the title of this post I'm not against goals and resolutions. I am against the arbitrary approach we sometimes layer over them—that things have to happen by this time or that day or it's all a bust. I think we need balance in our lives and we get that by being present in our lives, really sitting with whatever is happening around us (not texting on our cell phones or using those phones to search the internet!). I guess that bit about cell phones makes me old school.

I have two great thrills of gratitude about my life and times (as opposed to my life and the people I've met, for which I also have lots of gratitude).

I'm grateful (and  ecstatic) that I lived in an age when printing was practiced in all modes from letterpress to digital, and that I have been a practitioner of it all. It gives me a sense of pleasure to be in that stream of work which includes church reformation (Gutenberg's Bible), country reformation (U.S. Revolutionary broadsides), and personal transformation (just about everything else from zines to prints to you name it). Everyone always talks about "standing on the shoulders of giants." Knowledge of the line of comunications (and its wonderful subversive possibilities for transformation) is something that greets me every day when I sit down to work. I love it. I'm humbled by it. I'm excited by it.

And the other thrill of gratitude I have about my life is that I lived, at least for a spell, in an age where people actually wrote real letters to each other.

But I digress. (The point is that neither of my great thrills of gratitude about my life and times relates to the cell phone or internet.)  

I'm all for setting goals and making contracts with myself (as well as others). But what I would really like to advocate today, at the end of another year, is a bit of self-reflection, a real dose of honesty, and the embracing of possibilities that result from that course. Then you can actually be present in your life, working hard, with a hope of meeting goals, because they are realistic and bear some relationship to the life you are actually living.

This isn't about settling for something "less than," and it isn't about acceptance. I couldn't be more opposed to either of those approaches. (We settle for something "less than" and we wallow in acceptance when we don't look at what is really happening in our lives—when we aren't honest with ourselves.)

If your goals don't bear any relationship to the life you're living, then EVERY DAY, or ANY DAY, is the day you need to sit yourself down and work out why—and then do something about it. And maybe it's simple steps like actually putting that pilates DVD you bought into the DVD player.

The thing is humans can be adaptable and changeable beings. Have you adapted to something unhealthy? Have your goals changed since you were younger? Are you chasing after goals that no longer really matter to you, have no place in your life, and make you miserable because they stay on the to-do list?

At the end of every day you need to stop and look a moment at that. Not to beat yourself up over lapses and digressions but to reset your course, just as you would check a compass if you were out in the wilderness. You need to ask "Am I making choices that make sense in my life? If not, why not?"

If you are present in the life you actually have you'll draw all the benefits you can from it, but you'll also see ways to change it. Small incremental ways, or large catastrophic ways.

For me that seems to trump goals and resolutions. Being present in your life is the only thing that makes goals and resolutions even possible.

I want to thank all of you for reading another year of posts from me. It has been great fun to hear from you. It has been especially fun to hear how many of you have started journaling, or returned to journaling.

May your to-do list always wax and wane in direct relationship to your energy. And may that to-do list be built upon a profound awareness of who you are. I hope all your creative endeavors in 2011 bring balance to your life.

Don't wait for a special day to change your life.

    • velma
    • December 31, 2010

    i love your last paragraph and your last sentence. thank you for it. and do you remember me a long time ago asking you about a book? i think you’ve done it here. i just wish it was a haptic experience. but the interactive immediacy is a wonderful exchange.

  1. Reply

    I’d like to take a moment to de-lurk and thank you, Roz, for sharing your blog. I read it pretty much every day and it always either makes me smile or gives me something interesting to ponder. A very happy new year to you!

  2. Reply

    velma, you’ve given me my word for the day, Haptic. I love it!

    Don’t give up on the haptic experience. I haven’t! But I’m glad in the mean time there’s the blog.

  3. Reply

    Dena, I don’t know, if your son has been setting goals and making positive changes already I think he’s probably doing OK. But I’m glad you enjoyed the post and thought kindly about it!
    Thanks for reading. You have a great 2011!!!

  4. Reply

    Anonova, thank you for de-lurking and letting me know you are enjoying the blog. I appreciate it! I hope you also have a productive and happy new year! Thanks for reading.

  5. Reply

    As usual, Roz, you’ve provided wonderful food for thought. Thank you for all you do — for sharing your sketches, your process, and your thoughts about it all. Your blog is a constant source of happiness and inspiration for me, and I appreciate so much the tremendous effort you must put into it. Wishing you the best of new years!

    • Linda Myrick
    • December 31, 2010

    Roz, I am SO HAPPY to have found your blog after a random search of facebook for family. Soaking it in today and looking forward to this addition to my continual life learning, to incorporate into my own development and extends to what I can share with my students. Linda (your cousin-in-law? maybe once or twice removed? who cares? xo)

    • Christina Trevino.
    • December 31, 2010

    Roz, as you know I am always reading you, even when I am at a loss when you write about papers and pens and colors…
    I just enjoy your vitality, curiosity and energy.
    Yes, I am more of a reader than a doer, ergo, living many things vicariuosly. Thanks for many great moments.

    • Miriam
    • December 31, 2010

    That plate is gorgeous!!! Roz wish you the best for the new year and please, please keep writing on your blog! Thank you very much for sharing your art and knowledge with us. And I’m looking forward to May so I can finally experience a class with you! Oh, and hopefully one of your new year’s goal would be an online class or DVD 😉

  6. Reply

    Melinda, thanks for your kind words. And thanks for being a regular reader! I already said it in response to another comment of yours today, but again, have a great 2011!

  7. Reply

    Linda, it’s so great to hear from you. I can never find anyone on FB. I’m so glad you found me. I don’t know what you’re teaching these days. We’ll have to catch up! Dickie says Hi! We’re going to watch a movie tonight—icy roads.

  8. Reply

    Christina, I appreciate your constancy! Especially since it’s kind of off topic for you! But I always appreciate hearing from you. I hope that you have a terrific 2011!

  9. Reply

    Thank you Miriam, it sure was a lot of fun to make it. Of course I started by drawing thumbnail sketches!!!

    I’m glad you’re going to do the Strathmore class.

    I’m looking forward to lots of changes in 2011 and we’ll keep our fingers crossed that it includes more online stuff!

    Have a fantastic 2011 and fill up your journals!

  10. Reply

    Beautifully expressed, thank you for sharing. I heartily agree with the last line..change can happen on any day!

  11. Reply

    Linda, thanks for writing. I hope that 2011 is filled with nothing but good changes for you!

  12. Reply

    Catching up on your posts. I agree, it’s time to clean out the cobwebs in our lives. I read something about a week ago that said we don’t need to state what our resolutions are the first day, the year is 12 months long, take January to reflect and plan the year.

    On that note, I did finally take a bookbinding workshop and created my own book!!

    Happy New Year

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