Looking forward: Outside the box

I’ve heard that most people actually decide on their New Years Resolutions before the New Year. Not me.

I love making plans, I mean…Plans. You know those schemes where nice little bits of Order are all set in a row, assuring you that everything will work out, that everything will come together and happen the way you want it to. Plans with a capital P are a great comfort to me. And Resolutions or Goals are a good beginning place for a Plan. So the Plan-making is at least a month long affair for me. Well, it’s a good year if I’m actually done with the plan after a month….

I have long been in the habit of spending time on the Plan for my jewelry business in January, after the holiday rush is over, when its cold and snowy here and sitting inside with a cup of something warm to drink and coming up with a Plan seems like the most enjoyable way to spend the still, dark, snowy days.

But here’s the thing….

The last couple of years, when reviewing the previous years’ goals and deciding on new ones, I’ve realized that something was awry. It seemed like fewer and fewer goals were getting met. And while the unrealized financial goals could be brushed aside with my stock excuse (“it’s the economy, stupid!”), it became clear the the others (artistic, promotional, career development, building up stock, work strategies) couldn’t be blamed on forces outside my control. Come to thing of it, maybe the financial goals are more in my control than I’d like to admit. So. What to do….

It has seemed to me that there were a few reasons why things didn’t pan out.

  • Some goals were just too vague and nebulous. There were things like “work on X,” “spend more time on Y,” and “focus on Z.” Well, when you actually sit down to try and do something about those kinds of goals, there can be a lot of brain-wrangling and getting oneself twisted up in “should”s and very little by way of action. And as much as I think brain-work is an integral part of creative work, there’s a time to distinguish between productive brainstorming and non-active, non-productive mental gymnastics. Sometimes thinking equals action, but sometime thinking equals nothing but manufacturing stress. That difference is important.
  • Sometimes the resolutions were very specific, but they were too far from where I was currently, and there was no plan for how to get there. Those resolutions just never seemed to happen.
  • Even when the resolutions were pretty attainable, they’d get left back in the idyllic glow of the resolution making and six months later I’d be wrapped up in meeting deadlines, with all other goals swept aside out of sight. I wasn’t following up or focusing on the non-deadline oriented goals.

So even though I like goal-setting and resolution-making, I’m not always very good at it. I’ve come to realize that I need some help to think outside my box. So to start off the process for this year, here are some links which have helped change my thinking about goals and plans significantly in the last year:

The Happiness Project: This is great for helping one to think about being deliberate about making oneself happier. Do not hastily think that this is about self-indulgence. It turns out that making yourself happier has a lot to do with making others happier too.

The DIY planner, specifically the hipster PDA: I’m working with this to help organize my time. The blog has frequent posts on using these types of planners for creative endeavors. A stack of 3×5 cards is a heck of a lot cheaper than a PDA, and I really like being able to set aside last week or last month instead of carrying them around as one does with a regular calendar.

listography: This is basically a social network built around the idea of making and sharing lists. So far all my lists have “private” settings, but I’m liking the added tangibility that a nicely formatted list can have. Perhaps I will make some of this public as I work on this year’s plan.

GTD(Getting Things Done): I read this book this year and while it’s more commonly used by people in business and technology, I’ve started using it in a modified way. In particular, it has helped me to start being more deliberate about what I commit myself to, as well as to start grappling with the concept of continually reviewing and updating one’s “to-do” lists. Still a lot of work to be done on this though.

The Accidental Creative: This site is a great fusion of planning and creativity. My budget has not yet allowed for the paid subscription, but even the free content has been very helpful, especially the podcasts. Though folks who know me might be surprised to hear it, I benefit greatly from a pep talk from time to time. And I don’t mean an empty rah-rah pep talk. But a good balanced perspective of how to plan for and feed creativity. And here as well, I still need to do a lot of work .

LifeRemix: Found through The Happiness Project, this is basically a digest of feeds from a whole bunch of planning, goal-setting, and life-change oriented sites. There are a lot of different approaches, motivations, and goals being talked about here, so if you like this sort of thing, you’ll surely find a kindred perspective. Just remember, reading about changing things is not the same thing as changing them. Must. Not. Take. The. Planning. Crack….

Speaking of Internet Crack:

I just got an invitation to the beta version of Ravelry, a social-network site for knitting and crochet. I’ll admit it, I don’t really get MySpace, haven’t joined FaceBook, and goodreads and listography have just been places to park some lists. But after only a few short (o.k. not so short) hours on Ravelry, I can confidently say: I get this.

Leave a comment


  1. Your thoughts on resolutions are so on point. I’ve been enjoying the blog of a paper and textile designer (http://rifferaff.typepad.com/make_it/) because she made such specific goals for herself last year, and really outlined a direct way to get herself to them. Another inspiring source.

  2. Thanks for the link! This is reminding me that one of my issues is narrowing down my list to a manageable number. She had only three for last year and five this year. I think I need to follow that example….:)


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