Stamp on your ‘shoulds’

Unsurprisingly, there's plenty to read about goals and resolutions in the blogosphere right now.

iHanna has a good post with lots of inspiring (and occasionally daunting!) links.

Sister Diane from the Craftypod makes the very smart suggestion that you only pick one thing that you really want to do. I don't think I can quite manage that but it's something that I'm bearing in mind as I continue to very s-l-o-w-l-y refine my list of goals.

After being in a funk the other day, I did a whole load of journalling on the subject of goals and discovered that part of my problem is that I often confuse my goals and desires with the things that I feel I ought to be doing.

Pelt 02
For example, I know I should be getting on with making Pelt...

Now this hasn't been a problem in previous years, I've just stuck those 'shoulds' right on my goal list and felt damn virtuous about it too. However, in the last couple of months I've been following a conscious 'no guilt' policy. So if something makes me feel guilty then I do something to get rid of that guilt; this can include finishing things, getting rid of them or paying someone else to deal with it. The 'no guilt' policy is working well for me, except that it's apparently scuppered my usual goal setting, which was firmly based around the concept of guilt.

So often our goals and resolutions are negative - lose weight; quit smoking; get fit in the next five minutes, you lazy person; become a better friend; live life more fully; read more intellectual books; do this 'good' thing; don't do that other 'bad' thing. We often seem to start with the idea that who we are right now just isn't enough and we're flawed somehow, so the focus always seems to be on making ourselves into a 'better' person. Sometimes this can be a good thing - making positive changes in our lives can be very empowering. However, there's a big difference between making a change because we genuinely want to and punishing ourselves for not being perfect yet.

Guess what, you're never going to be perfect and neither am I!

What would it feel like if everything on your goal list was completely and unambiguously POSITIVE?

I don't know either but this year I want to give it a try.

Since I was still struggling with my very insistent 'shoulds', I did a mind map in my art journal about what I want from the year. Writing out a list of 18 things - some small, some large - that I genuinely want felt very powerful. When was the last time you let yourself think about the things that you desire? And not the things you think you 'should' want either but the things you honestly want.

Of course, I'm also very task orientated and I love to set myself very defined projects and tick things off lists. So writing things like 'spend more time in the library with the lights off and the candles on' seemed a little silly at first. How do I quantify that? How can I make that into a proper achievable goal with a definite target? Hmmm, should I start a database to count the days when I manage to sit down and properly relax? Ha, you probably think I'm joking... but many a true word was spoken in jest, says the girl who keeps a database of all the books she reads each year!

My mind map of desires isn't a goal list yet - the other thing I discovered whilst journalling was that the goals I did best in reaching last year were the ones that were very specific and had quantifiable targets (yay, there is a need for those databases!) - but it is a start in a new, and slightly scary, direction for me.

14 thoughts on “Stamp on your ‘shoulds’

  1. You have my sympathies. I just did mine (with a mind map too) yesterday and blogged about it. Did feel like I was just blogging about the same thing everyone else is blogging though. But I write about my process to try and spur on some other people with a direction to take. Mine's not so much my goals as my whole 2008 business plan really.

    Remember, scary is good! Scary means new. New means evolving. :)

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  2. You have my sympathies. I just did mine (with a mind map too) yesterday and blogged about it. Did feel like I was just blogging about the same thing everyone else is blogging though. But I write about my process to try and spur on some other people with a direction to take. Mine's not so much my goals as my whole 2008 business plan really.

    Remember, scary is good! Scary means new. New means evolving. :)

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  3. YES!! You are so right about the way we all tend to make our goals more punitive than positive. And not surprisingly, it never works - when phrase a resolution in terms of our being lacking in some way, of course we'll find ways to avoid dealing with it.

    I love your concept of listing things you really, truly want, without any "shoulds." I should try that.

    . . . And I REALLY love the fact that you database all the books you read. A woman after my own heart!

    Thanks so much for this thought-provoking post.

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  4. YES!! You are so right about the way we all tend to make our goals more punitive than positive. And not surprisingly, it never works - when phrase a resolution in terms of our being lacking in some way, of course we'll find ways to avoid dealing with it.

    I love your concept of listing things you really, truly want, without any "shoulds." I should try that.

    . . . And I REALLY love the fact that you database all the books you read. A woman after my own heart!

    Thanks so much for this thought-provoking post.

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  5. Blimey, I always enjoy reading your posts, which is why I don't visit so often in recent months, I get so mentally involved in them that I knacker myself. But I do love them, and these last few that I'm looking over ALL ring true for me, everything you say. Damn your good.

    Maybe that's how I should deal with my inabilty to write well and express my thoughts clearly, I could just have my whjole blog scattered with links say, "yeh, what she said" linking to your posts. Since finding more of you women who write as beautifully and succinctly as you make art,

    I find myself struggling constantly with my blog. I write huge reams of stuff some weeks and delete it all before posting because it's such a garbled mess and the whole point of my blog was to have one place in my life that wasn't messy.

    I think I get something from at least trying to write it down, though, like having a conversation with someone, it moves your thoughts along in ways they may not go when they stay in your head. I frequently don't know I think something until I hear myself say it. Or hear you say it, or hear Marjojo say it, or Lisa Solomon etc. etc.

    That's what I love, when you women say it the space remains clean, no mess, even when you may be talking about confusion, difficulties, or even cupboards of Doom (love that, i have a room of doom just now, though i call it the room of shame, Mr P has 2 of them).

    I love the idea of your no guilt strategy, I do pretty major guilt and when I'm low on energy the guilt is so damned tiring. But I also suspect I'm like you in needing the guilt to get things done, so maybe I can try to conciously pick times for each. I had a thing that worked well a few years ago but I let it slide - money monday's. I would set Monday aside to deal with all the crappy financial things, bills, tax, or general form filling which I hate. I was pretty strict with myself, no art and no 'fun' till the job is done. And I would treat it like a 9-5 job, if it's not done I'm leaving it and not stressing till the next monday. Why did I give that up? I've no idea, I bet the sun came out!

    But anyway, I like how you've set me back on the path of awareness about this stuff again, it's important so I don't waste my little energy in the wrong places. Ok, so now the right places, back to reading more of your back dated posts, wey hey.

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  6. Blimey, I always enjoy reading your posts, which is why I don't visit so often in recent months, I get so mentally involved in them that I knacker myself. But I do love them, and these last few that I'm looking over ALL ring true for me, everything you say. Damn your good.

    Maybe that's how I should deal with my inabilty to write well and express my thoughts clearly, I could just have my whjole blog scattered with links say, "yeh, what she said" linking to your posts. Since finding more of you women who write as beautifully and succinctly as you make art,

    I find myself struggling constantly with my blog. I write huge reams of stuff some weeks and delete it all before posting because it's such a garbled mess and the whole point of my blog was to have one place in my life that wasn't messy.

    I think I get something from at least trying to write it down, though, like having a conversation with someone, it moves your thoughts along in ways they may not go when they stay in your head. I frequently don't know I think something until I hear myself say it. Or hear you say it, or hear Marjojo say it, or Lisa Solomon etc. etc.

    That's what I love, when you women say it the space remains clean, no mess, even when you may be talking about confusion, difficulties, or even cupboards of Doom (love that, i have a room of doom just now, though i call it the room of shame, Mr P has 2 of them).

    I love the idea of your no guilt strategy, I do pretty major guilt and when I'm low on energy the guilt is so damned tiring. But I also suspect I'm like you in needing the guilt to get things done, so maybe I can try to conciously pick times for each. I had a thing that worked well a few years ago but I let it slide - money monday's. I would set Monday aside to deal with all the crappy financial things, bills, tax, or general form filling which I hate. I was pretty strict with myself, no art and no 'fun' till the job is done. And I would treat it like a 9-5 job, if it's not done I'm leaving it and not stressing till the next monday. Why did I give that up? I've no idea, I bet the sun came out!

    But anyway, I like how you've set me back on the path of awareness about this stuff again, it's important so I don't waste my little energy in the wrong places. Ok, so now the right places, back to reading more of your back dated posts, wey hey.

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  7. Wow, sorry, didn't realise how long that was! I was doing it in tiny bursts through the day. Happy New Year, and good on you for taking the time out before the next daily project, hard, but wise.

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  8. Wow, sorry, didn't realise how long that was! I was doing it in tiny bursts through the day. Happy New Year, and good on you for taking the time out before the next daily project, hard, but wise.

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  9. Hi Kirsty,
    I agree with both cally and wendy's comments above - your post about goals is very thought provoking and inspiring. And I'd love to see your mind map, but maybe this is too personal to share...also what I'm most interested in is a little more detail about your process. At the moment my head is in such a kerfuddle that I am not sure I can even pose myself the right questions. If you have the time and energy to flesh this out a bit, I bet there are lots of people who would benefit...but if not PLEASE don't feel guilty!Okay!?!

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  10. Hi Kirsty,
    I agree with both cally and wendy's comments above - your post about goals is very thought provoking and inspiring. And I'd love to see your mind map, but maybe this is too personal to share...also what I'm most interested in is a little more detail about your process. At the moment my head is in such a kerfuddle that I am not sure I can even pose myself the right questions. If you have the time and energy to flesh this out a bit, I bet there are lots of people who would benefit...but if not PLEASE don't feel guilty!Okay!?!

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