My father used to keep in his jewelry box, among the cuff links and tie tacks, a slip of paper on which he had written by what year (1970) he would have $100,000 in savings, earned solely through investments and his oboe. We lived on his public school teacher salary, and every other dollar he earned was stashed away. He kept that slip of paper another 40 years until his death, and, instead of being satisfied that he had met his goal, he turned that first one hundred thousand into a milestone and worked industriously the whole rest of his life.
Unlike my father, I am woefully bad at setting and keeping–and exceeding–goals. For some reason I believe that if I sense the future toward which I’m headed and work at something consciously, then I don’t need a measurable goal. Every year when I worked in the corporate environment and in public school teaching, I was required to create goals and objectives, and I HATED IT. I made up stuff and hoped that my bosses wouldn’t read very closely (and they usually didn’t).
However, when I became part of the Stone Mountain Arts Incubator program last year, I was forced into writing monthly goals and what steps I would take to accomplish them. I had to report the outcome of those goals and objectives. Those goals had to be grounded: sales goals, production goals, marketing goals, etc. As much as I hated having to write those last year, I actually realize now that I miss the rigor of the activity as well as the feedback. I have NOT created goals for my business this year. I keep strict accounting of all the money that I’m earning and spending, but without goals I see that it is very easy to become complacent or victimized by the circumstances instead of being continually proactive.
This new awareness doesn’t make it easier for me to face the fact that I probably should have created goals at the first of the year and that without a more disciplined approach toward running my business I stand very little chance of moving beyond being an amateur, a mere hobbyist, who stays moderately busy and creates some pretty pictures. Well, at least I’m having a good time, and I’m being productive. Most importantly, I’m grateful to my father’s successful dedication to his art. I will not be able to live up to his role model, but I guess that will just have to be okay.