The Art of Art

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  • Isa Down

Creating Big Shifts & Revisiting Goals

Updated: Sep 17, 2019

This idea of setting goals and making intentional changes is not just for the New Year. Join us as we take a look at ways to revisit goals, create big shifts, and welcome change this September... and all year round.




You can listen to this episode on the Gather Home Creatives podcast here.

Real shifts, the BIG SHIFTS, the ones that really transform our selves and our lives and how we are in this word take time. Big time, for big shifts.

Creating Big Shifts


When I think of resolutions, the first thing that comes to mind is that heady feeling of renewal and energy that comes with the New Year. That time of year when we all strive to forget the goals we didn’t accomplish, or the weight we didn’t lose. It’s as much a time of sweeping things under the rug and living in denial that our goals are (perhaps, often) too lofty, as it is a time of real change and renewal.


Boy, do I sound like a pessimist.


But bear with me here.


“Goals” and big shifts in how we operate at a functional, daily and habitual level are wonderful. But we often forget that we need to revisit these goals.


Real shifts, the BIG SHIFTS, the ones that really transform our selves and our lives and how we are in this world… They take time. Big time, for big shifts.


And so, wouldn’t it stand to reason, that this big goal, taking big time, should be revisited more often than at the annual chime of a New Year?


If we don’t revisit it at least halfway through the year, are we not risking this goal becoming meaningless? Is it still relevant? Do we still want or need to accomplish it? Does it need revision? How does it fit into our lives 6 months in, as it did when we made it?


Life happens. Our goals should change with this.


A few years ago, I began practicing something a little different, at least for my creative life. And it’s something I’d like to try in my personal life, too.


I write down my list of accomplishments that I would like to see happen in the year. Now, these aren't necessarily goals, per se. I don’t feel the need to really push for them to happen immediately, as I often feel with goals. Instead, my goals are giving me self a sense of direction for my business, or my self, for the year.


Then, as the year goes along, I checks off the things I have accomplished, and I hold space for those that were unexpected. I include these on the list as well, as the year goes on. Editing and revising and adding to my list. Even though they weren’t goals on January 1st, they happened, they made me feel a sense of life, or joy, or accomplishment. I’m not only talking big things, here.


When I submitted a personal essay to the New York Times’ Modern Love section, I put that on the list. I did it! I wrote something I was proud of, that took foreverrrr to write. And I hit submit. It did not matter, in the least, when I got my rejection email because I was still so tickled pink by what I had accomplished.


Hitting submit, come a retrospective review of the year in December, would have been forgotten about had I not only written it on my list, but truly allowed myself to feel that little giggle, sigh of relief, sense of total fear, that comes with doing something that’s really outside your comfort zone. I truly felt the satisfaction of what that small victory meant to me.


Another example?


Writing a book was on my lifetime list, and when I heard from the publisher in February, I absolutely put that on my list. It did not matter if I never heard from them again – the fact that a big, real-life publisher, was interested in me and what I offer… That was huge. And worth celebrating. I listed all the little steps in that process until I signed that contract. And now? I have my first book on How to Create modern Ink and watercolor florals coming out in May 2020 with Quarto Publishers.


By acknowledging the things that may be forgotten along the way – in the moment, while they’re happening – and allowing yourself to truly sit in them for a moment… It reduces that shame/guilt spiral we tend to feel at the end of the year. When we step on the scale and we haven’t lost that 50 lbs, or we didn’t run that marathon, or, in fact, never got much farther than the end of the block, we still get to look back and see all the things that did happen. We made it through a major surgery, or had a baby, or took up rowing, or started a business, or read a book a month… whatever it may be.


Now, there are several change theories in nursing and psychology (with lots of research behind them_ that support this view, but I won’t bore you with the details of them. Suffice it to say, science has shown that true change comes best when we have physically felt the accomplishment.


. . . . .


When I was writing this, I was listening to the pop of lids for the peaches I was canning. Do you preserve food? If you do, you know what I’m talking about. That POP that tells you that you did it right. You killed off all that bacteria and sealed those peaches up properly in their jars.


It’s the same idea as these goals.


Every time you write down that accomplishment – it may not seem to be much more than a split second POP – but it fortifies you. Reassures you in the depths of winter when you open that jar of peaches, that you did it right, so many months ago, and now you can revel in the fruits of your labor, and not worry about negative consequences, like getting sick from poorly canned peaches. Literally and metaphorically.


I was inspired this week by a few of the people that I follow on Instagram. There’s been this talk of renewal, a new season is upon us, of rebirth. Some are embracing changes by way of the seasons, by harvesting, or welcoming spring, depending on your hemisphere. Some are changing out wardrobes, some are planning a month of intentional renewal. Others still are finding what grounds them and offers them substance in these transitional months between seasons. Others are sending children off to school and ushering in a whole new year, in a whole new sense. One friend wants to read 10 books by the end of the year, setting a new goal for herself.


And why not? If not now, when? Why wait til January?


I think any time is the best time to make a positive shift, but this time of year – transitions in season—is such a good reminder to do so.


I grew up celebrating different seasons and festivals throughout the year, and the one that occurs in September is Michaelmas. The story is a celebration of St. Michael slaying the dragon, but the meaning of it is really this transitional time of the seasons, as we start turning more inward with the colder and darker months coming, that we celebrate this strength and courage it takes in ourselves and lives to face these metaphorical dragons, and to really cultivate that strength and courage for our own self-development.


I’ve seen a few things out there lately of this “September shift” but it’s really something that’s been going on for hundreds of years, this time of transition, of looking inward and sorting through that muck to really find your confidence and strength and ability to face forward, and step out confidently in yourself.


So, my challenge to you is this:


Take a look at the goals that you set for yourself, in any, at the start of the year, and reassess.


Do they still fit into your life and vision?


Are they still relevant?


What tweaks need to be made?


What new goals, ideas, or inspirations are you wanting to delve into as the year starts coming to a close?


I encourage you also to start a list of your accomplishments, big and small. It’s such a powerful way to cheer yourself on, and support yourself during those low moments when you forget how awesome you really are.


Til next time...

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