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  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

Different Year, Different Goals - Making Space for Change

Last night I returned to a writing project I’d abandoned over a year ago. The abandonment wasn’t a problem. It was just an extra project I thought I might use as a free gift someday - But Wait! Ten Self-Checks To Keep You on Track to Achieving Your Goals. When I re-read it in preparation to continue working on it, I was surprised by the discussion about the could/should dilemma. It used, as an example, my attraction to the idea of applying to be a guest teacher in a year-long video-based art instruction bundle. Here’s what I wrote:

The next weekend, just as I was starting on a new art journal spread—something I regularly enjoy on the weekends—I received an e-mail advertising a year-long bundle of mixed media videos for 2022. For an affordable price, I could receive a new video every week for a year. The e-mail included an invitation to watch a free series of “taster sessions,” and as I did, I realized “I could do that!”

Yes, I could certainly do that. I had plenty of relevant material. I had experience teaching art to adults. I even had some experience with making instructional videos. I got right on it and e-mailed the creator of this bundle asking about applying to teach the following year. She got back to me quickly and gave me the link to the application which I studied carefully. I saw a series of questions about the applicant’s on-line presence. I felt I was lacking in that area and wrote back saying so. Again, I received a timely reply. “No applicant will have everything. Give it a try.” That was the gist of the kind reply.

I outlined what I’d need to do to move towards the on-line presence I’d feel comfortable presenting and actually proceeded to work on those tasks on and off for three months! I was quite excited, and happily told a few friends about my ambitions. They were encouraging. “Yes, you could do that,” they observed!

I spent a lot of time making videos since I thought that was my weak point. Before I knew it, I could imagine myself as a successful teacher in the next year’s Mixed Media bundle. Oh, how wonderful it would be.

But then, a small internal voice gathered its courage and spoke up. “Really?” It whispered. I ignored it. Then the voice got a little louder. “Really? You actually need to think this through.”

And, finally, I did. I thought about what my daily life would be like if I were actually a teacher in that bundle. What about my books that I’d been working so hard on for two years and was so committed to for the future? I realized that I could possibly do both, but I wouldn’t do either well. I’d be stressed and miserable.

Yes, I could do it. But that wasn’t the real question. Should I? No. I wasted a lot of time failing to distinguish should from could.

I remember how easily the words flowed, how confident I felt in my conclusion.

Where am I now, a year later?

Well, a few months ago the desire to apply for the 2023 bundle hit me. I thought things through again and believed, if I were by some miracle accepted, I could do both my books and the bundle and do them both well. I felt as sure that I could as I’d felt a year earlier that I really couldn’t.

Guess what? I was accepted! And I’m over the moon.

So, what’s different? Maybe with a year more experience I’m more confident. Maybe, with four books published and two more in process, I feel less pressure to build my back-list. Maybe adding teaching to what I’m doing in my creative life is just meant to be, and this is the time.

I feel I my judgment was good a year ago, and I’m doing the right thing today. Different time, different goals. It's important to make mental space for change!

You may be wondering what the sparrow has to do with any of this? Nothing! I just thought you might enjoy seeing him. Here's the whole art journal spread.

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