Category Archives: learning new stuff

20 for 2020: week 7

Week of 10 February

After two intense days of editing my uni assignment last weekend, I was grateful for a public holiday on Monday to recover.

Kramstable and I were home and we took advantage of the space I’d made to set up the studio equipment (thing 11) and find out how we might be able to make it work. It didn’t all go according to plan and there are a few issues we need to sort out, but it’s happening.

I went to the coffee shop on Monday morning and did some of the journalling for the creative abundance course (thing 6). This was about projects I want to work on and how I might go about making them happen. I can now tick off the work for lessons 12 and 13. One of the projects is my photo project (thing 1), which I’m working on in my 15 minute creative time in the mornings. I missed one day because I slept through my alarm and woke up so late I didn’t even have time to go for a walk. I had gone home sick the day before and I had slept half that day, so I’ll cut myself some slack there. Being unwell is a reason not to walk and I obviously needed sleep. Needing the sleep isn’t the same thing as lying in bed for an hour because I can’t force myself to get up.

I finished the journalling for days 14 and 15 of the creative abundance course. There’s a lot of work involved in this and part of me thinks I’d be better off going out and doing something than writing about why I want to do it. But having a why is important because it keeps you motivated when you feel like giving up, so I’m going to keep working on it. (Yes, I feel like giving up on the thing that is supposed to motivate me to keep going when I feel like giving up. What?!)

I stuck in two photo collages into my 2019 journal just to say I had made some progress on thing 4.

I have to complete the second module of my uni unit (thing 8) in preparation for the face to face workshop that starts on Monday so I worked on that. I came up with a startling realisation connected to one of the readings that I need to explore further, on top of all the things that came out of the work I did on my assignment. This has been an intense unit.

I’m still trying to get my reading habit (thing 14) established. Some nights when I go to bed early enough I read in bed, and some days I read on the bus on the way to work. But I don’t always go to bed on time and I don’t always catch the bus, so I wouldn’t call either of them habits just yet. I finished reading Clare Bowditch’s memoir, Your Own Kind of Girl, which is a wonderful book. Subtitled The stories we tell ourselves and what happens when we believe them, the things that Clare related touched me deeply and what I reflected in as I was reading it connected with the work I’ve been doing in my uni self-analysis and in the creative abundance course. Funny how there are things you need to hear and they all come and hit you at the same time in a pretty intense sort of way.

20200214 Your Own Kind of Girl

Go and read this book!

As I said a couple of weeks ago, I’m still struggling with doing the scheduling exercise from the book Indistractible (thing 13) so that’s delayed me I’ve used that as an excuse to delay doing the other work from the book. I recently watched this video from Brooke Shaden about how she structures her days, which I found interesting and I thought it might be fun to imagine that I didn’t have to attend my place of employment and make up a weekly schedule of how my life might be if my life were solely dedicated to my creative work. So I made a Google calendar called “my artistic life”, hid all my other calendars and set to work.

A few things jumped out from that. First, I had no travel time, which would free up about an hour and a half every day for me to do my creative work. I was also able to schedule in the things I have to do to keep my creative work organised, like sorting photos, that I struggle to find time for now and that take time away from actually doing things with my photos.

The ideal week was probably unrealistic because didn’t take into account the fact that there are people, like my family, who might sometimes want to spend time with me. But it did see me going out walking three times a day and having a 30-minute nap at my lowest energy time of day. At that time of day I’m useless to anyone so might as well be napping rather than being completely unproductive struggling to keep my eyes open. It was a fun exercise and maybe there are some adjustments I can make to my current schedule (that I never stick to) to bring it closer to my ideal creative week.

Summary for the week
• Things completed this week: 0
• Things completed to date: 3 (10, 16, 18)
• Things I progressed: 6 (1, 4, 6, 8, 11, 14)
• Things in progress I didn’t progress: 3 (3, 13, 22,
• Things not started: 10 (2, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15, 17, 19, 20, 21)

20 for 2020: week 6

Week of 3 February 

School went back this week. I had the first two days off with Kramstable before I went back to work and he went back to school. I always find January a bit unsettling because there’s no real routine. I work longer hours at the start of January to cover some of the days leave I need to take at the end of January before school goes back, so my normal routines never quite fit the January days. Some of them are long work days and some of them are no work days when I spend time with Kramstable.

QNTI20200205 Waiting for Mark at school edit

Back to work colours

The family issue I’ve been dealing with has added an extra layer of complication into the mix, as has having to undergo a fairly extensive process of self-analysis for my uni assignment (thing 8) in only three weeks. The time I’d like to have devoted to this wasn’t available to me and I had to make use of the time I did have to do this as well as I could.

I spent several hours undistracted in at work on Saturday trying to complete the assignment and then I spent an excessive amount of time on Sunday being incredibly nit-picky to try and get the word count down. It was a frustrating process because every time I read it through, something else occurred to me that I needed to say that was relevant to the assessment criteria. I spent hours shuffling and reshuffling sentences and paragraphs until I had a story that flowed well and said everything I could reasonably expect to cover in 1500 words. Except that it was closer to 2000 words. By this stage, after two days, I couldn’t bear to read through it again and try to cut more out. Removing anything else would have disturbed the flow and lost important parts of my story so I decided to hand it in and accept any consequences for exceeding the word limit.

This was a self assessment and personal development plan and what I wrote relates well to other development work I’m doing, some of which made it into the essay and some of which didn’t. The stuff that didn’t make it in is still important and I’ve kept it to feed into my master development plan. (That sounds more impressive than it is, but I’m working on it.)

After the family issue and the intensity of the uni work, I’ve tried to re-establish “normality” by being more committed to the “just 15 minutes” of my creative work first thing after my walk. This week I did it every day, an improvement on last week’s two days. During this time, I worked on my photo project (thing 1) and on some other photos I wanted to edit.

I had a bunch of photo collages for my journal (thing 4) ready to print as a result of last week’s sprint to get all of 2019 finished last week and then forgot to take them to get printed on tightarse printing day, so they can wait for another day. In the meantime, I have eight collages already printed, so I trimmed them all down ready to stick in the book. Progress.

Setting up the studio (thing 11) isn’t as big of a thing as it might sound. I got a dodgy backdrop and lighting kit from eBay a while ago to experiment with portrait making. It also has a green backdrop that Kramstable is interested in for his videos. There’s only one or two places in the house where I can set it up, and it has to be packed up again when I’m done with it; I can’t leave it there all the time. So this week I moved a pile of stuff away from one of the potential setup areas, got everything out of the box and that was enough for now. At least I made space.

I had my hearing test (thing 16). Lots of things came out of it, including some issues that are related to my master development plan. It’s interesting that health issues in one area show up as problems somewhere else and the solution is not always as simple as addressing the presenting issue. As the audiologist said, everything is connected. Among other things, I was assessed as having a low noise tolerance, which explains why I always feel so anxious and tense when I’m in noisy environments—and “noisy” for me is a lot quieter than most people would consider “noisy”, so it doesn’t take much to trigger this. Not an ideal situation when work in an open plan office! The next step is to talk to my GP about how I can manage this.

It was a full-on week.

Summary for the week
• Things completed this week: 1 (16)
• Things completed to date: 3 (10, 16, 18)
• Things I progressed: 4 (1, 4, 8, 11)
• Things in progress I didn’t progress: 5 (3, 6, 13, 14, 22)
• Things not started: 10 (2, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15, 17, 19, 20, 21)

20 for 2020: week 4

Week of 20 January

20200122 Sunrise Taroona Beach edit

Wednesday morning walk on the beach

There’s not a lot to report on this week. I went to work and had two days off that were largely taken up with family matters, a big event on Saturday and a long bike ride and some study on Sunday. It means I didn’t get as much done on my 20 for 2020 list as I would have hoped but I managed to keep some of the things ticking along.

This is the first official week of my second uni unit (thing 8). I was very relieved that there are a lot fewer readings in this module than there were in the last one, some of which I didn’t manage to read and are still sitting in a pile waiting for me. (Yes, I know. Go paperless. I can’t read on screen. I have to have the paper so I can scribble on it and get out the highlighter pen). There is a lot of reflection to do in this unit and the first module is about understanding yourself, your style, preferences, strengths, values and identity. It’s something we’ve been looking at at work, as well as tying in with some other work I’ve been doing recently, including Indistractable (thing 13) and the wellbeing course (thing 3), neither of which I progressed this week. I’m interested to see where this is going to take me.

I made some more photo collages (thing 4). I have four weeks left to do plus the first four weeks of this year.

I have committed to working on my photo project (thing 1) for 15 minutes every day, an activity from the creative kickstart course (thing 6). 15 minutes is better than nothing and it means I’m making progress on a project that stalled last year. This week I did that for six mornings, so I’m happy with that. I listened to another one of the course lessons this week too.

I had a bit of a revelation, which wasn’t so much a revelation than a reminder, that in all of this work, I don’t have to do everything. I need to take what is going to work for me in the place where I am right now. For example, there are going to be days especially leading up to intense periods of uni work, where I will not have the time to sit down for even one block of 50 minutes to do my creative work, let alone three or four. I’m currently looking for slots in the day where I might be able to fit some of this work it in as well as my 15 minutes in the morning.

This all relates to the Indistractable work too and the struggle I’ve been having trying to schedule everything. I’m very good at making schedules. I can timeblock forever. I love composing timetables down to the smallest detail. But ask me to actually do the things on the schedule and that’s never going to happen. If I’m doing something and the time comes do start on something else, the chances of me doing that are basically none, unless it’s “go to doctor’s appointment” (or “meet friend for lunch”).

So I’ve been scouring the internet for ideas on what to do if you can’t make yourself stick to your calendar.

I posted in one of my Facebook groups asking for help too. Someone suggested I was aiming too high trying to schedule everything and that I could try to put one regular thing in my calendar each week, commit to that and make that a solid habit before moving onto the next one. I like that.

Someone else suggested putting an alarm on my phone and putting the phone out of reach so I have to get up to turn it off, thereby stopping me doing what I was doing and giving me a better chance of actually doing the thing I want to do (in this case, go to bed on time), because the act of getting up will force me to stop what I’m doing, so I then have to take that opportunity to stop properly, not just pause.

A final person said maybe I’m just not a calendar person (I think that’s right) and maybe I need to just pick out the top three things to do each day and work on them until they’re done. That might work but I think it will require planning so I can figure out what are the most important things I need to do and I would still need to figure out when to fit them into my day. So I’m not sure if that gets me any further ahead.

But anyway, baby steps.

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 2 (10, 18)
  • Things I progressed: 4 (1, 4, 6, 8)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 4 (3, 13, 14, 16)
  • Things not started: 12 (2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 15, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22)

20 for 2020: week 3

Week of 13 January 2020

This was my last full week of work before school goes back so I am rather looking forward to some time off next week.

This week, I rang the hearing centre and booked a hearing test (thing 16). They didn’t have any appointment for the tests I need for three weeks but I’ve finally made the appointment, so this thing is now in progress after me putting it off for more than six months.

I read some more of my uni material (thing 8) and started work on some of the exercises. The unit officially starts on Monday and the first assignment is due three weeks later. So I think most of my effort is going to be directed at that for the next three weeks. I’m really excited for this unit because it focuses on self management and a lot of the material is stuff I’m already familiar with so I think I’ll enjoy this work.

I started putting my phone away when I’m travelling to work and have been reading on the bus instead (thing 14). In my quest to develop an evening routine (thing 3), I’ve started reading before I go to sleep most nights. So far this year, with these two new opportunities for reading, I’ve finished five books. Three of them, I started last year, but they are now out of the “reading” pile. You can find my reading list here.

Things went bit chaotic for a bit over the weekend and early in the week and I haven’t had a chance to listen to any more of the creative kickstart lessons (thing 3). I missed a few days of doing my “just 15 minutes” from that class where I sit down after my walk and work on my photo project (thing 1) but I got back on track later in the week.

20200113 Jaffa & T&G 3

Happy Monday!

I looked at my 196 hours that I figured out last week that I need to get everything I want to do done in a week from the Chapter 10 exercise of Indistractable (thing 13) and ran away screaming. Trying to work out what to let go of so I can do the things I really want to do.

Just about every productivity manual I’ve read says that if you want to get something done, you need to put it on your calendar and treat it like an appointment you might make with the doctor or a meeting you have to go to at work. This is great in theory, but I don’t work like that. I see “time block for photo editing” or “time block for meal planning and shopping list-ing” that I put in the calendar last week and if I don’t feel like doing it, I generally don’t. Same as setting an alarm to tell me it’s time to get ready for bed. I ignore it.

One of the suggestions in the creative kickstart class is that you identify the times you’re most creative and you put the time in the calendar to do creative things at those times. Which is also great in theory, but the times I find I feel I’m at my creative best, I’m either at work or I’m having to do something like cooking dinner that isn’t so easy to reschedule. As for other suggestions you need to schedule three to four hour blocks to sit down and do your work, believe me, there is nothing I would love to do more. But I work five days a week, I live in a house with other people who sometimes like to interact with me and for whom I sometimes have to do things like cook dinner. There isn’t a day during the week that I have three or four hours to devote to my work so this is never going to happen then. I’m sure I could structure my weekends better, but it hasn’t worked for me so far.

This whole scheduling time to do the things I love and that are important to me just isn’t working out for me.

By Saturday afternoon, I was feeling stuck and hopeless and ready to throw it all in. I walked out of the house, caught a bus to town and went to a location I love to photograph. 3pm Saturday is not a time I would ever “schedule” for creative work. The hours between 1pm and 4pm are my lowest hours of the day, I have no energy and am no good for anything. Yet there I was (after having a quick nap on the bus, which I’m sure the driver noticed and that’s why he stepped extra hard on the brakes at one of the stops), at my lowest time of the day, going out and doing what I love to do.

I have to rethink this one and remember that I only have to take from these programs the things that will work for me. I don’t have to do everything and I don’t have to do it perfectly. I have to do something and hopefully by taking small steps, I will start to see positive change.

The same goes for the wellbeing work (thing 3). The course rolls around every year and you can dip in and out, taking what you need at the time. Last year was the first time I listened to all of the classes (well actually I finished them in the first week of January this year). I didn’t do all of the activities but I did the ones I needed to at the time. Right now I am still trying to set up an evening routine, which is an activity for the middle of the year. I have a couple of journalling tasks left over from the end of last year that I want to do to close the circle on 2019’s work and, when I’ve done that, I will call this thing done. I’ll continue to listen to the lessons each week and pick up some of the work I didn’t do last year, but for the purpose of this thing, I specifically wanted to complete the last module and those exercises.

Finally, to scrape in progress in one more thing this week, I worked on a couple of photo collages from my 2019 photojournal (thing 4). I only have four more collages to actually make (and three from this year), then I have to print them and stick them in the book. I’m nowhere near as far behind with this as I was with my 2018 journal.

Summary for the week
• Things completed this week: 0
• Things completed to date: 2 (10, 18)
• Things I progressed: 8 (1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 13, 14, 16)
• Things in progress I didn’t progress: 0
• Things not started: 12 (2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 15, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22)

20 for 2020: week 1

Week of 30 December

Week one of 20 for 2020 was only five days, but I’ll count it as a week.

I haven’t made a page for the list yet, but here’s a link to the first post where I outlined the 20 (or 22) things I want to achieve in 2020.

Wellbeing course (thing 3): I went through the last module, watched the videos I hadn’t watched and wrote down all the things I needed to do. I have a master list of tasks on a Trello board that I want to relating to this course so I can see everything in one place. The only thing left from 2019 that I want to complete is to do some journalling activities, which in some way are connected to the work in the creative kickstart course (thing 6). From then on, I will dip back into the course over the year and take things I need from it at the time.

Creative kickstart course (thing 6): My intention for this is to complete it by the end of January. I think some of this work will connect with the work in Indistractable (thing 13). I rewatched the first three videos that I watched at the end of 2019 to reacquaint myself with the material and to remind myself where I got up to. The idea is to watch the videos and put the strategies into place right away, so that’s what I intend to do.

In the first video it asks why I want to do this work and I said:

My goal is to create more, enjoy creating more and get better at creating work that I love. I am sick of achieving nothing because I’m tired and get easily distracted. I’m wasting my time on meaningless activities while others are going out, learning and making progress. I want to be like that.

Uni course (thing 8): I printed off the unit handbook, had it spiral bound so I can carry it round and work on it more easily, and started the first reflection activity. The unit doesn’t officially start until 20 January so I am trying to get some of the early work done now so I’m not hit with too much work at once. I think this will be a really interesting unit because a lot of it is about knowing yourself and self-management, which are subjects very dear to my heart.

Ride my bike to work (thing 10): Instead of my Sunday morning walk, I rode to town to try and find the best route to work.

Indistractable (thing 13): I read Part 4 and 5 of the book on the bus on the way home from work.

20200101 Indistractable

Indistractable by Nir Eyal

Reorganise my sock drawer (thing 18): I completed this on Sunday. It involved swapping the contents of two sets of drawers in two rooms, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for ages to make my socks (and the other things in the drawers) easier to access in the morning. It took less than an hour. I’m happy with that.

In other things, I’m counting progress I made in 2019 on my photo project (thing 1) as progress for this year because the project is really underway. I’m not counting what I did about making contact with the sewing machine repair people (thing 2) because it’s come to nothing and I really need to start again with that one. The 2019 photojournal (thing 4), although I kept mostly up to date in 2019, I have about 10 weeks worth of photos to sort, along with keeping up to date in 2020, so progress only counts on getting that backlog completed. So no progress on that one this week either.

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 1 (18)
  • Things completed to date: 1 (18)
  • Things I progressed: 4 (3, 8, 10, 13)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 1 (1)
  • Things not started: 16 (2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22)

20 for 2020

20 for 2020 is a continuation of 19 for 2019, which is an idea I stole from Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft’s podcast Happier (here’s the link to how Gretchen and Liz did on their 19 for 2019 lists). I think they actually started it with 18 for 2018.

I’m going to do 20 for 2020, which, I mean, how can you not? All the twos and zeros.

I haven’t made any further progress on my 19 for 2019 list since my last post, so in the end, I accomplished 14 of the 19 things I wanted to do in 2019. Three are still in progress (things 2, 6 and 16) and I will complete them, one I decided I didn’t really want to do (thing 14) because putting the systems in place to do it, rather than actually doing it, was more important, and I think I went some way to doing that. The other one (thing 10), I’m waiting on someone else so maybe I need to follow up.

Having learned from 2019, I’m going to include a mix of small things that I’ve been putting off for ages, longer term projects that I want to finish off and some new things that have just recently popped up in my life.

The first step was to look at my uncompleted 2019 things and decide if any of them need to be carried over into 2020. I’ve kept the photo project on the list (thing 16), getting my sewing machine fixed (thing 10) and completing the wellbeing program (thing 6), which will actually run again in 2020, so I will be able to dip back into that work as I need to.

I’ve also included two things that I did in 2019 and want to do again in 2020. And a whole bunch of new things.

Here’s the list

Carried over from 2019’s list

1. Complete my photo project

2. Get my sewing machine fixed

3. Complete the wellbeing course lessons from 2019 (and go back into this work over the year to pick up on things I missed last year or need to reinforce)

Repeated from 2019

4. Complete my 2019 weekly photojournal and put in place a system so that I don’t get behind with the photos again (I have kept up a lot better than I did in 2018 but I still have about 10 weeks of photos from 2019 to sort and edit)

5. Have an alcohol-free month

New for 2020

6. Complete the 21 days creative kickstart course I started at the end of 2019

7. Complete the Photoshop class I signed up for in 2019

8. Successfully complete my uni course and graduate

9. Use no camera other than my SLR with a single prime lens for 30 days and post a photo a day for the month

10. Ride my bike to work

11. Set up a mini studio at home

12. Finish the Bored and Brilliant challenge and write a blog post about it

13. Read the book Indistractable and do the activities it recommends (at work and home)

20200101 Indistractable

14. Develop and maintain a daily habit of reading for enjoyment

15. Redesign my study wall as a vision board

16. Have a hearing test

17. Learn to use my graphics tablet

18. Reorganise my sock drawer

19. Take a class in fermentation

20. Repot my orchid

21. Use the sprout jar

22. Commit to (and actually do) a monthly review every month

I know. There are 22 things on that list. Clearly maths isn’t my strong point or I have travelled in time to 2022.

Allow me to elaborate. The monthly review idea comes from Susannah Conway’s Unravel Your Year workbook, which is a lovely thing that Susannah sends out to her email list every year to help you figure out how you want your upcoming year to look. I’ve dabbled with these in the past and shoved them into a folder somewhere. This meant I never followed up what I wrote down in the early days of January and have come back to them 12 months later to find nothing I wanted for the year happened.

I couple of weeks ago I saw a post from a friend on Instagram about her starting her workbook and I commented that I never followed through with mine. She said she found the monthly reviews really good, which got me thinking about how staying more in touch with the book over the year might be key to actually getting the work done.

So I got it spiral bound at the local printers so that it looks more like a book and is a lot easier to carry round and write in than loose pages or putting it in a folder. I’ve been working my way through it over the last couple of days, pulling out some of the key themes to include as things for my 20 for 2020 list.

20200101 Uravel your year

The monthly review is a way for me to remind myself to check in on how I’m doing throughout the year, along with my regular(ish) blog updates.

I just threw the sprout jar in as a thing at the end because it’s been sitting on a shelf looking at me forlornly (almost as forlornly as my sick orchid that is in desperate need of repotting and if anyone knows how to do this please help!) ever since I got it. I figure it’s a small thing to do, one that I have been putting off for months, and if I include it here I might have a chance of actually doing something with it. I didn’t have the heart to bump anything else off the list to make room for it, so there it is. Something I could probably do in five minutes, but it will probably take me six months to actually do.

So there we have it. My brand new list for 2020 with lots of fun and challenging things to do.

19 for 2019: a review

20191101 Sunrise Taroona Beach 6 editIt’s coming up to the end of the year so it’s a good time to reflect on my 19 for 2019 list: what went well and what I didn’t quite do. I haven’t posted for a while because there hasn’t been much to say now. Every week since week 32 would have been much the same: I listened to one of the wellbeing course classes (thing 6), I added some photos to my folio (thing 2) and the sewing machine (thing 10) people still haven’t contacted me. I don’t have the big beautiful photo I imagined I would have (thing 14) and I’ve been dabbling with the photo project (thing 16) but I’m not going to get it finished.

So, let’s review what went well. I finished 14 of the 19 things I set out to do. I have three more classes of the wellbeing course so I might get there before the end of the year and I will have a folio of my favourite images of 2019 but I won’t have edited them or done anything with them.

I’m happy with completing 14 things from the list. I did some things I had been putting off for years, like getting a skin check (thing 4) and I now have a nice skin doctor who wears cool socks and I have reminders to rebook every year.

20190716 After manicure 3

We got manicures

I finished the 31-day photo course (thing 1) in a little longer than 31 days but I did it and at the same time gained a pretty reasonable understanding of how to use Lightroom (thing 19). I had my first manicure (thing 17) and I walked on a track in kunanyi (thing 15). I actually did this twice if being parent help on Kramstable’s bushwalk counts! I walked to Moonah (thing 3) and I filled up my Bucket List journal (thing 18) with not 50 but 100 things, so I also did that thing twice.

20190713 Bucket List Journal

Bucket list journal

I also had a bonus list of things I wanted to do but that didn’t make it onto the final list, so my real 19 for 2019 list was actually 30 things. I completed five of those things and I made a lot of progress on another one, so if you add those five to the 14 from the real list I actually did do 19 for 2019. I just picked the wrong 19!

I did a few other things I had wanted to do for a while too. I had a month off coffee and as a result I am no longer a regular coffee drinker. I didn’t buy anything I didn’t need to actually live for a month. I went alcohol-free for a month. And I almost completed the Bored and Brilliant challenge. I have one exercise to go. I should do it.

20190901 Tree on the Police Building 8-EditOn top of all that, I applied and was accepted into a university course through my work, which I had no intention of doing at the start of the year; it wasn’t even on my radar, but my manager encouraged me and I got seduced by the thought of graduation in a funky gown and a funny hat at the end of next year. So I’m now a uni student for the first time in more than 20 years and while the modules are running there’s little time for anything else. (Sorry, Weekend Wisdom posts.) I did way better in the first module than I ever dreamed possible and have three more modules to go. The last one is a workplace project, which I’m starting to gather some vague ideas about in my head and which might even end up here.

So that’s 19 for 2019 almost done and dusted. Out of all the things I wanted to do, there’s only one that I think was over-ambitious and that’s thing 14, make a photo I am proud of, frame it and hang it on the wall. I imagined that some of the other things, the photo course and learning Lightroom especially, would I have led me to be able to do this. I have a few photos from this year that I really like but none that stand out and say “this is the one”.

20190901 Boats at Derwent Sailing Squadron 14

I hadn’t given this too much thought until today when I was listening to David duChemin’s podcast, A Beautiful Anarchy. In this week’s episode, Learning to Drop, David talks about self-confidence and how if we mis-define the task we have to do, we set ourselves up to fail and, by failing, we fulfil the belief that we can’t do something. He compares it to juggling. If we think the task in learning to juggle is to juggle, we will fail and we will reinforce the belief that we can’t juggle. But the first task in learning to juggle isn’t to juggle, it’s to throw a ball and let it drop. We can do that task. Anyone can do that.

And so it is with creative work. If we identify the task as “I’m going to make a masterpiece” we are setting ourselves up to fail and to believe we can’t do it, because no one makes the masterpiece straight up. It takes a lot of throwing the ball and letting it drop before we can move onto the task of catching the ball. It takes a lot of “failures” and shitty first drafts, a lot of first lines, a lot of overexposed, underexposed, badly composed photographs that don’t go anywhere before we actually make any progress. David says

The creative life is one of failed first efforts. You’re meant to drop the ball so you can concentrate on what it feels like to throw it. Catching isn’t the point. Not yet.

So I think it was a mistake to want to make a masterpiece in a year. I should have focused on the process of creating and making and learning and experimenting and failing, not on the outcome I wanted. And, to some extent, I did that through the course and I want do to more of that in 2020. So there will be no “make a masterpiece” thing in my 20 for 2020.

Just like there will be no “read x books” in 2020 because focusing on the goal rather than the process this year meant that I basically gave up reading after I’d got to the magic number. Not what I wanted to happen when I wanted to develop a reading habit.

I’m going to use 2019 as a learning experience when I put together my 20 for 2020 list.

20191109 OHH-106 Construction House

How about you? Did you have a list of things you wanted to achieve in 2019? How did you go? Are you going to jump on the 20 for 2020 bandwagon with me next year? Let me know in the comments.