Following up on my 2017 Watchword

Donna Zagotta, Everyone Has a Story

It’s hard to believe, but in a little over three months the year will be over! Instead of waiting until the end of the year to assess how I did with putting my 2017 watchword, Follow Through into my art practice, I thought it would be better to do it now, while there’s still time to clarify ideas and make any necessary modifications.

Looking at the definition of follow through that I pinned to my studio bulletin board at the beginning of the year, I was reminded that following through means:

  • Completing
  • Seeing through
  • Bringing to completion
  • Bringing to the end
  • Finishing off
  • Finishing

Back in January, when 2017 was all sparkly and new, I had lots of new ideas for improving my work and for taking it to the next level. Now I realize that was really just the “wishful thinking stage” of the creative process. What I learned this year is that when I’m in that stage, it’s as if I’m in la la land! I feel like I can conquer the world….anything’s possible – I’m Super Artist after all! I become overconfident in my skills and abilities, and as a result I don’t recognize the amount of time and effort it would take to master the new skills and abilities that I might need in order to successfully bring any of those ideas to completion. So without really having thought things through, I often jump right in and before long I inevitably find myself feeling frustrated and discouraged because I wasn’t able to pull off an idea that seemed so simple and perfect when I first encountered it. More often than not, those events lead to a slippery slope that ends in abandoning my idea altogether. And the sad thing is – maybe that was the perfect new idea – the one that would have taken my work to the next level if I had just seen it on through to the end.

Reflecting on all of this recently, I decided that I really need to learn how to follow through on new ideas. One thing I know for sure is that abandoning an idea when the going gets tough creates the opposite effect of my intention, which is to move my work closer to where I’d really like it to be. I need to create a list of action steps for acquiring the skills and abilities needed in order to bring an idea to a successful completion. And more importantly, I need to take the action steps and do it until the idea is brought to a successful completion.

It’s often been said that when a goal (or an idea) isn’t working we shouldn’t change the goal, we should change the action. Creating a list of action steps and then taking those action steps is a major key to achieving goals and successfully implementing new ideas. Without the action steps, the goal (or idea) forever remains in the “wishful thinking stage” of the process.

So here’s my plan ………

  1. Put together a list of action steps that might help me express the ideas that I think may help me move my art to where I really want it to be, and at the same time acknowledging that it’s quite possible that an action step might not take me anywhere. We always have to allow for, and be ok with, the inevitable mistakes, failures, and missteps that are part of the creative process.
  2. Instead of just rattling off a list of cliché or abstract actions that I think I “should” take, go deeper and search for practical and doable actions that really stand a chance of producing successful results.
  3. Commit to choosing one action step at a time and keep working that step without judgement until it’s brought to a successful completion.
  4. Detach from results. This takes away the pressure of having to create a masterpiece every time I walk into the studio and puts learning new skills and exploring new possibilities into the category of experiments, play, and fun adventures. Fear is what often stands in the way of taking action steps – fear of making the wrong decision or choosing the wrong path, fear of failure, and the fear of disappointing ourselves. Detaching from results is a great way to by step those fears.

How are you doing with your 2017 art goals?

My painting in today’s post, Everyone has a Story, is currently part of the American Watercolor Society’s 2017 Travel Show.

Bye for now…..Donna.

4 responses to “Following up on my 2017 Watchword”

  1. Susan Kiedio

    Love the expression ” detaching from the results..I love the process so much that I don’t always need a finished product..thank yoi

  2. Angell Pasley

    Donna – I love your work!

  3. Cathy Hegman

    Great post Donna!!!

  4. joan treat

    Wow Donna! Those EXACT words were just what I needed to see. I’m going to re-read them until they stick.

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