Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical words and watercolour

10 000 hour rule

Achieve your goals...by NOT focusing on them

My art journey, Self Developmentphoenixarttally

pink-and-green-face_w_arttally If you want to achieve your goals… don’t focus on them. This seemed like just the sort of counter intuitive advice I was looking for. You see, I have recently found myself floundering a little in my quest. (You remember the one? The quest to become an artist by doing 10 000 hours of art.) Actually that is not exactly true. I realise that I can’t help but want to draw and paint now - that is in my bones I think. But the recording of the hours and the sharing what I produce seemed to get squeezed out by other things in my life by the end of 2014.

That is the problem - our lives are full and busy. A good thing I think, but it means that there is so much competition for our time and attention that it is very easy for us to lose sight of some our objectives and perhaps not even notice when they get obliterated by some other competing demand. In my case, wanting to draw and paint does not automatically translate into action. Wanting to do something and actually finding the time and space to facilitate that in your life are two quite different things.

To achieve your goals, you need to be really mindful about the processes that you put in place for them. I know that there is plenty of woo woo advice out there suggesting you focus doggedly on your outcome, but actually I think that trusting the great mysterious unknown to fill in all the dots is expecting way too much. Yes, I do believe that the subconscious mind is capable of great things but realistically, it is going to need a helping hand, isn't it?

Ultimately we can't control the outcome. We can control the process. And this is exactly what Reggie Rivers was talking about when he said that if you want to achieve your goals don’t focus on them. Focus on what you can do to move towards the goal. Focus on the behaviour. He gave a great TED talk - only 10 minutes long - check it out here.

As the universe is wont to do, it kept sending me the same message that week. Not only did I see Reggie Rivers talk, I also read Jeff Goins post about measuring the process rather than the outcome, in order to achieve your goals. And that is exactly why I started blogging about all this in the first place. So as I approach the milestone of my first 1 000 hours I am happy to say that I have renewed enthusiasm for my project and renewed trust in the process.

Another of my favourite writers, James Clear, made some other good points about goals and processes. He says that focusing on the goal can be a demoralising thing to do because what you are really saying is that until you achieve that thing you aren't good enough now. Essentially it moves you into the future instead of being content right now, and happy to be in the process of improving.

Whether your goal is to master a new technique, write a book, be more patient or learn a new language the path to achieving the goal is the same. Of course you need a clear vision of the goal, but it is the behaviours and processes within your control that will get you there.

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

(I thought you might like to know, no one is really sure who actually said these words first. Some say it was Antoine de Saint-Exupery, others say it is an anonymous proverb. Never mind. Clearly, it was someone very wise.)

By the way, how are you doing with your goals so far this year? I'd love to know... you could tell me in the comments below, couldn't you?

Perseverance pays...

My art journeyphoenixarttally

You know, there just might be something in this 10 000 hour rule.

Early attempt at a  face using alcohol markers

Early last year, about 400 art hours ago, I was introduced to Spectrum Noir Markers. They are alcohol based markers, which (when used with the right bleedproof paper or card) blend the streaky marks you inevitably make, all by themselves. So they are nothing like the markers we used as kids. They come in glorious colours and enable the production of beautiful, creamy skin tones. They do take some getting used to though. I remember being rather pleased with myself for being able to draw something resembling a face, under Lovely Jane's gentle instruction. Here is a face I drew back then using these very markers. I feel very brave revealing her, but she illustrates the point!

Another face, still using alcohol markers, but about 400 hours of drawing practice later!

I haven't really used these alcohol markers much because they are so fussy about the paper, and I am rather enjoying working in art journals at the moment.  But it is week 1 of 'Express Yourself'  another one of Lovely Jane's classes. Our warm up assignment was a shaded face using alcohol markers.

I think this face is much better than my earlier effort above, so I feel jolly encouraged and enthusiastic about doing more. It seems that we can learn new things, at any age.

I think there is a risk of being so focused on an outcome, the place you would like to get to, that you forget to notice where you have already been. It's a bad habit I am prone to, I think - the tendency to be more mindful of what I still can't do rather than acknowledging, or even observing, the current progress.

So here I am, pausing to take heart that practice does indeed seem to work, and ready to put in many more joyful hours of drawing.

In the midst of my self-appreciation, Beloved offered the observation that it looks as though she got smacked in the top of the head with an iron. Well. Yes....I see what he means. Luckily, I have 9 400 hours or so to work on that....