Meta-Practice

Goals: Looking back, looking forward

Be strategically optimistic. Imagine and implement advantageous conditions.

In 2012, I inserted these goals and attitude reminders into my rotating desktop photos:

  • Be active and injury-free.
  • Forgive.
  • Do six studio visits.
  • Enter [art] competitions.
  • Have a strong show of killer new work.
  • Make work that answers, “What would I do with a solo show?”
  • Be open [to new experiences].
  • Practice kindness.
  • Embrace adventure.
  • Practice gratitude, not garbage.
  • Be strategically optimistic. Imagine and implement advantageous conditions.

Most of these were attended to with solid efforts, to varying degrees of success. Many will require more time, intention and attention. I take it as a sign that these are good reminders for me, as they are not too easily achieved nor unrealistically ambitious.

All still seem like good ideas to carry forward into 2013. They’re what positive psychologists call “self-concordant”—rather than reflecting societal demands, they are aligned with my professional and personal goals.

If you’re thinking about making New Year’s resolutions, Creative Capital’s goal-setting tips might be useful. I have been using their goal-setting strategies for the past few years and highly recommend that artists espouse and maintain the practice. It is like plotting a course on an open sea.

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Art & Development

2012: grow your intelligence

Psychology professor Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton shares a nice thought about the optimism and pessimism of learning to carry into the new year. (Via Greater Good Science Center)

A key aspect of the “grow your intelligence message” is the implications it has for the experience of difficulty. If one believes that abilities and intelligence are fixed or wired in us, then experiencing difficulty on a task can only mean one thing: that one must not have the correct wiring, genetic makeup, or inherent ability to succeed at that task. It’s very easy to come to this conclusion in the face of failure: I received a message from a student of mine the other day who apologized for not doing well on an exam, and she remarked, “I must not be cut out for this.”

However, if one believes that intelligence is malleable and can grow with practice, then the very psychological meaning of difficulty changes: It now suggests you are activating your intelligence, that you are flexing and practicing your skills. Difficulty is to ability like water is to a growing plant; as such, you become resilient in the face of trouble.

[Note to self: Practice making art. Experiencing art. Having patience. Being kinder. Enacting principles. Reaching goals. Taking risks. Embracing adventure. Being grateful.]

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