Last night, as the clock struck 12, the world celebrated. We broke open the champagne, hugged our neighbors, and shouted in the new year. We stayed up, partied more than we should, headed to bed, and woke up late, perhaps with a hangover.
Is that any way to start a year?
Some may be looking back in relief that the past year is gone. Over. Finished.
Did we hate it that much?
2022 Is So 2022
I could probably find a lot of reasons to dislike last year, but there is much to celebrate too. Each year provides lessons, chances to experience new things, meet new people, and even experience new pain or problems. I embrace it all, even the bad.
This day, today, will be the final day on earth for some people. And if they knew that, they would look back on the last year of their life with complete joy in spite of the bad.
How would life be if we appreciated every day, even the bad ones?
So many of you have awakened, turned immediately to social media or your e-mail, and your pattern of life is about to repeat for another year.
What are you going to do differently this year?
What do you want to change?
What bad habits do you want to shed?
What resolutions do you want to make, then break?
Tomorrow health clubs will be inundated with new members who have vowed to change their lives, dump their fat, increase their muscle mass…
And those same people will show up a few times, then disappear, but keep their memberships alive.
Most Resolutions Are Stupid
Rarely do I make new year’s resolutions, because I rarely keep them. But if I make a resolution, I try to turn it into a real goal, with an exact outcome tied to a date. Because intent without action is folly. And action without a way to know you’ve achieved your goal is silly. Goals need to be time-bound and exact, and the steps defined.
Is this another year of dumped resolutions? For most of us, they will disappear within hours.
It’s Not Too Late
In business, I make a point to set my goals for the next year back in September. And I look at them every week and measure them against how I’m doing. Because if you don’t look at them, you’ll forget them. If you don’t define the steps, and time them with goals, the steps won’t get done and the goal will be overwhelming and too hard to do.
The best time to set goals for a new year is in the months before the new year, so that you hit the ground running with a plan.
The second best time to define them is today.
Get off the couch, put down your phone, get a pad of real paper (not your notes app), and start dreaming. Spend HOURS thinking.
Answer these questions.
What do I really love about my life that I want to see continue?
What do I really not love about my life that I want to discontinue?
If you focus on what you DON’T want, you work toward eliminating the things that don’t bring you joy.
If your job makes the “don’t want” list, then you have a choice. Change it, or live with it.
I have too many “lifer” friends in great jobs making great money, but they’re miserable. And they say, “I don’t want to spend one more day at this job, but I’ve only got to hang in there for another 10 years,” or “another five years.”
One guy I knew told me that.
I said, “What if you die between now and then? Will you be OK with that?”
He said no. But he relied on the money, and felt like he would be fine.
Did I mention that he died before he retired?
The other day I mentioned on my daily YouTube show that I had a near-death experience when my kids were about 3.
Everything changed from that moment forward. It was too close for comfort.
So, at the advice of my friend Roy, I made my don’t list, and my want list, and I defined what I wanted my life to look like. I defined what I did not want to do, and I defined cool things I wanted to do every year.
Then, when I looked at my list, my inner reptilian brain told me, “There is no way you can do these things.” And I got discouraged, till I decided to find a way and ignore the inner voice.
Everything on the list came true.
I shed all the bad stuff, and I managed to do the things we “couldn’t afford.” I found a way.
I had to be creative.
As life goes on, your list changes. Covid woke lots of us up, and now very few people want to go back to work in an office and deal with hours of commuting time. Some went back, others said, “never again” and quit their jobs or insisted on remote working.
You and I won’t escape death. It is lurking around every corner and will grab us the second it can. We are not assured of anything more than the breath we just took.
Every day is a gift. Every breath is a blessing, and as I said recently, if you’re breathing, God has a purpose for you.
You could take today to watch football or eat excessively. Or you could take one day of your entire life and focus on planning the life you want.
After that, it’s up to you to be disciplined enough to make it happen.
It starts with a dream list and a “don’t want” list, prioritizing the lists, picking the things that are most important, and leaving the others for a future year (rarely do we get it all done at once). Then you figure out the steps, the way to buy your freedom, and you chip away at it a little every day.
Nothing good is ever instant.
Regular people like me and you, who have no special advantages, do have dreams, and we end up changing the world, building skyscrapers, inventing things that are impossible.
Don’t judge your lists. Get it all down, even the wild, insane stuff you don’t want anyone to see.
Then, find a way.
You can thank me later, once you’ve built your skyscraper.
Happy New Year.
In 2022 I set a silly goal. I wanted to hit 100,000 followers on YouTube for my Art School Live show. I tracked my progress every week or so, and by the fall, I was starting to believe it was not going to happen. But I caught myself, and I told myself that if it was a goal, I had to accomplish it by the deadline. The closer I got, the more deliberate and intentional I became, increasing my creativity. And, on December 21, at 10:50 am, I hit the goal.
I have lots of big goals that I’ll never share (though sharing goals is a good way to put yourself out there and get committed). This YouTube goal was a little ego, but it was more about increasing my reach so I can help more people learn art, knowing that the minute I hit 100,000, YouTube would push my stuff to more people.
I think it’s important to set goals and never let yourself off the hook. You have to be determined, even to the last minute, to find a way.
Back in August I wanted to exceed the previous year’s attendance to one of our online conferences. But Covid was mostly over and people were back at work, and experts told me attendance would shrink. I was determined, but even a few weeks before, it was not looking strong. Yet determination and constant checking of progress paid off. And we exceeded the previous year’s numbers.
The same is true for Watercolor Live, our Worldwide Watercolor Summit with the finest masters on earth. As of December it was looking like it might be smaller, but because of our determination, it’s going to be the biggest online art conference in the world one more year. (You can still sign up at www.watercolorlive.com.)
People will tell you your goals are impossible. People will roadblock your success. People will be negative, not supportive. They will tell you your ideas are foolish. Don’t listen to them. Follow your heart, be determined and deliberate, and never ever give up. Never ever.
I bought the Brian Blood video after viewing your introduction on Paint tube. I didn’t realize it was the same video that I had already listened to so I want to return it . I painting in the video would be easy to paint so I don’t need it.
Just lovely, Eric. Finding you and your art school propelled me into more of an action step to dive into oil painting with confidence.
2022 was tough; your dreams helped my dreams materialize. Isn’t that just the way of love?
Thank you with full heart! 💗
Thank you Eric for your insights re goals. Also thank you for introducing me to a lot of amazing artists during the last year, and previously; in particular David Leffel, I have subscribed to Brightlight, and to Michael Mentler. I would love to attend Michael’s in person classes & would do so regularly if I lived nearby. New Zealand is just too far away. However if I am ever in that neck of the woods a Mentler class will be on my list. That can be one of my goals! Both artists are very interesting, I hope to learn a lot from both during 2023 and beyond. Best wishes to you, your family and the Streamline Team for 2023. Kind regards, Marie
Good stuff. Eric. Happy New Year to you and your family. I needed the encouragement from your newsletter. I ended up the year 2022 in a heap of discouragement. I felt covered up by problems that just wouldn’t go away. I had no time to paint anymore. My website was unattended so long that I finally just cancelled it. I had some health issues, also. I went for almost a year without painting. My problems began to ease up but I was still miserable. My painting space was small and cramped. I just gave up. Finally, I found an opportunity to move to a larger living space where I could paint in comfort. That helped to give me the inspiration for a new start. I am happy here and I am looking forward to the new year.
Today I picked up the paint brushes and started again with renewed enthusiasm and a fresh outlook for the new year. I plan to produce a new body of work. When I get enough new paintings done, I will restart my website. Maybe I needed the bad things to get me out of the rut I was in.
Thank you for your podcasts, films and all the many other things you do to help other artists. I am especially grateful for the Plein Air Magazine. I have been a subscriber since the first issue. I remember the first issue didn’t come out when expected. Seems like there was some kind of delay. I kept bugging you with calls wanting to know when the first issue would come out.
The constant inspiration that I have received over the years from your publications helped a lot, too.
LIFE is SIMPLE: “All things that happen are good, because they bring you to where you are supposed to be.” tt
What you focus on, you will attract! So Toss the “bad stuff”. FOCUS on what you want. <That is THE SECRET to LIFE!
Happy New Year and many thanks for the time you take to offer sage advice that can change a person’s life and in effect change the world for better. Thank You!
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
Let’s keep our eyes open for what the Lord will do in our lives in 2023!
Thanks so much for your positive posts and for reminding me that “Every day is a gift”. My painting and connections to the art community have helped me through a year dealing with chemotherapy and slowly regaining my health. Today I began planning a new painting and am taking my time to enjoy the process. I feel blessed that my cancer is in remission. And I’m looking forward to Watercolor Live.
Thank you Eric. I read your message every sunday some are better then others. Today is a good one. As you say your attitude is the most important. I had a boss once that said give me a person with the right attitude and I will train him to do the job. As I designer of pastel boxes and accessorys I believe in what Rush liabough said I do this with the talent on loan from GOD.
Eor myself every day is new years day, a chance to evaluate and act/be different than i was before. during december i made the goal of 250,000 in income by years end. did not make it! instead did a 25 million us $ distribution contract which will net out 10 million or so. Due to my health issues i have never worked a regular wage job, gone to the office and lived solely form my art and businesses that i do as sideline ventures. what eric has proposed is functional and correct if taken as part of a lifestyle. you will experience results that are unimagineable by just doing simple actions.
Your Sunday morning coffee thoughts are a delight. Sharing your energy with us is a great gift. I’ll see you for watercolorlive in the new year and new attitude. Thank you.
I’ve had a busy life…many of the years spent as a lifer. The best thing that ever happened was that my company did away with my position when they sold the company. I did some temporary work through an agency and got fired from that…yet another good thing as I was gritting my teeth to get through each day. I quit looking for work when my husband retired and that same year began painting again. Beyond my husband and kids painting is my joy. Now I cram in household responsibilities as fast as possible each day just so I can spend more time in my studio. I’m an amateur but a happy person for the first time in decades. I love your Watercolor Live. Watercolor feeds my soul.
Once again I looked forward to your Sunday Coffee emails. You have a way of inspiring, teaching, and encouraging all.
Thank you for your incredible message very inspiring! I will continue to make good use of your insights on goal setting ; with objectives that I can measure in real time on a daily/ weekly basis! I will continue my journey in the mindset of dreaming big beyond what I think is doable!
Happy New Year!! Here’s to fantastic Outcomes! Be Blessed!
Reading your Coffee with Eric emails has become a Sunday morning ritual for me. As someone who has recently retired and finally found time to focus on my passion for painting, I can relate to so much of what you write about. I am also middle aged, with three grown children, and just lost both of my parents last year, so we have other things in common as well.
One of my New Year’s goals is to be better at showing people in my life how much I appreciate them, and I am starting with you. I have been a faithful subscriber to Plein Air magazine since day one, and thoroughly enjoyed participating in Plein Air Live during Covid. Thank you for being a guiding light as I transition into this next phase of my life. I have never felt more passionate about painting and I am so grateful for the inspiration that you continue to provide. Hopefully, we will meet one of these years at a painting event and I can thank you in person.
All the best to you and your family in 2023!
I needed to read (write down) and remember every single word you said. I am keeping this in my Never Delete box where I go back every time I need some encouragement. Happy New Year…may 2023 find all your goals reached with joy.
Happy New Year! Thank you for your thoughts! Health and inspiration to you and your family!
Thank you, Eric, for always giving me the exact encouragement I need to keep reaching for my goal. 2023, today, I will write it down and try to put it to a timeline. 2022 put lots of obstacles in my path, but actually it was just a bumpy road I put myself on to reach my goal, selling my house and moving to a town ( Beaufort, SC) where I knew no one, rented then just bought a house! I’m naming 2022 my first achieved goal. 2023 the good stuff should happen because I am now where I am supposed to be, step #1. May we all create the intentional force to forge our way in the right direction. 2023, I shall PAINT! Happy 2023, Eric!
Happy New Year to you and your Team Fragal
Hey, “stupid to buy one” sounds like you have been blessed in your life. Buy a book for a struggling artist friend and maybe you can encourage him to be successful in the art world as you have been.
Give him encouragement as Eric has done for us today
Thank you Eric for giving us hope in the art world and encouragement for a better of life.
Hello, I graduated from art school in Boston and had a very good career working for 2 corporations as an artist! I need your book like a hole in the head………….and i would be stupid to buy one!!