My tradition each Thanksgiving weekend, following Turkey Day, is to paint the fiery red tree across the street. Some years it’s freezing cold and I’m out there in my warmest clothes, and some years I’ve painted in shorts. This year, the tree is dead. No color. I’m not sure why. I’m not certain yet if I’ll paint it anyway. But after all, traditions are traditions, right?

One of my traditions, triggered by the holidays, is to start thinking about next year. I remember telling my team in January, “We have lots to get done, and before you know it, it will be July.” This time it feels like my year went by even faster than normal, maybe because I’m traveling again. In any case, I missed getting everything done.

But because there is time to reflect, especially as things tend to slow down, I try to ask myself these questions. Perhaps they will be questions you want to ask yourself.

If I could accomplish only one thing in the next 12 months, what would that one thing be?

Why is it important?

Is there anything else that will get in the way of that one thing?

Here’s the skinny:

I missed that one thing, and I’m just sick about it.

I got distracted by projects, by work, by shiny objects, and the most important thing did not happen. 

And as I examine my heart, I have to wonder if it really was all that important, or if I was lying to myself. If it was that important, wouldn’t I have worked on it and completed it?

I have no one to blame but myself. I bought into the distractions, I fell prey to the needs of my business calling me away from this priority. 

Now I’m wondering what my big thing will be for this year. Will it be the same? Has it changed?

I have lots of goals, and I have a task list that is a mile long. I have new ideas I want to pursue, new businesses I want to launch. They are all shiny objects. 

Only one thing really matters.

What is that one thing for you?

It’s worth some deep thought.

Eric Rhoads

PS: One of the difficulties about goals and picking one thing to focus on is that other things have to be done. I have to keep my business running because I have lots of families who rely on the work. I have to do things to make my customers delighted. I have to take care of my own family needs. I have to meet budgets to pay the bills. 

Sometimes one of those things is the one thing. If you’re doing it right, it will be a tough thing to figure out. 

If your one thing is becoming a better watercolor painter… you should attend Watercolor Live online in January.