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.
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.
Eric: I have only ventured into painting just a few times in the past few years. The last really active painting I did was at Paul Smiths in 2017 with you. Since then, I have had major heart surgery and done very little… but decided I needed to resign up for your Sunday Coffee and I am now determined to get my brushes going again. You ARE A REAL INSPIRATION TO ME, and I am sure countless others. Thank you, my friend.
The first is about the feeling of time going faster. How long is one year? Three hundred sixty five days, right? For a two year old toddler, one year is equal to half a lifetime. For a sixty year old, one year is 1/60th of a lifetime. It’s all about perception. The older you get, the shorter one year seems.
Secondly, as for that one important thing to finish…as someone else mentioned, I too am writing a novel but I’m stuck on how to proceed. I need to know the details of the ending so I can move the story in that direction. I haven’t worked on it since the lockdown of 2020. I don’t want to abandon the novel, but it has been on the back burner for over two years (or 2/54ths of my life).
Your question is a very important one. I haven’t completed my one thing for 2022, but there is a little time yet! I started on it earlier today, but then was with 3 of our 4 families here in Boston, until now. If I complete this goal, I will have a free heart and mind to do more painting.
I pray we both are supported and efficient in making the goal, despite holiday and health interruptions.
Loved this chat today . A piece of sage advice from my daughter this year was
Always have something to look forward to
So I have implemented it into my life.
This is exactly what you are following .
I love to have intentions cast ahead to think about and shoot for .
Way to go Eric
Oh — wonderful thoughts to ponder, Eric. Thank you.
For me, I think that important one thing to achieve would be acceptance into a very special art gallery here. I just about have the courage to approach them now — probably should have done it years ago. I look at my paintings and think (this is going to sound silly) that it’s not fair to them — some of them have won national awards and best in show.
Also on my “to do” list is writing a novel. I’m a retired superior court reporter, and this tale is a suspense story from the viewpoint of the court reporter — I have a great outline and three chapters done so far.
I am very grateful to have the time to spend on these creative endeavors.
So thanks for the reminder to go for that one special thing. (Of course the REALLY important things are family and grandchildren, but that goes without saying.)
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and cheers to the coming year!
I think, Eric, that the abundance of creative ideas you generate is fabulous. There is probably no way to ever do them all, but some people don’t have such a life of great ideas at all. That you get as much done as you do is a testimony of all we are actually capable of and sets an example for the rest of us. Thanks for all you write and share and create. You are a gift to us all.
Thank you for this inspiring, from the heart post. I believe I have my “one thing” but I will give it some time to “simmer” in my soul….it may need to be two things.
One thing I am positive about…. I am registered for Watercolor Live 3 and it is going to be a truly excellent experience…again. You put so much energy into these sessions for artists to grow in their passion to watercolor…thank you and thank you again!
Thank you for this awesome post….I believe I know my one thing but I’m going to give myself time to really think about it. One thing I am positive about….I’m registered for Watercolor Live in January and it will be my 3rd session. What an amazing opportunity you create and what an amazing opportunity I’ve said “yes” to again. I know there is going to be a great year ahead….again❣️
Great questions, Eric!! Have you ever given a TED talk? (Oops, am I coming up with a new shiny object for you, if you haven’t yet??) But, WOW, you in a TED talk would be dynamite and go out to so many!! Want any more projects? Just ask me, LOL. Starting now to say it – Merry Christmas!!
Eric, first of all, thank you for all you do for the artist community!
I’ve been reading a book “Inspired” and one topic was how bias sometimes gets in the way of true creativity.
I’m not a good portrait painter but I thought it would be wonderful that someone like Rose Frantzen took up a project to paint two portraits of people. One with no clothing except a draping cloth. The other with them in their work attire. For example a doctor. How would we view one differently than the other? A woman steel worker, a black doctor, and other stereotypes. Maybe have that as a project for all artists and exhibit it at the next PACE conference. Just a thought. Thanks
always look forward to reading your Sunday newsletter