Long term goals, short term mind

When I pay closer attention to my thoughts in any given moment, I often find a dialog that is composing a story. What I’m doing, how I’m feeling about it, and why I’m doing it. It’s almost as if I’m preparing to present my present. I also sometimes find a nagging voice getting on my case about why I’m not doing something else, or worse, why I’m not doing more. I can find this voice particularly loud after people ask me what I do. Especially now, during my transition from highly paid software engineer to small business owner artist, I feel a certain defensiveness. I find myself talking about the commission I’m working on and how I’m setting up my online shop with an energy like I need to sell my life choices to anyone and everyone. There is a voice in my mind that says it’s not enough, or that I won’t “make it”.

It’s hard to see the forest from the trees when working towards a goal. It’s especially weird right now since my goals are intentionally vague. I’ve been working at this computer science thing for 6 years. Now that I’m doing the art thing, I need to learn what that means for me. What type of art do I like to do? What are my favorite mediums? Do I want to have my work displayed in galleries? Try to illustrate children’s books? Make movies? I don’t know exactly where I’m going, I’m just directing my path in a general direction. Seeing where it takes me. Meanwhile, my day to day involves running errands, sleeping, being with my partners and friends, sketching, taking classes, reading, cleaning the house, snuggling the cat, working on my bigger art projects, writing, setting up my business, and sometimes nothing at all. It’s not all art all the time, and without benchmarks it sometimes feels like I’m not making any progress (granted it hasn’t been very long at all).

Setting aside time to plan feels like an elaborate conversation between my intuition and my logic brain scheduler. How do I measure my progress in figuring out what I want to do and who I want to be? I’ve been trying to accept that it happens slowly. I quit my job and started my art business three months ago. I’ve set up my finances, I’ve made some money, but I haven’t done a great job of tracking this success. I know it’s difficult for me to notice changes over time, even if last year (or just yesterday) things were very different.

So to feel the progress, I’m committing to measuring it, setting aside time for goal contemplating, scheduling the steps to reach those goals, and then doing the steps everyday. I’m going to set aside some time to check in with where I’m at and reassess. What did I like? What didn’t I like? What days were hard and why? I think it’s a good idea to set aside intentional time to think and reflect. I want to know I’m working towards something. I don’t want my successes to go unnoticed. And I want to make sure I’m on the right path. It feels silly, but I’m putting “Think about Goals” and “Reflection” on my todo list.

Do you have something you’re working towards? What tools do you use (mental or physical) to plan, execute, and assess your progress?

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