. . . feel disappointed by January 15.
Ughh-h-h! Maybe there's a better way.
Confessions of a Quilter
I'm a finisher. You wouldn't know it by looking at my cubby full of projects-in-waiting. Stuff I started because I was excited about something new--a fun fabric, a tool, a process, or an idea. Then those projects got pushed aside, one by one, because of a deadline, another priority, a busy life, a scratch-your-head-moment. And there they sit.
Sound familiar? Some quilters call them UFOs (UnFinished Objects). And they are a source of guilt! Those who know me and know my books, particularly the book, When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters, know that I feel deeply that this wonderful quilty hobby we all embrace has no place for a guilty soul. It should be fun. Filled with creative solutions instead of guilty burdens.
I've tried making resolutions at the turn of the new calendar year: "Complete all UFOs by next week!" Like the overly optimistic weight-loss plan, this declaration is destined to fail. It's not specific, it's not measurable, it's not realistic, and, worse, I've squished all the fun out of my joyful hobby.
Three Little Things
I'm not giving up. (Finishers don't give up, we're obsessed with finishing things!) Toward the end of last year, I noticed a big change in my attitude toward finishing up projects that have been long overlooked. I managed to get really, truly excited about a couple of quilts that have been lying in waiting in a basket or on a shelf. And they got done! Yay!!
The difference: the addition of three simple things--a plan, focus, and joy.
For 2016, I'm going to try an experiment and see if this approach helps me move some of my to-be-done projects (UFOs) into the Ta-Done stack.
For the next few weeks, I'll share my thoughts on how my plan is progressing. Are you with me? Feel free to join in.
1) A New Plan
One of my big ah-ha moments from 2015 is having a specific, realistic, measurable goal. Seems simple, right?
My plan from past years:
Complete all UFOs by next week.
This isn't realistic. Not even close. I suppose it's measurable, when the shelf is empty, I'm done.
Scratch that plan.
On my office shelf, I found an unused spiral bound journal that has a quilty cover, filled with blank pages. It can be any type of journal, I just happened to have this one handy.
On the first page I gave the notebook a name.
Sounds good, right? Very up-beat!
Turn the page, and there it is, a blank page. A bit scary, indeed!
On the top of the first page I wrote:
2016 - Goal for the year, 1 project per month complete. OR 12 projects for the year.
Measurable and reasonable, and I have some options, if I have a particularly busy month, I can play catch up in the following months. Or hit the free-time jackpot and get lots done in a month. Flexible.
Since my job is to write patterns, I want this notebook to represent the hobby side of my quilty life, not projects associated with books or patterns that have their own set of goals.
Next I defined what 'completed' means to me. If it's a quilt, bound and labeled, if its something else like a bag or table runner, then ready to use. Specifics are good.
Then I made two columns and listed target projects, and next step targets. The "Target Project List" has the names of seven projects I want to finish this year. The items on the 'next step' list are projects on deck, if you will.
Seven, not 12 projects are listed. If I commit to a hard and fast list, at this stage, it starts to feel dangerously close to a commitment. If I miss one item, the whole goal starts to teeter on the brink of disaster. Small steps first, then add more to the plate.
It's that simple. On next few journal pages, I'm taking notes on daily progress. I've never been much of a daily journal-writer, but I think a few notes now and again will help me stay on track and feel like progress is being made.
The first project on my list, a red, white, and blue quilt is already showing good progress. It has been thread basted, ready to quilt, sitting on a quilt rack in the corner of my living room for years--at least 5 years. I don't think I have the pattern anymore, so I'm sorry I can't identify its source.
That's enough for now. More next time. . . on focus and joy.