Setting New Year’s resolutions is challenging in the best of times, but how do you get clarity and focus during a global pandemic. On the heels of a year that felt like a lifetime, it can feel almost impossible to know what goals are feasible, reasonable, and what is really important.
During the end of the year reflection call with my artist mastermind group, many of us were surprised by what we did accomplish during a year of quarantining, social distancing, and the cancelation of in-person events and exhibitions, and shows. Many of the artists I know saw an increase in requests for commissions.
It makes sense. We all connected with our living spaces in new ways–our dining table is now a mobile office, part-time classroom, and studio. We are all looking differently at the artwork in our homes. Art can inspire, transport, calm, energize, change your mood, offer hope, and so much more.
We repainted the interior of our house during the pandemic. We had started at the end of 2019 and spent much of the early pandemic finishing it. I am slow to rehang art because I want to be more intentional with placement–where would I most enjoy a piece, what mood does it set, does it spark conversation, and therefore better in a place where we gather. My partner wants it done, and I don’t want to put it all back where it was before. I also want to reserve spots for new work from artists I know (some who are dear friends) and artists whose work has enthralled and inspired me for years. As an art historian and artist, I have strong views on art and artists. 😊 Here are the pieces that earned places on my walls so far:
Being more thoughtful about what I put back on my walls is consistent with how I approach setting goals for the year.
In 2017, I started using Chris Brogan’s 3-word approach to goal setting. The 3 words I choose act as guideposts in deciding what I do for the year. When evaluating an opportunity, commitment, or action, I ask myself if it aligns with my three words. Brogan’s 3-word approach transformed my goal setting, and I continue to use and recommend it. If you want to explore this approach and need some direction, check out my post, The Shocking Truth About New Year’s Resolutions.
my 3 words for 2021
When reflecting on 2020, I thought about what was most meaningful to me, what brought me the most joy. I had unexpected non-covid health issues that required major surgery for one and numerous invasive procedures for the other, which combined with the reality of global quarantining, social distancing, no travel, and my own high risk of an adverse outcome if I contracted Covid, gave me perspective on what is most important.
In between the health issues, I worked with artists to refine their online presence and quickly pivot from in-person art workshops to teaching online. I discovered that I was most passionate about assisting artists in shifting to online teaching. It was a way for me to combine my professional expertise as an art historian (former professor), artist, curator, and creativity coach.
Effective teachers, aka good teachers, aren’t born; they are made. It brings me joy to advise and consult with artists who want to be more effective instructors and reach a larger audience by teaching online.
My words emerged from this revelation.
The definition of expansive was so apropos to what I was feeling about how I wanted to approach supporting artists and with my own artwork and projects:
ex•pan•sive | having a capacity or a tendency to expand or cause expansion; characterized by high spirits, generosity, or readiness to talk; characterized by richness, abundance, or magnificence.
I am always amazed at how nuanced language is and how often I am lazy in using it. When I looked up expansive, I realized that there were complexities to this word covering relationships, money/ finances, giving back, growth, exploration, and more. It has precision AND possibility. It is about abundance, moving outward, which after a year of seclusion and more quarantining on the horizon (at least for me until it is safe), can seem challenging. It is a state of mind, a choice to be expansive with my thinking, solutions, art, relationships, new technology, and goals.
con•nec•tion | the state of being connected; causal or logical relation or sequence; contextual relation or association; relationship in fact; a relation of personal intimacy (as of family ties); coherence, continuity; something that connects like a link; a means of communication or transport; a political, social, professional, or commercial relationship.
I enjoy connecting people with ideas, resources, and others. I am delighted to be part of a huge extended family and cherish the art community I am part of–my artist mastermind group, Ambitious Artists’ Cafe. Maintaining and expanding connections is integral to my personal philosophy. I think of all the ways we use “connection”–connecting the dots, connecting ideas, making connections, staying connected (a reference to being plugged in metaphorically and physically to the digital world), etc.
How can I be more expansive with my connections while also being intentional and focused?
ter•rain | a geographic area; a piece of land; the physical features of a tract of land; a field of knowledge or interest; environment, milieu,
For almost 35 years, I have had an ongoing discussion with a dear friend and colleague of mine, Melanie Herzog. When I was an undergraduate, she was a graduate student, and I modeled much of my art history approach after hers. We both study 20th-century American art with a focus on intersectionality. My intellectual terrain is the issues of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation in American art. I employ a socio-cultural methodological approach in my research. We decided that we want to create a space for others to join our dialogue, given the current public climate. This year we are launching the Imperfect Conversations podcast–art at the intersection of politics, race, class, gender, and culture.
I see the virtual and intellectual space that we will create with Impferect Conversations as part of terrain, a milieu. It will be the social setting in which something occurs (as the definition of milieu states). The podcast, the dialogue will be the environment where we hope to facilitate paradigm shifts–rhetorical, intellectual, cultural, and political.
I am excited and energized by my words for the year. Expansive, connection and terrain create ideal guideposts for my year’s ambitions. They give me focus and room to imagine a grander vision for how I can connect, design, and expand the terrain in which I work and the landscape in which we engage.
By the end of February, 80% of people have abandoned there New Year’s resolutions. Now is a great time to embrace a new approach, the three words model, in rebooting your goals and focus for the year.