Goal-driven people tend to set goals to work towards throughout the year. I am definitely someone motivated by goals. My habit has been to sit down on New Years Day to set my goals for the coming year. This year, I decided to take a different approach.
For me, a new year is a clean slate. What do I want to do? There are so many possibilities, so many quilting projects I want to make. Each time I look through a quilting magazine, I see something that catches my interest. I look at my fabric stash and see the potential for hundreds..nay, thousands of projects. I watch Show And Tell at my guild meeting and feel the inspiration of new ideas buzzing around my brain.
During 2011, I committed to tackling my UFOs, finishing one project per week throughout the year. Being a goal-driven person, I did meet my goal of 52 completed projects. That is a substantial number! However, that number is only a small fraction of the many projects on my wish list. The unfortunate reality is that I will never live long enough to make all of the quilts that are running around in my mind. With each passing year, I become ever more aware of the shortness of life. I had better make the best of the years that I have remaining. My family has great longevity genes, but it might be unrealistic to count on actively quilting until age 115. Nope! That won’t work! Do I really want to spend my limited lifetime working on projects that someone else plans for me? Or an orphaned project I bought at a yard sale? Hmmm… Gives one food for thought, doesn’t it? Perhaps a better use of my time would be to work on the projects that are important to me, to quilt my own legacy, to select projects that fit my personal goals. A new year, a new beginning – a great time to take a new approach.
This year, I decided to focus my quilting efforts, considering my projects very carefully. Deciding what projects to put on my list has been an exercise in both selection and elimination. I took a two weeks to consider and set my goals for the year. Then I allowed another week of reflection time to ensure the goals still sit comfortably in my soul.
My process for decision making included the following:
- Review the current status of my UFOs
- Review what commitments I have made
- Review what gifts I want to give this year
- Decide what new techniques I want to experiment with this year
- Decide what projects are important to me to complete
Here is my thought process and resulting goals:
I emptied my UFOs cupboard and carefully considered each of them. Which ones do I love? Which ones are calling me loudly to finish them? Last year, I made great strides whittling down the pile of flimsies and UFOs. I finished 52 with another 38 remaining in the que. However, this year I will not pressure myself to finish UFOs. I will commit to finishing five UFOs. If inspiration calls and time allows, I might finish more, but they will be bonus.
I reviewed the commitments I have made to others:
- Two more quilts tops that I have promised to quilt for my mother.
- Table Runner for a cousin
- I’d like to complete three donation quilts this year. One will be a quilt donated to raise funds for the small rural fall fair at our cottage in Northern Ontario. I will keep the other two quilts uncommitted at this point so that I can donate when I want to be generous to a particular cause.
I reviewed the gifts I want to make:
- I owe one wedding quilt. The bride is an interior designer and she is special to me. I want to make a quilt to suit her decor and have it completed by spring 2012.
- My best friend is getting married in late summer. She is very dear soul and I want to make her something extra special, something that communicates to her how much I have valued our friendship.
- Spontaneously giving baby quilts is something I enjoy. I like to have a pile of finished quilts so I can select one that seems right for the mother and baby. Right now, my stash of baby quilts is a bit low. Making 15 baby quilts would give me sufficient to have on hand. They make up more quickly than bed size quilts, so that amount is quite manageable.
I pondered what new techniques I want to learn:
Recently I have been itching to play with metallic threads. I want to try couching with specialty threads and experiment with thread painting and specialty needles. While I was working on my UFOs in 2011, I encouraged myself to completion by promising myself the playtime in 2012. So my reward will be to indulge myself with time to both experiment and master specialty threads.
I considered what projects are important to me:
I really enjoy fall fairs, both participating in them and seeing the exhibits entered by other people. I want to support my fall fairs – at home and at the cottage by entering as much as possible into the fair. Fairs are healthy and vibrant when they have many entries. The cottage fair has been a source of great joy and fun for our family. Because I want to ensure the fair is still active when I eventually have grandchildren, I need to contribute to the fairs now by entering and volunteering. With this in mind, I went through the fall fair lists and made note of the entries that interested me. This year, I am committed to make items specifically for entry into the fall fair. There are many options for small quilted projects such as tote bags, pot holders, table toppers, place mats, casserole carriers, wall hangings, etc, in addition to the larger standard quilts. In the past, I have mostly entered bed-sized quilts, but this year, I will make a conscious effort to also make 20 smaller projects.
One of the original goals of fall fairs was to encourage the development of skills. With that in mind, I make it a point of ensuring that my entries are better each year. With every year of experience, I learn more about what judges are looking for in a quilt, and in turn, I work on developing my own skills. I have never worried whether or not I won a prize. I just like the fair experience. It gives me incentive to finish projects for entry. Done is good! I have won best of show a few times, and admit to being quite surprised each time, because the quilts were just normal quilts – nothing special. However, I really liked the experience of winning best of show with the accompanying rosette and better yet, the gift certificate to my favorite quilt store. When one of my quilts went on to win first prize at district level too, I began to think perhaps I ought to try to produce a quilt I also believe is worthy of Best of Show. In fact, setting out to make my best possible quilt, would meet the original intention of fall fairs – encouraging a participant to develop more skill and raising the overall quality of quilting and needlework in the community. So in addition to the small projects, I intend to make a quilt year that I consider to be a masterpiece. This might end up being the wedding quilt for my best friend, but she will have to wait till after fall fair season is over before she gets it! If it wins, she will have to wait longer till it after the district competition in late fall and then if it wins there, till after provincial competition in February 2013. Waiting is hard, but she is the best kind of friend and I know she would wish me good luck anyway! LOL!
3 Previously committed projects
3 Donation Quilts
15 Baby Quilts
1 Masterpiece Wedding Quilt
20 Small Quilted items for Fall Fair
4 Large Quilts for Fall Fair
Total – 52 projects
When I totaled the list, I was surprised to see the same target number as in 2011. This tells me the number is within reason – a stretch, but not so much that it becomes discouraging. The big difference in 2012 is that they will have to be finished much earlier in the year, given that I will need many of them ready for the fall fair season.
Setting a goal is making a commitment to myself and I want to keep my promises to myself. When my promises are realistic, achievable and congruent with my personal goals, I am setting myself up for success. Taking the time to figure out what is important to me has helped me to clarify what I really want to do and more importantly, what I don’t want to do. It gives me focus for the meaningful and eliminates the less important distractions that could keep me from accomplishing my goals. Projects that do not fit these goals can be set aside until 2013. When inspiration inevitably comes and my natural enthusiasm wants to jump into a new project, I will make notes and diagrams in my log book on a page titled “Projects to consider in 2013”. That is not too long to wait – only 49 weeks away!
“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of United States.