Studio Practice System

In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear makes this powerful case for building intentionality in order to create a life of purpose. 

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

Your goal is your desired outcome. Your system is the collection of daily habits that will get you there.

This year, spend less time focusing on outcomes and more time focusing on the habits that precede the results.”

James Clear

Clear’s wisdom motivated me to examine my intentions for the coming year. I considered several habits I could institute or tweak in order to support those ideas. Each day at the beginning of my day, I re-read notes, made adjustments and reviewed recurring themes.

Some of the review review items included: 

  • Complete UFO (Un-Finished-Objects) projects. Check. I’ve listed items outstanding on a project list I can refer to monthly. This focus helps me more fully appreciate projects that do not suit my interests. The Sea Goddess, pictured here was one such beadweaving. It had languished nearly complete in a project box for years. I finished it in November which allowed it to go home with a new owner during my December show. 
  • Take classes to learn at an accelerated level. Check. There are three classes on my calendar for First Quarter. Two involve new-to-me techniques and one is a more advanced study of beadwork I already do.
  • Expand my art experiences with additional shows, acquaintances and experiences. Check. My monthly creative groups help me meet that criteria. Two contests I’ve planned to enter add additional commitments. For example, I need to design a beaded owl to jury into the  International Owl Center competition as well as participate in the Spring Fiber Arts Guild exhibit entitled Fiber Play. I scheduled another exploratory opportunity in which an acquaintance and I discuss showing our jewelry together early in the year.
  • Continue to lead a group project providing gently used jewelry packets to women in need. Check. In 2020 I will use monthly get-togethers to make/create new jewelry, sharing with others my “how-to” knowledge. Read more about Pursonalities Plus. Respond to me if you want to be part of our fun monthly maker days.
  • Produce a significant body of work that incorporates both beads and metalwork.  Check. This is who I am. An anomaly. I proudly combine stringing and metalwork to produce original hand-made jewelry with a flair for the dramatic. 

When I sat down to write this post I realized I’d neglected to incorporate the habit of a daily studio practice. Whack! (That’s me hitting myself alongside the head!)

The voice of reason assured me I had it handled. After all, I’d met with my metals instructor, committed to studio dates through first quarter and started an ongoing bead project that I work on each evening. Surely that shows commitment. And, the voice persisted, you spend a lot of time in the studio. You will make it happen. 

Reluctantly, I forced myself to admit my benchmark was not specific enough to produce significant results.

Could I step it up to honor a commitment of 60 to 90-minutes daily in the studio? 

Was I now willing to list a 90-minute daily studio practice as a habit to form the foundation of my creative year? 

I felt the pushback from my voice of resistance. “That’s too difficult because, because, because…” A million potential interferences said “No!” With knowing that this stretch goal could be really important, I pushed further into the resistance. I felt the terror of failing. (“Aha!” I said knowingly. “That’s the Inner Perfectionist at work. Relax,” I instructed.)

What if I began this commitment and then emergencies arose that prevented me from my goal? Last year, for example, a medical emergency with my Mother kept me in Missouri and out of the studio for two weeks.  Again, I reassured my Inner Worrier that I could adjust.

I won’t bore you with the plethora of excuses (all equally baseless) that streamed through my mind. One thing I know: the greater the challenge, the bigger the pushback. At the moment, I’ve kicked excuses to the curb. I’m resolute and focused on the habits that will make 2020 my best creative year yet. 

Concluding thought:

As Clear writes in his Clear Habit Journal: “Tiny changes, remarkable results.” I’m all about it. Count on me to keep you updated on the progress of my commitment to a studio practice system.

What will you attempt this year? Are you willing to join me in a stretch to achieve the results you really want?