Systematic Wandering (Clint Watson)

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Systematic Wandering


Clint Watson shares the benefits of giving yourself enough quiet time to play and experiment...

Clint Watson shares the benefits of giving yourself enough quiet time to play and experiment...


In this article, Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert wrote the following:


"To put it bluntly, goals are for losers. That's literally true most of the time. For example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds, you will spend every moment until you reach the goal-if you reach it at all-feeling as if you were short of your goal. In other words, goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary."


While I'm sure his phrase "Goals are for losers" was intentionally hyperbolic, he's on to something with this idea, and I've written about this before, a long time ago.


The danger with goals is it becomes very easy to become focused on the goal, to the exclusion of better options.


When you become rigidly focused on goals, chances are, if you follow the standard advice, you'll break down your goals into smaller milestones that eventually break down into small tasks on your daily task list. That seems logical, except, if you're not careful, it can lead to what I call the tyranny of the task list.


I think what you want to do is define your "goals" extremely broadly and then develop habits or systems that support moving in the right direction. One major habit needs to be continually re-assessing what you're doing, and constantly being alert for better ways to get where you want to go. And remember that "better" doesn't always mean "faster." Sometimes the scenic route, is the right one. Scott, in the article referenced above, considers this habit of continually re-assessing as being "systems-driven":


"Throughout my career I've had my antennae up, looking for examples of people who use systems as opposed to goals. In most cases, as far as I can tell, the people who use systems do better."


I think it's critically important in artistic endeavors to have time to "play" and experiment. This experimentation process needs to be part of your systems and become regular habit. Time in your studio experimenting is not time wasted. The time I spend writing code for a side project, because I want to see how far I can push a programming paradigm or language, is not wasted. Time feeding my soul with my guitar is not time wasted.


Indeed, these "experiments" are the very things that push you to higher levels of your craft. These are the things that make you a master.


These are the things that will, in the long run, set you apart from those are devoted to the "tyranny of the task list." These experiments may very well be the activities that lead to the breakthroughs that ultimately get you to your broadly-defined objectives.


So, when you find yourself stressed-out because you had a "goal" to "blog every day", or do "30 paintings in 30 days", or "post to social media 4 times daily", remember to step back and reassess. You may be trying to drive your car faster along the wrong road. Give yourself enough quiet time to play and experiment, so you're refreshed and so your thoughts are clear. That way, you can be "systems driven", and perhaps you'll remember that your real "goals" are "enjoy life", "make better art" and possibly "sell more art".


If you keep those things in mind, you'll always be on the lookout for better roads than the one you're on. Remember the words of Gandalf the Grey, who said, "Not all those who wander are lost."


Until next time, please remember that Fortune Favors the Bold Brush.


Sincerely,


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Clint Watson

BoldBrush & FASO Founder / Art Fanatic

www.FineArtViews.com



PS - There's a saying among programmers, attributed to Melinda Varian, that goes like this, "the best programs are the ones written when the programmer is supposed to be working on something else." I suspect this phenomenon occurs in painting as well.


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