Friday, July 27, 2007

Setting goals, briefly and then pondering them, at length.

We set goals this morning, filling up a few cool Lotta Jansdotter sticky note papers with our goals for the year and then other smaller Lotta sticky notes contained the steps we wanted to take this week towards those goals. The sticky notes are lining the side of the freezer. I found Gillen's in the dog's water bowl at one point but the ink hadn't run and it stuck really well once it was wet. Good thick Lotta paper! They came up with substantial goals. The notes will need to stick up there for awhile.

Gillen's are: to have his turkey business up and running; to cook more desserts; to have a _Farmer Boy_ day when we don't use electricity; to sew a quilt; to get on the best soccer team; and to sell out all of the plants in his new nursery (of course, first he'll have to stop giving them away, which would be sort of sad).

Jesse's are: to get first place in a yu gi oh tournament; to make enough money farming to buy his own laptop; to reread the 5th and 6th Harry Potter books to himself; to make a movie and a game; to learn French better, and to learn Chinese.

My sticky note had things like go to the bank and buy a clothesline. Clearly, I will be needed in my childrens' major creative and business pursuits so I'd better keep mine simple!

They succeeded in doing one thing, each, of the list they made for the next week. But after finishing these self-appointed tasks, they had more fun together, in a Harry Potter spell-off with their wands, than they have had, together I mean, in weeks. And this turning-to-unlikely-pursuits continued all day. Something got shaken by writing down these goals. They energetically pursued forgotten (or brand new) interests in order to temporarily move away from the lists! And, making the lists created new ideas that evolved later in the day.

I think some of the greatest bouts of creativity or productivity I have ever had happened when I was "supposed" to be doing something else. I wrote a screenplay in college when I should have been studying for exams. I took my best photos when I was supposed to be looking for a job while living at my mother's house, decades ago. There's nothing like blogging when I have beans to soak, tomatoes waiting to be made into sauce, and grain to grind. And creativity can be inspired by the boundaries placed when collaborating with others or when costs limit your possibilities. But I digress; back to the sticky notes and the boys moving away from them towards other possibility.

Freedom of choice can lead to freedom of fear-of-failure. If you have the feedom to pursue lots of ideas, you can always move on to the next thing when one doesn't work out. Barbara Sher (up there with Barbara Kingsolver in my "favorite authors who have my former name category") wrote a book called Refuse to Choose about "doing everything (in italics) that you love" rather than picking one path or career or interest and sticking to it. A friend lent it to me, but I'm kind of afraid of going even further that way. I have finally narrowed myself down to three passionate pursuits,peripheral passionate interest vision strictly hidden by blinders, and I'm feeling that this is a big step towards simplifying. Because my freedom to choose, so far, has maybe been a way to not finish and therefore not fail? Maybe I will bump that book up to the top of my pile of seven.

I don't know. I do know my main goal - no Lotta paper needs to be written to remind me - to be with my children as much as possible and to help them pursue their goals, while not losing complete sight of other creative goals of mine, and to only write long blog posts once a month.


kelli said...

Oo, thanks for bring up Barbara's latest book. I remember when she was taking submissions for it. I know we have a couple scanners right here in our house. I'm gonna check her book out when I get the chance.

Madeline said...

Was she taking submissions from unschoolers? Cool. I'll definitely move it to the top of the list.

kelli said...

Yep. :) I think I submitted something but I'm not sure if she included it or not.

helenw said...

Wow! I read about (and requested from the library) that book last week! I think I just need to start checking out books from your bookshelves!

Sara said...

I've been thinking about that lately. I'm definitely someone with a lot of pursuits, so I've been thinking about what it takes to focus and really be accomplished at one thing. Bouncing around tends to feed me creatively, but also can leaves me spread too thin. Half a year has gone by and I haven't finished the sweater I started knitting, etc. A conundrum.

Christy said...

That book is one of my favorites. I've read it a few times, I'm definitely a scanner and have a hard time narrowing down my interests to the point where I do anything. I love the idea of writing out goals, especially for Logan who has been going through a tough time lately.