Poetry vs. Strategic Outcomes

Earlier this week I acknowledged that there was something lacking in my SMART News Year’s resolution model. By adopting the SMART technique it means that some of the overarching, higher level, bigger picture goals aren’t explicitly captured… these north stars are relegated to the land of the implied.

In my professional world of suits and ties here is how we would tackle this problem. We would take my list of SMART goals and categorize each of them under a heading, probably called a “Strategic Outcome”, so for instance you might do something like this:

Strategic Outcome: Increase Professionalism of Writing

  • Join Victoria Writing Society in January
  • Get published somewhere other than Exploring-Art.com this year
  • Complete a writing portfolio submission… by December

But that would not be very artful! So instead what I did is I wrote a companion poem to go with my SMART goals. Defy pigeonholes, embrace individuality and explore your passions – be brave! Without further ado, here’s my poem:

Three hundred and sixty five days make a year
Fear as always
Is the predominant barrier
Be brave – profess your goals
I must pursue writing with a professional rigour
I will spend effort, resources and time
transforming Exploring-Art
into a noteworthy cultural endeavour
I shall romance my darling wife and will also
pursue a healthy and nonjudgmental life.

Creative Challenge: SMART – New Year’s Resolutions

In love, life and work it seems to me that it is often the simple things that carry the most truth and capacity for change. Take SMART Goals for instance, a relatively simple management principle that has been talked about ad nauseum, has had many iterations, and yet really works as a framework for setting meaningful goals. A meaningful goal can be defined as a goal that is likely to be achieved. So what’s SMART?

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Agreed To
  • Realistic
  • Time Dependant

With this management 101 proverb dusted off let’s talk New Year’s resolutions. Like Christmas wish lists, and blogs in general, New Year’s resolutions are often looked down upon as frivolous – But I say this is not so! Having a list of things you want to accomplish, cast using the SMART Goals principle, might just help you be more accomplished, and what’s frivolous about that? Here’s mine for the new year – what’s yours?

  • Join the Victoria Writers society in January
  • Attend Word Camp in January
  • Distribute 100 Exploring-Art.com business cards before the end of the year
  • Starting immediately personalize every Exploring-Art.com “publicize” tweet
  • Rewrite and resubmit my Fine Arts Diploma Program (FADP) learning plan by Monday (tomorrow, gasp!)
  • Complete my 4th course in my Fine Arts Diploma Program by April
  • Complete my 5th course in my Fine Arts Diploma Program by December
  • Complete a writing portfolio submission for the UVic MFA in creative writing by December
  • Get published somewhere other than Exploring-Art.com this year
  • Get my taxes up to date by April
  • Buy my wife a romantic gift every month (flowers, champagne etc.)
  • And the obligatory – lose 10 pounds!… by… September
  • Lastly report out on my resolutions progress at year end.

What are your resolutions? Create a list of SMART resolutions and share them here!

Unfulfilled Visions and Machinations of Change

My father recently read my post on Soliloquies and Utopian Visions, during our Christmas get together he commented that the counterculture of the 60’s was largely interested in doing away with work and promoting “leisure” as well. I knew this of course, with the cliche of “working for the man” being a hallmark statement capturing the sentiment; however the comment led me to think of two things I’d like to add as a philosophical tributary to the earlier monologue.

In his book The Element, Sir Ken Robinson differentiates between three types of pursuits that people spend time on: Work, that which you do professionally to make a living. Leisure, that which you do to relax or take your mind off things. Recreation, things that you are passionate about that you pursue with the rigour of professional. I think of this last category as extra curricular activities. It is in this category where peoples’ “Element” often lives. It is here where the path to self fulfilment lies – Meaning just hanging around and having a cocktail won’t lead to self actualization. Indulging in libations would be categorized as leisure and is fine in moderation; however it is not going to lead to a positive transformation of the individual and by extension society.

There’s a problem here that a skeptic will quickly surface. Recreation, or extra curricular activities require effort, and quite possibly blood, sweat and tears. If people aren’t getting paid to do it, how do you get people pursuing their passions instead of just lazing about? There’s two high level answers, one at the individual level and one at societal level.

In the RSA Animate clip of a Sir Ken Robinson speech they do an excellent job illustrating the first contributor to the individual’s motivation. Following your passion feels good! It wakes you up, you like it, you’d do it even if you didn’t have to. So what’s the problem? People get busy, have other priorities, get dissuaded and generally lose sight of whatever their favourite extra curricular activity is. So once you’ve found it, you still have to make time for it and practice it, which can be hard especially in a culture that is skeptical of the inherent rewards. Making and keeping a schedule for your activity is a good place to start. Finding other people who share your passion can also be an important part of routinizing it into your daily life. Robinson reuses “finding your tribe” to describe this important facet of successfully cultivating your passion.

The societal level answer is culture. If a country’s culture can create a sincere outpouring of grief over the loss of a not so benevolent dictator, or an impassioned defence of a “democracy” where only one party is allowed to field candidates, then surely it can also create an environment where pursuit of one’s passion is more highly valued than having 500 television channels. Culture is a complex emergent entity… Where do we start? We start with ourselves as individuals and as Sir Ken Robinson rightly indicates we start with our public education systems as well. Why schools? They have relatively less for profit corporate vested interest. They are a common starting place for much of the worlds population, and they are very clearly broken.

As a New Year’s resolution and a commitment to practice what I preach, I will be seeking out my tribe at the Victroria Writer’s Society General Meeting, and the Victoria area Wordcamp. What are you doing next year to enrich yourself?