Thinking About Goals

A few weeks ago I asked my personal trainer if she could help me define some fitness goals. I’ve already achieved my daily functionality goals (YAY!!) Beyond basic health needs, and being able to quilt with physical ease, I want to have strength and endurance for the day hikes Jim and I enjoy. I’d like a clearer sense of what training program I need, what markers at the gym I need to meet to achieve that goal.

Note that goals or commitments are not the same as challenges. The goal is the end point, while the challenge is a barrier to reaching the end. Opportunities are creative pathways to breaching the barriers. With the example above, a goal is to be able to hike with enjoyment. The challenges and opportunities are offered by my personal limitations and the physical training to get there. I wrote about challenges and opportunities here.

I’m also thinking about my goals in quilting. Lori at the Inbox Jaunt just asked

Imagine it’s the year 2117--and a family member has just inherited a trunk of your quilts.

What will YOUR quilts say about YOU?

Do they say what YOU want them to say?

Another way to think about goals is to ask, if you knew you only had one more year to make quilts, which quilts would you choose to make? Would they be gifts for family members, or donation quilts, or quilts to challenge your skills? Would your goal be to finish UFOs rather than to begin (and hopefully finish) new ones? Or would you want to spend your quilting time working with friends, regardless of finishes?

And even if you have a goal, it’s SO easy to get sidetracked, isn’t it? A friend just posted in Facebook:

Cleaning up bedroom, realize you need a pair of scissors. Go to kitchen to get scissors. Notice the floor is sticky, wipe up spill. Get coffee, go back to bedroom. Realize you forgot scissors. Go to kitchen to get scissors, past washer & dryer. Realize you need to start laundry. Take out clothes in dryer, put them in the bedroom. Realize you forgot scissors. Go to kitchen to get scissors, carry them to bedroom. Realize you forgot why you wanted scissors.

And quilting is just like that! Finish an important project; realize you have a deadline coming up for a guild project; look for fabrics to begin that; pull a favorite fabric you’ve intended to use for something else, as well as eight more pieces to go with it and the pattern; head to the kitchen for coffee; sit down at the computer for a few minutes; get distracted by someone’s Instagram post and decide that’s the thing you want to make next!

How will you spend your time? How will I spend my time? I want to focus on what is most important to me, on things to which I’m emotionally committed.

Sometimes it is easiest to start with the negative. What I am NOT committed to?

1) Making quilts for family.
2) Using scraps for the sake of emptying the scrap drawer.
3) Finishing projects in which I’ve lost interest.

What am I committed to?

1) Making projects that create puzzles for me to solve.
2) Teaching, both in person and on the blog, especially about medallion quilts.
3) Working with my local guild on quilts and other projects.
4) Building relationships with my small group.

These do describe how I want to use my time, but are they goals? Maybe not. They’re certainly not well-defined. A lot of sources on goal-setting recommend developing specific, realistic, measurable goals, and setting deadlines for attainment. ::sigh::  I guess this is why people fail at New Year’s resolutions.

But honestly, while I did this small exercise, I clarified for myself that “using scraps” for its own sake is NOT one of my goals. I don’t need to clean up piles of cuttings by making more quilts deliberately from them.

Okay. Goals. I have a goal related to commitment #4. One of my small group members developed a mystery quilt project for us, and I will participate. It is a specific project, it is realistic and measurable, and has a rather nebulous time frame of some time early this year. I actually can use scraps in it 🙂 though most of my cutting will be new. It will help forge the camaraderie of our group. And as a mystery quilt, it also suits commitment #1. I have my new project.

Have you developed goals for your quilting? How successful are you in meeting them? Is your current project lined up with those goals? I’d love to hear in comments. 

17 thoughts on “Thinking About Goals

  1. tierneycreates

    I love this “Imagine it’s the year 2117…” – what a great way to prompt your readers to think about their legacy. This inspires me to keep working on developing the Stories My Father Told Me series. If I had only one more year to make quilts as you challenged us to think about, I would make story quilts. Great post 🙂

  2. norma

    I would finish my double bed size tumbling blocks. I’m so close to finishing the top but I’m easily distracted. I need to get on with it.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Seems like a good project to get out and move a long, maybe one of those “15 minutes a day” things? Are you hand-piecing? Is it a project for the evenings while you watch teevee?

      1. norma

        It is but somehow I don’t do it. I need a bit of a push I think. I’d love to see it on the bed and it’s two-thirds finished. Hundreds of hours of work so I must do it

  3. allisonreidnem

    It’s that tricky goal setting issue again! I still haven’t been able to clarify mine for this year or longer term but your explanation, separating challenges and opportunities from goals is helping my thinking ☺

  4. snarkyquilter

    I realize that one of my quilting goals is to distribute the quilts I’ve already made to those who will enjoy them. I’ve already given away many, but that stack isn’t getting any smaller. And I will be making new quilts from my scraps as I enjoy working within the color and shape constraints of those pieces to come up with new approaches.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I do enjoy giving quilts away — as you say, the stack doesn’t seem to get smaller. Yet I find this more satisfying than when almost every quilt I made was specifically to give away, to a designated receiver. Now I can make what I want, and the giving is equal or secondary, rather than primary. For me, that is better. Also I agree on the constraints of scraps. I do enjoy using them, but I determined that I see them as only of of many resources.

  5. KerryCan

    These are interesting questions. Hmmmm . . . I am always trying to balance my quilting time with my weaving time and my time working on selling the vintage linens that seem to proliferate around here. I do notice I am making what I consider to be “meaningful” quilts, rather than simply pretty ones. I am working on a quilt around the theme of women’s suffrage and trying to re-create an antique redwork quilt.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      “Meaningful” is important, for however someone defines that. I guess that’s what the question about your final year quilting is trying to tap — what is meaningful to someone.

        1. Melanie McNeil Post author

          mm, my point was more that some people spend a lot of time making things that are not very meaningful to them. And it is good to have a sense of what is, so you can spend your time and other resources to their highest use.

  6. katechiconi

    If I only had a year left to quilt in, I’d finish the two quilts I have in progress, complete my two F2F quilts, make the quilt I promised my SIL, the quilt I promised a niece, the wall hanging I promised another niece…. OK, that’s more than a year. And I want to make some NYB blocks, just so that I know I can, become adequate at FMQ, become better at hand quilting, etc. That’s probably two years. Life is much too short. Lots of goals, but I’m not setting myself any unreasonable challenges!


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