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  • Rachel Allen Dillon

Three Reasons I Achieved My Goal

I've been known to set goals during the inspiring month of January-- creative goals, reading goals, exercise goals, sleeping goals... and I go all in. But, like many people, I fizzle out when life gets in the way, and excuses muffle my enthusiasm.

At the beginning of 2023, I promised myself that if I could stick to creating and mailing three art cards per month for five months, I could treat myself to a very expensive watercolor marker set. I not only hit my goal, but I continue to create art cards and share them with friends without any motivational reward system in place.

I asked myself a couple of months ago, why did this goal stick, and why am I still feeling so much joy doing it? And here is what I discovered...

I don't put pressure on myself to be perfect. I've been trying to make an impression with my art since I was a little girl drawing horses. I put a lot of pressure on myself to draw realistically. I'd share my drawings with my dad to make him smile and tell me how good I was getting. When I majored in art and graphic design in college, I hadn't had any formal art training and was far behind my peers. Once again, I put pressure on myself to stand out. When people started noticing my dot paintings, I grabbed onto the style and ran. For years, I was in national exhibits, galleries, and magazines and was granted art commissions because of my style. And then, in 2009, I wrote and illustrated a children's book. I don't mention these things to boast; I share this history because I realize now that I've always created art with altruistic intentions. I did it because I wanted people to think I was good at something; I did it for attention and praise. And how could I truly enjoy creating art if my intention was always outside myself?

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE art! I love teaching art and getting others excited about it, but it wasn't until recently that I allowed myself to do art PURELY for the JOY of it. I celebrate the imperfection of my art cards. Sometimes, I hear my judgemental side criticizing a mistake, but the voice is quiet and easier to ignore. I relish the time I spend drawing simple compositions and using colors from my 108 watercolor marker set.

One of the best parts of my project is giving the cards away without any expectations other than to let someone know that I am thinking of them. I write a letter on the back of the card in cursive, of course, thinking back to scenes from Pride & Prejudice and the beautiful way people communicated. I like knowing the person I send the card to won't read my message for days. I turn the entire process into a fun theatrical production. I even seal the envelopes using a wax stamp. Satisfaction washes over me when I hear the cards drop into the mailbox.

I know that no matter what the art card looks like, the person I'm sending it to knows it's unique. I want my small gift to say in a big voice-- that the recipient matters and they're special. So, as I post step-by-step art card projects, I encourage you to create and share. Take time and be present, let go of self-judgment, and feel the joy of creating something one of a kind, then pass it on. Trust me, the beneficiaries won't be judging your art; they'll be cherishing your gift!


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