Bonus Friday post! In the spring of my senior year of college, I had to create a body of artwork for my capstone class for my studio art major. I more or less could choose to do anything I wanted, and I challenged myself to make 1000 handmade ceramic pots. At the end of the semester, I had to give a gallery talk for our capstone exhibition show. The following is what I said about the experience of making 1000 pots.
Four years ago, in my senior year of high school, I had to write an essay about how to achieve true happiness. I wrote about how setting and achieving goals makes me truly happy. Four years later, that still holds true for me. I am constantly setting and achieving goals and that's what makes me happy. At the start of the semester, I set a goal to make a thousand pots.
A good goal has to be quantifiable. If I decide I want to make “a lot” of pots, when am I done? How do I know I've met my goal?
A good goal has to have a deadline. This goal came with its own. Here we are, this is the deadline. A goal has to be something you can achieve by yourself, it can't be something that relies on other people. I couldn't say I want to be valedictorian because I don't have control over other people's grades and other people may get better grades than I do, but I can say I want to graduate with at least a 3.9 GPA. That is achievable and something I control. A good goal has to be challenging but not impossible. If the goal isn't challenging, you finish it in five minutes and it’s not very gratifying but if it's impossible you just feel let down or disappointed in yourself when you can't get there. 1000 pots was challenging but clearly not impossible.
To make 1000 pots took dedication and discipline and grit. It doesn't take motivation. You can't rely on motivation. 1000 pots took getting up at 6 a.m. a lot of the time to come into the studio before my normal school day started. I live my life goal to goal, I'm always making and working towards and achieving my goals and that's how I got where I am. That's what makes me happy, and that's what let me build a life that makes me happy. So these 1000 pots don't mean anything, they're not about anyone, they aren't for you, they were for me. They let me set a goal and work towards it every single day. They let me learn how to run a studio, how to fire a gas kiln, helped me build my technical skills, and challenged me to constantly look for inspiration and make artistic decisions.
Set goals. Challenge yourself. Support other people in their goals. Keep moving forward. At least for me, that’s what makes me happy, and that’s why I made 1000 pots.