The Process or the Goal?
As I write on this blog about the time I spend with my horses and my art I was reminded how different a journey looks whether you are focused on a goal or the process. I can’t say one is better than the other…. other than in certain situations there definitely are advantages to each way of being. Since this is the time of year when many people set goals for the new year I thought I would explain how I see the two.
When a person is goal oriented they are looking for a way to get from point A to point B in as straight of a line as possible. They are direct and focused on the end point. They get satisfaction of seeing things thru to completion and setting another goal. They like to know where they are going. On the downside a goal oriented person can be a little driven and inflexible but they get the job done and can be quite successful.
A person who enjoys the ‘process’ can have a direction they want to head toward but are open to the possibilities along the way. They are more likely to meander and go off on rabbit trails. The beginning is more attractive than the end point because the end point changes. This kind of person zig zags and can get hung up along the way or forget where they are going.
I think the majority of our left brained world would say the second way is not productive and this is not how to get what you want. But I say maybe you will find treasures along the way that can be overlooked when you are only focused on one thing.
In horse back riding this wider focus is described as ‘soft eyes’. I believe I read about this first phrase in Sally Swift’s Centered Riding. There are times when a soft eye is what is needed to take in a wider perspective and not remain zeroed in one on thing. With the horses they have this amazing ability to know a person’s focus and intention. I have arabs and I they remind me of this often because they are so sensitive to me. I love that immediate feedback from them. For instance there is a spot in the trail around my pasture where Abbey met up with my neighbor’s guinea fowl in the underbrush. Abbey has never forgotten this! Abbey lived many years on our organic farm with free range chickens but she knew these were NOT chickens but horse eating monsters! The first lap I ride her past this spot years later she will shy if I don’t have my focus further ahead. She knows if I have my attention ahead or if my focus is soft and more encompassing. She needs my more direct focus for guidance and confidence past this rough spot.
I have another arab, Eskie who has a different history and personality. He came to me as a ring sour ex show horse. He had never been ridden on a loose rein and from what I can gather from what I’ve been told and his actions he spent quite a bit of time being ‘micro-managed’ and has alot of resistance. He has butted heads with a few people I would guess and his way of dealing with that is shutting down and not wanting to move forward. I ride him with lots of soft focus. I have given him the experience of riding with less contact and not worrying about head set or martingales or double bridles or spurs. We are learning how to meander. I have learned how to go thru the side door with him and not be too direct because as soon as I get too direct he shuts down and resists. I have learned so much from this horse and really enjoy the positive responses I get from him when I take all this in consideration.
Now if I were to compare the two ways of going about things and the two horses and relate it to life/art (its all the same isn’t it??) the horse that needs guidance needs goals and direction when she is waiting for the monsters. The resistant horse needs to remember the process can be enjoyable. He needs to not have to worry about goals and expectations to find pleasure in his job.
This advise I can apply to the artistic process or life in general in this way. When I find myself kind of lost or hung up and not sure of what way to go I need to set a goal. When I feel resistance and blocks (creative blocks??) I need to find the pleasure in the process and forget about goals and expectations for a bit.
The photos I have posted above are some that I took while needing to be on a left brained, time schedule (regimented, goals) but my mind was caught up in the process.
I drive my family nuts by taking photos of the oddest things when everyone else is thinking of where they need to be and what they need to do. They are in sports and enjoy competing, meeting goals and winning. I am often late because I’ve gotten caught up in the process or sights around me but have enjoyed the journey because I find little hidden treasures.
Take care and Happy Trails!
animal and equine artist
pet portraits in oil