Artists are known for going with the flow of creative spark, inspiration and following their emotions in order to create. As an artist myself, I find it hard to be organized and scheduled. It does make me feel boxed in. But I know if I don’t set goals I am destined to wander aimlessly in my creativity. So if you are an artist you need to set goals because if you aim at nothing you accomplish nothing. Goals help you focus on one unique gifting. This focus allows your creative endeavor time and space to develop. When we have too many goals ahead of us it is easy to let the inner critic take control in the form of procrastination. In this post I will unpack six ways that build on each other for how to set artistic goals.
1.Start with Joy
What brings you joy? When you think of your creativity, your projects, collections, etc., what has given you the most joy? What do you want to do most when you wake up in the morning? How do you want to be remembered? When you need an escape from stress, what creative outlet do you turn to? For some of you, you will already know the answers to these questions and you can skip to the next point.
2. Determine Your Values
In order to be successful at accomplishing goals, we need to have a strong foundation of core values that govern and direct our decisions. If our goals our out of sync with our values, there will not be success of fulfillment.
In order to know our values, we need to do a bit of digging and soul searching about who we are, and what we desire. This digging leads us to our “why”. Why we do what we do defines our purpose.
3. Through Brain Dumping
Brainstorming or “brain dumping” is a process of de-cluttering the mind in order to help you to gain focus on a singular purpose or goal. This process helps you to become organized and mindful. How to do a brain dump is a great first step towards achieve your goals. It will help you with the overwhelm or stress you may feel going from the holidays into the new year.
You begin by taking a blank piece of paper and writing all of your goal-oriented ideas that come to mind without being too organized or hindering your thought flow. You may be wondering, how do I start and what does this look like? The most important message is just to start. There is no right or wrong way.
Start writing all the thoughts, goals and hopes you have for this year. Don’t hold back and just let the pen take over. Write down everything that you want to create that is part of reaching that dream.
Once you fill up a page (or more), you will start to notice themes and repeat thoughts. Hopefully this will excite you as well. Take as much time as you need with this exercise. Below is a helpful tool that will guide you in your brain dumping process. You can download and print these pages in the Goal Setting Freebies page.
Part of the Brain Dump Questions and Prompts involve looking back as well as looking ahead. Each prompt or question is designed to getting you thinking of what you want to accomplish and why. These questions and prompts are encouraging ways to push you further, dig deeper and reach for more.
Eventually you will break down this dream into small and measurable goals (daily, weekly, monthly etc.). Take as much time as you need and go back to it as soon as you have an idea. My brainstorming session developed over a couple of days.
4. Through Evaluating what you need to learn and create (Input/Output)
An example what the Input/Learn area might look like the following. In order to complete one pattern collection, I know I am going to have to revisit the course that I took in order to learn Surface Pattern Design; Immersion by Bonnie Christine.
And an example of Output/Create may look like spending a week sketching out one flower a day. For me, this would be looking at reference photos and sketching out as many different parts of a flower; as a whole and different elements.
5. Use SMART Goals as Your Guide
You need to stay focused and on track in order to accomplish your creative goal. It is important to have a reference to measure our process against. SMART Goals are exactly that. It should be used as a continuous check in for you. Setting requires you to ask important questions that keep you on a very specific goal path.
What is a SMART Goal? It is a well-known acronym for five key components of goal setting.
Now that you have had a chance to get your creative juices flowing with your brain dump, it is time to narrow your focus. Make your goal as focused and narrow as possible. Try your best to not cloud this dream goal with more than one focused outcome.
When it comes to a goal that is measurable, think of it as written down. If you are able to write down the specifics of the goal; specific measurement (time, amount written, amount painted, amount completed) then it would be classified as measurable.
A poorly measured goal in a creative outlet might look like the following. “I want to paint more”. Paint what, with what medium? When would you paint? Also, how much “more” specifically? No amount is specified here. When we use language like this, we are opening ourselves up to different interpretations and therefore different expectations of ourselves and others.
So, an example of a measurable goal would be, “I will produce one piece of finished art each week.” This will be made measurable by the specific action written out and acted upon. “I will paint three times a week at 8pm for an hour using watercolor” There are three quantifiers in this description; what (watercolor paint), when (8pm), how long (I hour).
For more information on how to set SMART Goals, check out this post, How to Set SMART Goals.
As a creative, do you struggle with confidence?
Even though I share a lot of freebies and tutorials, I held back for years sharing my creations because I feared failure. As creatives, you and I can be held back due to negative thinking. It might look like comparing your ability to others or not having the confidence to pursue your creative talent or putting your creations out into the world.
Is that you? Have you ever found it difficult to cope with imposter syndrome, your inner critic, fear of failure, perfectionistic tendencies, and being hesitant to share your work? If your answer is yes, I have a Free resource for you. It’s just a click away!
Is the goal something that is aligned with your skills or the skills you are willing and able to acquire? Or, is your goal too far off? Is it within your control? Will it take more time than your available effort?
Much like “attainable”, is your goal relevant and realistic to who you are and who you envision yourself to be? Is this a dream that can become a reality? Can you see yourself with this goal fulfilled in the future? Have supportive others spoken an element of this truth into you to help you verify your ability?
When you set a time limit, you have more motivation to hit your target date. The date can always be changed but initially setting it propels us forward.
Always ask yourself, how long would this goal take to accomplish?
If you are thinking of smaller amounts of time, as yourself, Is it something that I can do each day or is it something over a week? The shorter amount of time it takes to accomplish a task (and then put it on repeat), the more likely you are to do it. Start with daily tasks and even hourly tasks. When you go from doing nothing to choosing an amount of time, 10 minutes is a small success.
6. With Habits and Structure
Time blocking is blocking off a set amount of time for a specific task. Essentially what you do is take your task list or daily and plug them into slots of time that are short and manageable.
Learning how to time block is a way to stay accountable. Remember, when we write down our tasks or goals, we are forty percent more likely to follow through.
Start by writing down all the things that you do everyday without even thinking. These are things such as eating, daily chores and exercise. Fill in the rest of the time that you have allotted for creative practice. Ask yourself when your best productivity times of day are. It is important to schedule smaller blocks of time rather than hours at a time. Try to work between 10-minute and 1-hour blocks. Any time that is longer can set you up for failure as the distraction, boredom or procrastination set in.
If you have never set goals that are time specific before, (after you write out your year goal), start by writing out one or two days at a time. When you see what you have accomplished in your one or two days and take note of what you are able to complete in a day, you can start planning out each day for a whole week.
You are wanting to build in regular habits especially with your creative goals, so writing them out is critical at this point. These are called your goal commitments.
Tell yourself that your goal commitments are non-negotiable or in other words, “this task towards my goal is critical for me to achieve my creative dream?”
CHOOSE PEAK PRODUCTIVITY TIMES
Also, do your creative work at your peak productivity times of day for you. For me, I work best in the morning. As I do a ton of computer work, my eyes and brain are freshest in the morning. So, if your creative endeavor is photography, utilize the daylight to your advantage and plan your daily tasks around the light.
CREATE YOUR WEEKLY ROAD MAP
Pick one day of the week where you have the least activities, maybe a day of rest, and plan out your week. Ask yourself, “what can I accomplish in one day times seven?”
After you have a collection of four weeks worth of goals accomplished, you will be able to distinguish which goals need to be put on repeat. Then you can plug these tasks into the Monthly Goal Tracker.
I have also designed a 90 day goal tracker with the month and the week included. If I know that I want to complete a collection by the end of 90 days, I write out every task that I need to do to get there. It is almost like a brain dump. Then I organize each task in order and approximate how long each task will take.
It is important to know what you are able to complete in a month prior to using the 90 day goal tracker. Use your monthly goal tracker to refer from.
(daily, weekly, monthly and 90 day trackers are available in the Goal Setting Freebies page)
6. Through Accountability
Writing in a journal is a practical place to tangibly voice your commitments to your daily, weekly and monthly goals. It is also a place to write out how proud you are of your accomplishments. It helps to solidify your written beliefs if you say them out loud or practice saying them in the mirror. We need to journal our thoughts and feelings because this type of vocalizing is an essential tool to setting and achieving your goal.
Sheryl Garrat in her post, Keeping a Daily Journal, examines the importance of knowing your why and how for your journal practice.
WHO ARE YOU ACCOUNTABLE TO?
Voicing your creative ideas to others can help you gain perspective and feedback. Don’t be shy in sharing your progress either, your voice and experience just may encourage and inspire someone else (and even yourself). Sharing your success, no matter how big or small is important. Surrounding yourself with a like minded community in relation to your creative dream can encourage, challenge and motivate you.
Accountability keeps us on our toes and getting into the next task and the next and so on. I would recommend meeting with an accountability partner once a month.
Setting goals as an artist gives us what we need to develop consistency and follow through. We need goals in order to focus on and achieve our best work.
You can have the tools in place even prior to starting any work. The important part is that you have a plan, and you know the essentials to making the plan happen.
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