How to Set Good Artistic Goals for 2009

Creative Development for Artists, Writers and all Artistic Creativity

The artist with good goals achieves more than the artist without. Simple as that. And there is no finer time than now to take a good look at what you would like achieve.

Set goals for a year artistic awesomeness
Photo by Michael Castielli

Now the dust has settled on the festivities it’s time to get going again with your life and your artistic endeavours. It’s a fair bet that you’ve spent some time over the last few weeks mulling over the things you want to do better. You may have even made some resolutions. Hey – you could quite possibly have already broken them. If not, and sorry to sound negative here, you probably will within the next few weeks.

That’s the trouble with resolutions – easy to make and easy to break. No wonder 9 out of 10 personal development professionals hate resolutions… (actually it’s 10 out of 10 but it didn’t sound so good).

Luckily there is a far, far more effective option – goals.

Don’t Stop Reading Here!

Oh, I know – it’s goals again. And I do realise that for many (but not all) artists, writers and other creatives, just hearing the word ‘goal’ is enough to send them running for the hills. My own partner Lynda has always found artistic goal setting the quickest way to an artist’s block. If you are amongst those numbers I’d like to recommend my article Organic Goal Setting – which offers a gentler, less threatening way to move towards what you want.

Setting yourself goals of any kind can feel a little scary, with thoughts of both failure and success able to unsettle your mind. But done right it should be a good kind of scared, an inspiring frisson of excitement kind of scared. After all, it means clearly stating that you are aiming to achieve something you deeply desire.

Artists with Clear Artistic Goals Achieve More

Done right, the artistic person with thoughtful, compelling artistic goals will outperform every time – and feel much happier about themselves and their art. The artist with good goals does more, and does it better. Simple as that.

And there is no finer time than now to take a good look at what you would like achieve over the next 3 – 12 months.

January Optimism

Here’s an interesting side effect of setting your artistic goals for the year right now. The next few weeks are well documented as the most depressing of the year. But a thoughtful set of shiny new-year goals transforms your dark January into days full of optimism, purpose and self belief. Can’t be bad.

Here are 9 steps to brilliant artistic goals.

1. Know What You Want

Sounds Obvious. Actually it’s anything but. Sometimes the things we really want are different from the things we think we want. Some intuitive, intelligent contemplation required here.

2. Know What You Need

A subtle distinction from step 1. What you need can be seen as the steps to help you get to what you want. Or it may be about stopping or controlling the stuff that’s getting in the way of your artistic desires.

3. Weigh Up the Costs and Benefits

There’s no point whatsoever in setting artistic goals that require actions and commitments you aren’t willing to do. Be honest with yourself, but don’t be over-pessimistic.

4. Tangible, Time-Limited Goals Work Best

It’s one thing to say you want to write, paint or perform better – but it’s way more inspiring to be clear about the standards, milestones and targets you want to achieve, and when you want to achieve them by.

5. Break It Down

If you have big, ambitious goals for your art, break them down into smaller sub-goals that are easier to imagine achieving. And take encouragement from each small achievement along the way.

6. Monitor Progress

Set review dates, make charts, discuss with friends – whatever it takes to keep your artistic goals at the front of your consciousness. Reviews help you see where you can improve and help you recognise and celebrate your successes.

7. A Setback is Just a Setback

When you lose your way, have a bad couple of days or fall behind your targets – then review, modify your goals and get started again. If you view setbacks as signs of failure you are likely to give up. But a setback is just a setback. Everybody has them, but it’s how you react to them that makes all the difference. Find the attitude that best helps you get up from the knockdowns and carry on to your artistic success. Don’t give up.

8. Enjoy the Journey

Willpower alone in never enough – so don’t rely on it. Find the right frame of mind to make your journey towards your artistic goals enjoyable at every step. Artists who know how to achieve more have usually done so by finding enjoyment and/or gratification all along their route to success. Find ways to enjoy whatever you are doing.

9. Visualise the Benefits of Your Artistic Achievement

Want to feel spurred on? Inspired to do more? Then just imagine yourself as the person you will be when you have achieved your artistic goals. Feel the impact on your self-confidence, your ability, earnings, sense of wellbeing, relationships.

10. Choose Who to Share Your Artistic Goals with.

Sharing your artistic goals with supportive people can boost your confidence and inspire you towards success. But beware! Some people will transfer their own negativity to you. Definitely do share your goals with those who will help you and inspire you. Make it ‘need to know’ for the energy drainers, moaners and put-downers.

Like most things in art and life, preparation is the key. New year’s resolutions tend to have no preparation – just wishful thinking – and that’s why they don’t last. Good goal setting does require preparation, but study after study have shown that goal setting works.

Here’s one resolution you can make – take some time out and prepare for a year of artistic success.

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Other relevant posts:
Find Your Definition of Creative Success
Planning and Goal Setting – a Message for the Terrified

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