6 Tips for Defining and Reaching Your Artistic Goals

It’s a new year! It’s time for the worn out resolutions of eating better, drinking less and exercising more. That’s all fine and I wish you luck if these are yours, but I believe setting goals is a more worthy enterprise than declaring intentions to do better.

Many artists have a clear idea of where their inspiration comes from. While finding the inspiration to create is an ongoing struggle for writers, painters, musicians and other artists, setting goals is more of a left brain activity. Learning to define, set, work towards and meet goals is a skill that artists would be wise to develop.

Much has been written about the importance of setting goals. I won’t post any clever quotes or motivational snippets here, instead I would like to share my thoughts on how to set and meet goals.

Setting Goals

Setting goals is a way to motivate oneself and to measure progress. You can set daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual goals to complete projects or to further your career. While goals will be similar among creators, they need not be the same. Instead they should be tailored to the individual.

I myself have many creative goals. Some of them overlap. Some of my goals are more important to me than are others. Some may earn me money, some may not and some I work towards simply because I feel compelled to do so. A working artist may set a goal of finishing a certain number of works ahead of a gallery exhibit. A writer may have a daily, weekly or monthly page count or chapter goal. A freelance web designer or graphic artist may have the goal of one day quitting their day job and we should all have some sort of financial goal.

Regardless of what your particular goals are, there are some universal aspects to setting and achieving goals. They can work in your personal, business and creative life. Take some time to read over the following tips and try them out. See if you don’t feel yourself moving steadily towards your goals.


1) Define it

In order to obtain a goal, you need to define exactly what that goal is. Is it personal, professional, artistic? Is it what you truly want for yourself? Is is worth it? Is it even possible? Put it in writing and refer back to it. Set benchmarks to measure progress. Draw up a plan and put it into action.

2) Visualize It

Visualizing goals is an effective tool in helping you reach them. I’m not talking about a vision board, but visualizing things can go a long way in helping an artist find their own way forward. Artists are good at visualizing. Be creative. Imagine how you will accomplish your goals, then do it. Imagining where you want to be and how to get there is helpful in the creative process.

3) Meditate on It

Don’t like the word mediate? OK, how about pray on it? Not religious or even spiritual? Not a problem, pick your own word. Some may find strength, inspiration and motivation in meditation. It can also be used to think about and visualize goals and find the right path. Create your own mantra. I have tried meditation to some degree and find it useful, however, I have largely been unsuccessful setting aside the time for it. Like yoga, exercise and eating healthier, it takes a commitment and resolve before you see results. Keep in mind that you need not become a guru of meditation to benefit from the practice. Just try whatever works for you. Do whatever you feel comfortable with and keep at it if it is helpful in helping you reach the goals you’ve set for yourself.


4) Be Real

To reach goals you have to have realistic expectations. Your goals have to be possible. Setting the bar too high will result in failure. Once you do hit one of your goals, if you found it too easy, set the bar higher next time. This also helps build confidence along the way which will make your goal building stronger. Set daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, even yearly goals  for yourself. Why not have a five year plan while you at it. 

5) Measure and evaluate progress

Measure your growth and progress as you work towards your goal. If you are a painter or a writer, you can measure the number of works completed or page count, etc. Set benchmarks, make adjustments, don’t give up.

6) Reward yourself

Once you have reached a goal, take the time to congratulate yourself. Reflect on it. Be proud and treat yourself to something nice. Nothing too extravagant, mind you, you don’t want to blow that weekly budget you’ve put yourself on.

Goals don’t have to be creative either. You can set goals to exercise more, eat better, spend less money or anything else you want to do better.

Have your own goals and plan to meet them? Let me know what they are.

Further Reading:

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