Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Art of Setting Goals

Sue Bleiweiss

I am a firm believer that goal setting plays a critical role in an artists studio practice. A clearly defined set of goals can help you stay focused, provide direction, keep you motivated and make the decision of whether or not to take on new projects easier.  While writing down your goals is an important first step you’ll increase your odds of actually achieving that goal if you take it two steps further by prioritizing it and creating a roadmap for it.  I approach goal setting as a four step system:

1: Write them down

Start with writing down a list of all the goals you’d like to accomplish. Don’t worry about how reasonable they are, how you’re going to achieve them or how they fit with the other goals on your list. Just get a list down on paper. Take your time with this, you don’t have to get it all done in one sitting. Keep the list handy and add to it over the course of a few days.  Once you have a list break it down into categories if appropriate. For instance your categories might include: art, publishing, marketing, social media etc.

2: Prioritize

Break your goals down into short and long term goals within each category. Short term goals are the ones that you want to work on over the next year and anything beyond that is a long term goal.  Starting with the short term goals put them in order of priority. Which ones are the most important to you and are the ones that you want to achieve first?

Now create a new short term goal list from your prioritized list and list them order of priority. This is your new working goal list.  Do this for your long term goal list too.

3: Create a roadmap

This is probably the most important step and the one that is the most critical for success. In order to achieve a goal you have to know what steps you need to take and in what order to do them. For each of the goals on your prioritized list write out the set of steps you will need to take in the order you need to do them to achieve the goal.  For instance, let’s say that one of your goals is “get published in a magazine” or “build a website”?  These are great goals but what steps do you need to take to make them happen?   Write those steps down in the order they need to be done.

4: Evaluate, assess and adjust

The best laid plans and systems can fail you if you aren’t continually monitoring them to make sure they are helping you to stick with your plans and work towards your goals.  If you find that you are not being as productive as you think you should be or you find that you are continually pushing your goals further and further out then it’s time to step back and assess what is going on.  You may have to adjust the way you’re working, change the systems you have in place, let go of a project or re-evaluate and reprioritize your lists.   Don’t be afraid to try out new approaches when it comes to managing your time.  What works for one artist doesn’t necessarily work for another and you have to find what works for you. You may find that depending on what your home life schedule is (kids, school vacations, family events etc.) may make it necessary for you use one system for part of the year and another for the rest.  If you find yourself in a situation where you feel like nothing is working and you just can’t get on top of it all then reach out for help from a fellow artist or mentor.  Sometimes a fresh perspective or just talking it through someone can help you come up with solutions that you couldn’t find on your own.

Need help with your studio practice?  Book a coaching session with me or take one of my online classes!

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