So, are you a dreamer or a doer? I have to admit I’m a doer. For an action-oriented person like me, it’s soooo satisfying to make a to-do list and cross the items off one by one! But some of you might be dreamers, visualizing where you want to be and imagining the end results.
The thing is, success in anything requires both: dreaming and doing.
I’ve seen artists of both stripes, and I’ve noticed that being all one way or the other creates problems. Those of us who are too focused on doing can often rush headlong through every day being very busy without questioning whether our actions are actually moving us in the right direction. It’s like treading water—lots of expended energy with no progress! Conversely, I’ve met artists with big dreams who can't seem to buckle down and take the steps that will help them realize their vision. They have trouble seeing how a mundane activity like, say, engaging in social media every day will actually build their following and contribute to achieving their dream of selling more art.
So, how can we find a meeting of the minds, a happy place where dreams and action come together? In goal setting, of course! As renowned motivational speaker Tony Robbins says, Think of a goal as a dream with a deadline. A compelling goal, he says, is one that gives definition to your generalized desire and reminds you of your motivation for wanting it in the first place.
Setting Good Goals
Dreamers, are you ready to take targeted action? Doers, are you ready to set a destination for your activity? Great! Let’s set some goals.
I think it’s super fun to start with brainstorming. You visionaries should be great at this. Ask yourself, when it comes to your life as an artist, what is it that you’d most like to accomplish, do, have, earn, give, and experience in the next 20 years? Go crazy on your list, then pick roughly a handful of the shorter-term goals that really get you excited.
Next, we’re going to flesh them out a bit. Goal-setting experts will tell you that well-stated goals should be SMART, as in specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bounded. For the most part, I agree with this advice and have had far more success when I set a goal that’s clearly defined in terms of numbers and timeframes. However, when it comes to being attainable and realistic, I think there’s something to be said for setting goals that are a little more challenging than you actually believe you can achieve. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen if you come in a little shy of your stretch goal? You’ll still be miles ahead of where you were before!
Creating A Plan
Okay, here’s where the action starts to kick in. Every one of your goals needs to be broken down into a series of smaller goals, which might even be considered steps toward the big goal. Ask yourself, what do I need to do to achieve my goal? What are all the different ways I could get there? Who do I need to contact, and what tools and resources do I need? By continuing to ask questions, you’ll quickly see how the answers fall into place, creating a sequence of actions for you to follow.
Now put this into a schedule. How much time do you think you’ll need to accomplish each task on your list? Set some milestones with specific dates. Then break it down even further. It’s essential for you to work toward each goal a little bit each day, so every morning determine if there are one or two things you could do that day to work toward your immediate, short-term goals. A phone call to make? Some research to do? Some items will require ongoing action, while others will be one-off tasks.
Monitoring Your Progress
All the goal setting in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t stay with it, nor will you achieve success if you don’t evaluate your progress along the way. So, remember those milestones with specific dates you set? Create a calendar of them, then check in with yourself to see how you’re doing.
Maybe you’re not achieving a goal because you let the smaller steps slide. Now’s a good time to re-commit to the goal by recalling the motivation behind it. Or maybe you’ve been actively working on the goal, but you’re not hitting your target numbers. Do you need to alter your approach? Or refine the specifics? Not only should your big goal be measurable, your smaller steps can be stated in terms of numbers, too.
There you go, my dreamers and doers. Success with your art—and with everything else in life—comes to those who both create a vision and actively work toward making it happen.
I’d love to hear more about your goals, and to brainstorm with you on achieving them. Let’s connect!
P.S. Is marketing your artwork more effectively one of your top goals? Then consider subscribing to my FREE weekly e-newsletter loaded with even more great tips and advice.