How’s that New Year’s goal setting and resolution working for you?
I can hear the groans and see the eyerolls right now as I type this. Yes, I’m talking to you.
For some, the art goals are specific: sell x number of paintings, create 12 artworks that investigate a single idea. For others, I know you chose a word or emotion to encompass the decisions you make. I had four for a previous year: creativity, connection, prosperity, and ease.
While you set resolutions with good intention, it’s a lot harder to follow through on them. January is filled with motivation, the idea of a fresh start. Then, when February comes rolling around, many of us are thinking (in North America, anyway) “when is spring? What resolution?!” Cue eye roll again.
Today check in with yourself and decide: are my art-related goals for this year realistic? How do I feel about them now? Where do I go from here?
Goals do NOT have to be weights that hold you down. Why not choose goals that fuel you, make you feel light? For example, I work to make art every weekday, usually first thing in the morning. Rather than choose a project based on deadlines or outside expectations, the first thing I work on is about fun. For me.
I can work too hard and for too long, so I know ease really needs to be my focus. Check in with your own ideas for this year and ask yourself: are my goals really aligned to my spirit and nature? Or are they “shoulds” I’m placing upon myself?
Once you are sure you have some art goals/hopes/dreams you want to stick to, you need to create accountability for yourself. My book review of Better than Before will help you better understand how you form habits. Part of habit formation is making ourselves accountable for our choices and decisions.
We need to have opportunities to check in with ourselves, or someone else, to ensure we are still working on that goal. Recently in our FB Group someone posted asking for help. She shared that she had to work on a project and she couldn’t motivate. She asked for some encouragement and cheerleading.
This is a super smart strategy for accountability. Many people find it easier to follow through on something when they admit their goals to others. (My goals this year are ease, creativity, prosperity and connection… my goals this year are ease, creativity, prosperity, and connection… 🙂 )
If you are already receiving emails from Artist Strong, you also have a great accountability calendar to help you track how much you commit to your goal. (Be sure to sign up and join us if you want access to that calendar and even better, a special community that lifts you up.) I track when I make art and it has a hugely positive impact on how much I create.
Now it’s time to create tasks or steps that help build towards your goal.
Someone in our community is working on a project that specified a certain number of artworks she has to make. Perhaps your goal is to find more time for your art. Block off the first 30 minutes of your day: no more social media in bed. Rather, go to your artspace and create. Have a big project, say, setting up a Patreon program for your art? List out EVERYthing that you need to do to make it happen.
Once you have a list that maybe even overwhelms you (mine often do this for me!) it’s time to prioritize. I discovered the Ivy Lee Method from fellow B-School Artist alums. I’ve used it since and can’t even remember what my life looked like without it. It’s the perfect strategy for me to prioritize my tasks. In fact, I keep my larger task lists out of sight unless I need to refer to them for the Ivy Lee Method.
When it’s time to prioritize my next day, I refer to those lists and choose 6 tasks for the next day. Just six. Each day I choose six. I cross off the tasks I complete and if I miss completing some, they are the first priority for “tomorrow.”
The reason this works so well for me is my giant to-do list makes me feel like I’m part of a race and that it never, ever ends. By narrowing my focus to six things, I’m able to cultivate…can you guess?… EASE into my day. If I finish with time to space, sometimes I do another task. Sometimes, I, gasp, RELAX.
Don’t drown in to-do lists that make you feel never finished or a failure. Find a meaningful way to create small steps that lead you towards your goal.
As we leave January and lose the momentum that comes from new year and fresh starts, it’s really valuable to check in and ask yourself: do I have art goals for this year? How am I doing with them? Are they still useful? Our world is a better place… because you are in it.
Be Creative Courageous: What are 3 small steps you can take this week that connect to your art intentions for this year?