Last year was really a wash for me in the creative department. Due to a slew of factors – 2022 was just a wash for me when it came to creativity and productivity. That’s why this year I wanted to set up a plan to inspire my creativity and really pull me out of the creative slump I was in. And since we were turning over into a new year – it felt like the perfect time to set some new year’s resolutions for my artistic journey.
But I didn’t want to create goals just to fail them a couple of weeks down the road. That would be a recipe for disaster after last year’s debacle. No, I really need to think these goals out and make sure they would not only help me achieve my artistic goals but also keep me from falling into another creative slump.
So here’s how I’m doing it…
How to Set Up a Successful Goal
MAKE A LIST
First, I started by making a list of every goal (no matter how far-fetched or how small) in a journal. I listed everything I could think of – even things that weren’t related to art. Such as family goals, places I’d like to travel, and the works. The point was simply brain-dumping all my dreams onto a piece of paper and letting them take up space outside of my head.
CREATE A PLAN
Next, I chose a couple of goals (or more than five from my list) that really tugged at my heart. And on a separate sheet of paper – started laying out steps that needed to be accomplished before those goals could be achieved. As an example – one dream of mine would be to illustrate and maybe even write a children’s book in the future. That is a huge goal that isn’t going to happen overnight. Instead, I need to break that goal down into smaller steps – such as reading books about how to publish a book, learning the basic setup for creating a book cover, and even how to set up the pages inside the book with text. What tools do most illustrators use? Is there a learning curve to those tools? How did other illustrators go about publishing their books? And then there’s the illustrating part – what types of things would I like to illustrate in my books? Are they animals, people, and/or backgrounds? How could I get better at drawing these subjects? Will I need to draw one character in multiple different emotions, angles, etc? How can I get better at that? So you can see – there is a lot to even consider when illustrating your own book.
I think this is where a lot of people fail when it comes to setting goals for themselves – because how often do we set a goal for ourselves that is actually too big for us to swallow? Such as – getting healthy is a common goal around January. So how often do we say – oh I’m gonna exercise every day, walk at least 2 miles, and cut sugar and eat only good stuff. The goal is way too broad and too hard to tackle – setting yourself up for failure – or in my case a really bad sprained ankle like I did last year. Instead – break your goals down into more manageable tasking and tackle those first before attempting the larger goal.
After you have more of a broken down game plan of your goals – next choose realistic expectations. If you haven’t been drawing a lot over the past few months – setting a goal to draw thirty minutes every day may be a bit of a stretch. Instead – set a goal that is more reasonable. Such as, taking five to ten minutes to sit in one spot with your sketchbook. During that time – you can either draw, read an art book, or watch a video on an artistic subject you are interested in. By setting the goal low and easy to achieve – you are creating a habit – which in turn makes it easier to build as you go. I also like to set goals that are a bit more flexible – because let’s be honest sometimes you don’t want to create. So giving yourself the option to watch a video or read a book on a specific art topic you are interested in is an excellent option for those dumpy days.
Once you have a goal set – next plan out what you will need to accomplish that goal, Do you need a set of tools? Do you need to be in a specific location? Is there anything that would make achieving that goal easier? For me, I’ve created a small plastic document bin next to my couch that has journals, books, pencils, pens, pencil sharpeners, erasers, etc. Basically, anything that I might need to make tackling my goal super easy and accessible. If you like to travel with your art supplies – maybe consider getting a large bag and keeping everything inside ready to be taken at any given moment. The point is – to create a small centralized location that is organized and ready to use whenever your create drive strikes a fancy.
Here’s a toughy, but it’s essential. Allow yourself to have bad days when it comes to accomplishing your goals. That means – drawing something a million times and then it ending up like a scribble, in the end, is perfectly fine. The point isn’t to make great art or met every goal with 100%. Sometimes meeting that goal at 10% is the best accomplishment. Because – guess what you did it. You set your sites on your goal and even though you dragged through it (sometimes quite literally) you at least moved a centimeter forward compared to before.
CREATE A HABIT
And finally and most importantly – create habits. This is honestly going to be the biggest takeaway from everything I’ve said today. Instead of setting year goals – set your goals for a week or a month. Once you’ve met that goal – reevaluate. What worked? What didn’t? Your goals shouldn’t drive you – you should drive your goals. So – if something isn’t working or just feels off – take a step back and reassess. The point of a goal isn’t to make you feel inferior – rather it is more like a guide map to getting what you desire. And just like a map – there are usually several different ways to get to the same location or in our case goal. And some of those trials might not work for everyone. So, if you have to take a setback – it just means that path isn’t your route.
So hopefully that helps you set up some successful artistic goals that can pull you out of an artistic slump.
Below is a little graphic organizer of the above-mentioned steps to achieving your goal as well as common mistakes or pitfalls you could encounter. ?