Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Importance of Goals

The last time we met, we looked at how art is spiritual in nature. I hope over the last few weeks you have been able to see how God is guiding you in your creative process. I also hope that you have been able to lose yourself in the joy & bliss that comes from creating your art.

This week’s topic falls right in line with that which I have been struggling as of late. Since it seems that I am having issues keeping some of the goals I have set for myself, I believe that it is time to discuss the topic of goals as it relates to being an artist. I also want to discuss why having goals is so important.

Before I get into the business of discussing the importance of having tangible goals, I need to ask you this question …

Do you have goals set for yourself as an artist?

If not, do you plan on setting goals for yourself?

Do you believe that you can achieve success without them?

If you don’t have goals set for yourself, what keeps you from setting them?

As you are digesting those questions, I will begin by tackling the last question first: What is keeping you from setting goals?

I can speak from personal experience in saying that the number one reason I used to avoid setting goals for myself was that I didn’t want to set myself up for failure. I thought that it would be easier to produce artwork if I didn’t have to be accountable to some set plan.

The problem with that thought process is that it automatically sets you up for failure. Without goals you don’t have a clue as to where you are going with your art career. You have nothing in which to gage your success or failure. If you aren’t accountable to yourself then you will be more likely to slack in your art production. It will be easier for you to say that you will start that next project tomorrow, but then you find yourself always waiting for tomorrow.

Without goals you are essentially a ship without a rudder; you are a pilot without a flight plan.

I believe that you cannot achieve success without having goals. For just the reason I already mentioned. Goals help keep you accountable to yourself, and they help you gauge where you are on the road to becoming successful.

In Isaiah 32:8 it says,

"But the noble person makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands."

So, now that you have a better idea as to why goals are so important, let’s look at the characteristics of good goals.

First and foremost, you must set goals that are BIG! Do not simply set goals that you know you can achieve quickly and easily. You must stretch yourself. If you are not stretching yourself, then you are not growing as an artist & you won’t reach the levels of success that might reach if you set really big goals.

If you have been listening to “The Empowered Artist” from day one, you may have already set your overall goal without even knowing it. In week three, I spoke to you about success & how you need to determine for yourself what success means to you. Now, if you have determined what success looks like for yourself, then you can start to quickly put together your long-term, over-arching goals.

Once you have your long-term, major goals in place, you can start breaking them down into smaller, more short-term goals. These short-term goals must be formulated in a way that once achieved they will have you closer to achieving the long-term goals. These short-term goals will be more manageable, and they will help keep you from being over-powered & overwhelmed by how large and insurmountable your long-range goals may seem to be.

Even your short-term goals can be further broken down to smaller goals, which, in turn, can be broken down into even smaller goals. You should be able to do this until you can track DAILY the success & forward momentum of your art career.

Your goals must be SPECIFIC as well. Especially when you are crafting your short-term goals, it is very important to make sure that they are specific and tangible. You want to be able to look at your goal, and know specifically whether you have achieved your goal or not.

You need your goals to break down into smaller segments that are specifically defined in order that you can keep track of where you are in the pursuit of your long-term goals. If you find that you are off track slightly, you can adjust your daily goals accordingly in order to ensure that your long-term goals are not put in jeopardy.

You will face obstacles in the pursuit of your goals. Your goals & your success will be opposed, so it is vital that you are able to track your goals daily in order to tweak them & change them to overcome the obstacles & opposition that will come.

That is why I also believe that it is important to write down your goals on a piece of paper. Write down each goal. Start by writing your major, over-arching goals. Then write down your next subset of goals, and under each of those goals write down the smaller goals that make up the larger goals. Remember to be specific & to rank them in order of importance.

Once written down, you need to review your goals on a daily basis.

You may even want to take some time each day or each week to meditate on your goals.

Stand in front of the mirror & recite your goals whether it be your major career goal or the individual goals you have set for yourself that particular day. Recite your goals with passion, and imagine yourself already achieving the goals you have set for yourself.

For instance, if one of your goals is to have a major solo exhibition at a well-known or prestigious gallery, imagine yourself there on opening night basking in the celebration of that achievement. Imagine that you are conversing with the many collectors who have come to view your works on opening night. Visualize in vivid detail what it would be like to achieve the goals you have set for yourself, and cement the visualization with the emotions that will accompany those achievements. Being able to do so will prove to be instrumental in you being able to achieve your goals.

As Earl Nightingale has stated:

"The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment."

And, as Henry Emerson Fosdick has stated:

"Picture yourself vividly as winning and that alone will contribute immeasurably to success. Great living starts with a picture, held in your imagination, of what you would like to do or be."

Once you have your goals defined, be careful with whom you share your goals if you share them with anyone at all. Although I believe that you do need a close group of friends or individuals with whom you can share your hopes and dreams. You definitely should not share them with anyone who will become a naysayer that will create obstacles in your achieving success. The persons with whom you share your goals must be trustworthy, and they must be individuals who will help you in achieving your goal.

As Proverbs 15:22 states:

"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed."

Well, I hope that I have shed some light on the importance of setting goals in order to achieve success in your art career. I also hope that I have inspired you to finally sit down and write your goals out on paper; to take those first steps in achieving the success that has been eluding you so far. If you already have some goals, I hope you are inspired to dust off your list and see exactly where you are in achieving those goals. I hope you sit down to tweak and adjust your goals where they need to be in order that you stay on track in becoming successful.