Artist Goal Setting: Stop Creating And Answer These Questions

Today I'll take you through the process of setting goals for my artistic ambitions.  This has helped me establish a clear vision for how I want to continue pursing photography.  I believe that it can help you too!  

I spent a great deal of my life beveling in myths about art.  Perhaps one of the worst one was the 'free spirit' myth.  Take gangsta rap for example.  I grew up during the 50 Cent craze.  His story was that he was a drug dealer turned rapper.  So I pictured exactly that.  I imagined a guy who hung out on the block all day, spit a few bars in the studio, and then went off to the club to pop bottles with hoes.  Then one day Eminem heard a track and said, "Hey, let's make Get Rich or Die Tryin!"

Here's what I didn't picture:

1.  Years spent in his friend's basement recording on turntables.

2. 50 Cent working with other artists to learn the craft of writing music.

3. Him signing with two different labels and recording two albums before anybody knew who he was.

A post shared by 50 Cent (@50cent) on

 

My point is: the free spirit artist who wings to success doesn't exist.  If you want to win in this game, you've gotta have a blueprint.  That blueprint starts with clear goals.  I've compiled a list of questions to help you get started.

 

A Huffington Post article concluded that based on a recent study, "You become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams, simply by writing them down on a regular basis."

 

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Questions To Help With Goal Setting

After answering these questions, I found it significantly easier to set goals.  I included my answers in case they're helpful.  

1. Why was I put on this earth? 

To create things and hopefully inspire those who see no inspiration around them.

2. Where has life taken me so far?

From a place of confusion and frustration to the deepest pits of misery.  I think my journey has equipped me with tools and experiences that will allow me to shape my own destiny.

3. Where am I now?

As far as photography goes, pretty damn good at it, but not great yet.  As far as life goes, past the point of turning back and doing something else.  

4. Where do I want to be in 2 years?

I wanna be consistently creating awe-inspiring work.  I want to be financially stable by producing content.  

5. How will I get there?

Keep honing my skills. Look for a void that my work can fill. Surround myself with inspiring and talented people.

6. What’s holding me back?

Money, lack of focus, and not enough discipline.  I need to pick a direction and stick to it.  I need to work harder.  

7. Who can help me?

I think I have all the tools to help myself. As long as I seek out knowledge I can find it. Good people around me can nudge me when I stray, but ultimately I'm in the driver's seat.

8.  Banksy famously said, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”  So who do you want to disturb?  Who do you want to comfort? 

I'd love to disturb trust fund babies, self-righteous social justice warriors, Christian conservatives, and pretentious artists.  I want to comfort working class people and young creative people who feel like they have no clear path or purpose.  

9.  What selfish needs are you seeking through art?

Acceptance and recognition.  I don't want to just be another average loser.  

10.  What noble causes can you serve by creating?

I can help other artists get their name out there and demonstrate that you don't need a fancy art degree or daddy's trust fund to make it at this shit.  

Set Your Goals

Now for the hard part.  I've summarized Jim Rohn's Goal Workshop from Changeagent101.com into a simplified form.  Here's the first step:

1. List 50 things you want to accomplish.

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2. Next, go through each listing and put either a 1, 3, 5, or 10 next to them indicating within how long you want to accomplish it.

3. Now look at all of the items marked with 1 and then narrow them down to 4 goals.

4. Ask yourself for each one, "Why do I want this?"  "What will it do for me?" "Why is it important?"

5. Organize your list by counting how many 1, 3, 5, and 10 year goals you have.

Example:

  • 1 Year: 18 Goals
  • 3 Years: 10 Goals
  • 5 Years: 20 Goals
  • 10 Years 2 Goals

6. Write a paragraph describing the type of person you must become in order to achieve these goals.  

7.  Take your list of top 4 goals and set a completion date.  Carry this list with you and look at it every day.  

Warning!  Do not share these goals.  Derek Sivers gave a TED Talk describing research concluding that people who tell others about their goals are less likely to achieve them (That's why I left the form at the top blank).  

 

Still need a boost?  Check out my Artist Motivation Kit: