Setting goals is the key to realising your artist career dreams

Sheila Chandra - Thursday, August 16, 2018

Setting goals can help you to realize, not only your creative visions, but also your career dreams. Without goals, you’re at the whim of what comes to you – with them, you’re steering your own path.

Setting goals is a creative process

Have you considered that setting goals is similar to the creative process of writing a song or making a work of art? You imagine the finished work. You have a sense of what it will be like. Maybe the details aren’t clear, but you can describe it. Something deep within you is at work. You follow your intuition and your instincts. You play with ideas. Well, the same creative energy and excitement is at work when you set goals to bring your visions to life.

Creative people use brainstorming as a tool for working with goals

Brainstorming puts you in direct communication with your feelings and instincts. When you’re fleshing out your goals you often need to come up with the details of how, what, when, here and who. You want to be in that creative headspace where you are spilling with ideas. Brainstorming is a great place to start. Brainstorm the possibilities. Brainstorm for solutions to problems, and if you get stuck, give yourself five minutes to brainstorm the steps you need to take.

Creative people use baby steps to achieve their goals

It’s important to work on your long-term goals. But, you’ll make it easier for yourself if you break it down into steps. Each of these should be a step you can achieve at a single work sitting – or even within an hour. Try working backwards from your goal, and list the steps you need to take to achieve it. Make these steps real by adding one of them to your daily list. A few baby steps a week will get you closer to your creative goals much quicker than you think. Doing this keeps you focusing on the long game rather than being caught up in all the ‘crises’ that seem to hijack your time.

Write your goals creatively on a calendar

Time is a precious resource that you need to use wisely. A calendar or diary can help you map out your goals and set dates for doing all those baby steps. It may seem like a boring thing for a creative person to use a calendar, but it is a very powerful visual tool. Besides, you can use your creativity and decorate it as you wish. You could use colourful stickers for when you reach each goal or achieve each baby step, if it helps you. Or you could highlight various kinds of activities with a different colour pen e.g. green for family time, pink for desk time etc. Get creative with your calendar so that it is a pleasure for you to look at.

Let’s set some goals in a creative and fun way

Allow yourself a couple of hours to do this exercise. Grab a large piece of paper and some pens.

Close your eyes and relax. We are going to jump into the future. You’ll ask your 5-years-in-the-future self a series of questions. They are designed to make setting goals an exciting and fun exercise for you. Write your answers on the piece of paper. You can write them as a list, a mind map, a graphic, in circular form or however you wish. Be as colourful and creative as you like. You could even write it as a letter from your old self to your future self.

  • Where are you? (Celebrating with friends after your first exhibition at a gallery? Playing a show with one of your musical heroes? Reading the reviews of your first leading role?)
  • What things have you done? (Get specific.)
  • Describe your unique selling point or ‘mission’? (The artist who puts a black cat in each painting,  or the graphic designer who creates intricate retro logos.)
  • Describe your audience. Who does your work appeal to? (Where do they live, what do they do, what do they read, what other artists and forms do they like?)
  • How do your peers view you? 
  • Which projects are you working on for that year?
  • How much money do you earn?
  • Where do you live?
  • What kind of lifestyle do you have?

Write down the date and call this your 5 year vision. How did that feel? Are you excited, scared, inspired? There will be some goals in there that you can get more specific about later. Of course, this doesn't mean life will turn out this way exactly. But, that’s not the point. The point of this exercise is to show you where you want to go – so that you can take steps to get there, and know which opportunities to say yes to. Long-term planning will often motivate your creative work. Once you have a clear idea of where you are going, you can prepare for what lay ahead. Setting goals can be a truly creative exercise that inspires and gets you excited about your future.


Are you a creative person who wants help setting goals? Creative coaching can provide you with the guidance and advice you need. Contact me at for a free 30 minute consultation today.

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