How to Take Charge of your Creative Goals – Skinny Artist

How to Take Charge of your Creative Goals

How to Take Charge of your Creative Goals


Taking Control of your Creative Life

by: Michaela Cristallo

You’re showing up to the studio every day, you’re making art and you feel like you’re on the right track, but do you ever wonder if you’re making the right kind of progress to get to where you want to be?

It’s wonderful to create freely and without restraint but there does come a point where despite the creative joys of free artistic play, you really do just need to buckle down and get things done. Specifically, the right kinds of things to get you to where you want to be. Enter creative goal setting.

Creating some big goals is about getting real with your art. It’s about setting yourself up for success and making a solid plan to get there. It’s a great process to go through every 6-12 months and it all starts with some big picture thinking.


1. Think bigger than big! The sky’s the limit.

Get out of the every day and think big! As artists it’s easy to get trapped in the details of our daily busywork and to-do lists. But every now and then you need to give yourself the chance the dream. Answer these three questions to get started:

[list style=”arrowblue2″]
  • Who do you want to be as an artist?
  • What kind of work do you want to create?
  • What do you want to achieve?[/list]

Think long term (at least 5 years) and dream big. The answers to these questions will be your starting point. They will be the basis for your goals and ultimately for what you achieve as an artist, so take your time and dig deep.

Once you’ve answered these three questions distil your answers down to one paragraph about your ideal life as an artist. Try to say it in no more than three to four sentences. This should sum up who you are and who you want to be as an artist – think overarching, long term and optimistic.


2. Get specific about how you’re going to get there

Dreams are great but they’re nothing without action. It’s time to set some real goals about how you’re going to get there. You should set some big goals every 6-12 months and include everything you need to do that year to move closer to living your ideal life as an artist.

You can have as many big goals as you see fit but as a start anywhere from 5-10 is good. Any more and it’s potentially overwhelming, less and you might be setting your bar too low.

Make your goals specific and measurable. If you want to grow your art sales, by how much? If you want to experiment with new mediums, which ones specifically and how?


3. Every good goal has a deadline (and yours should too!)

A goal without a deadline is unlikely to be completed in any kind of reasonable time frame (read possibly never!). By setting deadlines you get your mind working towards a date for completion, meaning you can pace yourself with your work and really start to get things done.

Set a deadline date for every goal on your list spreading them out over the year based on how big each goal is and how they’ll all fit together.


4. Action = Magic! (aka how to get your goals working for you)

Even with specific goals and deadlines it’s easy to get lost in the busy-ness of day to day work. To avoid potential goal disaster create a list every single week where you write up a set of small doable tasks that will move you closer towards achieving your big goals.

Make each task specific and easy to achieve within the week. It could be as simple as drafting an email to send to someone or as big as completing an entire artwork.


5. Find a friend and get accountable

Having a big dream, goals and weekly tasks really mean nothing unless you commit to stick to them. I find that often when I’m setting goals for my creative work I’ll be incredibly optimistic and excited when creating them only to have my plan derailed (by myself of course) within weeks.

To avoid a similar fate stick your weekly task list somewhere highly visible in your work space and get accountable by finding a friend to keep you in check! Tell your friend about your plan and ask them to follow up with you on your progress once a week. These two things alone will up your chances of success big time because they make your goals real and ever present.


Make every day count

Follow these five steps and you’ll be setting yourself up for achieving big things. The progress we make on a daily basis might not seem like much, but over the span of a year or more it’s huge. Make every day count by setting some big goals for your art and see the difference it makes.

Do you set goals for your art, or are you a free spirit running with the tides?

What works best for you?   Share your experiences with us in the comments.

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About the Author

Michaela Cristallo writes about the joys and toils of creativity at For the Creators where she inspires people to live their best creative life every day. Join her at For the Creators to embrace your creativity and get your free copy of "The Creator’s Manifesto".


Hello there, Just came across this post which I found very helpful. My friend is actually interested in public relations and is working on an essay for grad school, which is asking her to share her creative goals. We’re having a hard time figuring out what those might be because we’ve already laid out her intellectual and professional goals as well, and we’re finding that when we try to explain her creative goals, that we start listing more professional goals.

Can you please help us figure out the difference so we can better tailor our answers to fit the questions being asked in her application essay?

    Thanks for stopping by April. I’m not sure there is an easy answer to your question, but for whatever it’s worth, I can share a few ideas with you. To me the way that “creative goals” differ from “professional goals” is that creative goals are more a measurement of progression in your art. That trial and error type of growth that comes from experience. I’m not sure that it’s necessarily something that can be measured, which is one way that they may differ from professional goals. To me professional goals would be something like landing a certain job, selling a piece of your work, publishing a book, getting 1,000 followers on Twitter, or whatever. These all can be measured, which is why we like them. We can see what we’ve done and then we can check it off our goal list. Creative goals aren’t really like that, however, because we can’t ever really finish them. We are constantly evolving as creative artists, we are constantly learning new things and new techniques, and we are not the same person we were yesterday. So have we changed? Of course. Can you accurately measure that and put it on a resume? Probably not.

    Creative growth, unlike professional goals, is a type of internal growth. It’s kind like spiritual growth. How do you accurately measure spiritual growth? For example a musician may be able to accurately play the notes on the page and still miss the spirit of the piece. It’s a subtle difference but it’s there. They may be able to teach you the skills and techniques of your art, but they cannot necessarily teach you how to connect with your art and empathize with your audience. That is the x-factor in art and it is also what separates the good from the great. I suppose you could say that your professional goals are mile markers along the way — signposts of your progress on your creative journey. They are not necessarily the same thing, but they are a reflection and a validation of your creative goals.

    Hope that helps :)

[…] How to Take Charge of your Creative Goals […]

Very good advice for me….I have a tendency to drift. As a freelancer I’m only responsible to myself which often means I get away with being undisciplined, ie I take work to a coffee shop but if I’m honest, sometimes I do so a little too often! I work late to ‘make up the time’ and work beyond full time hours but it’s still important to step back and see what the bigger picture is and where I would like to be in the future, rather than just working day to day with no real plan.

Thank you!

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