Creative Business

How to Set and Reach Your Creative Goals

December 17, 2020

Are you looking for a plan to set and reach your creative goals but you’re not quite sure where to start? Are you asking questions like: How do I choose my creative goals? What is the first step I need to take towards my creative goals? What happens if my goals don’t come to fruition? […]

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Are you looking for a plan to set and reach your creative goals but you’re not quite sure where to start? Are you asking questions like:

  • How do I choose my creative goals?
  • What is the first step I need to take towards my creative goals?
  • What happens if my goals don’t come to fruition?
  • How do I stay focused on my big creative goals?

I’m excited to help you answer these questions by giving you the system I personally use to set and reach my creative goals.

I’ll use my example of setting, and reaching, my 2020 goal to become a Top Teacher on Skillshare. You can read more about that goal-setting process here.

Here are my main steps to set and reach my creative goals:

  1. Choose one main creative goal
  2. Set a goal date
  3. Establish your why for this goal
  4. Declare your goal!
  5. Create a trail map to reach your goal
  6. Re-Evaluate your goal at the beginning of every quarter
  7. Release Your Timeline
  8. Release Expectation
  9. Enjoy the Process
  10. Celebrate!

Let’s Dive in!

Creative Scheduling Template included with the Time Management Course.

Step 1: Choose Your Creative Goals

To reach your goal, you’ve gotta see it. I suggest setting aside an entire morning (or even a full day) with your favorite mug of coffee, a lot of big sheets of paper, and no distractions. Take the time to ask yourself,

“What are my biggest creative dreams?”

Make a no-judgement, free-write list of everything that comes to your heart and mind. After you write down all of your creative dreams it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself,

“Which of these goals are my Top 3 for the year ahead?”

Circle the Top 3 that you want to focus on first. This does not mean that the others will never happen, it just means that you are selecting three main goals to focus on first.

For example, at the beginning of 2020 I focused on three main goals:

  1. Become a Top Teacher on Skillshare
  2. Illustrate and publish a cookbook
  3. Finish my surface pattern design portfolio.

Now, out of those three goals, pick one, (just one!) to focus on whole-heartedly with everything you’ve got. I recommend choosing only one goal because in the past when I’ve picked too many goals, my energy gets scattered and I don’t make as much traction as I’d like.

So pick one creative goal and go all in. Once you reach that goal then it is time to move on to the next goal on your top three list.

Step 2: Set a Date for Your Creative Goal

Once you’ve picked your one creative goal select a date by which you’d love to reach this goal. For example, I set the goal date of September 2020 to become a Top Teacher on Skillshare.

This goal is meant to motivate you to take consistent action toward your dream, whether or not you reach your goal by your designated date.

I didn’t become a Top Teacher by September 2020 but that didn’t stop me from taking action. You can read more about this in Step 7: Release Your Timeline.

Step 3: Establish Your Why

After you’ve picked your main goal, it is time to define why you want to reach this goal. Will your goal bring you creative fulfillment? Will it help a multitude of people? Will it give you more free time for your family? Will it give you more space to travel? Whatever your reason, discover your deeply rooted why to motivate you towards your goal.

One exercise to do this is to write your goal at the top of a piece of paper in the present tense. For example, I wrote, “I am a Top Teacher on Skillshare.”

After you write your goal, ask yourself, “Why does this goal matter to me?” Write down your answer. Next, read your answer and ask yourself, “Why is this important?” Then, write down your answer. Repeat this seven times.

At the end of this exercise, you should have a very powerful why that feels true to you. This will serve as your fuel to keep moving toward your creative dream.

Keep your why written on a piece of paper where you work as inspiration to keep going towards your creative dream.

Step 4: Declare Your Creative Goal!

Now, it is time to share and declare your goal. Write it down, say it aloud to trusted loved ones, put it on a notepad that you see every day, share it on your blog. Share it confidently and in multiple spaces. Put it out there into the Universe and trust that you are being guided.

Step 5: Create Your Trail Map

This step makes your big creative dream much more tangible. I like to think of a big creative goal as the top of a mountain. There are many trails and paths to get to get there, and a map is very helpful for the journey.

This map is your list of actions to reach your creative dream. I recommend dividing your map into 3 main guideposts. Reserve your third guidepost for your big creative goal.

Create Your Guideposts

For example, for my goal to become a Skillshare Top Teacher, my 3 main guideposts were:

  1. Research how to become a Top Teacher on Skillshare
  2. Publish 5 new classes in 2020
  3. Become a Top Teacher on Skillshare!

Once you have your main guideposts it is time to break them down into smaller action steps that are manageable and within your control. For example:

Research how to become a Top Teacher on Skillshare

  • Make a list of 5 Top Teachers on Skillshare
  • Watch at least one class from each of these Top Teachers
  • Take notes in each class and find the common thread (for example, is the common thread class content, audio quality, style, or something else?)
  • Read Top Teacher blog posts on Skillshare

2. Publish 5 new classes on the platform in 2020

  • Brainstorm a list of possible classes
  • Choose 5 topics that I’m excited to create and share
  • Schedule publish dates for those five classes
  • Pick the first class that I will publish
  • Brainstorm the content
  • Write script
  • Record audio
  • Record Talking Head Videos
  • Record Demos
  • Edit the class
  • Publish!
  • Market and Share the class
  • Lather, Rinse, Repeat for the other four classes

3. Become a Top Teacher on Skillshare!

  • Continue to create and share one class per quarter
  • Continue to refine my class creation process
  • Continue to promote and share my work

Notice that my smaller action steps were entirely within my control. These were all steps that I could take without anyone’s permission and without waiting on any end results. Therefore, I could take those actions right away and I could also measure when I’d completed each step.

Step 6: Re-Evaluate Your Creative Goals

I recommend re-evaluating your goal at the beginning of every quarter. This is a simple check-in to see if your goal still feels aligned and if you’re making traction toward your goal. This will show you if you need to shift or let go of anything.

For example, I had three huge goals at the beginning of 2020 and by March of 2020 (we all know what happened there), I knew I had to readjust my focus. Trying to do all three left me feeling scattered. With the shifts and transitions of the year, I knew that I needed to simplify my goal focus.

That led me to choose the one goal of becoming a Top Teacher on Skillshare. I chose this goal because I knew that I love the process of creating online classes, I love empowering students’ across the world, I knew that I wanted to strengthen my skills of creating classes. In addition, I also knew that this was a goal that could support me and my business financially so that I could keep creating, teaching, and sharing.

Re-evaluate your goal at the beginning of each quarter to make any adjustments or simply to cheer yourself on to keep going!

Step 7: Release Your Timeline

It’s important to set a goal date by which you’d like to reach your creative dream, and it’s also important to release that timeline. Ask yourself,

“Am I willing to continue taking action toward this dream, no matter how long it takes?”

and

“How can I enjoy the process of taking action toward this dream?”

These two guiding questions can give you more space and freedom to keep taking consistent action toward your goal.

For example, I set my goal date to become a Top Teacher on Skillshare as September 2020 but I didn’t get the e-mail invitation until November 13th, 2020. And here’s the deal. I published my fifth class (remember, this was a Guidepost within my control!) at the end of October.

Can you imagine if September came and went I’d said, “Ah, well, I didn’t reach my goal to become Top Teacher, so there’s no point in publishing any more classes!”

No. Way. Absolutely not.

I was committed to this goal for the long haul, no matter how long it took and even if it didn’t happen because I loved (and love!) the process of creating classes and teaching online so much. I fell in love with the process and, with each class that I created, I allowed myself to have more fun.

This enjoyment of the process and release of the timeline allowed me to create and publish my fifth and final class of 2020 in October, and led me to reach my goal of becoming a Top Teacher in November 2020.

Step 8: Release Expectation

On a similar note to releasing your timeline, release your expectation. A phrase that I often use when I set a big creative goal is “This or better.” Allow yourself to see beyond your goal. There are possibilities that you might not even know exist . . . yet! Allow yourself to set your goal, release the end result, and enjoy the process. You never know what new passion or opportunity you may discover.

Step 9: Enjoy the Process

Take action, make mistakes, laugh it off, and stand back up again. Keep going. Allow yourself to find the fun in every step. Treat “mistakes” or “failures” as learning opportunities to do even better next time. The only way to make progress is through consistent action. So, know that when you continue to show up you make traction toward your dream and learn valuable skills along the way.

Step 10: Celebrate Your Creative Goals!

With each small action step that you complete, celebrate! With each big milestone that you reach, celebrate! These celebrations can be as simple as a delicious home-cooked meal, a rejuvenating hike in nature, or a screen-free day with your loved ones.

I recommend scheduling your celebrations before you finish your action steps, reach your milestones, or achieve your big goal. For example, write down how and when you will celebrate once you’ve finished your first action step and once you’ve reached your big creative goal. Having your celebrations written down in your calendar will be even more motivation to keep taking action toward your dream.

Celebrating actions and big goals allows you to anchor into joy along the path towards your dream, no matter how small each action seems. It all adds up and it all matters, so celebrate your progress!

What is your big creative goal?

So, now that you have a plan, I’m curious. What creative goal are you working toward? Let me know in the comments!

If you’d like more tips to schedule time to make traction toward your creative goal, take my course “Share Your Art: Time Management for Creatives” on Skillshare (and get 2 free weeks on the platform!).

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I know that creativity can feel like an elusive skill that only certain people are born with. But I believe that we each have an intrinsic creative power that needs to be expressed in the world.

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