Wednesday, January 23, 2013

the art of setting goals

Ahhh January, its the month of starting fresh and making resolutions but I must admit that I am not much of a new year's resolution type o' gal- I think it's because I tend to set goals and meet goals daily, weekly, monthly and all year long. I do understand the draw in setting resolutions for the new year- I am a sucker for a fresh start, for goal setting and list making. I love a brand new day, a blank canvas and new beginnings. And after the journey we have been on during 2012, I have to say that I kinda consider myself a bit of an expert on setting, meeting and succeeding (and also failing) at goals.


2012 was will go down in our history as the year that our planning, saving and "picking away at our dreams" resulted in actually attaining the things that we had been working towards. We went through A LOT of ups and downs, trial and error and moments when we truly thought things were going to fall apart but we were able to come together and push forward and make it to the other side of our goals.

I receive all kinds of email asking for advice about meeting creative goals, living a creative and alternative life, running a business and pursuing dreams.  And after the year I have been through- I feel confident that I can offer a some small bits of advice and experience when it comes to setting goals. I've been working on this post for a while, trying to search my heart for some simple and candid advice that I can share about setting goals. Whether you believe in resolutions for the new year or not- goal setting is a profound way to start movement towards the things that you want and need in your life. So here we go!




Before launching into my advice, I have to give some history to provide context to where my opinions comes from! 

I wanted to be an artist since I was a little girl. As the kid of self employed potters I grew up with lots of creativity and with the notion that running a creative business out of your home was totally normal and attainable. Growing up I took drawing classes, participated in art shows, contests and sold things at craft fairs. It wasn't until I graduated from high school that the concept of being an artist became real for me. While I had always loved the creative process and identified myself as an artist, I fell in love with it in college. From that point on I knew I would do whatever it took to pursue a career in the arts. Like most, I worked lots of "day jobs" while working on my portfolio, showing my art and taking on freelance jobs. I landed a really great job in marketing that allowed me to be creative but it didn't satisfy my craving to make art on my terms. I set out to quit my job- a long 5 year process that started with setting a lot of little goals that would get me to the point of making money and supporting myself with my art full time. After time spent working long hours at a day job, lots of rejection, tears, persistence, hard work and never giving up, I was able to get to the point (financially and creatively) to quit my day job and have never looked back! 

When we decided to start a family, my husband and I knew that our long term goal of leaving behind our life in Southern California and moving to Oregon to simplify and focus on raising our daughter needed to happen ASAP. During the course of one year (2012) we worked hard to plan, save money, rent our home in California, build my business, take my husband out of his 60 hour week job and bring him home to be a stay at home dad. We then then set out on a crazy, difficult but exciting journey to small town on the Oregon Coast where we now live and operate a creative business. 



There is nothing more profound than naming the things that you want. While you may not be able to attain all of those big goals and dreams right now, its important to identify the things you desire and the best way to get there. My husband and I spent years with the goal of leaving our "life in the fast lane" in Southern California for simplicity in a small town on the Oregon Coast. We spent so much time talking about it, dreaming about it and planning for it. While we knew it wasn't going to happen over night or without TONS of work, acknowledging it everyday brought life to our goals, it brought excitement and HOPE for our future. And sometimes a little hope is all it takes to provide the drive and action you need to attain your goals.



I am obsessed with writing down my goals and making lists. I am NOT organized by nature so over time I've had to teach myself discipline and organization- especially when it comes to goals. I depend on daily, weekly and monthly lists and goal setting to stay organized and on task with growth and movement towards the things that I want to accomplish. Making a list or even mapping out goals is one of the easiest and simple ways to begin movement towards the things that you are working on. 


Keep your goals in one place and somewhere you will see them on a daily basis. I like to keep mine my planner or a sketchbook. 

Organize your goals by subject matter or time frame. 

Get creative! Instead of a boring list try illustrating those goals.





You may remember in my post HERE where I shared how I think it is important and totally ok to take baby steps when pursing an art career. Well, I also believe that its ok to start small with your goals. While I love the thought of setting big, beautiful, dynamic goals- I also think its important to be realistic and start with small goals that are easy to attain. Meeting a small goal is much easier (most of the time) than meeting a big goal. And if there is something I have learned, its that meeting goals (especially the small ones) builds confidence and inspiration. All those those little tasks and goals you are able to meet, equal confidence and that confidence can provide the stamina and discipline to go after that big stuff.

For years I wanted to quit my day job and work for myself. You cannot imagine how many days (at work) were spent daydreaming about getting a big break or something profound happening that could enable me to quit that job and finally be a full time artist. For years I wasted time setting goals that were TOO BIG for what I had on my plate.  Finally I ran out of confidence and inspiration and I was forced to change my thinking. I started setting smaller goals that fit into my reality, I asked myself what I could do (and attain) while working my day job- I could improve my photography, live and create on a cheaper budget, teach myself photoshop, draw every day, build a portfolio, work on bettering my blog, build a website, open an etsy shop, write an article, take on a couple of free lance/commissions, generate consistent income with my art, network with like minded creatives, etc. All of these little tasks were very realistic and could easily could fit into my life. I spent years working a day job and then picking away at small goals until those small goals slowly evolved into bigger goals like write a book (or even two), teach at retreats, sell my handmade goods at stores, build my blog readership, teach online classes, plan my own retreats, build my monthly creative income, quit my day job, enable my husband to quit his day job, move to Oregon, etc.





I cannot tell you how many times I've been asked for advice about where to start when it comes to making those goals and dreams reality. My answer is always the same- DO SOMETHING...ANYTHING! Often it's easy to get distracted especially when you have a job, family or financial responsibilities to take care of. I know this first hand. When I was working a day job and I had lots busy or stressful days, the last thing I felt like doing when I got home was work on my creative goals. There were weeks, sometimes months when I didn't accomplish anything and that got me discouraged and kept me stuck in the same place. But when I was doing something- even something small I felt like I was moving forward. I finally reached a point where I able to be more disciplined about doing something dedicated to my goals everyday- even while working that day job! Eventually that discipline turned into a habit and setting and meeting goals became a part of my everyday life. 



Take a look at your schedule, your time and the responsibilities that you juggle. 

How much free time do you have and how do you spend that time? 

Could you fit some work on your goals into that free time? 

Try to identify goals that easily fit into your everyday life. 

Start by setting aside 30 minutes dedicated to your goals- maybe at first its simply taking time to brainstorm, research or work in short bursts. Challenge yourself (and your schedule) to work up to more time.




Often we associate goals and planning with- the whole purpose of setting a goal is actually meeting it right?! Well, I think that failure is just as important! I can't tell you how many goals I have set and worked hard at, only to have things not work out or even fail. Over time and lots of hindsight, I have come to realize that those of moments of failure have been some of the most important learning opportunities. Typically I don't learn much when I succeed and meet goals- except that I am grateful BUT when things don't work out I am forced to look at my life and really do some soul searching.  

My husband and I set out to change our life years ago but it wasn't until 2012 that we  actually made it happen. All those years in between were full of failed attempts of going after our dream of a simple life in Oregon. From distractions to money issues to bad timing- we really struggled with meeting the goals we needed to meet in order to create a new life. But all of those experiences (while they were difficult) really made us more patient, humble and strong. Those failures only created more desire to go after the things we wanted. While there were some very disappointing moments, we still kept trying and eventually succeed. And let me tell you something- when you finally succeed (after lots of failed attempts) the reward is so much sweeter!


The problem (at least for me) when it comes to setting goals, is that you can become consumed with those goals and living in the future instead of the present. Goals and planning can be highly addictive especially if you are unhappy with your current situation. The next thing you know, your plans become the focus and center of life. 

There was a time that I learned this lesson the hard way- I became so unhappy with my current situation that I wasn't enjoying the day to day moments. I was working a job that made me unhappy, I desperately wanted a more creative career, I wasn't fulfilled with living in Southern California. I was living in a constant state of thinking my happiness would change if everything in our lives changed. Finally, with encouragement from my husband (who is exceptional at living in the moment) I slowly started to change my thinking. We were stuck in our situation for a while- I had to keep working, we had to save money, we needed to make some plans before our lives could change. I could spend that time being miserable OR I could start living in the present. It wasn't easy but I began to work at appreciating what we had instead of being consumed with making plans for something else. This is still something that I still struggle with but I have found that I am so much happier when I take a break from my goals and find time to be present.

67 comments:

Ni Carnahan said...

Thank you for sharing! I truly enjoy reading it. I am going to set my goal for this year. Happy creating!

Toni Braun said...

Thank you- I just thank you for this post! Sometimes it's so much better to feel what you feel, think what you think and do what you do, if someone expresses a similar point of view.

Gianne Veling said...

This is such a great post, thank you!

Chick Tyler said...

Lovely post! All great! I like knowing that I'm not the only one who feels that way about resolutions/goals too!

coco.nut said...

THANK YOU

everything you said is meaningful and important, you really helped me!


I LOVE and ADMIRE your work (sometimes I even allow myself to get inspired by it) and have followed your blog since the times of your day job, so I could observe how your life's been changing. but readers often don't realise how much work, time, struggle, failures and tears it takes to achieve the shown result! so thank you one more time for sharing this experience!

HollyM said...

Very interesting to read your process. I me special taken with the final advice to live in the moment. I struggle to do that too. It is such a waste if we don't.
Thanks for the thoughtful post.

Adriana Oliveira said...

Dear Alisa,

Thank you so much for this post! You have no idea of the strength it gives me to keep trying and believe I will be able to reach my goals one day, and that everything in between is needed and important to make me grow as a person! Best wishes for this new phase of your life, you're an inspiration!

Adriana

Carla said...

I've been following your 'journey' for quite a long time, you are always so inspiring, and today this post was just fantastic.
Well done and all the very Best for the future, you have a beautiful family.
x

Anonymous said...

Alisa,
Just want to let you know that you are one of the most consistent, inspiring, positive, professional, generous art bloggers out there. This is a fantastic post and very timely for me. This am, I am trying to help my 15 yr old how to begin and be present. This helped me more than you know. Much love and success to you and your beautiful family.
Julia

Lived In Life said...

Thank You! Your examples truly made this post real. The "do something" advice is huge. I needed to hear that. Thanks!

Ali said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful advice. It's a post I be returning to whenever I need a reality check. Most importantly it's brilliant to hear that you and your husband have achieved your goals.
Ali x

Lindsey said...

Hi Alisa! This was such an inspirational blog post to read. Right now I am in the spot you were before you became a full time artist. My husband and I work really hard in the hopes that I will be able to work full time for myself at home someday soon. It is so wonderful to read that you were able to accomplish this - one tiny step at a time! Hope you are well :)

Jennifer Richardson said...

thank you for this gentle
heartstir....your spirit
is beautiful beyond words:)
-Jennifer

ariadne said...

Thank you for taking the time to write about all this!It is really inspiring and very useful!AriadnefromGreece!

Nathalie (tchoubi) said...

Thank you for sharing. You are so inspiring Alisa!

livethegoldenrule said...

You have helped so many people today. All of your advice is so good because you have LIVED it!! You and your husband are so wise beyond your years ;D

Lynda M. Metcalf said...

What a wonderful post! I visit your blog every week and its always so inspiring! Thank you! I'm going to share this with my artist friends!

AUBREY @ Project Lovegood said...

Thank you for this post! My husband and I have set the goal for him to be able to quit his day job so that we can pursue our creative dreams full-time. However, I'm going to take your advice and start with those small goals, hone in on them and keep at it!

Lalav said...

It's so good to read someone else's life practice and advice on this. I started my own drama company when I was in my 20s, and I had to learn most of this all by myself: I agree on every single line.
Good luck and thanks for sharing.
Lavinia

Kunstknäul & Wollwerk said...

Thank you so much!!!

Greets
Steffi Kunstknaeul (from Germany ;))
http://kunstknaeul.blogspot.de/

Amanda T. said...

Thank you for writing this post. It is a great reminder when you get lost on the way to achieving your dreams.

Sydney said...

Nice post, it will inspire many others to reach for their goals and achieve them.

Charmingdesigns said...

Interesting , we came to a place in our life when we chose to move to so. cal, leaving Oregon behind. wonderful post.

Jani Banani said...

The perfect advice for us creative types. Encouraged to become more organized! Just saw a scientist interviewed and he say "The best way to predict the Future is o make it happen". I see a theme here :) thank u!

Cat Athena Louise said...

Wonderful advice!

cheryl.mccann said...

lots of great living advice! thanks for sharing it.

Cindy said...

Nice piece. I especially liked your last paragraph on learning to be in the moment. Always a challenge. Congratulations on achieving so many goals this year!

Zena said...

This is a wondeful post. I teach planification and you have summarized the basis of this subject in a very easy to understand way and with personal twist that makes your explanation to be very appealing

Your photos are fantastic

Sharon Stanley said...

excellent thoughts. thanks for sharing well-thought and expressed ideas for making goals...it's never enough to make a goal...you really do need a "how to" list for how you expect to attain that goal...you made this clear.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post. Very encouraging.

addalittlesun said...

Great post. Inspiring and motivating. Thank you!

Serena Lewis said...

Thank you for another wonderfully encouraging and helpful post!

Anonymous said...

THank YOU! JW

siga said...

Fantastic post! Admire your spirit and soul, sharing and teaching us in a such loving and creative way! thank you, thank you and thank you!!!

jabbott said...

Your blog has helped me to realise what a person can acomplish.I too have loved art for so long and find great enjoyment,when doing it.I find your honesty and advice beyond fantastic.Thank you for the time you put in to your blog x

Di said...

Thanks for this, its so helpful to hear what others had to go through to reach their goals

Robin Sample said...

I just wanted to thank you for posting this, I really needed to hear it at this moment.
We are in the middle of our "planning" and it's very easy to get fogged in, forget the big goals, and grow disheartened.

I'll be referring to this post often, I'm sure.

Bonita Rose said...

this was a great post to read all about your dreams and your story.. bravo alisa! Us too.. we realized our dreams in 2012, and moved fr cold ND to the east coast of FL to live in a beach cottage on the sea.. it's a dream come true for us too.. but it didn't just happen.. it took loads of sacrifice and planning and lots of heart to heart talks.. thks for sharing your dreams with all of us. xo
loved reading it..
xo bonitarose

Linda Strowbridge said...

Thank you for sharing this! It struck a cord and triggered some deeper thoughts in me ... and, I suspect, many other people. Never doubt that you can have impact with a blog post.

Rachel said...

I cannot thank you enough for writing this. I'm sitting here in the corner of a Starbucks wiping tears with a half used napkin. The poor baristas must be wondering about the weepy woman in the corner. You spoke to so many things that have been hanging over my head and offered such great inspiration on getting it all in line. I have such great expectations for myself and so many goals that I often find myself wanting. (In the sense that I'm burning my candle at both ends with an industrial flame-thrower) What you said just made so much sense. So, from this teary-eyed wife, momma, small-business-venturer, and a myriad of other things, thank you.

miz katie said...

I was reading your blog when you were still working your day job. How far you've come!! Thank you for sharing this. It's very helpful. :)

cyndee starr said...

I think your post struck something in all of us. Thank you.

Sue Marrazzo said...

This is an open book...Thanks for sharing.
I can relate to some of this post...I am a mixed media artist and teacher. I love art like YOU!
Please check out my ART Blog at
www.suemarrazzo.blogspot.com
It would be nice to get some feedback from you..THX!

Vivi Xu said...

I love the scenery in yours blog and maybe you have really great skills about photography, so maybe you will also love the fabulous polka dots tote bags and the perfect bag fit for the perfect you!

Dragon Lady Blue said...

Thank you for sharing. It was the perfect find this morning. We all have struggles in this world and your beautiful words have helped me immensely today.

Cindy Liebel said...

such a wonderful read! setting goals in life is a must have & i really enjoyed reading how far you have come. TFS

stefanie stark said...

Thank you so much for sharing these useful guidelines. I like especially the one mentioning to start small as I am always struggeling with my big goals. It's so good to see that you never give up and learn so much from your experiences! I am looking forward to your online class in February and can hardly wait to start. It is a very big goal :)

stephaniecorfee said...

the fact that you've achieved a goal similar to mine and my husband's, makes it feel possible. i feel so happy FOR you and it motivates me to keep going. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Madeline Rains said...

Very good reminders. I love real life examples. I too have lived in the future and then the problem with that is that you get to the future and you don't know how to live in the present. Not you, just something I've worked with.

jeni said...

oh I so needed this today... so much struggle to enjoy TODAY and plan for the future at the same time. So many people think that creative people have fun and their "work" isn't truly work... when in fact it's harder work because there is so much self doubt and fear when sharing a part of your soul with the world to comment on.

Thank you for the encouraging words alongside specific examples. So wonderful... and I am so excited to set some small,attainable goals! xo-jeni

Felicia Kramer said...

Great article and very timely for me. Thanks to some personal family issues and my own creative confusion, I have been flailing about in the new year, not being able to settle down and focus. I think this will help. Thanks!

AlexM said...

Thank you Alisa for sharing this! I know you- through your blog- since the time of your day job. I know it has been really hard work. So congrats for you and your husband who have made it possible. And thank you for your tips, that i will try to remember- especially the baby steps one!

Jennifer Scantlebury Vienneau said...

Thanks for the great post. It was obviously from the heart and contained many nuggets to make us all think and re-evaluate our own processes and progression to our goals.

Leah said...

What a great post. Super advice.

Debbie Helton said...

Alisa, Thank you so much for sharing this! This gave me so much hope for my creative journey. I went back to the beginning of your blog and I found this entry http://alisaburke.blogspot.com/2006/07/finding-my-place.html and this is exactly where I am at on my journey. These words could have come out of my mouth. This post is just what I needed today! Thank you so much!

ALITA: said...

Gracias por contarnos como concretaste tus sueños es muy inspirador...un abrazo de todo corazón... me encantaron las flechas!! tengo una rama que me traje de la playa y ya se que hacer con ella :D

Mario e Omelete said...

Alisa, thank you for your words. It is important to realize that things do not appear from one day to another. There is hard work that must be done, but the most important is always follow the line of our goals, to be happier. Footsteps, very little, like you said, is what I have tried to do, despite actually sometimes seem that we can not.
Thank you. It was very inspiring and encouraging to read this post.
I follow it for a long time, and it is always a wonderful source of inspiration. Thank you. Francisca

dannielo said...

If you'd like a tool for setting your goals, you can use this web application:

http://www.Gtdagenda.com

You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
Syncs with Evernote and Google Calendar, and also comes with mobile version, and Android and iPhone apps.

Angie: said...

Thank you so much for this blog post! Inspiring and motivating! Baby steps can become big steps! Just what I need to hear!

beki said...

Excellent post, thank you!

gaby said...

Hi Alisa!

Thank you so much sharing all what is important in your life and how you made your dream reality.

I'm from France and I would like to let you know that many people like me around the world try to change their lives in a better way, in a way they feel really happier.

It's often hard to change, but you're right when you say, "just do something"! It's really important to go ahead everyday!

And yes, SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL!

I wish you luck in your new life and I keep admiring your beautiful works made from nature. I love it!
Gaby

(so sorry for my poor english!)

Shalini said...

Oh! Thank you so much for so much inspiration... I totally know we often get stuck with big goals and forget to take small steps :-)

Autumn said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful and inspiring post with such wise and important advice! After years of hard work at the Day Job, I've just quit to give myself time to write full time. I may not succeed in making enough money to support my household, but then again, maybe I will. The only way to know is to try.

Cara mengobati asam urat secara tradisional said...

info which is really good,,,,,,,,,,

leather tote bags said...

Top quality fashion leather tote bags for women and this leather tote bags really in right season

artmarket analyses said...



Nice post ... Thanks for sharing this information
art advice

QUALITY SERVICES said...

Nice post, I bookmark your blog because I found very good information on your blog, Thanks for sharing more informatiom
http://goo.gl/tGqfRs

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails