I applied for a grant through the International Machine Quilters Association, that awards money to take classes at the Machine Quilters Showcase in Overland Park, Kansas! Within hours of getting that sweet, sweet email, I had my week there scheduled out! I will be taking ten classes in six days! It will be hard, it will be chaotic, I might get a little cranky but I will make every use of every dollar of that grant. I will absorb as much knowledge as I can while I am there!
This is actually a catalyst for one of my goals, teaching! Which got me to thinking, how many of us quilt/fiber artists are using goals to advance our careers? For years, I did not set goals and would wonder why my "hopes" never came to fruition!
The truth is, we're not any different. An art career is just that, a career, and goals need to be set for it just like any other "job". This can seem very daunting at first, especially if your goal is something like, "To be a famous artist." If that's the goal you set (which I did for many years!) you're likely doomed to fail. Why?
Any life coach or business coach will tell you that one of the key pieces a lot of people miss in goal setting, are the details! Sure, a company may publicly state their earnings goal, but what they don't tell you is the gazillion little tiny goals that get set company wide in order to try and make that major goal happen!
That's certainly the key I was missing for a long time! For years this is what my goal list looked like:
- To be a successful artist
- To be a national teacher
- To write a book
- Work on my website/blog to get my name out there
- Reach out to other artists
- Practice technique to get ready to teach (haven't done as well on this one, we will discuss why later!)
- Start an industry blog (done! You're here!)
- Write more often
- Submit article idea to at least one magazine (done! and accepted too!!)
- Enter into at least one national show (done, and accepted into Road to California!)
- Apply for grants (applied for two, got one!)
To be a famous artist I need to:
- Get website going with portfolio, bio, statement, etc.
- Start industry blog that serves my community as well as gets my name out there more
- Start writing and submitting articles to magazines - a published article puts my name out there
- Connect with artists I admire - I can learn from them, and am often inspired by them
- CREATE ART!! (DUH!)
These are just some of the revisions to my main goals, but even that isn't the end. Often times I find I need to break down those smaller goals to monthly, weekly, or even daily tasks. For example:
- Get studio cleaned
- Spend at least two hours in the studio a day
- Sketch one page while in studio
- Complete one piece, no matter what size it is, per week
The difference is, the lists are getting more and more specific, which makes even the HUGEST goal possible. To be honest, we do have to let go of the fantasy of setting the goal "Be a successful artist" and then expecting it to happen overnight on it's own somehow. We also have to set definitions on what our goals really mean. When I say I want to be a "successful artist" what does that mean to me? Well, for me, there are many things that fall into that: my artwork begins to sell, I get my work in some galleries, I have a piece published in article/s, I am asked to do teaching or trunk shows or lectures on being a fiber artist, etc. That subset gives me the key to what I need for setting goals!
Once I define "successful artist" I know that I need to set goals to make those things happen. Artwork begins to sell: I need to take more professional images of my works and Etsy them and then promote my Etsy site. Work in galleries: I need a body of work that I can submit to galleries that is available for display and is cohesive and professional. You see how this is working? We are breaking things down, then down again and so on, until we reach manageable monthly, weekly and even daily goals. But why?
Research shows that if you put rats in a maze with a treat of food at the end (goal), it doesn't matter how long that maze gets, the rat will ALWAYS show a burst of energy as soon as their food (goal) is in sight! He gets an adrenaline boost as soon as he sees that his treat is within reach, and we too get that same adrenaline rush when we reach a goal - any goal! The smallest goals that we reach, still gives us a sense of accomplishment and it's easy for that accomplishment to snowball from there! I accomplished X, which means I can accomplish Y, and heck, let's just keep rolling and wrap up Z while we're at it? This feels great!
How I approach my goal setting now:
- Lifetime Goals
- 5 year goals
- Yearly goals ***It's good to have a daily planner for this to breakdown to monthly/daily tasks***
- What I plan to accomplish in the next six months
- In the next month?
- In the next week?
- How much time will I need to give each week?
- Daily goals