Today, I want to talk about setting creative goals and share some of mine for 2023.
Setting goals doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the key to setting and accomplishing goals comes down to one simple acronym: SMART.
Maybe you’re heard of this before, but if not let me break it down.
S – Specific
M – Measureable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-bound
S- Specific – A goal should be specific enough. Saying, “I want to make cool art” is not specific. What exactly does this look like for you? What steps need to be taken?
Maybe it’s “I will start each day with 30 minutes of drawing in my sketchbook, before I do anything else.” This is more specific and sets a time limit and specific time of day to get into a good routine.
M- Measurable – This means making your goal something you can actually measure. Here we are talking about specific numbers.
Maybe you’re a writer and you want to write more. A measurable goal could be to write 10 pages every day. Or maybe you’re a blogger, maybe you could set a goal to get 100 subscribers by a certain date or to write 100 blog posts before you assess whether to keep investing time in it or pursue something different.
A- Attainable – Attainable means that it should be a realistic goal.
If you’re a new freelance photographer this could mean setting a goal to gain 2 new clients your first month. That is pretty attainable if you’re marketing yourself well to others, especially to people you know through social media.
However, setting a goal to get 15 clients your very first month is probably not going to happen. Don’t set yourself up for failure by being unrealistic. It’s okay to set high standards, but they need to be realistic. Setting the bar too high only creates more stress and unhappiness, and results in higher failure rates.
R- Relevant – A goal should be relevant in order to work for you.
For example, if you’re a musician who plays the violin and you want to get better at playing it, you would make a goal to practice playing your violin more. It just wouldn’t make sense if you were a violinist and made a goal to play the piano more each week. It needs to be focused around your long-term goal.
T- Time-bound – Time-bound simply means that you need to place a deadline on a goal, whether that means small milestones along the way or the big endpoint.
For example, “Put $800/month into savings until the end of this year” might be a creative goal for you (albeit a financial one) because this cushion may allow you to invest income in the months that follow into a creative side hustle you’ve been dreaming about but haven’t had the money to put toward.
Using this acronym, you should be able to create goals that fit within all of these components. You should be able to state your desired goal, using all of these things, in a sentence or two. It doesn’t need to be an entire blueprint, just a way to guide you through to completion.
Now that we’ve talked a bit about how to set creative goals, how about I share some of mine with you? I’m not necessarily going to share them in a single statement or SMART format like I outlined above, but I do want to talk about some of my past, current, and future goals I’ve been working toward. Maybe you can relate to some of them, too.
My Creative Hobbies & Goals | some I’ve accomplished, some I’m still working on
Gardening – Although gardening is certainly a science, I’d argue that there are lots of artistic qualities to it, too. Whether it comes to designing a beautiful garden, organizing vases of picked flowers, or harvesting the many shapes and colors of bountiful fruits and veggies. I started really gardening about two years ago and it’s astounding how much I’ve learned. I probably won’t be an expert gardener for another decade or more (there are so many things that can go wrong), but I’m having so much fun trying.
I started out a bit overzealous and was in over my head in prior seasons, but this year I decided to focus on peppers and tomatoes only. I’ll be growing many varieties of each, but it’ll be nice to focus on growing only two plants from seed. We have many perennial herbs and fruit bushes, too, but those I will just need to maintain.
I think one day my goal will be to grow enough to preserve and last us at least a few months of the year, but right now I’m happy with my small gardening goal of growing three raised beds of peppers and tomatoes this summer season. That just feels realistic.
Interior Decorating – This “goal” I sort of fell into. I mean, realistically most women care to an extent about what their home looks like. But this sort of happened along the way of renovating our 1950s home… I hadn’t planned on falling in love with home decorating so much.
Nowadays I set small goals for myself, room by room. Though I know I sometimes have to be patient. I have expensive taste (yes, even in a homey cottage-style home), which either means waiting until we can afford it or creating a knock-off version in a very affordable way.
In the meantime, I usually make visual mood boards that motivate me to work toward our long-term goal of having our house completely finished and decorated. I’m proud that my practice (and mishaps) along this journey have shaped my home into the beginnings of a work of art.
Writing – This one ties into my next hobby/goal, too. From copywriting (which is business writing) to blogging, I write pretty much daily. I’ve kind of gotten away from journaling and writing fictional pieces, but I would love to get back into that practice one day. I don’t quite have the capacity at the moment to do that, but it’ll always be there when I’m ready to pick it back up again.
I gave myself the goal to write 2 blog posts each week for a year, and after I accomplished that goal I started writing 3 posts some weeks. This has been great practice for me because some of my blog posts can be upwards of 7 pages long. This kind of regular, consistent practice has vastly improved my writing capabilities just over the last year and a half. It’s all about routine.
Blogging – I’ve been blogging for over a year now (18 months to be exact). And now that I’ve written over 160 posts and have hit some milestones I feel pretty happy with the success I have had. To date, I’ve been featured in a blog by a reputable small business specializing in stone installation in homes, increased organic traffic by 425% just since I started blogging full-time last April, and continue to gain backlinks from a handful of other reputable bloggers here on WordPress. That is quantifiable progress.
Early next year, I plan on expanding some of my offered resources on my blog, too. This will serve as a big goal to work toward as I progress through these next few months.
Graphic Design – Back when I was in business school and getting my MBA in Marketing, I realized I needed more artistic skills in order to be successful in the marketing field. Some ways I’ve practiced this are through creating mock-ups, my blog work, and previous positions where I was required to create graphics for emails or print.
I currently practice weekly on honing this skill, mainly when creating visual graphics for pins on Pinterest (you can view my account HERE).
Baking – I have been a baker for many years. Since I started my blog, though, I was tasked with doing even more recipe development. Even aside from the 2-3 recipes I release here each month, I like to try new recipes by other bakers once a week. That doesn’t always happen, but food is a very good motivator.
Photography – I am still learning the art of playing with artificial lighting (in a perfect world I would only photograph in natural light), but I am embracing the challenges. Reflecting back, I’ve learned how to shoot in manual, how to style with props, composition, and the basics of photo editing.
I still need to perfect my editing skills (Lightroom has A LOT to learn and since I’m self-taught it’s gonna take a bit of time), but I’m enjoying the process. I would get so bored by now if I already knew how to do it all.
Hand lettering / Calligraphy – I began hand lettering and calligraphy almost one year ago. I’ve gotten lots of practice, with a couple of bigger projects thrown in, over that time and it has been so nice to see my progression. What a difference those Christmas and Valentine’s cards made!
I recently decided my old routine wasn’t working. I would vow to practice 3 times a week at least. But sometimes I would go a week or more without practicing. Now, I set aside 30 minutes each morning to practice, along with some sketching, to at least get a little in each and every day first thing. It’s become a fun routine that gets me out of bed a little quicker each morning.
Drawing – My latest creative endeavor, I just began drawing weeks ago, maybe just before the new year began. I was struggling to make time in the beginning, but two weeks ago I decided to start a daily practice. I really need to invest in a drawing tutorial book (and maybe some charcoal sticks), but for now I am just doing drills, basic sketches, and recreating landscapes I love by memory. Nothing too crazy, but I enjoy breaking up the monotony in the mornings with a few minutes of drawing something spontaneous.
Watercolor painting – I have set a goal for myself to begin watercolor painting some time next year. I have so many other creative interests and practices I do on a daily and weekly basis that I don’t like to tackle more than one new one at a time these days. I’ve seen so many stunning watercolor portraits and landscapes on social media that have inspired me to start learning this beautiful skill.
I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed painting all the trim, walls, floors, etc. in our home, but it has helped me gain some skill as I’ve painted more detailed pieces with artist brushes and whatnot. Painting an entire house will do that to you I suppose… I’ve definitely got the steady hand for artistic painting, now. I’m thrilled to eventually gain more knowledge and apply these techniques to more specific styles of painting.
Oil painting – I’ve been following Miss Mustard Seed for a while now, and watching her oil paint has truly inspired me to start. I’ve made it a goal to learn oil painting the year after I tackle watercolor painting, probably not until 2025. Something about oil painting feels so intimidating, likely because it looks so regal and just feels “official.” I mean, Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet–all the great artists and painters you hear about and see in museums created these sorts of paintings.
Nevertheless, I will one day pursue it in my ambitious quest to dabble in all things art.
I am a maker. I have a vivid imagination that runs too wild and free for most to understand. I like to keep my hands busy. I enjoy bringing abstract ideas to life through art.
I feel a deep sense of purpose from creating my own idyllic world. Through intentional artistry. A handmade life. Making my home an inspiring place to be surrounded by.
All of it serves a purpose to me.
Quite frankly, no matter what creative goals I accomplish, I’m always going to try to build my skills even further and keep improving on them. The important part is enjoying the process when you’re working through it all. That is what’s most joyful to me.