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4 Tips for Reaching Your Artistic Goals (Even If You’ve Failed Before)

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by Tony Robinson

We all know that people who set goals will consistently outperform those who don’t, so why don’t most of us do it? Partly it has to do with lack of self-discipline and inner drive, but I’ll save that for a different post. Another reason why you may not be setting goals in your life is because you’re not sure how to do it! 

Well, we’re going to change that today.

Start with these 4 steps for setting a goal and finding success:

1. Clearly Define Your Goal

You have to know what you want before you start working for it. And I’m not just talking about a “vague idea.” I mean that you have to really know what you want. Get specific.

For instance, if you want to start painting or drawing more this year, don’t just say, “I’m going to break out my pencil more often in 2014.” That’s too vague! You need a more specific target, so instead say something like, “I’m going to paint 12 new portraits this year.” You must clearly visualize in your mind what it is that you’re shooting for.

Also notice that I mentioned a deadline with that specific goal. I didn’t just say, “I will paint 12 new portraits.″ Anyone can paint 12 portraits if allowed enough time! Attach a deadline. Parkinson’s Law states that “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” This means that if you give yourself too much time, you’ll use it all! 

Maybe you could paint 12 portraits in a year, but instead you give yourself five years. You know what that means? You’re selling yourself short! So only give yourself as much time as you need.

Actually, it may be better to give yourself even less time than you think you need. Why? Because you should only have a 50/50 chance of reaching every goal you set. If you know 100 percent that you’re going to reach your goal, you’re not pushing hard enough. It means you’re living within your comfort zone, and that’s a place where growth is stunted.

2. Take Massive Action

Once you’ve clearly defined your goal, it’s time to take action! Here are two quotes I want to highlight to drive this point home:

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. 

Maya Angelou

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. 

Zig Ziglar

Maybe you have set a goal of starting a new artistic medium within the next 60 days. You’ve never worked in this medium before, so even though you’re passionate, you’re inexperienced.

Sometimes we let our inexperience or lack of self-confidence hold us back from taking massive action. But we simply can’t do that. Who cares if you’re not an expert? Who cares if you don’t have answers to all of the questions? Heck, who cares if you don’t have answers to any questions! 

Instead of trying to anticipate every possible outcome from the beginning, just get started and allow yourself to learn along the way. If you never start, you’ll never start learning. So begin at once, whether you are ready or not.

3. Notice What’s Working and What’s Not Working

This step is pretty straightforward. Once you begin, you’ll start to notice what actions are moving you closer to your goals and which actions are moving you further away. It’s a matter of trial and error. But the only way you’ll see what’s working and what’s not is by getting started. You can’t “think” your way through this step.

You really have to pay attention here, though. Not all activity is equal. Some action keeps you busy but doesn’t really help you press forward. You can be constantly moving and yet staying in the same place. Don’t confuse busywork with productive work.

4. Change Your Approach

Now that you know what you should and shouldn’t do, change your approach! Immediately stop whatever you were doing that was moving you away from your goals, and instead do more of what was moving you toward your goals.

The last two steps fall under the category of “rinse and repeat.” Take some action, then make a change. Take some more action, then make another change. More action, more change. Continue this process over and over, and with each change you’ll learn a little more, become a little better, and work more efficiently.

Now that I’ve laid out this plan, it’s up to you to take action. Simply reading a motivating post won’t improve your life. You have to find a way to apply these proven principles in the real world, where they can make a tangible difference in your life.

What new art adventure are you going to pursue? What is the first step you plan to take toward that goal? Leave a comment below, and tell us your plan.

Tony J. Robinson is a budding entrepreneur, father, and full-time student living in Southern California. He is also the founder of www.doreallygood.com, a website devoted to jumpstarting personal development and inspiring others to do really good.

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