We’re three weeks into the New Year. At the end of last year, I moved across country to New Jersey. Getting settled in has been slowed by massive snow storms (we got 35″ in one night!) and bitter cold. But I finally feel like I’m moving forward with my year.
How about you? Did you make resolutions? Set new goals? And how are you doing with them?
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been blogging about my end of year and beginning of New Year process. I usually do this process in the week between Christmas and New Year’s, but I am running a few weeks behind, due to the move. (…change is good… change is good… change is good – sigh)
In this article, I want to address one piece of the process that I’m going into in more depth in the blog – Goals. What are they? Why do you need them? And how do you go about setting ones that make a difference in the real world. Warning – this is a long one.
In my practice I come across a lot of artists with big dreams. Whether it’s a Grammy Award Winning music career, winning an Oscar or getting a show at MOMA, we dream of a level of success, recognition and income for our creative efforts. It’s human nature to dream of success, however you define it.
Where a lot of artists (and other people) go wrong in their pursuit of those dreams, they never make the transition from dream/fantasy to vision/goals. If you think of your success with fantasy language:
Wouldn’t it be nice? That could be awesome? I’d love to have that!
Then you are still living in the world of dreams and fantasies. And there’s nothing wrong with that as an exercise. But if you intend to create the life of your dreams, you must translate those dreams into real world, measurable, specific and, most importantly, actionable goals.
I’m a big believer in the Law of Attraction – but Attraction without Action is just Attr
And it’s very hard to take action as long as you’re thinking in “Wouldn’t it be nice” terms.
What is a Goal?
In my Artists Marketing & Business Academy Toolbox Teleclass – Goals that Get Results – I teach that goals must meet the following criteria:
- A goal is a having/being not a doing.
- A goal is a dream with a deadline – put a date on it!
- A goal must be visionary and inspiring
- A goal must be specific and measurable – how will you know when you’ve accomplished it?
- A goal must be positively focused – leave the problem out of it!
- A goal must be achievable within the time frame you’ve set.
- A goal is a having/being not a doing.
Let’s look at these one at a time.
A goal is a having/being not a doing
Let’s say for the purposes of this discussion that you dream of owning a red corvette. If you state the goal: I want a red corvette, then your goal is to be wanting. If you state the goal: I will have a red corvette, then your realization of your goal will always rest somewhere in the future. I recommend in the setting of your goal, that you leave out the subject and verb altogether. The goal becomes:
A red corvette
Simple, clear, powerful.
Let’s take another example, one that’s common for people – dropping a few pounds. So you make a goal: To work out 3 times a week. But that’s not a goal – there’s no having or being there – it’s a doing. It’s a strategy for accomplishing something, not the accomplishment itself. A goal isn’t about how you’re going to get there – it’s about defining where there is.
So, ask yourself, “If I work out 3 times a week for the next 3 months, what will I have or be?” And that will get you to your goal.
A goal is a dream with a deadline – put a date on it!
Without a date of completion – you’re living in LA LA fantasy land. Setting a date can be confronting, it requires you to make a commitment. It requires you to take a leap of faith. Because you may not KNOW how long a goal will take to achieve, right?
Look, take the leap of faith. Set the date. If, once you get into the middle of working on the goal you realize, this is a longer goal, then change the date.
I also recommend breaking longer goals (anything more than 6 months out) into smaller milepost goals, preferably in 3-4 month intervals. This is not an action plan (remember goals are not the HOW, but the WHAT/WHERE).
Ask yourself, “Where do I need to be in 3 months in order to know I’m on track for this goal?”
A goal must be visionary and inspiring
Look, if you aren’t inspired by the goal, you won’t do the work. It’s that simple. And if the long term consequences of this short term goal will take you somewhere you don’t want to go, you also won’t do the work.
In other words – don’t pursue someone else’s idea of success, pursue your own vision of success. And create goals that align with your vision.
And make the goals juicy, exciting, and visceral. Ask yourself, “What will I see, hear, feel, taste and smell when this goal is realized?”
A goal must be specific and measurable – how will you know when you’ve accomplished it?
If you go into a restaurant looking for a steak dinner and order “Cow”, you may or may not get the meal you want. But if you order prime rib, medium rare with spring potatoes and broccoli rabe sautéed in garlic, it is much more likely that you will receive the outcome you desire.
It’s not enough to say, “I want to make a lot of money.” How much is a lot? What a lot is to a refugee in the Sudan is a very different amount than what a lot is to Donald Trump. What, specifically, do you want?
A goal must be positively focused – leave the problem out of it!
When you are writing your goal, you are writing your future. You are creating what you will manifest. If you make a goal about the solution to a problem, you are actively creating that problem in the future. If you make a goal, “Completely clear of debt.” Then you are still bringing debt into the future. Trust me, that’s just the way this stuff works.
Ask yourself, “What will I have/be when this problem no longer exists?”
A goal must be achievable within the time frame you’ve set.
I don’t like the word, “realistic”. It has too many connotations of limitedness and scarcity. But you must believe that you can achieve the goal you’ve set within the time frame you’ve set it. If you don’t believe you can, you won’t do what you need to do to achieve it. Human beings don’t act against their own beliefs.
So, make a goal you believe you can achieve. The more you do that, the more you’ll find yourself believing you can achieve. And you will find that you can begin to set and believe in larger goals.
Start with where you are and build from here.