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Setting and Keeping Your Goals

Updated on August 21, 2019
PAINTDRIPS profile image

Denise has been studying and teaching art and painting for 40 years. She has won numerous prestigious awards for her art and design.

Time happens without our thinking about it.  I got tired of letting it slip by me.
Time happens without our thinking about it. I got tired of letting it slip by me. | Source

Disappointed in Myself

I used to just let life happen. At the end of each year, I discovered I had not done any of the things I had wanted to get done at the beginning of the year. I had wanted to finish and self-publish a couple of children’s books. After 10 years I discovered I was no closer than when I set the first goal. I was so disappointed in myself that I decided to do something about it. I was going to have to be more intentional about it.

I started setting goals for myself using a weekly calendar to map out what I wanted to see done each month, and each week, so that I could be where I wanted to be in 5 years or 10 years. It was the only way that life didn’t just drift by without my noticing.

Here are a few of the things I consciously did to change.

“The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.”

— Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Ronald Dahl
Sunsets happen
Sunsets happen | Source

Morning Person

1. Map out the perfect timing for each goal.

I’m a morning person and don’t think or process things well at the end of the day. However, my husband is a night person and just can’t carry on a conversation with me at the moment he wakes up the morning. For him, to schedule Bible readings first thing in the morning would be a waste of time. The first thing is the perfect time for me to schedule my Bible readings, however. Once I tried to schedule my Bible readings for bedtime because I love to read right before bed. This was an awful time for me to try to schedule these readings because I couldn’t focus well and often fell asleep right in the middle of the chapter, which meant I had more chapters to read the following day just to keep to the schedule. I was setting myself up to fail in my goal.

You need to know yourself and set your goals to fit your personality, lifestyle and goal type. Don’t try to schedule exercise for before work if you aren’t a morning person and hate to get up early. You will most certainly fail if you do.

A rainy day
A rainy day | Source

“If you have good thoughts… they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

— Matilda by Ronald Dahl

Plan B

2. Plan for obstacles and hindrances.

There is nothing wrong with preparing a Plan B for days when you know a pothole will be in your path. I have the worst times on my diet around Thanksgiving so I plan for a piece of pie reward on that day. I plan for some candy on Christmas. To do otherwise would be avoiding the obvious and setting myself up for failure. My best years were the ones where I took into account a busy day or holiday coming up and got ahead in my daily Bible reading or other tasks. Then I could allow myself a day off. Nothing wrong with that.

Source

“It is when we are most lost that we sometimes find our truest friends.”

— Snow White by Brothers Grimm

Progress

3. Keep track of progress and successes.

It seems like an unnecessary point but if you aren’t conscious of the progress, it is easy to fall back into old habits of complacency and apathy. I had to mark on my calendar at the end of each week the painting I completed and my end weight and put checkmarks after all the Bible readings I completed. It is a good feeling to see the checkmarks add up and the paintings stack up. Even if my goal weight wasn’t achieved, I could see progress. Each year I write on the cover page of my Bible that I completed a year’s reading again. This is an important component of good goal setting: progress!

Part of the conscious effort I was making was to start a journal to track what was happening each day and each week. This made so much sense for me as an artist because it became a creative endeavor as well. I started creating stickers and drawings to add to each page. Each month had a theme and I got in some sketching as well as goal setting.

Happy water pixie
Happy water pixie | Source

Failures

4. Don’t obsess over failures.

I allowed myself to be less than perfect. This is a hard thing since most artistic types are perfectionists. I could see progress in 6 out of 7 of my goals but the seventh was the one I would invariably obsess over. Be your best friend and allow some leeway in the goals you set. It’s okay to admit you set one goal too far out, one bar too high to reach. There is always next year and more reasonable goals.

Mad Mushroom Fairy
Mad Mushroom Fairy | Source

“We all can dance when we find music that we love.”

— Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
Lilac Fairy
Lilac Fairy | Source

Do you make goals for yourself each year?

See results
The Coffee Fairy
The Coffee Fairy | Source

Be Good

5. Be your own best friend.

You have to ask yourself if these goals you set are for you or for someone else. I used to obsess about my weight because I had an ex that was verbally abusive about my bulges. I can still hear his voice in my head telling me I’m ugly, fat and dumpy. That is not a good reason to lose weight. If I’m not doing it for myself, I’m not doing it for the right reason. You can’t achieve a goal if you don’t really believe in yourself and your success to achieve it. You have to want it because it is good for YOU. At the end of the day, you are the only person you absolutely have to live with anyway. Set goals YOU really want for YOU and for no one else. I always tell myself that all I really want is to be a better person than the one I was yesterday. If I can achieve that, I have accomplished plenty day by day.

Goals to Reading more Books
Goals to Reading more Books | Source

Perfection vs. Excellence

Artists tend to be perfectionists. We work on our craft and look at it with a critical eye. After all, who can achieve perfection, outside of our Lord? The key is not to try for perfection, but instead to work for excellence. Be the best you can possibly be at your chosen creative pursuit. Learn new things every day; practice constantly and excellence is possible even if perfection is not.

So how long does it take to become a successful artist? I am still working on it so I’m not sure. For something like art, music, literature and any of the creative arts, we work our craft all our lives and may still look back and not be sure when we became successful. Perhaps it was the moment we decided to pursue it; the day we decided that it was something worth pursuing for a lifetime. At any rate, it takes time and none of that time is wasted if it is in pursuit of excellence.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

— Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rawling
Fairy Baby
Fairy Baby | Source

“The moment where you doubt you can fly, you cease forever being able to do it.”

— Peter Pan by J.M Barrie

Final Thoughts

At the end of the last 4 years, I found I had published 27 children’s books.

What do you do to achieve the goals and future that you desire? If you have questions or suggestions I’d love to see them in the comments below.

Comments

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 weeks ago from Fresno CA

      Eric Dierker,

      Sounds like dancing and singing and having fun are great goals in themselves. On top of that, I wanted to publish a book so I had to set goals for myself, like a certain number of pages per day and so forth. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      3 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      This is a great article. Thank you.

      Your part about morning person is so me and my wife. I do morning she does night. But it works for us, she tells her stories at night and I tell mine in the morning.

      But I am just getting back to goals about me. I figure at 9.5 my son is setting his own goals.

      I "need" to set more productive goals than dancing and singing and having fun writing and cooking and hiking in nature.

      Perfect timing for me.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 weeks ago from Fresno CA

      Marie Flint,

      I totally get living in the moment and working on the now. I have to do some of that also. I just hate coasting and finding that I wasted time I can never retrieve. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 

      4 weeks ago from Tawas City, Michigan USA

      This a wonderful, caring, honest piece, Paint Drops, Denise.

      I try to live in the moment and not set too many goals. Since I'm currently into plants, I first observe. Do I need to weed? water? Does the plant need to be transplanted where there's more sun or shade? Then I act accordingly.

      I think if I tried to set long-term goals, I'd hate myself. I am my own best friend, and I truly enjoy and am grateful for the "now."

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 weeks ago from Fresno CA

      Lorna Lamon,

      Thank you. It's been an important habit for me to form because if I'm not purposeful about goals, it just won't happen. I'm basically lazy.... well easy-going at heart... haha. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      4 weeks ago

      Goal setting is one of the main components of the therapy I practice and it is so important. This is a great article Denise with lots of inspiring ideas and beautiful paintings.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 weeks ago from Fresno CA

      Lora Hollings,

      I am really blessed. I'm glad it was a helpful piece. I love making those little fairies and dinosaur buddies. I'm working on a Skillshare class that covers how to do it. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Lora Hollings profile image

      Lora Hollings 

      4 weeks ago

      Denise, this is a great article on helping people to set goals and very realistic ways in implementing methods to achieve them. I heartily agree with you that any progress that we make in the direction of meeting our goals and doing more with our lives is an accomplishment! A very inspiring and excellently written article that can help me to get over some of my obstacles to moving forward and I thank you for your wise suggestions. I just loved your enchanting pictures too! Thanks for sharing. Many blessings to you.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 weeks ago from Fresno CA

      Mary Norton,

      I do like keeping a sort of journal so I can track my progress. As each week goes by and I haven't had time to work on even one page of my book, I feel pretty unproductive. It helps. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 weeks ago from Fresno CA

      Shreenidhi,

      Thank you so much. You keep writing too. I've enjoyed your work also. I intend to keep writing and creating children's books. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      4 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      That's quite an impressive achievement. I will do exactly what you did...track my progress. Otherwise, I just get lost.

    • Shreenidhi KS profile image

      Shreenidhi 

      4 weeks ago from India

      Its a very useful article. Keep writing.. i am a big fan of your articles and i love the way you present it.

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