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Creative Goal Setting

Updated on March 25, 2021
CrossCreations profile image

This author is a former teacher of gifted and talented students, where creative thinking and problem solving is a primary focus.

Making Goals Real for Creative Minds

Do you avoid stating your personal goals, making resolutions or creating a business plan?

Why not consider some alternatives to traditional goal-setting and future plans? If a list of written goals in linear fashion doesn't appeal to you, then consider goal-setting alternatives like those below and maybe you'll find one just right for YOU!

Experiment with new ways to visualize your future. What if revisiting your goals was FUN and creative, and you begin to look forward to this visualizing exercise. Here we explore some different ways to create goals with pictures and images in order to actually visualize life when they have been reached. Daily focus on these images helps to change and improve inner beliefs and has a significant impact on the subconscious mind.

WHY Dreams, Goals, Visions & Targets?

A dream is what you would like for life to be, your vision of being there. Daily focus on that vision keeps it alive. Who you see is who you will be.

Goals are the specific statements of what you intend to make happen to get there. A goal is the near look; what you intend to do on a daily basis to manifest your vision, or the far look into the future. How can you expect to hit the bull's eye if you do not know where the target is?

To build a pattern of positive expectations, we need ways to keep the vision alive and many do this with a vision board or dream board, a creative visual tool.

Goals are the targets of success! What you set is what you get. First get the far vision, the dream. Then define the near look, your targets of the smaller steps and action plans that pave the road to your dreams. To fail to plan is to plan to fail.

Do you visualize with images when you set goals?

See results

The MOST important Goal-Setting Strategy...

What ONE aspect of goal-setting will just about guarantee that you will fail and will NOT reach your goals?

Among those who DO set goals, most rarely if ever LOOK at them. How can you expect to get to your destination without looking at the map?

Ideally it is best to review goals daily, but at least weekly or monthly we must check the course and adjust the sails so-to-speak.

As time goes by, you will want to make adjustments as new priorities arise. Or maybe you realize that a goal is not realistic, then CHANGE it, but do NOT ignore it if it means anything to you.

About reviewing your goals regularly, a mentor of mine from years ago used to say...

==> "Write 'em down. Break 'em down. Then STARE 'em down!"

In order to make this habit of reviewing your goals regularly a PLEASANT act rather than a chore, consider choosing some FUN strategies that might include art and creativity.

Even if your job requires goals to be stated in the linear traditional fashion, fun ways to brainstorm and supplement that might make a huge difference. Choose activities you can enjoy so they will become habit.

Goals Debate: Public or Private?

Some say that goals should be shared publicly, because that makes us more accountible for them. Others feel that goals are personal and so there is no reason to share them publicly. What's your take on that?

Should goals be shared publicly?

CreAtiVe Goal Setting Resources

Smart Goals
Smart Goals

Why SMART Goals Might Not be Best

Some traditional strategies for goal-setting are so rigid that they can begin feel like a recipe for failure.

Traditional advice about goal setting teaches that we should set SMART goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound (SMART) if you want to succeed. This method works for some and for certain tasks, and is actually required in many professions so it is a must to kep in mind when setting goals effectively.

Setting 'SMART goals' can be very effective for tasks such as short-term projects like writing an article or report. However, over the long term, plans like these leave little room for flexibility. If you stick to the SMART framework over the long term, you may feel destined to fail in the long-term as such plans are extremely rigid and can become too complex.

Instead of committing to a specific action plan over the long term, try choosing a theme that includes a vision of what you want to create or accomplish. In contrast to plotting a specific route on a map, consider various paths toward this specific theme. Both methods will get you to the same place over the long term, but following a general direction within a theme gives you more flexibility to explore along the way.

"Always hold firm to the end results you're after, preferably generally set, not too specific, like abundance, creative fulfillment, international travel, friends and laughter. And then get busy turning over every stone and knocking on every door, so that life's magic can reach you."

~ Mike Dooley. Infinite Possibilities & Totally Unique Thoughts, TUT.COM

Follow your Heart in Goal Setting

Allow flexibility for change and growth as you progress toward goals.

Consider creating goals based on themes that are flexible and can be updated & revised as you work toward them. Consider that daily focus on goals is most important, and revisions as you make progress keep them alive and in focus.

This flexibility toward a theme will allow:

  • Living by your heart rather than society's expectations (or your own guilt).
  • Following an interesting path, even if it isn't the straightest one.
  • Accepting that all plans will change somewhat, and looking forward to the new opportunities that change brings.

"Life makes sense when we are centered in our own heart and embrace our own unique journey."

Visualize Goals

Visualizing goals with a vision board is one of the most powerful tools available. Use it, and when you visualize, consider doing so with your own artful creations. Creating art around our visions and goals opens up a new sensory mode that make it so much more personal and real (and fun).

The act of this expression supports commitment and faith, and the visualizing of goals in pictures imprints them on our subconscious mind, giving positive changes to inner beliefs.

"A pessimist only sees the dark side of the clouds, and mopes;

a philosopher sees both sides and shrugs;

an optimist doesn't see the clouds at all - he's walking on them."

— Leonard L. Levinson

Personal Daily Targets

Daily habits can make a HUGE difference over the long term

Consider giving focus to these daily: exercise, visualize, monetize, create and get inspired.

Exercise - I'm no marathoner but do try to get some form of physical exercise daily. This might mean no more than stop, drop and spend 10 minutes on the floor doing stretches or situps or whatever ... You do not have to go to the gym or do an hour of aerobics every day, but just 10 minutes or so.

Visualize - This might mean spending a few minutes browsinga vision board or personal art journal. Again it is not about spending a ton of time, but making 'vision' a daily habit.

Monetize - Bills and financial paperwork overwhelming? Spend 10 minutes daily on it, sorting mail or organizing files or managing one financial account or another. 10 minutes daily - minimum, then make a note of what gets focus the next day.

Create - No time for creativity? Creativity can be expressed through the written word or making a collage or photo editing or some home decorating project. Try giving yourself permission to take time out for creativity, even if it is only 15 minutes of writing or taking some new photos or creating something new.

Inspiration - Browse inspirational books, quotes and/or inspirational videos. Set a timer and enjoy one of them -every day even if only for a few minutes.

"One of the best ways to get clarity and specificity on your goals is to write them out in detail - just as as if you were writing specs for a work order.

When you write it all down, your subconscious mind will know what to work on. It will know which opportunities to hone in on to help you reach your goal."

— Jack Canfield

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Carolan Ross

Join the discussion about creative goals below.

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    • CrossCreations profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolan Ross 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      @Linda BookLady: Thanks Linda. That's what it is all about, finding colorful & creative approaches so that goal-setting is enjoyable, never a chore.

    • CrossCreations profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolan Ross 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      @Elle-Dee-Esse: It helps a LOT when we find goal-setting methods we actually enjoy, sure was a turning point for me! Just have some fun with it for a few minutes every day, that is key - daily! Goals set and ignored are a waste of time. Find ways to FOCUS on them with a joyful attitude.

    • CrossCreations profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolan Ross 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      @Joan4: Oh Joan, it is always a JOY to see your smiling face. We've been partners on this concept for awhile now, and I am inspired by you.

    • CrossCreations profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolan Ross 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      @Margaret Schindel: Wow, what a fanstastic comment! Obviously you "GET" it and are living this visualization journey. Thanks so much and BEST to you in all you do.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Being a creative person myself, I really like your approach to goal setting and found this review of positive steps very helpful. Blessed by a Squid angel.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts

      I did some work in 2012 with a fantastic creativity and transformation coach, and she shared with me many of the same inspiring and effective techniques that you have shared here. Identifying our true passion - what ignites us from the inside - is the first step. The second step is to identify our life purpose - how to share our unique gifts with others who will find them of value - and give ourselves permission to follow our passion and live our life purpose, while refusing to be deterred from following our heart's desire by listening to our own inner critic/monkey mind or the external expectations of us imposed by family, friends, or society about what we "should" want and/or do with our lives. The third step is making a serious commitment to ourselves to do the hard work necessary to create the joyful and fulfilling life we desire by sharing our gifts in a way that creates abundance and prosperity - in all senses of the words - for ourselves and for others whose lives we touch, directly or indirectly. I am on this journey - three steps forward and two steps back, like most of us who undertake it - and your lens resonates with me deeply. Thank you. Blessed with gratitude by this squid angel!

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 

      8 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      I love your colorful and creative approach to goal setting!

    • Elle-Dee-Esse profile image

      Lynne Schroeder 

      8 years ago from Blue Mountains Australia

      Goal-setting is something I need to get much better at. I really like the approach you have taken

    • CrossCreations profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolan Ross 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      @Joan4: Thanks Joan. You are my Goal Queen!

    • CrossCreations profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolan Ross 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      @AcornOakForest: Agree that statement is powerful. I've remembered it for over a decade.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Oh thank you! I am a returning visitor and thankful for the great review as I settle in to write and image board my goals for 2013!

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 

      8 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      "Write 'em down - Break 'em down - then STARE 'em down!" I'm taking that with me into the future. Lots of great ideas here! Thanks!

    • GrowthSpark profile image


      9 years ago

      What a wonderful and inspiring lens, thanks so much for putting it together. I'll be checking out some of your other lenses as well.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This page is an inspiration to continue to press on with my goals to see them achieved. Great job.

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image


      9 years ago

      Definitely enjoyed this page, great quotes, interesting thoughts and inspiration. What more could I ask for? Thanks!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Love this page. It really looks creative and I am going to get creative with my Goal Setting.

    • CrossCreations profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolan Ross 

      9 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      @Joan4: Joan, thanks SO much! You are an inspiration to me in many ways, and I've learned much from you about setting goals and visualizing, so touche!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This page is filled with great information -- thank you!! I love goal setting and I will re-read this super page next week as I work on my goals and my visualization board and notebook. You found some great resources too!! Squidangel blessed! and thank you!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I like visualization concept!I'm thinking about to use my own art a background.Vik

    • TapIn2U profile image


      9 years ago

      So true - follow your heart in goal setting! Fantastic lens! I hope you can also visit my Goals New Years Resolutions and 3 Step Action Plan lensography. Sundae ;-)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      thanks for the advice.

    • profile image

      achraf lm 

      10 years ago

      I'm definitely going to use this method for my current goals

    • LouisaDembul profile image


      10 years ago

      Good idea to write goals with pictures, visualizing them!


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