On a quiet and empty beach, during the soft pre-dawn, 2014 leaves like a shadow, passing sober and silent as new dreams peak across the horizon. Inspiration comes as the blue of the past fades to the warm goals of a New Year’s dawn. Wave like, 2015 rolls in, splashing with foamy hope, faith, and gritty dedication to our art and other goals as the past recedes into memory.
The sea’s distant horizon is a demarcation line, a reference point between sky and sea, and a reminder to let past failures wash out and give space to new goals. It’s said, Goals are Dreams with Deadlines, and this is a great time to take an inventory of our plans, actions, attitudes, and align them to achieve our dreams. Personally, I’m not a big believer in resolutions; I’d rather escape to a quiet space and squat with my own thoughts and in my own idiom talk to myself about what’s next and why.
Resolving to do things can happen at any time, and I do so when it seems necessary to change things that affect how I achieve my goals. As an art photography teacher, I often see many of my student’s dreams come alive only to choke later on the vines of self-doubt, and fear. More often than not, I see these dreams whither because the dream was bigger than their personal reality and their failure to plan. In the end, the dream is abandoned.
Right now, as the New Year dawns, I encourage you to plan for success. While the shadows of the New Year are still cool, take time to review your personal mission first and based upon that mission, establish goals and a realistic goal-achievement time line. Yes, I/you can do this at any time of the year and we should reset goals when progress and conditions warrant. I frequently review my plans and objectives during the year, and I also find myself clarifying my mission through a better understanding of who I am and thus what actions and projects I want to include or exclude from my work and personal time.
The key to success in any endeavor, but particularly in art photography which demands so much of your inner psyche and personal soul searching, is to set realistic timelines and edit your commitments. Saying “no” is as important as saying “yes”, giving is more productive then receiving, dividing projects into small commitments that you can accomplish one at time insures success. Small successes will strengthen your personal beliefs and thus empower you to complete larger complex projects, and reinforce what you already know; failure is not fatal.
Live life one frame at a time and you will find enjoyment in your work, discover deeper meanings, and produce art that energizes your audience.
All of us have multi-goal categories; our family, our health, financial, and personal growth. I teach digital art which drives one set of life goals but I also create art, which engenders another set of goals. For my creative life, I develop an annual creative plan with themes, projects, activities, and a time line. If you are producing art, learning about art, and or transitioning from some other field to art I urge you to develop a creative plan, one that is detailed and makes sense for you. Define in detail what you need to learn this year, state the themes you want to create, establish what audience you want to attract and then make a task specific plan for each element. One other thing about creative plans, write them down and then write a progress report for yourself to yourself each week for the next 52 weeks. I do this with my journal. Further, it is equally important to verbalize your goals with other ‘creatives,’ speak about them often, and soon, without regard to conscious effort, you will find your spoken commitments growing into organic actions that turn dreams into reality.
Once you have defined your mission, the why of your creative life, and have set outcome based goals, then you can define the projects and actions necessary to make it all happen. But I also urge you to stretch and sketch in a longer range goals of 2, 3, and 5 years. Growth in art and most public and private endeavors comes from a combination of short and long-term horizons. Adding long term plans to your current plan will help you spread out the work load, guide you to make more realistic time lines, consider realistic approaches for the resources needed to accomplish a given goal, and help you determine which projects are in alignment with your mission statement.
You are a work in progress, your art is a work in progress, and the creative plan you create today, while well defined, is also a plan in progress, but it is a plan. It’s often said, “If you fail to plan, then you have planned to fail.”
2015 is here! Go for the Goals and Plan for Success