5 Sure-Fire Steps to Achieving Your Art Goals

Can you name 3 goals that you have achieved in your artist life?

Many of us can answer that pretty easily – I have seen some improvement, I sold some pieces, my technique is closer to what I want. Or something like that.

If you feel that you haven’t reached your goals this year, all is not lost. Every day is a new beginning and another chance to make the progress you want.

Starting a new day
Vision of New Goals


Reasons Why We Fall Short of Achieving our Goals

There are many reasons why we don’t always achieve our goals:

* Life throws us a curve ball and knocks us off track

spiraling down staircase
Into the Rabbit Hole

* We get ourselves off track by exploring rabbit holes that don’t take us where we really want to go

* Someone says something painfully critical about us or our work and we become too discouraged to get much done after that

You could undoubtedly add several more reasons why you didn’t reach the goals you hoped to achieve in the time you hoped to reach them.

Thankfully, there is a cure for this universal problem of failing to reach a goal. Many goals are undefined; they are too vague. When we make general goals, we either don’t reach that goal or we’re not sure if we did. Here are some examples:

* Spending more time sketching

* Creating more artwork to sell

* Trying new mediums

These goals are as nebulous as clouds. They have no boundaries, no definition. It’s impossible to tell where they begin or end.

When you plan to spend more time sketching, how much more time? Two hours per year? Twenty minutes a day?

How much more artwork do you plan to sell? Two paintings? Five stained glass wall hangings?

Which new mediums do you want to try? Oils? Clay? Pastels?

Here are 5 sure-fire steps you can take starting today to reach your goals:


[1] Be Very Specific

Rather than setting a goal of making more sketches, pin the thing down: My goal is to make 12 finished sketches of city landscapes and I will put the 3 best ones into frames. Or I will finish 6 sketches of my dog within the next 3 months.

cat painting

Rather than saying I will make more artwork to sell, I need to narrow it down: My goal is to make 3 cat paintings and take them around to veterinarians and pet shops to offer them for sale.

Rather than saying you will try working with different mediums, be specific. This summer, before September, I will create 3 flower planters using cement, wood and mosaic tile.


[2] Know Exactly Why You Set These Goals

When you make your goals, be clear on why you pick those specific goals.

* Have you been wanting to try new mediums and just keep putting it off? Are you tired of working with the medium you have been working in? Do you have some fresh ideas for a different medium?

* Have you been afraid to approach outlets that might buy your paintings so you are setting a goal to encourage yourself to get your work out there?

* Are you aware that your lack of drawing skills is holding back your progress and now you have decided to conquer that mountain?

If we don’t know why we set a goal, we are far less likely to reach it. We give up because we don’t see the point. We fall back to the old habits that are easier and more familiar.

So before you set a goal, know exactly why you are setting it and if you think the reason is worth the effort of working toward that goal. Write down the reason you made the goal and read it from time to time to help you stay moving forward.


[3] Avoid Unrealistic Expectations

We create problems when we set goals that are very hard to achieve in the timeframe we set. Life happens and we must take that into account. So avoid setting yourself up to fail by not giving yourself enough time to reach your goals.

man climbing rocks
Make Sure the Goal is Right for You

Ask yourself if a particular goal is realistically achievable in your particular circumstances. If not, cut it back to where you are sure you can be successful. Completing a goal, no matter how small, will build your confidence. And in the art world, confidence is a precious commodity.


[4] Break Down Your Goal into Bite-Size Pieces

Sometimes we don’t reach a goal because we don’t know how to start. Other times, a step along the way gets confusing. Reaching a particularly difficult goal may seem overwhelming.

To avoid this, make a specific goal and then write down each step you must take to get to your destination.

* List what materials will you need? Which ones do you have on hand and which ones do you need to buy?

* How many hours do you estimate it will take you to reach that goal?

* When will you spend time working toward that goal? Every Saturday morning? Every Tuesday and Thursday evening?

If your goal includes taking your animal portraits around to sell, write down the places you will offer your work:

– The vet on 9th Street
– The pet shop on Main Street
– The Downtown Zoo
– The Art Fair in June
– The 4-H Fair in August

listing the steps
Write Down the Steps You Need to Take

Breaking down the steps into bite-size pieces helps in another way, too. On those days when you are not your best self and don’t know where to start your work, your list of steps will help you focus. You won’t have to make a decision every day regarding what you should work on. It’s all laid out in your goal’s list of steps. This tactic can help you be more productive, even on those annoying foggy-brain days.


[5] Keep Track of Your Progress

Keep a record of the goals you set and the progress you make. Check off each step as you compete it. If you don’t, you can lose sight of the goals and not recognize that you are getting closer to achieving them.

If your goal is to make 3 salable painting in 3 months, write down the start date for each painting and do your very best to stick to it. Cross off each step when it is done. Many of us do our best work when we see measurable progress and have deadlines. Use this to your advantage.

When you reach the end of a big goal, reward yourself with new art supplies, a new art book or a day out with friends to celebrate.


Some people hate setting goals because they feel like they are chores hanging over their heads. But in the art world, where there is so much to explore, we can find ourselves being a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.

If setting goals is difficult for you, set only one goal at a time and follow the steps above. Be certain that the goal will take you closer to the vision you have for your art career. Break down each step and get busy on the very first step.

Let us know in the comment section below what goal or goals you are setting for yourself. Then let us know when you reach that goal. We are cheering you on and will congratulate you when you reach the finish line.