Continuous growth is IMPERATIVE to being an artist. I say it all the time, this is nothing new. But how can you make sure you’re growing in the right direction? Or improving the things you want to improve? My answer: artistic goal-setting.
Knowing that you should be continuously growing is only the first step. As an artist, you have to take your growth and improvement into your own hands. You have to decide what you want to improve and what you need to do to get there. Here’s how you can make sure you ACCOMPLISH the goals you set:
- SET YOUR GOAL
What do you want to improve? Choose something that YOU can do, rather than something that depends on someone else. A good goal would be to improve a certain skillset: for a choreographer, a skill to improve could be storytelling, musicality, creating interesting visual pictures, etc. Whatever your goal is, try to make it something that’s tangible and measurable. This is something that’s incredibly difficult when you get into the creative realm because art is subjective. So, make it up! As long as YOU can measure it and track your progress, that’s all you need.
- WRITE IT DOWN
I’ve said this before, and I’ll stand by it. Writing your goal down makes it REAL. When your goal is just in your mind, it’s far too easy to blow it off, come up with excuses, or even pretend you never had that goal. When you write it down, you are held accountable for accomplishing that goal. Better yet, write it down somewhere you’ll always see it.
- DEFINE REGULAR STEPS YOU CAN TAKE
This is possibly the most important step to turn artistic goal-setting into artistic goal-achieving. Regular progress is more important than spurts of growth followed by periods of stagnation. What can you do each week or each day to keep improving? Break your goal down into action steps that you understand and can accomplish. Giving yourself a path to follow makes the journey of accomplishing your goal a thousand times easier.
- MAKE A TIMELINE
This is the best way to combat procrastination. A timeline helps to make sure that you are ACTUALLY working toward your goal (not slacking off), and are on track to accomplish it in a reasonable amount of time. Set some check points in your timeline where you can evaluate your progress and see if you’re improving at the rate you want to.
- EVALUATE & GET FEEDBACK
Evaluating your work can come at checkpoints or once you feel you may have accomplished your goal. One of the best ways I’ve found to evaluate my own growth is to compare my most recent work to my previous works. This is a helpful comparison because it puts your skills in context and allows you to see your own growth more clearly for a specific period of time.
However, it is incredibly difficult to measure growth in the arts, because again, the arts are subjective. This is where an outside eye can be extremely helpful. Show your work to colleagues, peers, and mentors, and ask them if they felt you accomplished what you wanted to accomplish. BE SPECIFIC: make sure your viewer knows what kind of feedback you want from them, and that they know what your goal was to begin with.
Regardless of how you measure your growth or how you evaluate yourself, artistic goal-setting will consistently keep you moving in the right direction. So get started! Set your goal and get on your way to becoming a better artist.