No. 12 | Goal Setting for Creative Human Beings
Ya’ll, huge nerd confession. Goal. Planning. Is. My. Jam. I can’t help but get the tingles every time I open up a new spreadsheet or flip to a new page in my calendar. To do lists, sticky notes, Kanban boards, reminder notifications. All of those organizational thingies just give me such joy… sigh…
I know there are lots of you out there who feel the same way. We are the ones who get the biggest thrill out of scratching items off our to-do lists. We’re the ones who spend hours color coding our spreadsheets and hyperlinking them to relative pages in our ten-sheet “World Take Over 50-Year Plan”. We’re the ones who plan our plan to plan a plan. Some call us strategists. Others call us Type-A. Whatever we are— futurists, perfectionists, organizers, clip-board huggers— we’ve got dreams and we’re ready to plan the heck out of them.
But I know sometimes I tend to go a bit too far. Sometimes planning my goals can become more important than achieving them. A lot of times I over-plan and over extend myself to a point where I just don’t feel like getting anything done anymore. If you’re like, “ugh yes! this is me!”— this post is for you… If you’re more like “what kind of monster color codes spreadsheets for fun??” feel free to keep reading or carry on livin’ life like the awesome, free-spirited, take-life-as-it-comes human being that you are. For the rest of us goal-oriented freaks, read on!
To avoid the frustration of over-planning and under achieving, I’ve had to learn how to set goals hositically. Holistic goal planning means looking at your dreams and goals as parts of a whole. It’s asking yourself why you do the things you do. It’s realizing that as a human, you have many parts to you. You are physical, spiritual, behavioral, emotional, psychological, and social. You are more than just a creative. You are more than your work. You’re more than your goals and dreams. It’s time to make some space for yourself to live and set goals that fully encompass who you are.
Here are five tips for holistic goal setting:
Identify what your “whole” is.
Take some time to think about your intention/motivation behind what you do. Why do you want to do what you do? Why do you have that dream or becoming a full time musician? What about you makes you want to be an artist? Ask yourself the tough existential questions like “Who am I?”, “What’s my purpose?”, “What do I believe?”. This can be challenging but knowing your “whole” is the foundation to good goal setting. We can set goals and try to achieve them all we want but unless we know why we do what we do, achieving those goals will be meaningless.
Once you’ve mulled over those questions, try to articulate your “whole” into a sentence or two.
You are made of many parts, set goals accordingly.
We are physical, spiritual, behavioral, emotional, psychological, and social beings. We function in many different roles. We are sisters, friends, workers, brothers, fathers, caregivers, etc. When setting goals, it’s important to think about how our “whole” functions in these different aspects of our lives. When setting goals, think about what part of you it affects and how you can balance and learn more in each area. Maybe your whole is to bring joy to others. How can you do that as a painter? How can you improve socially to better spread joy to others? How can you redefine both your personal and work life to center around spreading joy to others?
Try focusing 3 parts of your life. Based off your “whole” set 1 goal for each of those.
Draft your goals in pencil.
Leave space to change and grow. Your goals and plans may change drastically within a short amount of time. Even your “whole” or your very reason for doing things may be tweaked and expanded as you age and gain more experience. Set as many specific, SMART, focused goals as you can handle but make sure to leave room for growth and change.
Make sure you have a physical copy of your goals rather than just keeping them in your head.
Do the work.
A great plan is worthless without action. Make sure you’re actually doing the work to achieve the goals you set. This is where task lists and due dates come in handy. This is the who, what, when, where, why, and how. The more detailed your plan and task lists are, the more achievable your goals will seem. If you struggle with actually laying out a plan and getting it done, seek out accountability. Grab a friend to help you. Join a group. But do whatever you need to do to get the work done.
Look at those 3 goals you set for yourself. How are you going to get them done? When are you going to achieve them? Who/What do you need to help you do them?
Set measures of success and evaluate regularly.
There’s nothing worse than working hard at something and not seeing results, or worse yet, not even knowing how to measure your results. Look at your goals and ask yourself how you’d know if you’ve succeeded or failed at achieving them. Evaluate your success regularly. Set hard due dates. Journal your progress. Celebrate the successes and learn from the failures.
After you’ve made your plans for achieving each of those 3 goals, figure out how you’re going to know if you’ve succeeded at achieving them. Set 2 dates— 1 to re-evaluate your goals and tweak your plan, and 1 as a due date to measure if you’ve achieved success or failure on your goals.
This is a very broad look at holistic goal planning. There are tons of ways to do this and some ways may work better for you than others. But the important thing is to remember to look at yourself as a whole before setting your goals and task lists. Set goals based on your “whole”. Ask yourself why you do the things you do and plan accordingly.
Until next time,