The Magic of “Process Goals”

As artists we all have certain goals we want to accomplish. But do you actually accomplish them or do you end up not even setting goals because they hardly ever come true?

Yeah, I’ve certainly been down that road before. I didn’t set goals for a long time because, overtime, as I set them to paper, hardly any of them ever came to fruition (But isn’t that like us to focus on the goals we didn’t get?)

Some seemed pretty attainable (and I’m sure I did accomplish a few) and others were probably too ambitious – then again, aren’t we *supposed* to have goals that make us reach and extend outside of our comfort zone?

So, like probably a lot of people I never got really obsessed with goals because it frankly gave me more frustration than it did by helping.

Anyway, the years passed by and I still did pretty well until one day this one distinction really hit home for me and, oddly enough, I started reaching more and more of my goals.

What was that distinction? It was end goals versus process goals. So what does that mean? Let me give you an example.

Say your end goal is to have a series of art (let’s say 10 pieces) complete in 3 months. You want to have 10 cohesive pieces of art that you can sell. that would be your end goal: to have 10 pieces of cohesive art completed in 90 days. Simple enough, right?

Here’s where it gets squarely and where I fell int the rabbit hole time after time. I would have these “end goals” like, wanting so much money, or this type of car, or that type of business, of this type of vacation . . . you get the idea, right?

But what I really missed was the need for “process goals” to make these “end goals” a reality. Previously, it was like I set goals but really had no specific plan on how to achieve those. I guess thought they would some “just” manifest. Fat chance. And nothing is what happened because i didn’t have a bridge to connect today to the eventual future goal. That’s what was missing.

Back to our example. So if I want to complete those ten pieces of art I need a process plan to complete them. This is where we can be a bit creative. So I have 90 days to produce this work. That means I would have to complete 1 piece of art every 10 days. That seems do-able right? All of sudden the goal starts to become real. I may even want to do 1 piece of art every 8 days just to give myself a bit of a buffer – just in case.

See how much more powerful that is? It’s more powerful because you are no longer wandering around in the hazy future over which you have no control. Instead, you are in the present moment creating and working on your art realizing you have only a few more days to get piece #1 complete. You don’t have to figure out what to do. You know what you have to do – go into the studio and work until your done. Then move on to piece #2, etc. etc.

This has made such a big impact on me because it allows you to get into action without worrying (or even dreading) how your going to complete this big goal that seems so distant when you first declare it.

And this can work for any goal. Say you want to lose 20 pounds by the holidays. You have 30 days to do this. You then think of your process goals(which you can do everyday) to make this happen, like I will eat no more than 3000 calories in any one day, I will do a minimum of 20 minutes walking and I will cut out all breads and pastas from my diet. You only have to do this on one day – today!

That’s the beauty of it. By following your process goals you are much more likely to reach your end goal. The key is to make your process goals something you can meet every day. Something you can complete *every* day. This will keep you on track and you’ll only have to worry about today – which, again, you have control over.

A cool benefit of this process is you will start to have much more confidence in completing your task. Then will begin to happen almost like magic. Each success will build on the previous and before you know it you will be an unstoppable force feeling like you can create almost anything at will (which you really can)

Just don’t skimp on the process part. Make sure you create a foundation and tasks that YOU can complete. You don’t want to depend on others. This might initially take some strategizing and some brainstorming (be creative) to make sure your process goals are do-able,workable and that you (and you alone) can accomplish.

This has made all the difference in the world for me and I’ll never set a worthwhile goal without having a process goals that make the end goal a reality. As I mentioned above, I like to think of the “process goals” as the bridge I am creating (a new plank everyday) that will get me closer to my end goal every single day.

Image above:
“Two Rounds” 1991
Richard Serra
Paintstik on paper, 78 1/2 x 155″
Gift of the Dannheisser Foundation.
© 2011 Richard Serra / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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