Goal Setting & Creating an Action Plan: If you can dream it, you can do it!

But how? I can talk on endlessly about how I’m the latest and greatest artist since Picasso, and sooner or later, I’m going to have to prove it. Guernica wasn’t built in a day, you know.


Where will I lay the foundation? Thankfully, I only have to take a look around me to realize that I have a sizable collection of building blocks already. Raising a home and family provide endless opportunities for experience. Now I have a steady base from which to move forward.


Where am I going? That depends on where I want to end up. If I don’t know where I’m going, I’ll probably wind up someplace else. Where do I want to be in 10 years…5 years…next year?


A visual carrot on a stick is a helpful constant reminder of what you’re working toward. When the days are dreary, you’ll want to see what the future’s meant to be. Create a collage of images that will encourage you to get out of bed in the morning. What gives you joy? How do you want to spend your days, and with whom? Gather every who-what-where-when-why & how of what you want from this life. Put every detail in writing—make it real!


“Our tendency is to overestimate what we can accomplish in 1 year and underestimate what we can accomplish in 10 years. Set realistic goals but we willing to dream, to stretch.” Richard Foster, Celebration of Disciplines, pg. 107

Let’s say that I want to kick back on a tropical beach somewhere. How can I make that happen, and how soon? Well, I’m not currently in a position to retire in luxurious financial security, so I’d better find a paying job. I could offer painting lessons on a cruise ship, make sure that it’s headed for southeast Asian waters…during monsoon season…get blown off course and be shipwrecked on the island of my dreams. That sounds like a nightmare to me. I’d rather be right here in Provence, earning sufficient income to meet the outrageous tax burden, restore home and garden, with enough to allow for world exploration and painting supplies. How much would I have to earn to make that possible? What are my current income options? How can I increase or improve them? What temporary income sources are available to me? In what do I want to invest?


Next, lay out a timeline of specific & measurable goals. It’s easiest to work backwards from your dream life and into reality, negotiating the timing once you’ve identified the steps. The smaller and more clearly defined, the better. It’s like the to-do list; you’ll have great satisfaction whenever you can celebrate a ta-done.


Likewise, set reasonable deadlines. You want to be able to reward yourself for timely completion of each step. Even if you’re motivated by deadlines, you don’t want to wear yourself out fresh from the start. Push yourself, but don’t shove; and reward yourself for completing every goal.


Find one true accountability partner. As much as you love certain people, intuition will tell you that it’s not safe to share your plans for the future. Sometimes, dreaming out loud is self-defeating. It’s so real that you can feel it…so why bother? You need a trustworthy friend or mentor with whom you can share both victories and defeats. This person knows the real you, and won’t let you get away with anything less than the best—without condemnation for failure. This relationship is most effective if it’s reciprocal. Everyone has some aspect of their life in which they want to grow. Be there for one another!


When you meet on a regular basis, recount your progress since the last meeting, and recite your intentions for the next period. Speaking out loud will help you to hear the truth of your plan, as well as the lies. There will probably be times when you’re deceiving yourself. A good friend will spot that look in your eye, and help you to find your way back on to your path. Be sure to celebrate each other as you journey together! This kind of relationship is invaluable and worth nurturing.


Review your goals individually and together at least twice per year. Where are you now? Where do you want to be? Every time you find an image or thought that further defines your best life, add it to your collage. Let the dream grow with you as you grow into your dream. Have you arrived at any of those goals already? Is there anything close enough to touch?


Can you identify the tension between where you are and where you want to be? Sometimes, it feels like a tug of war between current and future reality. Perhaps you’re bumping your head on a glass ceiling, stuck against expectations. Maybe you’re tunneling with a teaspoon. These are frustrations that threaten to derail you. Don’t let them! Be motivated by your mission. Look at your dream images. How much do you want this? How are you going to live the reality of that life today? What will you celebrate about that life today?


This is the 2nd in a series of A Studio with a View: How to Profit from Your Work


Illustrations are from the '3rd Reader.'


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