GOOOAAALS! The World Cup is the perfect time to talk about goals.
Setting good goals is useful to not just artists but anyone who wants to achieve something.
When I graduated college and started my career, my goals were unfocused. Basically, I just wanted to get a job doing what I love, which in my case is of course drawing and painting. That was my whole goal. I didn't aim for anything more than that, and as a result, my career went nowhere.
Then, after reflecting on my career and examining the careers of people I admired (again, not just artists), I developed a master plan for my success that basically boiled down to four things:
1. Recognize the importance of setting goals.
Let's say you have the extraordinary ability to kick a ball farther and more accurately than anyone you know. As a result, you want to become a soccer player. But then when you're on the soccer pitch and the ball comes to you, you just kick it as hard as you can in whatever direction you're facing. Just being on a pitch and kicking a ball doesn't make you a soccer player; at this stage, you are just someone who can kick a ball.
To be a proper player, you have to know the rules and of course, recognize which goal you're kicking at. Only then will your natural kicking ability be applied towards becoming a successful soccer player.
This brings us to:
2. Target specific goals.
In life, there is usually some "goalkeeper" (such as lack of education, experience, exposure, etc.) that obstructs your progress to your goal. To succeed, therefore, you have to overcome the keeper.
If your goal is very broad, you won't have a focused target to aim for; it isn't enough to just kick the ball in the general direction of the goal and hope for a lucky bounce. Don't put your life in the hands of chance and luck.
In my case, instead of peppering the keeper with shot after shot, I examined my goal (to become a professional artist) and aimed intently at a focused point like the upper corner of the net (to become a professional concept artist for movies).
Kick after kick, I attacked my specific goal. Sometimes the keeper got to them and kept them out, but slowly I started scoring more and more often until eventually the goalkeeper realized that it was futile to try to stop me and left the pitch.
3. Loose route, firm objective.
From one end of the field to the other, you might know where you're headed, but there are defenders in the way. To get around them, you and your teammates have to run plays to set up your scoring chances. But what if an astute defender disrupts your play? You can't stop the game in order to come up with a new play, so instead you improvise until you can come up with something else.
We have many ways to get to our goals. Making a specific plan is an excellent start but it's vital to remain flexible enough that you can alter your original plan to go around or overcome new, unexpected obstacles.
Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "plans are useless but planning is indispensible." Plans are rigid, but planning is loose and flexible. Grow your habit for planning—your ability to think ahead and lay out the steps in your play, and if you're impeded, devise a new route or play to the goal, all without stopping.
4. Aim high.
I don't have a soccer metaphor for this one, haha. But I don't think aiming high really needs one, does it?
As far as rules go, it's pretty straightforward: go for the highest level job you feel you can reasonably do, based on your talent, skills, and experience. If you don't get it, go for the second highest, and so on. The traditional convention of "climbing the ladder" is inefficient because, not only is it a waste of your time toiling away at a job that you're overqualified for, your company is also robbed of the true value of your services for that whole time.
When I wanted to be a professional artist, people told me that an artist's life is too hard and I wouldn't be able to do it and support myself.
But I set a specific goal, made a plan, and became an artist anyway, and things have worked out.
When I wanted to start my own studio, people said I lacked experience as an artist and as an entrepreneur and I was doomed to fail.
But I set a specific goal, made a plan, and started my own studio anyway and things have worked out.
When I wanted to work on Hollywood movies from my studio in Toronto, people said no one would let me work remotely, that's just not how things are done.
But I set a specific goal, made a plan, and wound up on feature films anyway. Clearly, there were others who felt that the way things are done isn't always the way they should be done forever and ever.
So, keep learning and making yourself really good at whatever it is that you do, whether that's art, music, computer programming, or whatever.
Humanity has thrived because of our ability to recognize and elevate amazing individuals for the benefit of the group, so keep getting better and inevitably, the world will have no choice but to notice.
Good vibes to you all!
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