As a creative entrepreneur, it can be difficult to achieve the long-list of goals you set for yourself, no matter how enthusiastically you approach them. Maybe you want to start your own business while sustaining an existing art practice, all while taking classes for personal growth. Where do you begin?

Woman works from bed with sleeping child
Find time to reach goals

Your brain might think that you want to make this certain goal happen. Your heart may feel and believe that you want to make this happen. But if you aren’t actually doing something to make progress, if you aren’t taking action, all your thoughts and beliefs about your goals are nothing but that. Dust in the wind.

Instead, use these tips as a roadmap for your goal-making — whether that’s picking up a new craft or finally re-writing that business plan.

1. Examine your motivation

Whether you’re a creative entrepreneur or hobbyist, enjoying success with your goals has to a lot to do with your mindset.

You won’t be motivated to do anything unless you feel genuine passion for not only the end result, but for the process as well. You can get a motivational coach to yell at you, or an accountability buddy to support you—but if your heart’s not in it to begin with, the best coach in the world won’t be able to help you reach your goals.

Chew on this for a moment: What’s the real reason behind your goal? Is it a reason you can easily explain to a good friend? Is it something that you feel comfortable discussing openly and honestly with your mom? Are you pursuing this goal for yourself or to keep up with your peers and competitors? Do you really want to see this goal achieved, or do you just want to get it over with already? When you picture yourself having completed the goal in the future, are you proud and excited or anxious to move on?

Sticky-note brainstorm
Sticky-note brainstorm

Take time to answer these questions and dissect the meaning(s) that lies beneath your goal. Examining your results will help you reveal any hidden obstacles or challenges that might be hindering your progress—especially if this is a goal you’ve had for years and haven’t yet achieved it.

If you find that your reasons for completing this goal are more complicated than you realized, it doesn’t mean you need to scrap this goal entirely. All you have to do is tweak it to better fit your current situation.

2. Clarify your goal

Before you dive in and start working on your goal, you first need to clarify what your goal actually is. Vague goals like “earn more money with my business” will get you nowhere. You’re going to need details.

For example: How much can you increase revenue per month, how much more do you want to earn this year, with which income streams, how many more hours of work does this involve, etc.

The deeper you can get into the minutiae of the goals you want to achieve, the easier you’ll be able to draw linear connections to them—and devise a plan to actually get there.

3. Take it one step at a time

Now that you’ve zeroed in on the real reasons behind your goal and know exactly what you want to achieve, you can move on the scary part of figuring out how to actually achieve it.

Anyone can create a goal, but you need a realistic plan to carry it out to a successful end. This is where most people fail. If you’ve never run a marathon before, how do you expect to run it without weeks of training and building up your stamina, little by little? There’s nothing different about your design business-oriented goals. The easiest way to approach your goal is to break it down into baby steps.

Woman working on laptop
Utilize different tools to help accomplish goals

If you are working on a large project, break it down into different stages and set a deadline for each stage. Of course, you might find that the process of breaking down the project into more manageable pieces can also be hard work. Take your time on this—the process can very easily affect how you feel about following through with this goal.

You should also try to determine exactly when and where your work is going to be performed. Will it be before lunch, when the kids are in school or after they’re in bed, before everyone wakes up or do you prefer to burn the midnight oil? Can you get work done in your home office, a co-working space, a cafe or the library? Also, write down what tools you’ll need, how much they will cost and where and when you will purchase them.

All of this can help you transform the intimidating process of working on a goal into something that is tangible and more easily approachable. And easy is good for boosting your motivation.

4. Resist the temptation of excuses

How much dedication will you have to your goal when you’re confronted with the inevitable obstacle? Persistence is your strongest weapon to do away with the millions of excuses that will rise up to attack you on your long journey to goal completion.

Colleagues work together in cafe
Find the support of others to help achieve goals

You know how it goes: you’re feeling lazy, you’re tied up with other work or family situations, you start wondering if this is all worth it, you’re running out of inspiration, you have to plan your birthday party, the weather’s too nice to work, and on and on and on.

But who said persistence has to come from within? The great thing about goals is that everyone has some, and your support network can really come in handy when the excuses start to eat away at your productivity. Find an accountability buddy, partner up with a fellow designer, and cheer each other on along the way. Technology will also help you win the war on productivity. There are tons of free apps out there focused on accountability, like Habitica or HabitShare.

5. It’s okay to adjust

While you’re chipping away at your goal, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s okay if you have to adjust your vision and shift your aim.

Life happens, priorities change and your vision is always evolving, You could suddenly realize that the project isn’t right for you at this moment in your life, that another project now feels more important and urgent. Or perhaps the goal is not working out in the way you expected.

Go ahead and take a break, think about a different approach or a completely different goal if that is what your instinct is telling you. Pressing pause on your efforts does not mean you’re giving up. This is when it will truly benefit you to be partnered up with an accountability buddy, a fellow designer or a mentor so you can get an outside perspective on your progress. Have a discussion about your goal, ask for advice and clarify your doubts.

Every day is the day when you can take action and follow your true passions, and today could very well change your life.

Suchi Rudra
About the author

Suchi Rudra is a nomadic writer of articles, stories and songs, taking inspiration from her travels. Follow her wanderings at https://treadlightlytravelnaturally.com.