Are your Art Goals SMART Goals?

Put the SMART in Your Art Goals

It is January and everyone starts talking goals – goals, goals, goals – Everyone is talking about the New Year, New You…but, it’s like the Seinfield episode – everyone can take a reservation, but do you keep a reservation….

Instead of making goals, let’s ACHIEVE the goals, to do that you need to have SMART goals.

SMART Art Goals

I love the visual of the goal. Both of my kids play soccer and the feeling of watching them kick that ball into the goal is one that causes all the parents and all the kids to jump up and throw their hands in the air – THAT is a GOAL!  All the blood, sweat, practices, scraped knees, getting yelled at by a coach for redirection, and disappointment that went into achieving that goal is rewarded AND we stand up and cheer!

Now relate the soccer analogy back to your art.  How many hours of practice have you put into your artwork? How often have you received criticism that hurt but enabled you to push further? How many times was your goal deflected last minute by a gallery, an art show, a buyer, an agent?  How often do you seek advice to correct your course of action from a coach or art entrepreneurs?  Did you lose site of your goal?  Do you have a clear vision of your goal(s)?

Live your art like a soccer player: keep your eye on the goal and do the work to achieve it – no one else can kick that ball for you, you will fall, but get back up and KICK THE DAMN BALL! (I am your coach yelling at you – with love – because I know you can do it!)

“Goal is not a 4 letter word of dread, it is a four letter word that leads to your desires and success.”  

~ Stephanie Weaver


A SMART goal is: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. In this article we’ll discuss:

  • The key components to a SMART goal
  • The first step to overcome Obstacles

What are SMART Goals? And are your Art Goals Smart?

Put the SMART in Your Art Goals

When I discuss goals with art professionals, a majority of the time they are missing 1 of 3 key components to their goals:  the Specific, or the Measurable or the Time-Bound.

BUT I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s breakdown each part of the mnemonic device so you can start kicking that ball down the field: S.M.A.R.T

S – Specific/Significant/Stretching

When setting a SMART goal, be specific about what you want to accomplish.  This isn’t a detailed list of how you’re going to meet a goal, but it should include an answer to the popular ‘w’ questions:

  • Who – Consider who needs to be involved to achieve the goal (this is especially important when you’re working towards something that will need other people involved – like galleries, licensing agents etc.).
  • What – Think about exactly what you are trying to accomplish and don’t be afraid to get very detailed.
  • When – You’ll get more specific about this question under the “time-bound” section of defining SMART goals, but you should at least set a time frame.
  • Where – This question may not always apply, especially if you’re setting personal goals, but if there’s a location or relevant event, identify it here.
  • Which – Determine any related obstacles or requirements. This question can be beneficial in deciding if your goal is realistic.
  • Why – What is the reason for the goal? If you take part in the Planning Mindfully with Action, your Why should touch on something that leads you towards your larger dream.

For example, if the goal is to start licensing your art, but you’ve never licensed anything before, that might be an issue. As a result, you may refine the specifics of the goal to be “Learn the steps to art licensing in order to license my artwork.” or “Create a list of  licensing agencies that license artists who have artwork similar to mine.”

Other terms to consider for S: Specific | Significant | Stretching

M – Measurable/Meaningful/Motivational

measuring tape

What metrics are you going to use to determine if you meet the goal? This makes a goal more tangible because it provides a way to measure progress. If it’s a project that’s going to take a few months to complete, then set some milestones by considering specific tasks to accomplish.

 Let’s build on the previous example.  “Create a list of  licensing agencies that license artists who have artwork similar to mine.”  Add to this “Create a list of 10 licensing agencies that license artists who have artwork similar to mine.”

Other terms to consider for M: Measurable | Meaningful | Motivational

A – Attainable/Achievable/Action Oriented

This focuses on how important a goal is to you and what you can do to make it attainable and may require developing new skills and changing attitudes. The goal is meant to inspire motivation, not discouragement. Think about how to accomplish the goal and if you have the tools/skills needed. If you don’t currently possess those tools/skills, consider what it would take to attain them.

For example, after I’ve achieved the goal of creating a list of 10 licensing agencies that license artists who have artwork similar to mine, my next goal would be to reach out to 2 licensing agencies per month and follow up with them 2 weeks following the initial contact.  Because the reality is, you won’t have time to reach out to all 10 AND there will be feedback provided that you can apply to enhance your chances with the remaining agencies.

Other terms to consider for S: Achievable | Action-Oriented | Attainable

R – Realistic/Relevant/Reasonable

Relevance refers to focusing on something that makes sense with the broader goals.

For example, if the larger goal is to sell your graphite drawings, it should be something that’s in alignment with the overall artistic and business objectives. If for example, you want to learn to oil paint, but you are wanting to begin charging for graphite drawings, then the goal of learning how to oil paint wouldn’t be relevant.

Other terms to consider for R: Relevant | Realistic | Reasonable

T – Time-Bound/Timely/Tangible

time bound smart goals

Anyone can set goals, but if it lacks realistic timing, chances are you’re not going to succeed. Providing a target date for deliverables is imperative. Ask specific questions about the goal deadline and what can be accomplished within that time period. If the goal will take three months to complete, it’s useful to define what should be achieved half-way through the process. Providing time constraints also creates a sense of urgency.

Expanding on the previous example: “Create a list of 10 licensing agencies that license artists who have artwork similar to mine this quarter.

Other terms to consider for T: Time-Bound | Timely | Tangible


Download the SMART Goal Worksheet, Take 30 minutes by yourself.  If you have completed Part I of the Planning Mindfully with Action Course, grab your Dream Big Worksheet and write out your SMART goals that would drive you towards the Dream Big.

Download your SMART Goal Worksheet.

Negative and Blocking Thoughts


As you begin writing out your goals, you will find that there are blocking thoughts that will automatically pop into your head.  These blocking thoughts are VERY telling of what you have been told or believe to be true or question about how to achieve those SMART goals. Thoughts like “I’m not good enough’ or I don’t know how to..’ or ‘everyone is already doing this’.   These thoughts will often block you from trying – IF YOU LET THEM.

INSTEAD OF STOPPING, simply acknowledge the thoughts and write them down – DO NOT DWELL ON THEM.  In the Free Download SMART Goal Worksheet, there is a section specifically for these blocking thoughts, I want you to write them down so we can address those later in the planning section.

In my experience these obstacles can be categorised into one of


While you are completing the SMART goals worksheet, document any obstacles, categorize them as one or more of the following categories: Mindset, Knowledge, Physical. We’ll address those later during the risk management and mitigation planning session.

Learn More about Planning with a replay of the Lunch and Learns: Planning Mindfully With Action. 

Plan Mindfully with action Part I

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Are Your Art Goals SMART Goals?

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